Is College Right for Your Teen?

December 11, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

For many years now people have lived by the philosophy that you must attend high school, go straight to college and then after receiving a two or four-year degree, you can enter the workforce. The expectation is that you must get a degree that will land you a 40-hour work-week job. These days, people are starting to rethink this idea. CNN has an interesting new show that’s very eye opening: Ivory Tower.

Is college necessary? Is college a worthwhile investment? With the increase in student loan debt that can take many years to repay, the struggle for many to find a job, and the fact that many careers don’t require a degree, many are not sure if college is the smartest way to go anymore. Not only is college an expensive investment, time-consuming and not a guaranteed way to get a job, it also is challenging to get enrolled. Here is a look at the recent controversy on whether college is worth it, what it takes to get into college and how to decide if college is right for your teen.

Is A College Degree Worth It?

There’s been some recent controversy surrounding the topic of whether or not to attend college. While most have been taught their whole lives that it’s the proper next step after high school, many graduates and older generations are asking if this is still the best idea. New graduates are seeing firsthand how student debts can hold you back financially as you enter the workforce. Baby boomers struggle to pay for their child’s education, save for their own retirement with the decrease in jobs and are seeing how college is so much more expensive than it once was. While scholarships and grants are available, they’re limited and writing a scholarship essay is no joke.

College is a huge investment of your money and your time. Those that attend need to decide if this investment will have a high enough return on investment. Most people attending college will be taking out student loans to cover tuition, books and their cost of living. The good news for graduates is that you won’t have to repay those loans right out of college thanks to deferment programs, but the bad news is you’ll be accruing interest for every year after the loan’s been taken out.

Aside from the financial drawbacks, the question is whether or not a college degree is worth having. Rather than learning skills that you’ll use in the workforce, today college is more about paying to have a degree. Most jobs still require on-the-job training that isn’t being taught in college. Others are becoming entrepreneurs and making their own businesses by solving a problem or inventing something useful. With the increase in technology, working for oneself has become easier and usually won’t require a degree. Unless you are a seeking a specialized or technical career, a college degree in anything else may not be worth it.

What Teens Need To Know About Getting Into College

Getting into college can be tough. Colleges have become more stringent on their admission standards. They want students with great grades, extracurriculars, volunteer work and high school jobs. Participating in a sport, club at school or doing volunteer work will pay off when it’s time to apply for college. Teens should also get and keep a job that may help with their future degree. The skills from this job will help in showing your future college that you are serious about pursuing a specific degree while the money earned in this job will help to pay for the tuition costs. Teens have the option to take college courses while still in high school too which is another way to have a great start.

Along with improving your student resume through jobs, extracurriculars, volunteer work and earning extra cash for tuition, students need to maintain great grades in school. College admissions will look at your grades and GPA closely. They also will usually require you to write an admission essay which is intended to reveal your best qualities and show them why you would stand out. The essay is one of the biggest factors they will use to determine if you can be accepted into school. It’s your chance to show off the skills you gained in high school.

Once your teen is enrolled in college, it’s important to maintain these same standards while in college. Participating in clubs and maintain a college job is going to help when entering the work force. Many employers will ask about your GPA which means grades are of extreme importance in college and what other skills you earned in school. Your teen will need to master great study skills and learn how to balance extracurriculars with their school work.

Spend time with your teen to decide if their path is to attend college right away or not at all, or if it’s not worth the investment to ever attend college for the career they want to pursue.