Is college for you? It depends. Ask yourself these six questions before you even think about applying for college.

1. Am I prepared to commit to a specific field?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin

As you start to think about applying for college, you should have a specific idea about what you hope to accomplish in your life. Consider these questions:

  • How do I hope to add value to the world?
  • What topics or fields captivate my interest?
  • What personal strengths do I have that could be developed at school?
  • Would I like to work in an office, or would I be happier in a position that is more active?

While you can change your course of study as you please, it would be unwise to invest your time and money into a costly education without any comprehension of how it might benefit you.

2. Should I take a year off to reflect on my passion and purpose?

“It is necessary for a man to go away by himself, to sit on a rock, and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” -Carl Sandburg

If you don’t have any good answers to the questions posed in point #1, don’t feel bad. High school is a confusing time that presents more questions than answers, and that is why you might want to take a year to reflect before you pursue a college degree. This article has some questions that will help begin your journey of self-exploration that will unlock your potential. Consider keeping a journal or notebook to write down your answers. You also might be helped by the suggested reading list below:

3. Is college a place that will serve me, or should I try to succeed through self-study?

“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” -Salvador Dalí

Many college graduates are struggling to find jobs in our stagnate economy, which makes it tempting to assume pursuing a higher education isn’t worthwhile. In my opinion, the benefit of getting a degree is overstated. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” However, I’m not convinced that most people at the age of 18 have the ambition required to succeed on their own. You’re welcome to test that theory for yourself to prove me wrong, but if you require accountability in the form of classes and assignments, then don’t be afraid to admit it.

4. How can I get the education I need at a cost I can afford?

“You must learn to save first and spend afterwards.” -John Poole

I’m not going to debate the merits of private vs. public, or out-of-state vs. in-state schools in this article, because it is simply foolish to make an investment you cannot afford. If you were an excellent high school student who can get a hefty scholarship, or if you’re lucky enough to have parents who are willing to pay your tuition, then feel free to explore more expensive options. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest it, because even the most prestigious degree won’t guarantee a high-paying job in today’s economy. Here is a list of the most affordable colleges with the highest return on investment.

5. What kind of learning environment will be best for my development?

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin

Here are a few questions that will help you determine the learning environment that is best for you:

  • Would you rather go to a college that is driving distance from home, or are you ready for some space?
  • Would you rather listen to a professor in a classroom with students, or learn at your leisure in an online course?
  • Would you rather attend a busy campus where you meet new people every day, or do you prefer a close-knit community?

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers to those questions, but you should definitely know your answers before you apply for college.

6. Can I focus on my studies exclusively, or do I need a side-hustle, too?

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” -Thomas Edison

You need to perform an honest assessment of your financial situation before you decide on how many credit hours to take in a semester. If you have plenty of time to study, then you might be able to handle a full class schedule. If you need a job to cover your tuition, food, and other expenses, then you should probably start slow to avoid getting overwhelmed.

I hope these questions help you figure out if college is for you. Please share this article with anyone you know who is thinking about applying for college.

Featured photo credit: College Student Studying/Geoff Duncan via flickr.com

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