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Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Lies Your Teachers Told You About College

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Yes. You know it just as well as I do. Your teachers lied to you. No... Don't start lighting your torches and grabbing your pitchforks yet. Most of the teachers lie about the prospects of college with good intentions but even if they didn't have good intentions, consider this:

A high school teacher CANNOT speak negatively about college and keep their job safe. Imagine the uproar of parents if a teacher told you all the information I'm about to tell you. That's not to say college is a negative but knowing what a teacher is not allowed to say can help you figure out where the whole story isn't being told and where you need to look out.

1. You Need College To Get A Good Job

This is one of the most egregious lies being told to high school students today. You do not need a college degree to get a good job. In fact, there are many jobs without a college degree that are easier to get and pay way more than some jobs that require college. They're just a different category of jobs.

Most teachers don't even realize how much they're lying when they say this. That's because they chose to go down the college path themselves and, of course, there are some major statistics that, on the surface, suggest they're right.

You might hear the statistics like, “people that go to college make an extra million dollars in their lifetime,” and assume that's because college gets you a better job. That's misguided though. College does not necessarily increase a persons salary just because there is a correlation. It's just as likely to say, people that will become successful are more likely to go to college.

To rephrase that, it's not necessarily that college makes people smart enough to get more money. It can also mean that people smart enough to make more money tend to go to college. That's a major difference. People are told the benefits of college their whole life. People with a good head on their shoulders are waay more likely to consider it. These people may be just as successful without it.

That being said, this lie could actually hold some truth if you rephrase it:

You need training to get a good job.

Training can come from college. It can also come from years of experience. There are tons of different ways to get the training required for a job. Don't narrow down your focus to exclude everything except college.

2. College Is An Investment

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Not understanding this point can cost you years of your life.

More of my friends than I like to think about are now suffering from the consequences of this mistake. College is not an investment by nature. It's just not. Education means very little economically and can cost you a fortune if you don't plan it out like an investment. It's only an investment if you treat it like an investment.

An investment is something that has a clear way to pay you a return on your investment in the future. School is not always that clear cut. You are not guaranteed a job just because you graduate college. You're not even guaranteed an interview. You need to look at the job market you're investing in before you actually spend tens of thousands of dollars on college.

This might be painful but it will be a whole lot less painful than paying down your student loans on a job you could have gotten without your degree. College is only an investment if you make it one. Otherwise, it's just a luxury.

3. It's Harder Than High School

Many high school teachers like to scare students into focusing on their work. Instead of actually providing their students a reason to learn the material, they tell their students that they're going to fail out of college if they don't learn to work hard now. That's the most common reason I've heard teachers make this lie but there are a few other reasons I've noticed.

Most people that graduate from college and spend time talking about it are just the kind of person to brag. While it's not every case, many people like to make a big deal out of things that aren't all that much of a challenge to make themselves feel better about it. Instead of trusting volunteered opinions about the challenges of college.

Ask people that have graduated and don't brag about it. Sometimes they'll tell you it's a little harder but you won't get the average scare story you get from most people that bring the subject up themselves.

Don't expect college to be much harder than high school unless you're heading into a super challenging degree (medical, etc.) or a super challenging college (MIT, etc.)

4. Go To School For What You Love!

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Yes. This is another unbelievably dangerous lie.

The average teacher that tells you this one is so confident in it that they're easy believe. Don't. Imagine how you'll feel 4 years after college when you need to pay off $30,000 worth of student loans with $10 an hour. My friends are doing it now. It's not fun.

College is not the time to learn what you love unless you have the money lying around to pay for it. As mentioned before, you need to treat it like an investment. That means you should be going for a degree that has a clear market for a job after graduation. By market, I do not mean a few teaching jobs. I mean jobs in just about anyplace you look.

You cannot count on being in the small minority of women's studies majors that get a teaching job after college. You might as well be going to the library and buying lottery tickets because the odds are stacked up against you.

Oftentimes, you can make a reasonable compromise with this kind of thing. If you want to go for some of those more fun sounding classes then do it while getting a degree with real potential for a job.

5. You Won't Go If You Don't Go Now

This is close to true. Most people that don't go to college right after high school, don't end up going to college ever. That is mostly related to the kind of person that usually doesn't go to college. Responsible people are more likely to go to college. The irresponsible people don't go to college. They end up living paycheck to paycheck, and maybe accidentally having a few kids. Eventually, they can't change their might.

Don't ignore another group though. What happens to the responsible people that don't go to college? Well... they don't limit their options in the future. Personally, I went to college 2 years after I graduated. Working for a few years was one of the best things I could have done. I learned more in those two years of working than I did in school. All around me at my minimum wage job, I saw people that I didn't want to be like. I saw them partying and doing drugs and I stayed responsible because I knew I didn't want to end up where they were.

If you're responsible then you don't have to go to college now. The only thing that can keep you from going back in the future is yourself.

Don't just take everything your teachers tell you as fact. They're just as human as anyone else with an opinion. Look at yourself logically and trust that you're capable of making the right decision for yourself.

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