Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is college right for you?

Earning a college degree isn't easy. It requires motivation, effective time management, good study habits, social and financial support, and more. Many students begin their college years with struggles. It is common for first-year students to make grades in college that are much lower than the grades they received in high school. This doesn't mean that college isn't the right choice for them, but it might mean that it might not be the right time for them to be attending college.

There is a lot of social pressure from family, peers, and culture to attend college immediately after high school and receive a college degree within four years of study. This is an outdated mode of thinking. Today's college students have to juggle commitments in addition to those required by college, and earning a college degree is simply more complicated than it was in the past. The average age of undergraduate students in the U.S. is around 26, and the average college student in the U.S. takes about 6.5 years to complete a bachelor's degree. If your parents attended college, they probably had a much different experience from the one that most college students today have.

If you are struggling academically in college, ask yourself these difficult questions:
1. Do I really want to be in college right now?
2. If I weren't in college, what would I be doing?
3. What motivated me to attend college in the first place (family, self, etc.)?
4. Am I struggling in just one or two areas academically, or in all sorts of classes?
5. What's going on in my life outside of college that might be affecting my performance in classes?
6. How do I spend my time each day, and why do I spend it that way?

You should talk to a counselor if you feel that now might not be the right time for you to be in college, or if you want to be in college but are struggling academically. A counselor can help you connect with various campus resources to help you be a successful student, such as tutoring or disability services. The counselor can also coach you on how to have a conversation with your family if you feel that you do not want to be in college at this time in your life.