We are living in unprecedented times. Nothing is what it used to be. Every thought I have had about the pandemic has been wrong. Which has caused me to second guess myself. This causes me to hesitate to make decisions.
During this time of year, I am busy helping students plan their transition into college. We are looking at financial aid packages, fields of study, housing, orientation, and class registration. This is still happening, just not at the same rate.
Students are waiting. I get it. There’s a lot of uncertainty. As you can tell by the title I think waiting is a terrible idea. I’ll get into that in a little bit. But first, let’s get into why students are not wanting to go to college this fall.
US Journal published this article:
Education is changing. The financial return of a formal education has been in question for a few years. The market doesn't support the public school narrative that every student should go to college.
To be clear education is valuable beyond the money it costs. It’s just that sometimes there is a lower return on that initial investment. It wasn’t that long ago that a degree was almost as good a guarantee for a high paying job. That isn’t the case anymore.
Acquiring a degree can be expensive. Navigating the financial landscape of education is like doing taxes or buying a house. It’s not easy.
But I don’t think this is the primary reason students are hesitating. There are a lot of affordable ways to get an education. I think the hesitancy runs much deeper.
Most of us are familiar with our fight or flight response. But there is also a freeze response. We freeze in response to too much or too little information to make decisions. In the case of COVID, it’s the lack of available information.
Information overload is normal. Having a lack of information to direct our actions feels stifling. So we freeze. Waiting for more information to become available.
While we wait time keeps moving.
It’s been six weeks since I’ve stopped going into the office daily. SIX WEEKS! The days are all running together. I do the same things every day. The different aspects of my life are blending. I switch from work to family to personal throughout the day. All the very clear boundaries have dissolved.
I am currently sitting on my bed with my work phone, laptop, books, and surrounding by my kid's laundry. At the same time, the weather is getting warmer. My son will turn 11. And I, without the gym, am getting fatter.
Time works the same for everyone. Eventually, you are going to get to a point where your life needs to start. Waiting isn’t helping anything.
There is a concept I read about in the book Ego is the Enemy called Alive Time and Dead Time. This couldn’t be a more accurate description of this time.
I understand that going to college isn’t for everyone. I’m not here to convince you to go to college. If you want some help navigating the decisions please reach out. I’m happy to help.
What I don’t want you to do to is nothing. To hold out for the right time or the right opportunity. Things will never go back to normal. If your plans look different then it’s time to pivot.
The longer you wait to make a decision the less choice you have.
In my very limited experience, it has been better for me to commit to something and then pivot out of it then it was to wait. Action has always been better than no action.
Shortly after I graduated with my bachelor's degree I start my master's degree. Right after I graduated with my masters I lost my job teaching. I second-guessed my decision to go back to school. Looking back now my master's degree opened up doors to get me to where I am.
It was better for me that I did it.
No matter what you do this fall I ask you to be deliberate. To think about the direction you want to go and take the first step down that path.
There is no better time to act. There is no better time than now. It’s just going to look a little different than you thought.