Why You Should Think About Holding Off on College

As summer comes to an end, another group of recent high school graduates will be embarking on a journey that will affect the rest of their lives: the beginning of a college career. Some will leave home for the first time, moving as close as down the street, and as far as across the country or beyond, to their new dormitories, apartments, of houses with classmates. They will all experience the culture shock of college courses and the excitement of a new chapter in their lives.

As a recent college graduate myself, I can say with certainty that these young people have heard this sentiment dozens of times: graduate high school, get a four-year degree, and a good job with good money will be in your future. This might sound strange coming from a college graduate, but for many, going to college right after high school is not only unnecessary, it can also be counterproductive.

As good high school students, we’re pushed to attend college, even if we’re not sure what we want to do, and we’re paying a high price because of it.  The National Center for Education Statistics reported in 2013 that about 80 percent of students change their major at least once, and college students change their major at least three times on average. At least in part because of that, over 55 percent of students take longer than four years to complete a bachelor’s degree, according to another study by the U.S. Department of Education. That year or two wasted on dead-end studies could have been time spent out in the real world, exploring various career paths, making connections and experiencing life as a working adult. Instead, the only thing that comes out of those wasted semesters is more crippling debt.

To high school students reading: wait. Try getting a job right out of school for a year or two; explore different careers. Ask for internships. Do whatever you can to break in to industries that interest you, no matter the capacity. It will most likely save you thousands, and the hassle of learning about a field of study that you’ll eventually change, anyway. And most importantly, you’ll gain knowledge and insights that can’t be taught in the classroom.

If you end up finding that college might not be the perfect option for you, there are many others out there. Many career fields don’t even require a college education, from carpentry to automotive technology. There are also trade schools out there, and unlike liberal arts colleges where students have to slog through classes upon classes of liberal arts requirements, trade school students can usually get right down to business in their chosen field and it takes much less time to finish. They might be just as expensive as traditional liberal arts colleges, but for students who want to become electricians, HVAC technicians, or the like, it makes much more sense. Better yet, if higher education still isn’t your thing, some career fields just require various licenses or time working with master tradesmen. This is the case with commercial plumbing; a plumber progresses from apprentice to journeyman, to master through training and licensing.

And if formal education really is necessary for a chosen career path but it’s just not affordable, there’s always the military. Enlisting can be one of the best ways to get into the desired job field; not only do service members get free training on the job, they also earn a salary and benefits when they get out.

Yes, a college education is necessary for many people, but for many others, the return on investment just isn’t worth it. That’s what higher education is- an investment, that students like me pray will be worth it in the end. If you’re in high school right now wondering what you’d like to do with your life after graduation, I leave you with one piece of advice. Look into all your options before you make your decision. And good luck.

Terrible Writer’s Block and Trying to Overcome It

In case you haven’t been keeping up, it’s been months since I’ve posted here. It’s also been months since I’ve put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, really) and actually have written anything substantial. And, if you’ve had writer’s block even once in your life (which, if you’re a writer in any sort of capacity, there’s a 100% chance that you have), you know how much it sucks.

So, after realizing how much I miss this, I started typing. For the past two hours, I’ve been getting all of the garbage out. All my thoughts, all my cliches, absolutely anything that pops into my head, I’ve written down. The sentences make so sense. The grammar is awful. My Word document is full of half-baked thoughts that even I don’t understand. But I don’t even care. The point is, I’m writing something.

I don’t know right now if this post will even see anything other than the inside of my computer’s hard drive. But I’m writing again. I’m looking up writing prompts and ideas for personal essays. I’m going back to previous projects to see if anything comes out. The last one hasn’t been working out very well, but there’s nothing really wrong with that. Abandoning projects to write something new is something that I’m not afraid to do, and if you’re a writer, you shouldn’t be afraid to do it either.

I’ve also just started to write for Her Campus again, which is something that I did during my undergraduate college days and it really helped me get my name out there as well as build up my portfolio of writing clips. I’ll also be starting my graduate career at Emerson College in just under a month. My first course will be Book Publishing Overview, and I can’t currently think of the words to describe how excited I am for that.

