Believe me when I say that you shouldn’t go to college straight out of high school. It’s not worth it, not right away at least.
4-Year Graduation Rates
A typical bachelor’s degree is intended to be acquired within 4 years of entering college, but according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), in the U.S., only 59% of degree seeking students are able to earn a bachelor’s degree within 4 years. For some major universities in the state of California, this statistic is much lower. UC Santa Cruz has a 4-year graduation rate of 52%, and a 6-year graduation rate of 77%. The 4-year graduation rates of UC Berkeley and UCLA fair better at around 72%, but when these statistics are broken down by ethnicity, students of color have the lowest graduation rates, sometimes fairing 10% below their peers.
Discrepancies in graduation rates, as well the abysmal graduation rates for some universities, can be a combination of a lack of student support when in college, family/financial hardships, as well as a lack of preparation before entering the institution.
Besides attending a university that has enough support programs in place, I believe a student’s preparation is the most important factor in determining a swift graduation rate. By preparation I mean a student’s plan for college. Before stepping on a college campus as an undergraduate student, you should know the answer to this question: what is it that you want from a college education?
High School Kiddy Pool
When I first graduated from high school I had no idea what my answer to this question was. What did I want from a college education? It seemed like everyone else had an answer for me.
You’re going because you want to succeed in life.
You need to make money.
You’re going to get a job.
Major in something useful.
High schools fail to form adults because students are hardly ever treated like such. In high school, you’d get your phone taken away if you texted during class. If you ditched or missed more than a few days of school, a truant officer would come and knock on your door. Everyone’s clothing was regulated. Girls couldn’t wear short skirts or shorts. Girls couldn’t wear shirts that hung too low or were too “distracting.” No navels, no cleavage, no gang related colors. No talking, no gum, no passing notes, no leaving class without permission.
The adult world expects high school seniors, that have been a part of such a constrictive environment, to head into college and take control of their lives without showing them the steering wheel.
You’re an Adult…
Taking a gap year after high school, or even a gap year before applying to college, should be a choice every high school senior considers. I wish I would’ve done it. If I had, I wouldn’t be in my current predicament, trying to cram 13 courses into my senior year, having to extend my time in college.
Taking the time to understand what I wanted, and not what others expected of me would have made my life a whole lot easier. I would have felt in control of my actions and would have had access to more opportunities.
College isn’t the place where you decide on your interests, its the place where you develop them. You should know, or at least have a very strong idea of what you want to do with your degree before you even consider applying to college. Yet, no one takes time-off seriously.
America is a land of now, we all want things faster, and more convenient. We all want to see high school seniors and juniors transform into responsible adults but we hardly ever give them the opportunities to do it. We just shove them off, hoping they’ll eventually find their footing. We train kids to say “I’m an adult,” but we never tell them what adult really means. Sure we explain bills and money, but we never say “Know yourself and understand what you want.”