I don’t think I’m old enough to be giving this advice, but Tuesday, while getting some coffee for myself at a chain store I’m not going to specify, I randomly talked to a 16-year-old who was working there. He asked me a few questions, once he learned I recently moved out, and it was a really nice conversation—dude was super respectful—and I ended up giving him some life advice.
Which made me think, hey, may as well share a longer version of what I told him.
Fair warning, you might not agree with all of this.
You don’t need to go to college. Seriously, don’t bother going to some big, expensive college if you don’t need to for what you are pursuing. If you want to be a doctor, sure, that’s going to take some serious schooling, but student debt is debilitating and will hang over your head for years and years. If possible, go to a trade school or a community college. Better yet, and I know it’s hard to think this far ahead, while you’re still in high school start learning, taking online courses on, and, if applicable, doing for free what you want your eventual job to be. If you want to work with computers, you should already be programming, now. It may seem weird to think, but you might be able to attract someone in your community who needs that skill set, and it can lead to it being your job right out of high school. That’s literally how I became a professional writer. But, even if you do get a great new job without college debt, do not, I repeat do not, move out from your parent’s house for as long as possible. Living on your own is expensive, and there are a lot of aspects to it that, if you had any form of active guardian, you simply won’t think of it until you need it. Please, please, start doing and paying for more as you get older—don’t be a parasite on your parents, they don’t owe you that—but financially, if you can, it’s way easier than having to deal with everything on your own. I moved out because the circumstances made it a very feasible idea. Have and make a plan before you move out and really evaluate how much money you need to do it.
Special thanks to: Melissa Potter
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I liked your post. I agree many kids need to start thinking about trades and e-school but I’m not sure it’s that simple. My son graduated last year and the pressure on the kids today is extraordinary. What I would add to your advice is this: People change their career on an average of four to five times throughout their life–don’t think you have to stay a peon forever. What the focus should be is in supporting yourself and finding your way….that may be working as a manager at WalMart…doesn’t matter so long as you’re good to yourself and other people. School is not necessarily for everyone but there are those who do benefit. There’s so much scholarship money out there –go for it–much of it is absorbed back in because it isn’t applied for. Check scholartree.com Sorry…I guess I have a lot of opinions…I just wanted to add to your. Keep writing.
Thanks for the insight! I’m not a parent, so I don’t have that perspective, so I really appreciate the comment. There is a lot of scholarship money, yeah, and if a kid does manage to get it, then by all means they should utilize it. I’m not saying college is a bad experience and doesn’t benefit people. It really does help. It just seems to me the debt outweighs the benefit in a lot of cases. But that is from my limited experience. If anyone knows more on it, I’d be glad to read it.
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