Writer’s block sucks. I can’t stand going weeks and weeks without creating worlds and characters, sharing experiences, or simply getting my thoughts out. But getting all the garbage out, starting Her Campus again, and my graduate college career will hopefully be just the boost I need to get back into the groove of things.

Cheers to all those writers and readers out there, and I’ll be writing to you again soon.

Starting Something New

Yesterday, a plot bunny jumped right into my head and I decided to start a new piece of creative writing. I’m not sure what it’s going to be– a novel, novella or short story, but I like the idea so much that I can’t let it go (speaking of which, if you’re a writer, you should never let an idea go without writing it down, but more on that later).

This new idea reminded me of the journey we have to go through to actually put something down on a piece of paper. It’s a blank slate. A wealth of ideas that can go in hundreds of different directions, and even more questions that need to be answered. What will the characters be like? What point of view will be used? What will the target audience be? What will the conflict be, where will the climax occur?

You get the point. Starting something new is exciting and scary all at the same time. While it’s awesome to just let my creativity go and write down what comes to me, it’s also a huge undertaking, whether I’m working on a column, a short story, or a full-length novel. There’s so much to think about that sometimes I don’t even know where to start.

There are hundreds of resources out there to help, though. The things that I most like to use are novel writing journals, worksheets to develop plot, and worksheets to create personalities of new characters. They really give me an idea of what can be most important when developing a story, like the motivations of the characters and questions about themes and the overall plot. Answering these questions also jumpstarts my creativity and helps me develop more of the story.

If you’re a writer and you haven’t tried these techniques, I recommend it. Here are some links to resources that I like to use. Click them. Click them now (I’m not being sponsored or anything, I just think they’re great).

The Thirty Day Novel Success Journal

All Indie Writers Novel Planning Tools and Worksheets (Check out the outlining tools and templates)

How to Write a Book in Thirty Days Worksheets (Lots of worksheets for basically everything you can think of)

 

 

I Was Published

About a week ago, I was published on an online writing website called Short Fiction Break. Here’s a link if you want to take a look at it; it’s a short excerpt from a piece that I’ve been working on for a while.

I loved writing this piece- I still love writing this piece. I don’t know where it’s going or what I’m going to end up doing with it, but it’s just so fun to write all of the different emotions involved here. It’s heavy- at least, I’d like to think it is. The few comments that I’ve received on the piece have just inspired me to keep writing.

To all the readers out there, commenting on a writer’s piece is probably one of the best things that you can do for them. It’s nerve-wracking sharing something that has been so close to our hearts. To know that people enjoy our writing that we’ve spent so much time and effort agonizing over is just great. But more on that another time.

Once again, check out my piece. I hope you like it 🙂

Writing Different Things

I’ve probably tried writing everything that you can write. News. Short stories. Opinion pieces. Novels (well, unfinished novels). Hell, I’ve even tried writing a screenplay. It didn’t work out to well after I figured out screenwriters don’t really use the “pretty” language that I like to use. But I digress.

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you which form of writing is my favorite. I have my affinities. Things that I think I’m good at- opinion pieces, fiction works. I have my not-so-strong-suits- news stories, poetry. Dear God, I cannot write poetry.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I at least tried writing things out of my comfort zone, though. If I hadn’t tried writing news, I probably would not have discovered op-ed writing. If I hadn’t tried poetry… well, I wouldn’t know how terrible I am at rhyming schemes or counting syllables for a haiku.

Unfortunately, my attitude doesn’t really help when it comes to finding a job or deciding what I want to study in graduate school. I look at programs for creative writing, English, or publishing and writing and I want to take all of them. I want to learn how to write columns. I want to take fiction writing workshops. I want to take digital publishing classes.

Hey, at least I have options, right?

It’s important to write a bunch of different things, though, because you’ll never know what you’re good at until you try it. You might think that you’d stink at writing news stories, but find out different. You might think you’re like me, poetry-illiterate, but hey, try jotting down a haiku in the notes app on your phone. Just remember: 5-7-5.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself or my career in the future. You may not, either. Or you may be stuck in a career track that you’re not sure you want to be stuck in. The important thing, though, is to just keep writing. You’ll figure it out eventually.