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Articles / Applying to College / Four more years of school - is college really worth it?

Feb. 11, 2002

Four more years of school - is college really worth it?

Question: I'm having a hard time seeing myself going to school for another four years. Is college really worth it? What about the military?

A four-year college degree can make a big difference in your life, not only from an income perspective but also from an enjoyment-of-life aspect. Nevertheless, you certainly don't have to follow the classical four-year bachelor's degree route to gain worthy skills or credentials.


The military option is proving to be very inviting for a large number of high school graduates.

One of the first benefits you get from being in the military is maturity. Even though military life is heavily structured and can be frustrating at times, it offers a great number of opportunities to get some great real-world skills, develop meaningful on-the-job experience, and earn some significant cash for higher education, should you decide to pursue it.

Military options include service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and National Guard. You can explore enlisted programs, officer training programs, or reserve alternatives. You've heard the "Be all you can be." advertisements. The reality is that any military service is never as glamorous as those fancy TV ads make it seem. On the other hand, it's hardly ever as bad as some of your buddies' or family members' war stories. You have to decide for yourself. Your local recruiter is the place to start. Read everything carefully and don't sign anything until you've talked it over with your family.

One thing to keep in mind is momentum. It takes a lot less energy to keep a bowling ball rolling than it does to start it rolling. In education, as with rolling bowling balls, once you stop the process, it takes considerable effort to start it moving again. If you're experiencing burnout after all these years in school (a common problem), don't necessarily take the step of stopping out.

Perhaps all you need is to do a rethink of what your true goals and preferences are.

If you can express what you truly want, seek an experienced counselor to guide you, and have the courage to make an informed decision, your entire attitude about a life's education can change from one of weary frustration to one of renewed enthusiasm.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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