Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

The closer I get to the end of my undergraduate career, the more I have become acquainted with the various reasons people want to go to college and why individuals pick the colleges they do. Some students come in with ambitious goals and visions for their futures while others come to have the “college” experience and figure out what it is they want to do for the rest of their lives. In this article, I will examine some of the reasons people choose to attend college and why these reasons will not sustain you.

Someone in your life is pressuring you to go

Whether it is a friend, parent teacher or significant other, many people face external pressure to attend school at the post-secondary level. Sometimes, this pressure is a good thing due to the fact that loved ones and trusted authority figures may see potential in you and be encouraging you to better yourself and grow in knowledge. At other times, this external pressure can be stifling and confusing, specifically if these outside individuals are pressuring you to attend a specific school for specific reasons that have more to do with what they would want for themselves rather than what would actually be best for you.

Looking for fun

While college is a place to gain a higher education, many high school graduates look for a little fun after four years of high school drudgery and thus, they may be inclined to select a college based on where they will be able to have the most fun. Of course fun is an important aspect of college, but it is important to remember that after college, aside from a few good stories and several “Only Me” Facebook pictures you will be looking for a job and trying to figure out how to pay off your student loans. If you are looking for a good time, there is a much cheaper way to do it.

Because you don’t know what to do after high school

The transition between high school and adult life is a strange and nebulous time. In high school you follow a heavily regimented schedule, talk to the same people you have been talking to for years and suddenly, after pomp and circumstance and a sheet of paper in your hand you are thrust out into what parents like to call “the real world” and are forced to make a lot of choices for yourself. You could get married and start a family, relocate to the city of your dreams, get a job or go to college. For many, college is the appealing choice because it seems like the familiar option. You’ve been in school all of your life and so a few more years won’t hurt. Besides, people go to college to find themselves right? While self-growth is an important aspect of college life, you can develop yourself wherever you are. Going to college because you feel it is the next step without any figment of a purpose can often leave you adrift longer than your classmates and can result in spending more semesters in school and in some cases not graduating.

To meet the love of your life

I have heard many a tale of people meeting the love of their lives in college. While some of these people were in their 20’s the majority of these people were parents of people in their 20’s. While college may have at one time been the place where educated people met, fell in love and got married, that may no longer be the case. Many people think that the dating pool will be more exciting and sophisticated in college especially when compared to the immature high school one that post-secondary students grow accustomed to. However, when you think about where college students come from, you realize that this cannot be the case. After all, everyone who is a college student was once an immature teenager. Some people examine themselves and grow out of that. More people don’t. So, while it is entirely possible to meet the love of your life in the college setting I would not under any circumstance make that the primary reason for attending.

It will guarantee you a job

I truly hope that years after the start of the Great Recession no one is thinking this way, but just in case I will be sure to cover it. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the myth that going to college will provide you with a stable job continues to be perpetuated. While going to college can make you a more marketable candidate for employment, there are a good number of factors that play into this marketability. This facet of employability often depends on the college you attend, what you did there, whether or not you can convince them of the skills you learned in college, and whether or not the place you are seeking employment is looking for someone. Even if you do everything “right” there is a chance you will not be selected for the job.

The unfortunate reality is that going to college does not really guarantee anything at all. It doesn’t guarantee a job. It doesn’t guarantee that you will meet the love of your life. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have fun. It doesn’t guarantee that you will ever find yourself. It doesn’t even guarantee you are going to leave with a degree. That being said, it is an experience like nothing else. Reflect on your reasons for wanting to go in the first place and make sure that you have several reasons to be motivated to be there for some time. Going to school for a little less than half a decade for the wrong reasons can be a drain on your mental health, time, money and ultimately your life..

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the author

Lauren Collier is a senior at the College of William and Mary studying English and Psychology. She spends her days in the developmental psychology lab researching family behavioral patterns. When she's not in the lab or writing for The Prospect, Lauren is usually cooking up a storm with her roommates or writing poems under the shade of a large tree.

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