Is College Right for You?

Student in a grey t-shirt.

Graduating from high school opens lots of doors, and sometimes it’s hard to decide which one to choose. We’re here to help you find the door that’s perfect for you!

Picture Your Dream Lifestyle

Imagine the kind of life you want to live. 

  • Do you have a specific career in mind? 
  • Do you see a family, house, car, or location? 
  • What’s your ideal work environment? Indoors, outdoors, working from home, on the go?

If you can answer these questions, it will help shape your career path, the type of education/experiences you’ll need, and how long it will take to reach your goals.

Explore All Your Options

While college is the top option for many students, it’s not the only one. You could go straight to a career, enlist in the military, or take a gap year. These paths are not isolated and can often overlap with each other. Think about what would best set you up for the lifestyle you see for yourself in 5, 10, and 15 years. What skills and experiences do you need to make your dream life a reality? By thinking ahead and taking action, you can set yourself up for a fulfilling and happy future in your chosen path!

Know Your Degrees 

Some careers require specific degrees, while others may require a certificate, a 2-year degree, or no degree. Here’s a breakdown of degree options.


Certificate programs are flexible, lower-cost alternatives to 4-year degrees. They prepare you for a particular job and are often a great fit if you want to work and attend school. You must have a high school diploma or GED to participate. The entire program usually takes a year to complete.

Associate Degree

Community colleges, career colleges, and some four-year colleges offer this 2-year degree. Many associate degree programs prepare students to enter the workforce immediately. In other cases, students transfer to a four-year institution after completing their Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree.

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor’s degrees take four or five years to complete at a university or college. They’re considered the standard for many professional fields. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) are the most common degrees. When you graduate, you can choose to enter the workforce or continue with graduate school.

Graduate Degree

If you’re aiming for a specialized profession like law or medicine, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree (master’s and/or doctorate). If you already know grad school is in your future, look into programs marketed as 3+2 or 4+1, where you can complete your bachelor’s and advanced degrees in a shorter period.

Colleges Come in All Shapes and Sizes 

College encompasses any formal education beyond high school that leads to a degree. Colleges can be small or large. Some colleges identify as special mission colleges because they serve a particular identity or cause. For example, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), or Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) offer tailored programs, scholarships, and a supportive community that reflects each respective background.

Whether you’re driven by experience, career outcomes, cost, or academic programs offered, there will likely be an institution that fits your unique needs. Remember, the path you choose after high school is personal. If you decide to jump straight into a career, join the military, or take time off, you can revisit college later. Some jobs even help pay for your education! Identify your goals and choose what’s best for you!