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Ask a Teacher: What Happens If I Don't Get Into the College I Want? (Part 1)

Ask a Teacher: What Happens If I Don't Get Into the College I Want? (Part 1)

Q: What happens if I don't get into the college I want?

A: Application deadlines are at hand, and you might wonder what happens if you don't get into the school you want. Here's what you'll want to do: Sell all your possessions, don sackcloth and ashes, and walk around town wearing a sandwich board that says "The end is near."

No, it's not that bad. The truth is, some of you won't get into the schools you want, while some of you won't be able, realistically, to afford the schools that are your first choices. And, honestly, some of you won't get the chance to go to college at all. Guess what? The world still turns.

Despite what counselors, peers, parents may tell you, and despite your own fears and uncertainties, there are more ways than one to approach life after high school. And maybe—just maybe—going right to university may not be the best thing for you to do.

That's right. For a generation now, you've been told that the One True Path to success was as follows: High school, university, graduate or professional school (optional), and then a fulfilling career in The Real World (not to be confused with its unrelated, same-named television program). Well, like lots of other things you've come to believe about life and adulthood, that's not necessarily true.

Why not? One simple word. Debt. Right now, even going to a public university without any kind of financial aid other than loans can leave you with tens of thousands of dollars of non-dischargeable debt. For those of you who have never seen that term before, it means debt that you can't get rid of, even if you file for bankruptcy. There are legions of young adults leaving college right now who are already saddled with the same debt that they would incur by buying a nice house. Also, as soon as you graduate, the institutions that hold those loans start demanding payment. And they will get their money.

Additionally, and you probably already know this, a degree from a four-year university does not automatically ensure that you will secure a well-paying and stable job upon graduation. That's not saying that college degrees are worthless; as far as granting admission to good jobs and careers, they are the coin of the middle-class realm. However, there's a great gulf between a potential opportunity and a guaranteed one. So you just might end up with an expensive degree, staggering loan payments, and a job that pays barely enough to get by.

Is that it, then? Is there no point to continuing your education? Should we not just embrace nihilism? Is it all doom and gloom?

Not at all, faithful readers. Stay tuned for part two, in which I delve into autobiography and weave a tale of suffering, enlightenment, and redemption.

Are you worried about paying for college?

Mr. Toche taught statistics, sociology, and human sexuality to college students for four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He saw, learned, and experienced more horrors than you can well imagine in that time.

Got a question for an English, science, math, writing, special ed, sociology, or PE teacher, or a specific question for Mr. Toche? Send it to!

Related post: Creative Ways to Save Money

Topics: Life, College Advisor
Tags: college, rejection, school, debt, ask a teacher, paying for school

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