Monday, December 28, 2015

Why A 4-Year College Is No Longer the Right Path for High School Graduates

I worked with teenagers at the high school level for fourteen years as a teacher and as an assistant principal.  What I learned from them is that they are highly motivated by the fear of missing out.  Yes, they act like reckless, nearly indestructible beings with their reptilian brains.  But deep down they are like frightened tiny mammals hiding from a predator...the unknown.

The dance.  The football game.  The rally.  Why did you go to these events as a high school student?  Was it because your friends were going?  Maybe.  Was it because the cute guy or girl you had a crush on was gonna be there?  Sure.  Still, you just knew you had to be there, right?  The unwritten rule of popularity is to show up at social gatherings and make your presence felt.

The fear of missing out on the experiences that are associated with college life unsettle the average teen.  Only "losers" end-up getting a job, and not furthering their education.  Going to junior college is also deplorable to many teens.  I've yet to have a single teenager smile proudly when telling me they are off to the local community college.  Indeed, for many teenagers, not getting into a four-year college is their first real life failure.  At least they think it is.

The five reasons below provide support for delaying committing to a 4-year college right after high school:

1.  Today's teenagers are far less independent than those of previous generations.  I betcha that five out of ten teenagers couldn't get on a public bus successfully these days.  Parents are doing more for their kids than ever before.  Thus, teens should postpone their 4-year college days until their twenties when they're more mature.

2.  4-year colleges are expensive, and should now only be for adults who have a strong idea of what they want to do after college.  This includes having an employment plan of action for after college.  In other words, going to a university because your parents want you to go, or because you'll be the odd man out at school if you don't, is complete nonsense.  Similarly, hoping to find your calling during your freshman or sophomore year is complete idiocy.

3.  You won't have enough money.  Chances are there is no college fund waiting for you.  Work a few years while living at home with your parents, and save enough for a couple of years at a public university.  Gain life experiences like holding down a job, and managing the money you make.  You'll be a better consumer of a college education once you do apply and get accepted to a university.  Even with a plush FAFSA package, you will most likely still need at least one loan to cover the rest.

4.  Universities still offer the same tried and obsolete majors.  When you look at the offerings, all universities still sell freshman the same disciplines from the 20th century, namely, psychology, history, sociology, philosophy, English, biology, etc.  Only about 10% of these majors lead to a job directly after the degree is earned.  The best universities allow students to create their own majors (liberal arts programs).  Therefore, students should complete their first two years (general ed) at a low-cost junior college, and then apply to a university that offers a design your major program.

5.  High school graduates don't know enough about money.  It's true...I saw their ignorance first hand!  Universities are like shark infested waters and your teen is a guppy.  Money decision-making has become more of an important skill over the past ten years with the wealth gap continuing to grow.  This is why staying home, taking classes at the local junior college, working a job or two, and getting more hours in the real world, makes more sense now than ever before.

The "right" path to take after high school today is not committing to a four-year college/university...unless of course you have a free ride.  There is no question that the better option is to attend a two-year, community college after high school.  Even the most brilliant students can gain valuable insight about the world spending their first two years taking classes with older adults, and working part-time.  Junior college graduates will be in a completely different pool for slots at a prestigious university as transfer students...yet another reason to postpone 4-year college.

Thanks for reading this far!  Until next time.        

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