Facing the Challenges of College
During this time of the year, many individuals and many families are preparing for a major milestone – going to college! Traditionally, high schoolers are eager to step into a new season of independence. Adults who are returning to college, also known as nontraditional students, may experience some nervousness due to uncertainty. College is a major life decision for anyone, regardless of age or student status.
Once you’ve received those acceptance letters, and you’ve made the decision on where you’re going, it is immediately time to prepare! Individuals may feel inclined to share this news with loved ones, especially if you’ll have to move away. Take the time to review your school’s semester schedule. Determine when the breaks in the semester are, and you can arrange travel to visit your family and friends. You can also review things that you’ll need for college, and ask for your family’s support in acquiring them.
For traditional students, this transition may be very scary. Many young adults between the ages of 18-21 are moving away from family for the first time. They are soon to enter into a new world that will change their life experience. In your preparation, take time to read more about your college. Read about campus culture, student activities, the surrounding communities, etc. Have a good idea about the culture you will soon immerse yourself into.
One thing all college students have to prepare for is the financial responsibility! College students must provide their own toiletries, school supplies, food, books, course materials, and so much more. It would be wise to start saving a year in advance, as this will give you a safety net. If possible, students can get a job during their junior or senior year of high school, to learn professional and financial responsibility. If you aren’t able to save, then look into budgeting on how you can realistically manage the costs of attending college. In your college prep, research alternative options for financial aid such as grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.
Acknowledge the Drawbacks
For the last couple of years, the college experience has changed. The global COVID-19 pandemic left each of us with some new beliefs about old traditions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are more recent high school graduates getting a job, rather than going to college. Today’s high school graduates are faced with the economic uncertainty of post-COVID. Many students find themselves in a dilemma, weighing the challenges of college along with changing times. Families report that people used to think “If you don’t go to college, you’re a bum,” and people don’t think that simple anymore. College enrollment has been on a steady decline, from 70% of high school students attending college in 2016, to 63% in 2020. Now more than after, college prospects worry about the financial burden, and whether the benefits of college will outweigh its challenges. Again, college is a major investment, and it is normal to experience worry. The best course of action is to do adequate research and seek help determining what’s best for you. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports that a degree does pay off! 67% of “good jobs” with a salary of $35,000 or greater require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
The challenges of college can be resolved. Take the time to get to know your institution. Visit the financial aid office and build relationships with financial aid counselors. Become more familiar with the student loan types and processes. Perhaps attending college could inspire you to increase your financial literacy in your own life. Schedule an appointment with a personal banker and see how you can use financial solutions to support you through college.
College is designed to facilitate growth, and sometimes growth can be uncomfortable. Seek out mental health resources that can support you while you conquer this milestone. Many colleges offer mental health counseling and support groups. You can also find your own therapist online, or make use of mental health organizations in the community. Therapy is beneficial because it supports students through a major life change. Therapy can help students distinguish between discomfort due to growth and discomfort because ‘something isn’t right.’ There are many feelings that may arise during your college journey, which is why is recommended that students try therapy, so that they may discuss their concerns confidentially and with a licensed professional. All in all, there are many challenges with choosing to go to college. Be sure to work through your concerns and find solutions. Talk to a trusted loved one or a counselor to help propel you towards your goals and aspirations, while accounting for the obstacles.