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18 year olds shouldn't go to college immediately

  1. Mar 25, 2016 #1
    I feel like there is an expectation from society for every 18 year old to go to college immediately after high school. In my opinion, this results in millions of people being pressured to enter into a program that they are not ready for.

    Me, personally, I went into the wrong program at the wrong time, and I was not personally ready for college at the time. If I had to go back and do it again, I would have worked, traveled, interned and gained real life experience in 2-3 years before going to college with an improved sense of direction.

    I don't want to impose anything on the majority of people, but I know plenty of people in a similar situation as me. I doubt I'm alone.

    In my opinion:
    • 18 year olds aren't mature yet (the frontal lobe doesn't even fully develop until age ~22)
    • People should go to college with a clear head and a sense of direction - not at a predetermined time.
    • Lots of people go to "find themselves", constantly change their majors and waste time.
    • High schools fail to prepare most students to select a college program which fits with their personal needs.
    • Many don't appreciate college until they see how rough full-time entry-level work is.
    • Lots of people go because of external pressure (and as a result, they lack personal ownership of their own experience)
    • It's all too easy to go to avoid real world responsibility. I'd say at least half of the students in my state university were cocooning.
    • Not every single person is suited for academia. Some would be better suited for a trade.
    • College is a major financial decision and it should be deeply thought about (so there aren't regrets)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2016 #2
    I generally agree with most of your points, but I wouldn't say they shouldn't or should. Just give options without pressure. Information is everything. I think many countries use a gap year for travel and whatever.
     
  4. Mar 25, 2016 #3
    * SOME 18 year olds shouldn't go to college immediately.

    You won't find anyone that disagrees with you with the above change.

    Saying that ALL 18 year olds shouldn't go to college immediately is asinine. While in high school, I received several scholarships, two of which stipulated that I must be enrolled in a university at the time of applying for the scholarship. The combined value of the scholarships was over $30,000, which as a full-time worker right out of high school would've taken me two years to achieve otherwise. And you're telling me that I should've done that anyway? There are plenty of reasons why one WOULD want to go to college immediately.

    • 18 year olds aren't mature yet (the frontal lobe doesn't even fully develop until age ~22)
    You need to be mature in order to know what you want to do? If someone has wanted to be a doctor since age 5 and have taken all the necessary steps and are prepared to pursue their medical degree at age 18, are you going to dissuade them and tell them that it's not really what they want to do? Maturity is not a step function, it's an exponential (or something).
    • People should go to college with a clear head and a sense of direction - not at a predetermined time.
    And you can't have a clear head and a sense of direction while a senior in high school?
    • Lots of people go to "find themselves", constantly change their majors and waste time.
    "Lots"? As in, a majority? Do you have statistics to back this up, saying that many people switch to completely different majors and end up taking useless courses as a result? In my experience, a lot of people take gen ed courses their first year or two, and then may switch, but it does them no harm.
    • High schools fail to prepare most students to select a college program which fits with their personal needs.
    And taking a gap year or two will somehow magically give them the preparation?
    • Many don't appreciate college until they see how rough full-time entry-level work is.
    I learned this while in high school, and many others do as well.
    • Lots of people go because of external pressure (and as a result, they lack personal ownership of their own experience)
    Or... OR.... their parents and loved ones encourage them to go to college because they know about the college experience as well as the student, and so can make a logical connection and say that college is a good choice for them. OR people can want to go to college and have their parents want them to go as well. High school students are not bendy straws, they can make their own decisions. Just because you made a decision that was bad for you, doesn't mean that "lots of people" do the same.
    • It's all too easy to go to avoid real world responsibility. I'd say at least half of the students in my state university were cocooning.
    How do you know this? Because they don't need to have a job, so they're full-time students without other commitments? So you're assuming they only went to avoid real-world responsibility?
    • Not every single person is suited for academia. Some would be better suited for a trade.
    This is kind of a duh. But there are some that ARE suited for academia, and the reality is that a majority of jobs today do require some sort of college education.
    • College is a major financial decision and it should be deeply thought about (so there aren't regrets)
    And you think most people spend the prior 18 years not thinking about their education at all? They spend an average of 943 hours in school per year, you don't think they ponder where it's getting them?

    You may have made a poor decision, and I also personally know many people who made this as well. But the reality is that it's a very personal decision, and making a sweeping generalization like people should or should not go to college immediately is just plain ignorant.
     
  5. Mar 25, 2016 #4
    @Dishsoap

    I never meant to say all 18 year olds need to wait. But I would definitely say it's a lot more than some. Without any concrete statistics at hand, I'll say possibly more than half should consider waiting.

    The case of getting a generous scholarship is definitely a compelling reason to study immediately. I agree. The top performing students in high school are most likely immediately suited for college. However, average and below average students should slow down and think about it first.

    On the maturity point, I guess there's lots of different definitions of maturity. I guess I mean maturity more in the sense that one has their priorities in order, taking their education seriously and is very responsible. I'm not sure most 18 year olds are. 18 years old, majority status aside, is still a kid.

    On the point of a gap year preparing students, assuming that someone is using a portion of their time during the gap year talking to colleges, researching programs and looking into careers, I would say, yes.

    On the point of a majority of jobs requiring some education, that's another mixed bag. Most entry level jobs today are low-skill, employers are nervous of fleeting employees and it benefits applicants to understate their education for that reason.

