Chances are, if you clicked this article, you’re wondering if a 4-year degree is worth the investment: not just the money it will cost, but also your time and energy. The truth is, everyone’s situation is different, so you are the only person that can really answer that question. However, we compiled some questions to consider to guide you through this big decision.
Why do you want to go to a 4-year school?
This is an important question to answer, so approach it with as much honesty as you can. Are you applying to college because you genuinely want to go? Did you submit your applications to appease your parents? Do you need a 4-year degree for your the career path you want to take? Do you hold beliefs that attending a 4-year college is the only way to attain career success? Think about all the things you hope to gain from college. Can you accomplish those same goals through other avenues?
What are your specific goals?
It’s important to note that there are certain careers that can only be accomplished through a 4-year degree. For example, you need a bachelor’s degree to become an aerospace engineer, marketing manager, or software developer. Other careers may require education beyond 4 years. For instance, to become a veterinarian, you will need to go through 4 years of undergrad and graduate school. If there are careers that interest you, do your research on the educational requirements. To learn more about the different types of degrees out there, check out this article.
You don’t necessarily need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. But it’s helpful to think about where you see yourself in the future. Think about which career paths you’re drawn to. Make a list of all the things that leave you feeling fulfilled. Do you enjoy interacting with other people? Are you happiest doing hands-on activities? It’s okay if some of your interests aren’t related to academics. Once you have a few goals in mind, work backwards. What educational requirements will help you reach those aspirations? Consider other programs that may help you. Would taking off a year and working a job help you explore an industry? What about certificate programs, community college, or apprenticeships?
Does this make sense for you financially?
Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest concerns students have about college is the price tag that comes with it. It can be tough shelling out a large sum of money when you aren’t 100% certain it’s the right choice for you. Paying for college is doable, but you may want to consider other options that won’t break the bank. Many students will start at a more affordable community college and transfer to their school of choice later. As you can see, there is no set path to success! To learn more about affordable options, check out this article.
Is now the right time?
If the timing of a 4-year degree doesn’t feel right, that’s okay. Just remember, you will always have the opportunity to enroll. You can always return in a few years as a non-traditional student or transfer after a couple years at community or technical college. Some students find that attending a 4-year college at a later date allows them to strive for admission to a school they otherwise wouldn’t have been accepted. When you apply as a transfer student, colleges will focus mostly on your grades in your current program or your work experience in the real world. This may be an ideal situation for someone who didn’t perform as well in high school as they had hoped.
All in all, it’s important to remember that there are so many different ways for you to attain your professional aspirations. We hope these questions help you come to a decision that feels right for you.