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College is one of those things in life that you either gravitate towards or give thought to but never really do it. The idea is that college is there to grant you a better chance, not necessarily a better life, but a better chance to create a better life for yourself and possibly for your family. Many people going to school now thnk that college is the answer to getting those high-paying jobs, to reaching a state of personal achievement that will grant you a good life and a happy existence. That’s great that people want this, that’s wonderful that they have an idea of what they want to obtain, but way too many people look at the endgame without seeming to realize that somewhere in the middle is the muck and endless, repetitive busy work that you’ll have to go through to get there. College isn’t a magical place where an enchanted fairy can give you a potion that will allow your life to become the wonderland that you want.

It’s hard, grueling work that requires focus, determination, willpower, and in some cases truckloads of caffeine for those all-nighters you’re bound to pull a time or two. College isn’t a prison and it’s not a horror story waiting to happen, but what you want out of it depends on what you put in. Should you walk in thinking that you own the place and can do what you want then your grades will reflect that and later on so will your life. College is not a place where people will automatically care if you’re there or not. If your tuition check clears then they’re still not obligated to make you learn. If you you show up for class then the teachers still aren’t required to hold your hand and guide you. College is about YOU, and the effort that YOU are willing to put in.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it?

Let’s start off by stating the obvious: college isn’t cheap.

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You can have the best grades in the world, you can be sailing by with a perfect GPA and all the charm in the world, but it won’t pay the bills. Colleges want their tuition and if they don’t get it then those good grades aren’t even worth a bag of chips. Now to be honest those good grades can earn you a scholarship and can even get some people on your side when it comes to exploring alternatives that can help pay for school, but chances are that you’ll still be on the hook for a good chunk of money when all is said and done. That’s a big part of why working for what you get is important in college. Those that have the luxury of breezing by on a trust fund or mom and dad’s overwhelming generosity are just as diverse as anyone, some of them study hard and make the most of what they’re given, while others fritter away the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, that is supposed to be going towards an education. College costs, no matter who you are, and by the time a lot of us graduate, we’ll be looking at a rather hefty bill to pay when all is said and done. But you know what? You’ll still have to pay regardless of what it might cost you for the next several decades. You wanted an education right? Well, it doesn’t come cheap. You wanted a better life right? You don’t get that for free, and you don’t get to skip out on the bill just because you can’t pay.

These are things you need to think about before considering college. Can you pay the bill when you’re done? Are you going to work hard enough to step into a career that will allow you to pay that bill? Are you going to be responsible enough to pay that bill? Remember, college is a choice, it’s not required of anyone. Trade school is always open and they always need people, and a lot of those that attend trade school manage to pay off their loans a lot quicker on average. So choose wisely when it comes to higher education.

You don’t HAVE to go to college.

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No one’s going to put a gun to your head and force you into a university. This is your choice, your life, and your chance to invest in your future. If it doesn’t feel right then find another way. Many people that never set foot in a college managed to create a life for themselves that was not only fulfilling but also very successful. In order to create a life worth living you need to find what you want to do and make your move. If college is where you want to be then so be it. If not, then don’t sweat it and move on to whatever it is that attracts your attention. There are a lot of careers that don’t require a college degree, and many of them tend to pay better than the jobs you might find upon graduation. College is a way to invest in your future, but as it’s been said so many times, what you put in is going to determine what you get out. If you go to college and party for four straight years, assuming that the college lets you, then the chances are good that nothing much will come of that expensive, booze-infused trip. But if you do the work, find new and innovative ways to spend your time, and continually pay in to your future then it’s very likely that something positive will happen when it’s all said and done.

It will be hard, without exception.

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A lot of us that have been around for a while get a chance to smile and remember back in the day when we were the newbies coming in, thinking we knew everything and had all our plans on lock and were primed to take over the world. Oh yes, that provided a good laugh for some time, especially since after the first two to four weeks many people tend to find out that college is not just review from what they learned in high school. Those that come in with a certain level of humility and even a healthy regard for the unknown are often those that succeed on a more regular basis as they’re more open and willing to accept that they don’t know everything. But those that waltz in thinking they know how the world works? Those are the ones that tend to realize too late that college is not a place to start fronting as though you’re the smartest person on earth. Even the geniuses get knocked down a peg when they hit this level, as nothing you’ve done in high school will be able to fully prepare you for college. It’s not just a step up the educational ladder, it’s entering an entirely new world where the term “all-nighter” is a common thing and caffeine is main-lined by roughly three quarters of the student body if not more.

College can be what you make it, and with enough diligence, hard work, and attention to the world you’ve just entered it can be a very welcoming and engaging place. But if you think you know it all, have seen it all, and have done it all, then you’re in for a long and agonizing lesson in humility. Going to college can be one of the best times in your life, so long as you realize that fun comes after the work is done, not before.

So, who’s ready to enroll?

 

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