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What is the purpose of heading to college?
It depends on who you ask. Speak to people in the business sector, and they’ll probably tell you some story about how high education gives you the skills for the modern workplace. Others might claim that college is all about training for its own sake. Learning is valuable in and of itself, no matter where it leads. Others still might see it as an opportunity for young people to make new relationships and experience independent life.
No matter what it is, college is undoubtedly a life-changing experience. But some kids go there wholly unprepared. As a parent, it’s your job to teach them some truths about what life will actually be like and the value of what they’re doing while your kid is heading off to college.
Best Advice For Anyone Heading To College
No Bells Or Buzzers: Organization Is Paramount
You won’t hear any bells or buzzers telling you when one lesson ends, and another begins. The elementary or high school bell system doesn’t apply to college campuses. Instead, you have to organize your timetable with a diary or online portal. Now that takes effort!
Nobody Will Guide You Through All The Topics
The purpose of higher education is to teach people independent learning skills that they can apply to the workplace or a business. The modern world requires individuals who can identify a subject, learn about it, and then apply it in the workplace. Without that skill, the economy would grind to a halt.
The problem, though, is that the majority of people get spoon-fed information at school and don’t have to go through the process of discovery themselves. It’s all handed to them on a plate, sometimes. This is how so many fail or drop out when they hit the college level.
College isn’t like that. When you research a paper, you have to go to the original source material and comprehend it yourself. You can’t get away with basing your responses off a few bullet points in the lecture notes. You must develop your arguments.
Not All Courses Offer The Same Life Opportunities
Kids have it rough now a days. Not only do they not understand the value of their own human capital or needs of their future selves, but the people around them can also put them at a disadvantage with bad advice. People will often tell students that they should do what they are passionate about.
Advice like this seems to make sense. The more a student enjoys the subject matter, the better they will do when it comes to their exams. The problem is that the decisions that a person makes about what they study at a college level can stick with them for life. It can affect their career twenty or thirty years later. For this reason, not only should you focus on something you're passionate about, but also find a subject at the college level that you can use that passion and build on it for future growth.
For example, if you love the arts. You're a great painter or drawer. You can always take art courses, with a major in education and you can become a teacher of arts. You're still focusing on your passion, but you're twisting it into a long term and secure financial path.
It’s much better to think about the kind of life you want in general and how decisions today will affect that.
The University of Alabama Birmingham, for instance, offers a range of courses. Some of those courses, like degrees in business management, are highly relevant to today’s economy. Businesses need people who can both use technology and provide excellent leadership in the business setting. The problem comes when students do not fill these courses but instead go into other areas without clear economic benefit to them. The lessons might be fun, but they can put young people at a disadvantage when they enter the job market.
You’ll Be Able To Party The Whole Time, But You Shouldn’t
One of the problems with college is that you can party the whole time and nobody will say anything. Nothing is stopping you from going out with friends every night of the week and having a party. However, that doesn't meant that your work won't just start piling up higher and higher. Each semester has requirements to fulfil. If you don’t meet them, then the college can kick you off the course, or even worse, kick you out of school. The last thing you want is to be put on academic probation, trust me. It's a pain and is very demanding.
Also, just because you can “get away” with drinking occasionally while you are heading off at college (and even while attending) and not get caught, doesn't mean you should. Especially if you're under legal drinking age. As parents, we know you're going to experiment, however, we also want you to use your intelligence we know you have. Despite what you see all over Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, you do NOT need to drink alcohol in order to have a great time at a party.
You’ll Have To Work Hard To Succeed
Perhaps the most crucial truth is that at college, everyone has to work hard to succeed, no matter how bright they are. A lot of people who you typically saw skating through high school, will need to focus a bit more and do a lot more studying than before.
A lot of talented and intellectually gifted children can cruise through high school without ever putting the pedal to the metal. But while in college the complexity of the courses means that even the brightest of individuals have to put in effort. A 10,000-word dissertation won’t write itself.
In summary, parents need to teach their kids that college are very different from high school. The biggest change is the fact that everything is voluntary – nobody forces your child to do anything while at college. Getting used to that after high school can be a challenge.