Posted Wed Mar 20, 2013, 3:41pm Subject: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
I'm a (maybe) college bound High School senior and I need some advice. I am completely dazed at the incredibly large next step in my life--deciding what I want to do. I am now legally an adult and I must make the decision of what I'd like to do next in my life. There are very limited resources (more specifically PEOPLE) in my life that I can turn to for different opinions. I am virtually up to my neck in college advocates (which isn't necessarily bad) and I'd like to know the other side.
A bit about me: I've always performed really well in High School. I've never taken a class that I couldn't get an A/B in with ease. I'm in all AP courses this year and it's nothing over the top. A lot of people in my life tell me I have a lot of potential and to even consider not going (directly) to college is a foolish mistake. I think otherwise. While I enjoy school and certainly see the merit IN school, I don't currently see the value in it for ME. I have absolutely no clear goals and I don't have a clue what I'd like to get out of college (for the most part). I think it'd be best if I tried new things and visited new places to better understand me and what I want before plunking down all the money (which is my parents') for me to sit around and ask myself the questions of life.
I discussed it with my parents (who, while have ultimate power over me, are leaving the decision to me) and they are in complete disagreement. I have discussed with my "best" friends and they understand and my other "friends" think it's also completely foolish. I have discussed it with my older brother who is a large advocate, especially because, as he says "it fits your (me) personality". "It" is not going directly to college, if at all. I have received a very good scholarship to a good school and while it's very enticing I also think requesting deferred admission is a healthy option to consider. I think taking a "gap" year can lend itself very well to developing me as a person and understand what I want in my life. Of course I come from a family with high expectations and developing the courage to do such a thing is very difficult.
I am here to seek the advise of those who are in college, out of college, have kids, or who think they may comment on my situation. My question is what your advice to me would be given what I have written above? I have no advisers or mentors to turn to and this forum seemed like a good place to start (considering just how big a coffee nut I am). I am looking for some advice from those to maybe steer my thinking in choosing what is best for me.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 5,632 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
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Posted Wed Mar 20, 2013, 5:22pm Subject: Re: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
We are not a substitute for people that really know you. Not everyone is right for college and others do better with a little time to decide what they need. Very often, a community college is a great way to take a little time to sort things out and to make the transition from high school to adult life.
Very often the first year is not productive and to spend it in an expensive school is a waist of a lot of money. Perhaps you should talk to your parents about this option, it can give you some space to "get your head on straight" so to speak
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
I feel I should repeat this simple truth to start with...
...OK, now with that out of the way I'll give you my take:
You will never be this age again, you will never have the freedom that you have leaving high school. The expected journey to college/career is one that few escape from, so taking a year (or two) away to 'find yourself' and explore what you want out of life at this time is not a path to be taken lightly.
The concern your parents have is a valid one - to take this time and 'waste it' would be a tragedy. There is a real risk there, and at your age (no offense meant) you have little concept of how fast time gets away from you. If you were to outline a plan (of travel, apprenticeship, or other specific explorations) you may have less of a fight from your parents.
Make this proposed 'gap time' a project. Organize it, yet leave it open to changes and shifts. But never forget how easily and quickly this time will pass.
I'm not going to do that, same as those above. Your parents have shown good insight, as people will often resist what they are 'told' to do; but like every young adult, you feel pressure from those whose job it is to guide you to make good decisions. There is nothing wrong with that.
There is no 'one size-fits-all' solution. A 'year or two' off sounds like an enticing solution, but what do you think most adults would say if you asked them if they wanted a 'year or two' off from their life? From the pressures of work, the demands of raising a family, of making appointments, getting bills paid on time and just going away to 'find themselves'. Life is hard. Always will be. Never getting easier.
There is nothing 'magic' about a 'year or two' off. 'Finding yourself' is not something you do in isolation from the real world and is not something you can be expected to do in a 'year or two'. That is a lifelong task. People in general should devote more time to reflection on a daily basis and doesn't require stopping your life to do so. If you don't know yourself by now, then you are no different from anyone else, and reflection should be an ongoing element of your (spiritual lets call it) development.
If you want a 'year or two' off to travel and see the world because that is your passion, then that is different. It is not my passion. Travel would be very appealing to me, but not to the detriment of my other career and life goals and responsibilities.
Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 3:40am Subject: Re: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
I agree with the conservative opinions expressed by the previous two respondents.
Another factor to consider is (pardon the melodrama) that your resume, your CV (curriculum vitae) is a blank page but it will be filled in line by line starting now. It will present you to every opportunity that you want to join from now on. Sure, it can be 'tailored' to the desired position, be it college (later or now), apprenticeship, employment, volunteer work, but your experience behind the resume cannot be faked. What I am telling you, as others have done, is do not waste the time.
"The child is father to the man" is absolutely true - for all of us.
I do not want to give you encouragement to not go to college - no one else here is doing so - but if your heart is not in it, it may be a mediocre experience for you. On the other hand, it is a good place to meet professors and graduate students who are fired up about something and you have the opportunity to be exposed to inspired persons and inspiring topics. It is a good place to learn about community action groups and political action groups, as well as international projects.
