I knew I was going to college at a very young age. I was to be the first person in my family to graduate high school and go straight into college and I accomplished this task.

However, I did it without knowing why I was going – a brighter future was promised. What future? What did it look like?

There were a lot of points no one explained to my young mind and I was not knowledgeable enough to ask the right questions.

Questions like What career do you plan on pursuing with this degree? Or What degree are you trying to achieve? Or how will you pay for all of this? Or do you know you will still be paying for college into your forties even if you never use this degree?

I had no clue. None. Yet, I was pushed to head straight from the high school classroom which had an all expenses paid price tag into a high cost series of classrooms in various buildings with teachers that had varying philosophical views of the world, while I wasn’t even sure of my dinner plans for the evening.

College for me, like for so many others wss my first taste of freedom and complete responsibility for myself. It was also my first lesson in finances. I barely knew how to balance my checkbook much less how to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to this school for my higher education.

When I talk to my children or anyone else’s that asks about college. I turn and start asking them questions. There is no point in college if you have no direction in your life – no end game in mind.

As much as we want to believe that college gives us a higher form of learning and in essence a superiority to those without a degree, the truth is that college is simply to get yoi the job you want when you graduate.

If you desire to be a mathematician, don’t be an English major. If you desire to be a scientist, don’t be an art major. If you desire to be a physician, don’t set your mind on only 4 years of college.

And for your pocketbooks sake and for the sake of your very future, don’t go when you have no idea what you want to do. Instead, find a job, travel, investing the types of companies you may want to work for. If computer technology is a possibility in your future, work for the local repair shop. If you want to work with animals, get a job in a veterinary clinic.

Find yourself and plan your future first. Then, which college, for how long, and what degree will all make sense. It will simply fall into place.

After that, look into every scholarship, grant, and other money options before applying. Paying back student loans takes years and starts your independent life out with debt – a burden that is hard to eliminate. Also, don’t assume that the financial aid officers are doing everything they can to help you. They are taking care of hundreds to thousands of other students and the repayment burden is not in them. It is your name on the dotted line.

I short, college is a big decision and a large financial burden. Take time to look at all of the options available and find the best solution to give you the future you want.