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Should I Go to College If I'm Not Sure About It?

Is college right for you? Although we'd like to say it's right for everyone, that's not always true. These college experts weigh in to help you decide.

William T. ConleyWilliam T. Conley
Dean of Enrollment and Academic Services
Johns Hopkins University
I have been in admission work for more than three decades and I still ask the same first question when I interview students: Why do you want to go to college? Students are often stunned by this question, perhaps expecting me to ask why I should admit them to my college. Going to college because that’s what everyone expects you to do is not a good reason. If you are ready to tackle a more intense academic challenge, live with a more diverse set of people, and aspire to careers that require a college education, then you should go to college. Of course, it is not necessary to go to college right after high school if you are not ready, but you should plan a “gap” year that provides experiences—work, community service, or travel—that make you a more self-aware, mature person.

Karen P. CondeniKaren P. Condeni
Vice President and Dean

Ohio Northern University

It is not uncommon to get anxious and apprehensive about being "college bound." Many others not only second-guess their college choice but also whether they are truly ready to take this significant step in their life. It does mean leaving one's current comfort zone. New experiences and new expectations can be a little daunting. Start by assessing why college seems to be important today. Why is this step valued in society? Could this be your next opportunity to develop as an individual, secure a future career, and provide for a better future? Review the facts; you'll see the power of future earnings and the independence very closely connected to furthering your education. Remember that your friends and family will grow and change and you too will need to set goals. Now is the time to give the college search a try—you never know if you'll find a good, comfortable fit. See the process it as the beginning of self-actualization, not an end. Talk with others who have made the transition successfully.  More regrets tend to come from those who opted out than from those who gave further education the good ole "college try." The challenge can be exciting!

Cyndy McDonaldCyndy McDonald
Higher Educational Consultants Association (HECA)

Sometimes it is good to take a year or so off before going to college, to learn more about yourself and the world around you. This is often known as taking a “gap” year. Once you finish your gap year, you will be more ready to embark on a college education. Don’t let the gap year turn into a time you just sit around and accomplish nothing for a year. That will not benefit you in the future as you are making choices.

Joan Isaac MohrJoan Isaac Mohr
Former Vice President and Dean of Admissions

Quinnipiac University
It can be a great idea to take a year off between high school and college if you feel that you're not ready. You may want to travel, perhaps do some volunteer work, get a paying job to help save for college, or even think more about what you want to go to college to study. You may want to talk to a military recruiter if you want to explore options of going into the service and making use of their coverage of your college study in the future. Going to college should be a decision that you make, not just the "automatic" next step.

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