Chances are your parents don’t understand why this is even a question. Your teachers certainly assume it’s the next step. But maybe you’re conflicted. Maybe you have a sibling that dropped out, managed to get a job, and things are going smoothly for them. If they managed to do it, why can’t you?
First of all, if the latter is true for you, bear in mind that it’s extremely rare for that to happen in today’s world. A Bachelor’s degree is practically a prerequisite, and in lieu of a degree, you typically need 4-5 years’ experience in the specific work field you’re applying for. That’s not to scare you, just provide perspective on what the job world looks like.
But college is more than just getting a job, especially since there’s a good chance working an 8 to 5 job every day for the rest of your life doesn’t sound appealing. College however is more than education, more than a credential, it’s an experience to push you forward and make you the best version of yourself you can be.
Not to belabor you with financial reasons for why college is a good thing, but realistically this is high on everyone’s list. In order to be independent, you need to be able to pay rent, pay renter’s insurance, pay auto and health insurance, your phone bill, your gas bill, your electric bill, and – oh yeah – food. It all adds up and it’s one of the quickest ways to realize that a minimum wage job simply isn’t going to cut it.
But college enables you to have independence without the worry of bills and rent. There are numerous scholarships and financial aid programs to help you be independent. You can live on your own for the first time, moderate your expenses, and make those tough decisions between what you really need to buy and what you can live without. You get to be independent and ease your way into the real world rather than being plopped in the midst of it.
These financial aid programs are designed, not to scare you, but to show how much others believe (and are willing to invest) in your future. You matter and you should feel that way.
Find Your Interests
While it’s true that colleges in Oregon (and around the country) will make you take general education courses so you can be well-rounded in all aspects, this also has an additional effect, namely, you get to discover your interests.
From a young age, you may have had an interest in music, but maybe you’ve felt it drifting away. Maybe your instrument of choice doesn’t really appeal to you anymore and of all the things you brought with you to college, your guitar wasn’t one of them. College allows you to explore your options. Maybe now’s the time to take up a sport, join a club, or pursue a different passion altogether.
In college, all courses are explored deeply. As a result, you can see what you’re passionate about; what engages you; what makes you want to learn more. You may discover that you have a knack for business or that beaker tongs are becoming your “instrument” of choice.
Pursue Your Passions
This element works hand in hand with the previous two as your independence and new interests can motivate you to do things you never would have before. For instance, the freedom to make your own school schedule means you’re not restricted to the 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM time frame, rather you can make your own schedule, so if there was always something you wanted to do, but school hours conflicted, you make your own schedule.
If you wanted to actively pursue an internship during the day, take up afternoon hikes, or participate in theater productions during the evening, now you can!
Moreover, one of the benefits of attending a small college in Oregon is (with enough ambition) you’re able develop your own curriculum. Small colleges are open to new programs and they’re flexible to allow you to thrive. If you discover that radio broadcasting is your interest and you want to pioneer a radio show for the school, you can make it happen.
One of the beautiful things about college is people you socialize with. Just because you may be attending a college in Oregon, doesn’t mean you won’t meet people from all over the world. Even those from the same state as you come from different backgrounds and passions. These are people who can inspire you and sometimes challenge you, but all of it helps to mold you into a successful individual.
Plus, unlike high school where you have the comfort of familiarity, you’re in a new environment and a new stage in life. What’s more, so are the rest of your peers. It’s an era of growth you’re not going to want to miss out on.
What’s more, the people you meet in college are people you’re going to know for years. They’re not only your peers, but your resources long after college is over. If you are struggling to find a job, you can bet a professor or fellow student knows of an opening for someone with your qualified skills.
In short, college is the perfect place for you to start your journey; for you to become the person you were always meant to be. It can be an inspiring, uplifting experience and now is the best time to start. Change is seldom easy, but that’s why it’s so important. It will make you prosper.