Everyone seems to think undergraduate college degrees should be started immediately following high school, but maybe that’s not truly ideal. There are some pretty significant reasons to start college in your 20s, rather than in your late teens.
If you have applied to university, do you remember the time when you first applied? How old were you and how did you feel throughout the process?
For many of us, the answer is – during the last year of high school. We can all remember how grueling that year was, as we had to complete our SATs, send in our application documents, and rewrite and reread our personal statements.
However, did we ask ourselves why we were applying to post-secondary institutions at such a young age in the first place? If we did, the answer is mainly due to societal expectations.
University fairs continue to be heavily promoted amongst senior high school students. Plus, guidance counselors and teachers always emphasize the need for university preparation. So as a result, many of us feel that perhaps, the right path is to apply to university, and continue with our studies.
But hold on, what if we have other family obligations or tasks which we are responsible for? What if we aren’t ready to commit to university at the moment? Making choices as an 18-year-old can be daunting because our decisions are driven by the other people around us.
Profound Reasons Why You May Want to Start College in Your 20s
Let’s take a step back, and ask ourselves; does it really make a difference to start university a bit later, perhaps somewhere in your 20s? In the beginning, there does seem to be somewhat of an age gap.
But as the years progress, the differences then subside. Perhaps, it may be better to wait a while. So, here are 10 reasons why it may be a good thing to wait to start college until your 20s.
1. You’ll Learn More About Your Needs or Wants
When we are 17 to 19-year-olds, most of our needs or wants are dictated by external validation because of peer pressure. We all want to blend in and conform in some way or the other, and that in itself makes it difficult for us to stick to our own values. Because all of our values are simply a reflection of someone else’s.
But in order for us to realize this, we may have to first, forego post-secondary education together. We may have to explore more of the workforce, volunteer, and read books in our spare time to determine what we actually need.
Is it love, self-actualization, or passion? It can be any of the above, but it will take time to figure ourselves out. So, the best way to decide on attending university is to be patient and not rush the process straight after high school.
Now, although our 20s may seem confusing, we at least know more about our needs. And by knowing more about ourselves, we’ll be able to be more confident when approaching university-level coursework. This will allow us to select the right program and work towards a goal which resonates with us, instead of the others around us.
2. You’ll Learn More About Your Worth
When I was 18, I remember working a few part-time jobs. Some were in fast-food restaurants, others were in amusement parks, and one was at a community centre.
Most of these jobs paid minimum wage, but I did not mind the low pay initially. I thought that if I become a supervisor, I would still be able to gain relevant and professional experience.
Due to this, I sacrificed a lot of my time and effort towards these jobs, but as I grew older, I realized that I shouldn’t be spending more time on menial jobs. Instead, I should prioritize my studies and look towards the future.
Looking back, I ask myself why I thought that working in the fast-food industry was right for me. Then, I noticed that perhaps, it was because I was unaware of what I could achieve.
I thought that I could only be a fast food manager, but there were other skills which I could have developed in other fields. As I grew older, I finally became more aware of these skills.
I thought that by developing these skills, I could make a bigger impact within my own life. Other than myself, other young adults were also in my shoes when transitioning from their teens to their twenties.
The truth is: Knowing your worth allows you to choose a university program which suits you, and you’ll be able to challenge yourself. By constantly challenging yourself, you’ll strive to achieve new results.
Therefore, you’ll be more motivated when setting and achieving goals, which is important to your studies. These are great realizations to carry with you as you start college in your 20s!
3. You’ll Have More Experience As An Adult
Adulting in general is difficult. But when post-secondary education comes into the equation, balancing the two becomes an unachievable superpower.
One day, you’ll be going to class, studying for your exam, and completing your assignments. Then on the next day, you’re frantically pulling out your hair, figuring out your tax returns and trying to better your credit score.
Developing life skills as an adult while being in university is challenging especially with the amount of responsibilities you’re expected to fulfill. But, if you took some years off of post-secondary, you would have developed those skills without the added layer of stress.
And when you develop these skills, you’ll notice that handling post-secondary coursework becomes easier. You’ll manage your time, run your errands, and pay the bills efficiently, all in one go. This gives you a strong basis in terms of handling time periods when the workload may be exceptionally heavy, such as midterm season or tax-season.
4. You’ll Have More Work Experience
When you enter university in your 20s, you would have expectedly worked more than your 18-year-old counterparts. The work experience you developed would not go to waste, in fact, they would even benefit you.
For example, if you worked a customer service job, you would know how to interact with your classmates and professors more on a professional level. This will allow you to create strong relationships within your institution.
And what happens when you graduate university?
You’ll then be more prepared to navigate the everchanging industry. You may have experienced more interviews, and as a result, are more likely to land the job you were eyeing on.
