I just recently turned seventeen, and I'll be a senior in high school in a matter of months, and I'm a bit ruffled over where I want my future to go. I've given thought to the matter and I generally don't like many activities/hobbies, so at this point, I'm skeptical of how useful a college degree will be considering that I don't know what degree I'd get and the cost of college, despite the increase in income it allows. I've given quite a bit of thought into joining the military, but I'm not sure if that's a viable means of earning a living. I know I can deal with the stress and strain that training will encompass, but I don't want to commit myself to something and then have nothing to fall back upon.
Sorry if this letter is rambling any; I have a problem with that. I hope I've given sufficient information for advice, and if not, then I'd be happy to answer any questions.
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There is a lot of pressure on young people to get a college education. As you noted, people with degrees usually make more money than those with only a high school diploma or less. However, it has always been this bear’s belief that a college education (at least, a four-year or higher degree) is not for everyone. As you mention, there is the alternative of the military, but that certainly is not for everyone, either.
The good news is there are a lot of careers you can get into without going to college that earn you a decent income. Here is an excellent list about them: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/. It includes everything from dog walker to construction-related industries to computers and writing professions. Also, there are a lot of things you can do with a 2-year degree. The U.S. actually has an outstanding community college system. Here are some high-paying jobs with a two-year degree: http://career-advice.monster.com/salary-benefits/salary-information/100k-jobs-two-year-degree/article.aspx and here http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/01/23/highest-paying-2-year-degree-jobs-in-the-us/.
So what you need to do is find something in which you have an interest. You noted you “generally don't like many activities/hobbies,” but that doesn’t mean you have no interest in anything, I hope. If you have absolutely no interest in doing anything in your life, then I cannot help you. But if you can find just one or two things that appeal to you, that is workable. Better yet, if you can find something you love and can find a career in, then you will never work a day in your life because work will be like play. If I could, for instance, earn a living writing this column, I would be one happy bear.
Don’t be pressured by adults or peers to do something for the money. That will just make your life sad—and is, unfortunately, what happens to most people in this world. Find your passion first, then make it a career.
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