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Friday, August 2, 2013

Going to college or university – when is a good time ?

Going to college or university – when is a good time ?

Yes, everyone is going to college or university straight out of high school – at least, that’s what all your friends are talking about in grade 11 and 12 ; where will you go ? what will you study ? what is your ‘back up’ school ? etc., etc.
However, although I am a strong believer in education, I also think that some students should wait before spending tens of thousands of dollars on post-secondary education.   And why is that ? for a number of reasons.

1. You are not sure what to study in college or university.  College life is appealing and you want to seem like you ‘have it together’ and you have a straight path to success.  As well, changing programs is not that hard once you are in college (or university).  Economically though, this makes no sense – taking 4 or 5 years to complete a 3 year college diploma is a waste of time and money.  Sure, you’d graduate at the same time if you had taken a year or two off to decide what to do, but this break time would also help you figure out what you really want to do while you are earning money, instead of spending it. 
2. You cannot afford to study full-time now.  If you need to go into debt to attend the program of your choice, consider taking a year or two to work full time to first save some money so you can afford going to school.  You see, going to school full-time hits you two ways economically : first you have to pay hefty tuitions ; second you are so busy that it’s impossible to work full-time in parallel. 

3. You just don’t feel ready right now.  Why go and ‘try out’ something you don’t think you want to do right now when it costs thousands of dollars to do ? if you don’t feel ready to work either and are hesitating between the two, choose work.  At least working doesn’t cost you anything and you can save for later studies.

Two notes about delaying post-secondary education :
a. You may make yourself ineligible for some scholarships : this should not be a problem since a $2500 cannot compare well with $20 000 made working full time for a year.

b. There is no ‘ultimate’ age at which to attend college or university: I have a friend who recently finished a college diploma at age 32; I, myself, have had a 2 year break between my master’s and my PhD (I was told this was ‘not done’ and that I could negate my chances of doing a PhD – not so!) and later did a B.Ed. in my 40s!  yes, the experience is slightly different than doing it right after high school, but then again every person’s experience differs from his or her classmates.

So college and university education? YES! right after high school? maybe, maybe not.

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