5. You’ll Be More Confident In Yourself
I remember when I was 18 or 19, I was constantly struggling with issues regarding my character and body image. I asked myself if I really was intelligent enough, or smart enough, despite obtaining less-than-ideal grades.
However, when I grew older, I then realized that I have my own talents which I should be proud of. When you grow older and learn more about yourself, you’ll begin to discover some of your strengths.
And when you discover these strengths, you’ll feel a sense of confidence and self-assurance. Also, as you become confident in your studies, you’re most likely to complete assignments to your fullest extent.
6. You’ll Know What You Don’t Want When You Start College in Your 20s
Since you’re more self-aware in your 20s than your teens, you will have also realized the things you don’t want in life. And even if you didn’t, you may have at least identified some of them.
For example, when I was 18 or 19-years-old, I did not care about working in a toxic environment. Even though many of my jobs were in toxic work environments, I chose to bear with it.
However, at the end, I still ended up regretting my decision of working in those environments in the first place. So, when I grew older and worked more, I realized that I do not deserve to work in a disrespectful setting.
This is when I re-enrolled back in school and decided to work towards a better position within a different industry. Knowing what I don’t want helped me realize that I deserved to work in a company which valued my skills and well-being.
While you’re in your 20s, you may have noticed the things you don’t enjoy or want in life. And by all means, you don’t have to put up with it. By eliminating what you don’t want, you’re more likely to stay focused towards your goal and become the person who you truly want to be.
And this helps a lot when you decide to start college in your 20s. By knowing what you don’t want, you’ll be more likely to work towards what you actually want.
7. You’ll Be More Prepared For New Environments
When we’re 18 years of age, we’re practically only exposed to three different types of environments: our home, school, and perhaps the occasional extracurricular club.
As a result, entering a huge institution, especially a university, can be overwhelming to handle at first. Our minds get distracted, and we get caught up on small stuff.
However, a few years down the road often means more exposure to new environments. When we’re in our 20s, we may have travelled, worked, or partook in other new activities.
More exposure to different environments often leads to better adjustments when entering a new environment. Hence, individuals in their 20s may not have the same thoughts when they enter the post-secondary institution. They will expect it to be a certain way, and even if it isn’t, they most likely won’t be caught up on it.
8. You’ll Know How to Handle Different Situations
We all know that sometimes, especially during first year, other than studies, there sometimes can be drama between friend’s groups in universities. An 18-year-old who is involved may be way too overwhelmed at first, especially with so much changes.
However, those in their twenties would have experienced a similar event in their teen years, which will better prepare them to handle such situations. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to run away from drama in university, but being prepared is the key to handling it.
9. You’ll Have a Diverse Support System as You Start College in Your 20s
When you enter university from high school, your university support system may consist of the people in your dorm, or some of your classmates. Throughout that time, most of the people you’ll meet will either be through your university, or through your part-time job.
However, when you enter university in your twenties, you’ll already have a support system beforehand, regardless how big or small. Your support system may consist of your best friend from high school, or the person you met at an amusement park.
Of course once you enter university, you’ll meet more new people and perhaps, make new friends. This will further diversify your support system. Hence, you’ll be more exposed to different worldviews and beliefs, and learn more from various people.
10. You’ll Realize The Value of Education
My grandparents have always reminded me the importance of staying on top of school work and focusing on academics. At first, I thought that I should prioritize other things, until I realized that perhaps, education is a privilege.
Many children and young adults around the world often do not have access to education. Therefore, being able to go to university is a privilege for many of us.
As a recent high school graduate, you may not have understood this perspective as much as everyone around you is pursuing post-secondary studies.
But when you enter university in your twenties, you will realize the importance of education. You will see how it can change your perspective, much more than the jobs you worked.
And you’ll be able to see how it can broaden your horizons, much more than anything you’ve encountered. This will allow you to focus more on your studies.
In Summary: 10 Profound Reasons to Start College In Your 20s
Beginning your undergrad in your 20s is now becoming more common than before. By being older, you’re able to stay grounded, have a strong sense of identity, and focus on your schoolwork.
Moreover, you may have also gained other skills in time management and communication, which will prove to be a benefit within the classroom and within the clubs you join.
Most of these differences are more so about the mindset. Being older often means having a broader mindset, as you’ll have faced plenty of different situations and have learned to solve them.
Due to these skills, you’ll also be more prepared to tackle the workforce after graduation. You’ll be able to snag the job which you were eyeing on, and achieve your own career milestones.
After all, when you start college in your 20s you will be able to realize the importance of staying committed to your journey. You’ll be working towards fulfilling your dreams with a valuable perspective gifted by time and experience.
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