If you 'take a year off to travel Europe', to use the cliche, that means very little. It means you could be joining a land reclamation project in Poland or visiting 'hash houses' in Amsterdam. If you do not go to college, apply yourself to something that will get you experience and represent you well on your resume. Volunteer for a political campaign, join an humanitarian outreach program to Haiti, many of my friends (and teachers) joined the Peace Corps years ago. Is VISTA still operational? Apprentice yourself to a coffee buyer (just a thought). Find an inventor on kickstart.com and volunteer to work for them for the experience. A friend of mine found that the American Olympic kickboxing team was not very popular years ago and found this an easy route to become an Olympian. If you use this time wastefully you will find doors closing, one by one.
Another thought is...who has inspired you so far? Read their biography. I seriously encourage you to read a few good biographies. Whether it be Mother Teresa or Steve Jobs or Adlai Stevenson. The book 'Mountains Beyond Mountains' is a bio about an anthropologist who went to Haiti. He grasped the real problem there right away and became enthused to study medicine and spent all of his spare time taking care of Haitians. Very inspiring.
Now that you have my two cents, answer me this question. How has it come that you posted this general (and profound) life question on the forum at coffeegeek.com?
toyman Senior Member Joined: 30 Oct 2012 Posts: 25 Location: PA Expertise: Just starting
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Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 7:23am Subject: Re: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
myallawalla - I will only tell you my opinion. Don't waste what you have available to you. You obviously have the ability to do well in college, and have a generous scholarship. Find yourself at college. You wont be the first student to enter college with an 'undeclared' major. Freshman year is normally a getting aquainted year without courses in your major. You will meet a diversity of people and professors. I had other legitimate opportunites that I wanted to pursue that didn't involve college. My parents wanted nothing to do with it, and I went. 25 years later, I'm glad they gave me a (less than gentle) nudge and realize that they knew a lot more than I back then, and probably still do today. Anyway, instead of being a Department Store Manager or an autobody repairman, I got my accounting degree from a good school (without a scholarship and had to bust my butt for B's) and made my way from there. Today I am a business owner and manager of multiple corporations, which I enjoy very much. My life would have been a lot different had I taken the different, easier, and less fearful path. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, but you have to be strong and press thru. 4 years seems like a long time, but it goes by in a heartbeat. My oldest daughter is almost finished with her freshman year of college. Do 4 more years and THEN go find yourself if you still feel the need. Then when you're done, you still have a solid path to explore after you're 'found'. That was the message (more or less) that my parents impressed upon me, and I thank them for it often. Those 4 years of my life were the quickest, most memorable and enjoyable 4 years of my life. Good luck to you!
Interesting. I pretty much said the same as the two after me yet, ...... ?
It is not a crime to take the first couple of years at a community school, the core basics can be transferred to a higher priced school so the time is not wasted yet there are not the pressures of the huge tuition to deal with.
I also stand by the statement that college is not for everyone, trades for example for the most part do not have courses tailored to them at universities. We need mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters every bit as much as the designers that draw the plans that others follow. Very often, a skilled tradesman can make more money (if that is how you value things) than the people buying their services.
While I have 4 years worth of credits, I never focused it into anything on paper, I took courses that interested me. They all added to who I am and what I can do and though I do not have a degree, I am quite happy and doing quite well. Is college for everyone, no, are the trades for everyone, no, a person needs to really look at what they like to do and see how they can form it into a living. When someone loves what they do for a living, they never work a day in their life. If you do not like your high paid job, you struggle every day just to get out of bed. Perhaps I just do not know the right people but I do not know anyone who earns a living with what they went to school for.... YMMV.
Some advice I gave my own son was that you need to do something, you need to be on a path and moving down that path. As you go along, opertunities will come across your path and you may choose to turn to follow them. Think of a car, when moving, a slight adjustment to the steering wheel can take you to a whole new location but if the car is not moving, even large changes to the position of the wheel does nothing and gets you no place at all. So make a choice, follow it, get moving in life. Not one of us knows the end of the road for us (other than death and taxes!) life is a journey and you must be moving to make a journey.
I have seen people spend many years in schooling because they could not decide a direction to go, they move from major to major, piling up the degrees but only staying in school, they have become professional students. This may be fine if you do not need to earn a living but that is not really a choice many of us have. You need to be moving down a path, keeping eyes wide open to what is around you. That path may be school, and it may be travel, it may be trades but none of us can really tell you more than to talk to those who know and love you best, those who have your best interest at heart and only want the best for you. Weigh what they say heavily and make a choice.
Esp here, YMMV!
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 8:48am Subject: Re: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
(I learned to drink coffee during my freshman year at college. If you already like coffee you are not allowed to bypass this important step regardless, it just means that you arrive at college better prepared than I was.)
