College isn't for everyone. Let these words sink deep into your mind; they're true. College also isn't necessary for everyone. Why do I say this? Well, after attending 5 different colleges and universities and earning a bachelor's degree, I think I have some insight. In addition, I attended graduate school for 2 separate programs but didn't complete them. I have been researching careers and education for a couple of years and I have learned some valuable information which I would like to pass on to others.
Before you even apply to college, know what career you want to pursue. This is crucial. Granted, some people change careers one or more times throughout their lives; however, one should have a pretty good idea of where he wants to go regarding a career.
If you're unsure of what your talents are or you would like to gain a better understanding of what career paths might best suit your personailty, I strongly reccommend taking some assessments. The interest inventory and MBTI personality assessments are two useful ones.
Once you have an idea of where you want to go, figure out what it will take to get there. Some career paths require college (e.g., physicians, lawyers, optometrists, engineers, etc.); howveer, plenty don't. Research the career in and out. Find out as much as you can. Reach out to people already in the position you want to be in and ask questions. Try to gather as much information as you can in order to make a wise decision.
Don't dismiss trades. Plumbers, electricians, mechanics and others make a decent living especially if they are running their own business. These trades are often overlooked by high school graduates; this is unfortunate. Many people are naturals at fixing things and competent workers are always needed in these areas.
Distinguish between profitable and non-prfitable interests. I made the mistake of entering a graduate program because I had an interest in the field but no expectancy of how I would get a job with the particular degree. Bad idea! If you enjoy philosophy, literature, photography, marine biology, etc. seriously consider what you will ultimately do with the degree. If you major in literature as an undergraduate student, do you want to teach in schools? Do you want to go on for years of more study and debt in order to complete a PhD and teahc at the college level. Some degrees are pretty much worthless if one stops at the bachelor's level. Count the cost.
Don't spend years of your life and thousands of dollars on a degree that will not be profitable in the end. The subject may interest you but remember college is a money and time investment. You want more opportunities and money for your investment. Your don;t have to dish out thousands of dollars to learn philosophy; go to a public library and simply read the works of the world's most notable philosophers. You might end up getting an even better education this way than at the university.