1. College is not the default route to financial stability.
One of the things I remember growing up was if you were not going to college it was something to be ashamed of and pitied. It has also been preached to me that college is where everyone needed to be. College is a good investment but if you are going to waste thousands of dollars getting a degree in some vague language or philosophy then do not waste your parent’s money or get yourself into wasteful debt. If you wish to be a doctor than go to school and make the investment, if you are not sure, go to your nearest community college and get your AA. In those two years, research careers that will peak your interest. Do not waste your parent’s money. It is immoral to do so. If you know classes and nights hovering over a book are not for you, go to a trade school, technical school or enroll in certification programs. Many career options do not require 4-10 years of debt collecting. I suggest to you research and pursue after them.
2. Research, Research Research.
Here is my personal story; I wanted to become a lawyer. So bright eyed and naive 18 year old me went to my Academic Adviser and informed her that I would like to become a lawyer and she quickly placed me in Legal studies bachelor degree program. That was fine, later I sent her an email saying that I wanted a minor in paralegal studies. (In my mind, I said to myself that I could become a paralegal while going to law school.) That was wise thinking, the problem was I was relying on my academic adviser a little too much. A minor in paralegals studies has no real value; I needed certification. In my ignorance, I did not know this. On top of that, I did not fully understand the requirements of law school, I needed a bachelor’s degree (which I was aware of) but it could have been a bachelor’s degree in any subject. I learned this through my peers in my second year of college. The same year I discovered my minor in paralegal studies was useless and my school was offering a bachelors in paralegal studies. I was wasting money on courses I did not need. I could have just pursued the bachelors in paralegal studies, gain certification and apply to law school.
I even learned that some graduate programs do not require a bachelor degree such a pharmacy programs. I nearly died from shock seeing some of my friends did two years of school and entered graduate programs. They did it because instead of wasting time on Facebook, stalking and whatever we humans do to waste time, they researched instead.
Lesson learned: RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. College is too expensive to waste your money foolishly. Often, your academic advisers are not reliable sources of information. You have to come to them well informed with a goal in mind. Do not go enroll into any school ignorant, hoping they can lead you on the right direction. They cannot and often will not.
3. Open your eyes and smell the reality.
You need to be realistic. College is too expensive. TOO EXPENSIVE. Therefore, here is some reality for you. No, you cannot be anything you want to be. If you want to be a singer but cannot sing than you should probably reconsider your life choices. If you want to become a doctor but are struggling through basic college algebra than it is time to reconsider your life choices. If you desire to become a world class chef, but instead you burn even water than its time for you to evaluate your life choices. Yes, yes, when there are obstacles you should work through it and all that other nonsense people like to say to keep your spirits up but the reality is everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. After you have finished grieving and accept how the world works, pick yourself up and play to your strengths. Find what you excel in and exploit that. If your daddy wants you to be a doctor and you are better being a nurse or even a mortgage broker than it is what it is. Save the extra money and put in towards, your own kid’s college fund or your first home if the itch to spend money is too strong for you to handle.
4. Everybody wants to be rich but many will not do the work required or are unaware how to start.
Money may not buy happiness but it is better to cry in a Mercedes than in a rundown apartment. It is nice to have dreams but the problem with dreams is they are just that, dreams. Once you wake up, it is back to reality. If you are one of the many people in America that wants that house and the 2.5 kids, it is going to be hard to attain that if you decide to get a single degree in Spanish. The American market can only help you if you have skills that the market needs. Point blank. There is no other route than welfare or struggling at your parents’ home if you have no marketable skills. If you aren’t book smart but you can fix a toilet or sink line than become a plumber. If you cannot screw on a light bulb but you can solve math problems become a mathematician. Gain the sort of knowledge that people will pay for. Plain and simple, supply what the world needs and the world will supply what you need.
That is reality friends; gain the kind of knowledge that will be a return on your hard work. When you have your house and your car and moved out of your parents’ house, then go back to school and learn Swahili, philosophy or whatever emotional curiosity you have but only after you have gained financial freedom.
The catch is however is hard work and the kind of hard work that will be a return for you. There are plenty of good, honest, kind, hardworking people working faithfully at McDonalds, they have never broken the law, would never hurt a fly, but their hard work is sucked in a system that will not return for them.
5. Entitlement and obligation
You are not entitled to anything. Nothing. You may argue this but nobody owes you anything and nobody has to do anything for you not even your parents. If you have anything, it is because
- 1. You worked for it or
- 2. Someone out of kindness or whatever reason gave it to you
Therefore, if you are relying on number 2 for the rest of your life, not only will your journey be quite difficult. You will inevitable be disappointed. Nobody has to be nice to you. Nobody has to help you. Nobody has to do anything for you. In fact, nobody has to respect you. You cannot force someone to be kind to you. You cannot force someone to respect you. You cannot force anyone to love you, if a person hates your guts than well…they hate your guts.
The sooner you can appreciate that concept, the better life will be. Everything must be worked for, everything. I personally suggest that whatever you are working hard for is a return for you. If it means working two jobs and going to school to become that doctor or nurse then do it. If it means leaving the state with no jobs to move to a state with jobs, then so be it. If it means working two jobs and going to school to become a philosopher than that is foolish and you need to reevaluate your life choices. As mentioned before, the world will only supply to you what you can supply to it. That is it. There is no other route. Grieve if you must but it is what it is.
If you are one of those wandering, souls with no understanding of what and who you are, you had better find a hobby quick because the world does not owe you a single dang thing.
Not a dang thing.
I am still young and have more things to learn but so far, these have remain true for me. Hard work with return, skills that are applicable to the real world and remaining informed will take you far in this world.