A lot is going on in politics today, especially with our 24/7 news cycle, and it can be hard to keep up with it all, even if that is all you do. There is so much news out there and it can be difficult to make sense of it all, especially when it comes to education.
When it comes to education, especially if you are just starting college or going to, there are many myths out there that can do more harm than good.
Of course, doing your own independent research into things is always appreciated. But, if you are pressed for time, like most high schoolers are, you need to know certain mistruths and misconceptions regarding things like loans, jobs, and more.
Myth #1: Student Loans are Easy to Pay Off.
First, student loans are not like regular loans, when it comes to discharging them via bankruptcy. Regular loans can be discharged. While student loans can be too, it is extremely difficult, as there is no law that specifically outlines whether a student is eligible to do so.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say that you go to university and declare a biology major with the intent to go to medical school. However, you do not get into medical school. At that point in time, you realize that you want to return to school and major in something more valued by the economy, since biology majors are not, at least compared to other STEM fields like engineering or computer science. So, eventually, you graduate with another degree, but now you have a lot of debt and no clear way to pay it off.
You attempt to declare bankruptcy to try and restart your life without the impending doom of 100,000s of debt and go to bankruptcy court. The court is able to determine whether you are eligible to reduce your student loans by using the Brunner Test. The Brunner test will be implemented to see if having to pay off your debt will cause “undue hardship.” If it will, you may be able to reduce your loans.
This route can cause a lot of hardship and it is 100% preventable. Before you declare a major, determine the economic value of your major. If you wish to declare a major that you love, but it has a low economic value, think about double majoring or consider majoring in a field that the economy wants, while minoring in a field that you love. This way, you will be able to reduce the financial burden of student loans, if you ever need to apply for them.
Myth #2: Jobs are Everywhere.
Second, prepare for your eventual entrance into the workforce by preparing early in college. Doing so will ensure you have an easier time once you graduate and are looking for a job. You can do this by involving yourself in research for the university and applying for paid internships in your field of study. You can even start a business on the side to build up a side income so that when you are looking for work after graduating, you are not desperate to accept the first offer you get.
High school students are often told that they will either have the best time of their life in college or the worst. They are told that entering the workforce is hard and there are no jobs, or that jobs are plentiful (in their field). The truth is somewhere in the middle. You can never know how the economy will turn out, but you can take steps, even as a student, to prepare for it.
The first step is to do well in school. Normal student habits are welcome in every industry, and every facet of life. Sleep at a reasonable hour, study efficiently, focus on your work, and network with other students, teachers, and industry professionals. While the world keeps changing every day, the day-to-day does not.
Myth #3: You Have to Take STEM
Without going into a lot of detail. STEM isn’t the only degree you can take. There is nothing wrong with a degree in the arts. Do not let society convince you that you will be unemployable with an arts degree. In the end, college is about learning problem solving and critical thinking skills. Most degrees will teach you these skills in some form, but it is up to you to learn them and to be able to apply them to everyday situations.
STEM degrees often do provide students with solid foundations in mathematics and science, but without the ability to think critically, these skills aren’t a guarantee. When it comes to college, choose a program that you enjoy. You have four years to figure out your job situation and the majority of the working world won’t care about your degree as much as they care about what skills and experience you have.