Just from your little sample of writing to this forum you demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly your thoughts and questions. That alone puts you way ahead of so many others that you can't possibly imagine what an advantage that is for you. I think that is one of the most important factors for success no matter what area of study you pursue. I know there are many influences out there that have led you to to the belief that "the incredibly large next step in my life--deciding what I want to do" is an issue that you feel compelled to "resolve" ASAP but let me ever so gently assure you that your anxiety about all this is unwarranted. I am not saying it is not important, I am saying that the folks that recommend that you go to college do so with a knowledge that is much more easily understood after the experience than before the experience. That is what your freshman year at college is all about, a large state university, two to three hour drive away from your hometown is ideal. That time is truly a "golden" time of life, going to classes with students your own age who are from diverse backgrounds and widely varying interests, a lot of them "think" they have an idea about career goals but most I assure you will be making a lot of adjustments and course corrections as that year and the next fly by at breakneck speed. The many that don't really have clear ideas about what they want to do when entering college will find that they develop their own special insight into all this as the ideas in their heads begin to distill. The things that are important to you and that you may want to do (as a career) very naturally float up to the surface like a stick floats when thrown in a lake. I know you must feel like all the pressure to "go to college/decide a career/find yourself" is starting to feel like you are approaching the edge of a cliff and you are getting all this pressure to jump over into the unknown which is very intimidating to you and I understand that. Try real hard not to think of it like a cliff but maybe a path going uphill and that as you approach the highest elevation you will begin to see that it is not a drop off but actually another path that continues on down the other side, sure there are some steps to get down here and there and don't think that there won't be places where you will need to hang on to some support to keep from losing your balance but those places are really important to your personal development and will form memories and experiences that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Enroll in a summer class at a local college, there are plenty of classes offered that have no prerequisites, but this fall go on to the (the out of town) university, live in a dorm for a semester or two, by that time you will have run into students from your hometown or high school and some of you will want to move just off campus and share an apartment or house. You will never look back, you will be asking yourself how could you have ever thought of doing anything else. You are asking the right questions, don't ever stop asking them, you are speaking for the thousands of others that don't have your ability to voice their concerns like you so clearly are able to do. You are not alone, we and many others will be here when you need us.
emradguy Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2011 Posts: 1,692 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
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Posted Thu Mar 21, 2013, 11:29am Subject: Re: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
I echo the part about not knowing you. I have not read all of the other replies you've gotten. However, I have been down this road and can tell you my story and perspective...to do with as you see fit...
I have two older brothers. My parents were the first to attend college in our family tree, and neither one of them really finished. My Dad worked for 50 years as a mechanical engineer. Both of my parents pushed both of my brothers very hard about college, so I heard it from the time I was about...oh, maybe 10 years old? I was a rebel. I didn't like school and actually pretty much dropped out mid-way through high school (I'm a doctor now - a radiologist). I planned to work a while, try out different jobs, see what I wanted to do, then go back to school and get my college degree. Well, it didn't really work out. I got fired from my first job after 3 months, then worked at the second place for 4 years. A friend at work, who was 30, pushed me hard to go to Jr College. He said, just take something that sounds fun and don't worry about it. It was the best advice I ever got. After I got into classes I liked, I started taking more, and more, and more...and eventually decided that it was worth it for me to go to school. I transferred to a 4 yr university, then worked on pre-med requirements, and then applied to med school twice (cuz I didn't get in the first try).
My Dad wanted me (or one of my brothers to go into business with him (his mech engineering business did heating and air-conditioning design). One of my main deterrents was that I didn't want the headaches of owning a business, and having to worry about whether we'd have enough work, or stay in business, or things like that. I also didn't want to sit behind a desk all day. Guess what...I sit in front of a computer all day! Can't win 'em all. Anyhow...
College isn't for everyone. It can be really difficult to decide on a major subject field. It doesn't expose you to what's out there in terms of career fields (like you'd expect). However, t can get you going in the right direction. It's really hard to go back after years off - though a good friend of mine did after about 20 years off from school. He got a vocational degree. Money's not everything, but he's got little potential to advance and he and his wife are pretty much stuck where they are - but at least they have stability, which is really good for their kids...and they are pretty much happy.
Hard to say more without influencing you, which I don't want to do, since I don't know you. I'm not sure I'd want to influence you too much if I did, but I surely would like to answer questions and provide info so you can apply your tools to make a decision.
As an example...you love coffee. Do you want a career in it? You could open a cafe, work as a barista, start a retail service in machines and parts, start a roastery, work for a roastery, design and manufacture a new machine, or a new grinder, open a barista training school, become a green bean trader, become a coffee biochemist researcher...the sky's the limit!
Posted Fri Mar 22, 2013, 5:16am Subject: Re: College - Advice and Wisdom Requested
For the record, I agreed with calblacksmith but posting lag pushed me down, away from his post. Everyone who has responded to this post has given reasonable, experienced, compassionate and heartfelt advice. The OP would do well to take a printout of this thread with him to registration. :)
Interesting. I pretty much said the same as the two after me yet, ...... ?
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