We get it. You’ve spent the last 12 years (or more!) in school. You’re ready to land your dream job and just get on with this whole “adulthood” thing. You don’t want to wait another 4+ years.
But you also know that people with college degrees often make at least $600K more over their lifetime than high school graduates. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Just make sure you don’t buy into any of these myths and potentially lose thousands of dollars…
Myth #1: Going to a prestigious school means you’ll make more money
Let’s say you took all the AP courses available, graduated top of your high school class, and got an outstanding SAT score. You’ve even been accepted into an Ivy League school! It’s the surest way to secure your future and get ahead in life…right?
Not necessarily. Sure, it sounds nice to say you have a fancy degree. And you’d think the $60K or so in annual tuition alone must account for something.
But according to US News, you can’t expect to make more money just because you go to an Ivy League school. They cite a study by Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale which shows that, in many cases, the students who were accepted into Ivy League schools but instead went to a different college often made as much money as those who went to Ivy League schools.
In other words, if you’ve worked hard enough to get into an Ivy League school, there’s a strong chance you’ll make lots of money whether or not you actually go to school there. Keep that in mind if there’s another reputable, more affordable school you’d like to attend.
But that's not to say Ivy League schools are a waste of time. You have a unique opportunity in those settings to connect with some of the top-performing students in the country and get a better education, which can definitely open doors in your future. And, the Krueger and Dale study noted that many minority and lower-income students actually do seem to make more money if they attend an Ivy League school.
As important as we believe education is, don’t fall for…
Myth #2: Going to college guarantees you’ll get a job
Too many students believe this lie. “All you have to do is go to college, and then you’ll be successful in life.” Even if you just coast along for the next four years, read none of your textbooks and party all night, you’ll do fine if you get good grades.
In reality, a college degree alone isn’t what it used to be. While it is a significant baseline requirement, many entry-level jobs today won’t consider your application unless you have 1-3 years of experience in the job market.
Why? Because employers are getting smarter. They know that too many people look great on paper, but actually don’t have the skills necessary to do the job. They want you to be a good student, and they also want you to have proven job experience. This is why it’s so important to have guidance throughout the college journey, and to take the time to do internships while in school.
It's also important to pursue personal interests, which leads us to…
Myth #3: You don’t need a social life
Once you get into college, you might feel busier than ever. Especially if you’re taking more than 12 credits and working part-time. How does anyone have time for friends?
And sure, you saw a few college clubs listed on your school’s website. One or two of them look like something you could get involved in. Maybe you’ll get around to that…eventually.
Yes, it’s easy to put this one off. But remember – college clubs can lead to lifelong friendships, learned job skills, and a stronger resume down the line. Not to mention all the networking opportunities that could open dozens of doors in the future. And all the fun you can have, which can really help relieve stress when you’re so busy.
Don’t miss out on these opportunities. Get involved with a college club right away! Look on your school’s website or attend a club fair at the beginning of the year.
Myth #4: You MUST decide your career before entering college
With how expensive college is, it’s easy to feel the pressure of having everything figured out from the start. After all, this is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make! Surely, you need to decide your major beforehand and stick with it?
The reality is, especially for people between the ages of 18-25, there’s so much you’re still learning about yourself. You’re discovering who you are, what you’re passionate about, how you relate to others. Your brain isn’t even fully developed yet.
So, take the pressure off yourself! You don’t have to stick with one major in college. But do have a game plan before going in.
Ask yourself a few questions – What classes did I get good grades in during high school? What classes did I most enjoy? Have friends and family ever mentioned they could really see me in a specific profession? What kind of impact do I want to have on the world? What’s the future job market looking like for a few of the careers I could see myself in?
Think through some of these questions and then pick a major. If you change it a couple (or more) times, that’s totally okay! For so many students, the college experience is where they discover their career path. So go in with a plan and be ready for that plan to change many times.
If you need help picking out a major and exploring career opportunities, check out our academic coaching services: https://www.studentcoachingservices.com/coaching!