Written for The ANCHOR Project
You were probably told to go to college. Or someone implied it along with some other expectations. Birth, High School, College, Work, Marriage, Children, Retirement, Death is the usual formula pushed onto young people. This formula doesn’t suit many, especially those of us in the LGBTQ community. No one should rush into college just because they assume that it is the next step. The awesome thing about queering your career is that you can choose next step.
If you are thinking about going to college, then ask yourself these questions:
• Do I like writing essays, taking notes, listening to lectures, or being immersed in academia?
• Do I know what I am going to major in?
• Do I know what I am going to use my major for?
• Do I have a specific career goal?
• Could I get started in a career with a two-year degree or a certificate?
In America, there are over seven thousand colleges and universities. They offer a cornucopia of degrees from African-American studies to Zoology that varies in accreditation and future application. The sky is really the limit on what one can learn, but graduation can be a moment of truth. Not all colleges are created equal. There has been a recent crack down on for-profit colleges like Corinthian College, the Art Institutes, and more because of poor job placement rates, bad loan processes, and sky rocketing default rates. There are good for-profit training programs, but you have to be prepared for the fast pace, expense, and to do your research. Campus culture varies widely in for colleges with multiple locations so even a quality for-profit college could have two locations in a city with very different employment rates. That rate could be even more different depending on the programs they offered. Technicians and Engineers will always have more job options. Its not a for-profit phenomenon. Non-profit universities and state colleges have had problems with unemployment among their graduates. Do your research with any and all colleges and majors.
A college degree is fantastic to put on a resume, but there is no reason to rush into getting your bachelors. Community colleges offer certifications and two-year programs that can lead to entry-level positions. Or in the case of trades like welding, it can propel someone into a trade where they can make up to $90,000 a year.
There are alternatives to college and trade schools such as the AmeriCorps or the Conservation Corps. Also, it’s acceptable to just find a job after high school and get your feet wet that way.
I have a friend who took one class at a time at the local community college for five years. During that time, she built up her writing skills and network. Now as she prepares to transfer to a university, she already has a full time job in her field and a packed portfolio. Going to college right after high school wasn’t something she was ready for, but she still worked on setting herself up for a career in journalism.
There is no age limit on college. You can go to college at 20, 40, or 80. If you feel any nagging doubts about college, then trust yourself and give yourself space to work, travel, volunteer, start a business, join the military, etc. College will be there when you get back.
• FAST FACTS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 28, from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84
• For-Profit College Enrollment Is Down Following Scandals & School Failures. (2015, March 31). Retrieved August 28, 2015, from http://consumerist.com/2015/03/31/for-profit-college-enrollment-is-down-following-scandals-school-failures/
• The For-Profit College Job Placement Rate Scandal Revisited – EdCentral. (2015, April 15). Retrieved August 28, 2015, from http://www.edcentral.org/scandal/
• Underwater Welding Career and Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2015, from https://www.commercialdivingacademy.com/underwater-welding-career-and-salary.cms