    Finally, on jobs, I do think most people going to college should have some work experience, whether it be part-time work in high school, a summer job or a gap year of full-time. I'm not sure how much employers like a resume with all-college and no-work experience.

    Even the most low-end jobs teach people skills that they can't learn in college. I think humility is an important trait. Being a student without having to ever work a day in one's life can result in a sense of entitlement and arrogance.

    Am I telling a brilliant medical student to forfeit their scholarship, take a break from college and reduce their credits so they can work at Pizza Hut? Not necessarily. While I have been using some general terms here, I don't want to speak for everyone.

    But in an overall sense, from what I've seen, the people who benefit from college the most are the mature ones who have combined academic success with real world experience.
     
  6. Mar 27, 2016 #5
    Sorry for long post:

    My guidance counselors in high school didn't prevent me from taking advanced courses, but they sure didn't encourage me to reach for the stars. I had all the potential to go to University, but my high school experience was garbage. I was bullied all the way until grade 12. I was picked on and treated like a POS by many peers, had a hard time fitting in. I had to quit some classes because I was actually getting beat up in some of them. People would throw things at me, slap me, spit at me etc.. I'm pretty sure it was because I had gone through a deep depression in grade 7, and had never fully recovered. My inner dialogue was that I was stupid, below average and the best I could hope for was to be labor at a sawmill or some kind of forestry job. I was an utter failure and my school average was barely passing with 60's and the odd 70. I really wasn't studying or paying attention, or even caring about classes - but I didn't take that into account. (BTW, I want or deserve no pity, it was part of my own growth as a person).

    Enter Victory lap. This was my savior. Grade 13 introduced me to Physics, Chemistry, Calculus and Algebra&Geometry. I also began a rigorous weight-lifting program at my local gym. I began playing ice hockey. I started being outgoing and paying more attention in class. I LOVED Calculus. I did an outstanding 86% in that class, and 82% in Algebra - considering I had little to bring from any of my previous grades (my math background was bad lol). That year I ended up helping a lot of people that I previously saw as "top students" in my previous years.

    EVEN after this immense progress, Guidance counselors and some teachers, were still telling me that applying to "EE" or "Physics" would be too hard in University. They didn't put it that way, but their body language was met with a lot of air swishing through their teeth when I asked about these programs.

    To me, there was NOT an atmosphere of great learning in school, and there was NOT a culture of higher education going on. NEVER have I been influenced or inspired to pursue Physics or EE, in any way through any staff or guidance. There were no communities of science or anything like that. No Universities near me to visit and see if there were any things that I would like to do. Even through all this, I still wanted to pursue Physics or EE throughout my last year.

    All I would have needed would have been advice that sounded something like this: "EE or Physics are tough courses. They are a LOT of work and even some pretty smart people find it very difficult. But if you are really passionate about it, with hard work and determination, you definitely have the potential to succeed." - NOT - "Well.... *wind through teeth*... maybe you want to try for a trade diploma.."..

    So I settled for a Electronics Engineering Technician program at RCC (formerly). I ended up in the honors program, within the top 5 of my class, GPA at 4.25, including the fact that I had to work 30 hours a week to sustain my food and shelter, and my commute from school to apartment was about 1.5 hours each way.

    In one way, I would love to personally drive to each of my guidance counselors/teachers and offer them a sincere and warm middle finger of justice. But at the same time I think it is the reason for my motivation today for higher education. My determination is growing every day and I am putting all my wheels in motion, gaining momentum every day toward my goal.

    I guess what I meant is that the age might be one thing, but in my case, I was surrounded with disappointment and crappy staff.

    Today, I am a thriving technician in my field, one of the top (pat my own back). My official position is to teach my trade to others even though I am very young for this instructing position. My name is known in a good way as a "switched on" person who is very professional, knowledgeable and innovative.

    In the end, my advice to a student that is 18, is to look inside, push yourself and see what you can do. If you don't feel ready, there is nothing wrong with sticking around an extra year. If you really feel you can do something, don't let people influence your future the way I did.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  7. Mar 27, 2016 #6

    micromass

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    Maybe you are quite happy in your current job. But still, it's not too late for you to study physics and EE. Even if it's in your free time.
     
  8. Mar 28, 2016 #7

    MarneMath

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    I recall reading that about 65.9% of high school graduates went to college immediately after graduation last year, which represents a decline, of that 34.1% that did not go to college, half of those got jobs. I don't disagree with many of your points. I was a student that went to a university failed (1.something GPA) and ended up living in the real world for a while. When I did go back to college, I had years of perspective, maturity, and discipline to do well and eventually finish my masters degree from a so called Southern Ivy. However, on the flip side, I also had to struggle by working 40 hours a week, to support my wife, and daughter. I couldn't do REU, and my real world job (Infantry in the Army) had no real relation to career I was pursuing. While my younger peers were able to spend their time studying, doing research and immersing themselves into their education, I did not have such opportunity. My studying had to occur at midnight with a flashlight on my forehead, because we lived in a studio apartment.

    Anyway, I write this because the flip side of waiting for college is that life happens. The longer you're in the work force, the harder it is to go back to school. I was fortunate that I had VA disability and the GI Bill, otherwise all of this would've been much tougher. Unfortunately, my wife was also going to law school at the same time, so I had to burden that cost on me too. Many years later, we're doing rather well for ourselves, but we definitely did not take the easy way.
     
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