October 10th, 2017 was a very special day for me. That was the day my thesis adviser accepted the last draft of my senior thesis in college. It was the culmination of four years of college, and 12 years of school before that. I was already working a temp job at the time and was not even enrolled in classes.
I finished a few months later than originally planned but I finished it. A few months late is actually fairly normal. One thing they don’t highlight in most college brochures is that the graduation rate is for the percent of students who finish after six years, not four. finishing later than your graduation date is okay, what is important is that you finish.
Schools have become drop out factories. This is due to a few factors. First people go to college who don’t really have the academic ability to complete the course load, and this is because the idea you need to go to college is so drilled into the American mindset. Second big reason is that many kids simply don’t enjoy college, many kids are forced to go to school and they really don’t want to be there. Then there are the students who simply cannot afford to stay in school, college is expensive.
We expect our high school seniors to make a decision that could could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that will direct the next four years of their life. College is an important decision, but where you go is mattering less and less. State school costs far less than major private universities, and you can still get a good education at one. The United States has the broadest post secondary education system in the world. There are far more options though then just a traditional college.
If you are not great academically, going directly into a bachelors program is probably not the best idea. Even going to a regular academic program may not be the best idea. If you want to work with your hands, and can get into a tech program they are a great option. If you still want to go for an academic discipline, it is a good idea to get your gen ed credits done at a community college that your credits will transfer from, You may as well pay 1/5th the amount of money per credit to take college writing 1 and 2.
For those not sure what to major in, it does not matter much. Unless you are going into a highly technical field like Nursing,Engineering,Accounting , or any field that requires many specialized skills what you major in does not have a huge impact on your career. Only 17% of people work in a job that requires their major. that works out to almost 1/6 people actually use their degree directly.
I majored in political science with a focus in international relations and comparative politics. to supplement my education I took multiple classes in art history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. I took classes that all focused on analyzing the world around us, and asking why. Critical reasoning is a very important skill, but it is hard to quantify. I initially wanted to work for the government, but nothing makes you want to work for the government less than a degree in political science.
It is also important to remember that even if you make a choice, it is not set in stone. Most people I knew in college changed their degree in some way as they went through it. this gets again at the core of the issue of expecting high school seniors to know what they want to do with their life. I am almost 25 and I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. Take as many classes in your gen eds your first two years as you can. This way you learn what you like, and if you want to change your degree it won’t be as big of a deal.
The most important thing is that you make connections when you are in college. Internships are less important than people think. An internship only makes someone marginally more likely to get hired. They are helpful because many job hires are about who you know more than what you know. I personally had an aversion to doing an unpaid internship, I don’t agree with them on principal. Political science internships are pretty much all unpaid, which is why i wrote a paper to graduate. Get to know at-least a few professors if you are doing graduate school. Letters of recommendation mean far more when the professor actually knows you.
Don’t be afraid to take a job that doesn’t require your degree. The truth is most entry level jobs don’t require a BA or a BS. Getting a couple years job experience in something tangentially related to your dream job is going to put you far ahead of just a new graduate. You learn most of what you need to know for a job while on the job in the first year anyways.
College is what you put into it. It can be long nights of studying, or long nights of partying. It will likely be a little of both. I am not going to say college is the best time of your life, I am far happier now than I ever was in college. Preparing yourself for life after college is important, but don’t forget that living in the moment is not bad either.
As always hope you enjoyed reading,
Go With The Winds.
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