When looking at the "Senior Edition" of my high school's newspaper right before I graduated, I was able to look at where everyone was going to college. My friends and I would say "I never pictured him/her going there," "He/she won't last there," or "They're gonna be in a ton of debt." For high school seniors, the time is now to settle on a college or university of choice and for high school juniors, the search begins now. As a college freshman who has been through one semester at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, New York, and someone who vividly remembers the college search along with the stress of classes like Algebra 2/Trigonometry and AP English Language, I have a message for those who are looking for colleges.
Whether you go to that ivy league school or go to the school that doesn't have a football team, whether you travel 1,000 miles or 5 minutes from home, or whether you pay $55,000 a year in tuition or $14,000 a year in tuition -- be proud of yourself, because you made it to college. Only 30% of Americans, yes Americans of the industrialized world, have a Bachelor's Degree while only roughly 11% have a graduate level degree. It is a privilege to go to college and make it through four years, clearly it's not something everyone can or has done.
When watching college football on a Saturday afternoon on ESPN, some of us dream of going to Penn State or Notre Dame and some of us settle for Hofstra University or St. Joseph's College, 2 schools that don't even have football teams.
"I've never heard of that college" is one of the many responses I get. Does it bother me? No. We shouldn't be going to a school just because of its name recognition, we should be going because they have a good program in our desired major. Along with some of the most recognized universities come the big bill. At the end of four years of college, 7 out of every 10 students will be in debt. This is becoming a huge problem as now people are living at home until they are in their early 30's and don't get started with life until their mid 30's. There's nothing to be ashamed of in commuting to a local school to save on room and board or going to a state school that will cost less than $15,000 a year. We need to stop looking for schools in terms of "what will my friends think" or "Is this school well known around the country?" and rather in terms of "Will I get a quality education?" and "How much debt will I be in when I come out?"
Being comfortable is also a huge factor. Some people go away just to go away and get out of the house and with that mindset the results can be disastrous. Too often a time during the first semester I would see on social media people complaining that they hate their college, there's nothing to do, I have no friends, and life sucks. Well, to be honest, you wouldn't be in that situation if you sat down and really evaluated what life would be like at that college before you submitted the first deposit.
In the end, it doesn't matter what school you go to. What matters is the quality of education you attained and how easy or hard it may be for you to get a job in your desired field. Whereas the older generations worried about whether they were going to get nuked by the USSR, the millennials and younger people of today spend too much time worrying about debt, a problem that can easily be solved through a little more self evaluation. Am I going here because it will make me look "cool" to my friends that I'm going to the well known school that's on ESPN every Saturday, but I'll come out with over $100,000 in debt? Or, are we going to this institution because it is financially sound and will give me the quality education that I need in order to get a job and get started with my life. We need to stop looking at people in terms of what college they went to and rather compliment them that they went to college and obtained a 4 year degree or a graduate degree.
To anyone looking for a college: be wise in your choice.