Should I Go To Europe Or College?

by Judge Josh on September 15, 2014

Hello your honor,

Thank you…you may be seated. ;)

Well, I’ve been debating whether or not to ask you a question for a while now. I thought I’d finally thought I’d go for it. I decided to cram like fifty different questions into one…It’s long so PLEASE bear with me :)

Go for it!

I’m a Senior in high school. I go to a prep school so I feel adequately prepared for college. A subject I have fallen in love with over the past few years is Philosophy. I haven’t read as much as I would like, but I plan to. I just love asking questions about the world and mankind, and trying to figure out the answer. I guess I’m perfectly content with not having it. If I studied it, I would probably teach in some capacity, thought I don’t want to. I would probably like to go into government, like the CIA or something like that. St. Johns College of Annapolis anyone?

Along with Philosophy, I seem to have fallen in love with Music, Fashion Design, Literature, Marine biology, Europe and India (though I have no intention of studying the last two). I can give you a million and one reasons why I would study any of those in a heart beat. In fact…

Music: I literally don’t live without it. No matter what I do, I will have to study music in some capacity. That, I know for sure. I also have been studying it in high school for 4 years with work outside of high school. I am completely dedicated to it. I have no idea what I’d do with a degree in music, just as long as I can sing and play my piano all day long.

Nothing wrong with that.  I love music as well, and for a long time owned an 80s hair metal website just for the love of it (don’t you judge me!).  Now, if you’re not sure you want to work in a music field, I wouldn’t go all in and major in it, but there is nothing wrong with studying music in school.
Fashion Design: I have a dream. Literally. I actually had a dream about some clothes I was wearing and I loved them so much that I got out a sketch book and drew them. I just love thinking up new things to wear, and in different ways. I’m a bit avant-garde, but that’s just the way I work. I would obviously want to be a designer and maybe have my own line.

Again, nothing wrong with that dream either, as long as you know that having your own line is a really tall order.  Not to discourage you in the least, I just want you to be aware (and I’m sure you are already) that such a goal will take a LOT of determination and hard work.
Literature: this kinda goes along with Philosophy. I love to read and I love to read Classics because they’re well written and I think our culture has lost a lot of beauty because we don’t read as much. If I studied Lit., I would probably want to teach high school or College.

Sounds reasonable to me.
Marine Biology: I like science. I did really well in my Biology class and I love aquatic animals. I would go to either Palm Beach Atlantic University or Coastal Carolina for Marinebio. I want to be an animal trainer of sorts at sea world. Or, do shark research in South Africa.

Again, not a ridiculous life path to pursue.

I could always major in a million other things. I’m such a dilettante. I have experience in all of those subjects but I’m not particularly amazing at any of them except maybe music and lit. But I know that I would need to get a job eventually. I can’t just spend the rest of my life in college, no matter how much I want to. I eventually have to make money somehow. SO first off, how do I decide between these options? I love them all and could see myself in them, but I’m not sure how much I want to sacrifice one for the other. Help!

Whew – you’re not making this easy on me, are you Rebekah?  It would be impossible for me to definitively tell you which direction to go, as you have chosen several legitimate career paths to consider.  It would have been simple if one of your ideas was to pursue a degree in sheep shearing with a minor in underwater tap dancing.

As it is, however, all of your ideas seem legit.  You’ll hear people joke about philosophy majors working at McDonald’s or people with degrees in music being unemployed – and that does happen, to be sure – but as with any degree, if you have enough passion and drive, you can make it work for you.

This one is going to take some serious soul searching, Rebekah, as well as a lot of research into the job markets for each of these fields.  Weed out the few that you like, but aren’t really sure if you want to make a career out of or not (sounds to me like your indecisiveness on philosophy and music careers may make those topics the first on your chopping block, but that’s just a quick observation).  Then focus in on a couple.  Weigh the pros and cons.  If one still doesn’t stand out, go with your gut.  At that point, it’s really all you’ve got.

It’s not at all uncommon to have several different desires on what you want to become.  But ultimately, only you can make the final decision.

The second thing is that I’m not really sure I want to go to college immediately. I don’t exactly have the money for college so I was going to go to the community college in my area and work while I study. Something I’ve really been considering is taking a year off. I thought that the first semester I would work full time and make bank, so I could fund a trip to Europe. I have many connections to people in European countries, primarily England. The plan was to go for a few months and stay in England, get my friend to help me find a job and make pounds, which is the strongest currency. I could then just travel in Europe and fund those travels through working. Sound like a good plan?

Sure – why not?  As long as you have a rational plan other than, “Dude, lets just drop everything and backpack across Europe!  What could go wrong?” – and it sounds like you do – I see no problem with that (an obligatory apology to your parents here if they’ve been discouraging you from doing that).  After all, if you’re going to ever do that, there’s no time like when you’re young & single and have no idea what you want to do with your life.  It beats taking out $50,000 in loans and making the wrong decisions just because you’re “supposed to” take a certain path.

But I’m not sure if I should do that or go to college. I’ve applied to a few places but besides that I haven’t taken many steps towards college. Should I take a year off and travel, because I have been dying to go to Europe for years. Or should I just go a head to the community college?

Sorry this was so long. You can see my dilemma and I hope you can help. Thanks


Well, what do you think?  Surely someone out there thinks I’m crazy for telling Rebekah it’s okay to skip town and live in Europe for a few months.  Or is that what you would advise as well?  Let us know below!

{ 1 comment }

Should I Go To Go To My Dream School, Or Stay In-State & Pay Less?

September 11, 2014

Okay, so I don’t know what to do. I want to go down the “pre-med” track in college, and I have always thought that I would go to a big, showy, pricey university with lots of bells and whistles. I was always content with the amount of college debt I would have after school as […]


I Want To Be A Stay At Home Mom, But Also Want A Degree. What Should I Major In?

September 9, 2014

Hi Judge Josh, I have a rather unoriginal, yet complicated dilemma. I’m a college sophomore with zero direction. I went to a Minnesota college last year and transferred this fall to a college in my home state of South Dakota. I like this college much better, and feel its a better fit. I declared my […]


What Are The Best Jobs For Students?

September 8, 2014

I want to continue being a full time student… but I also need to find some source of income. What kind of jobs should I be soliciting that will not take up too much of my time but will still be somewhat profitable? -Danae Hi Danae, and thanks for stopping by!  The standard answer, of […]


Will My Son Be A “Show Off” At A Scholarship Interview?

September 4, 2014

Hi! My son is a year high school old senior. He has been invited to a “scholar’s day” event this weekend at a college where he has been accepted. He has been offered a partial scholarship. They will be conducting interviews with small groups of students. From these interviews, certain students will be selected to […]


Should Having Diabetes Be Considered A Hardship On A Scholarship Essay?

September 2, 2014

Hi Judge Josh, First off thank you for doing this site- it has been a great help. You’re quite welcome, Teresa – but I couldn’t do it without people like you! Okay I’m just going to tell you the problem. I’m a first/second year student(I did a semester away from home and things didn’t work […]


How Should You Answer The Question, “Have You Received Any Other Scholarship Awards?”

August 29, 2014

I always enjoy reading the posts, but I never thought I would have my own question to ask. As far as I know this question has not been adressed yet. It’s a fairly simple question that I have come across while filling out scholarship applications, yet no one has been able to give me a […]


Should I Go To College If I Don’t Know What I Want To Do With My Life?

August 28, 2014

After taking a two year hiatus from high school and working like a dog, I am pleased to announce that I’m set to graduate in June and have been accepted to college. Congratulations, Katlyn.  Although these days it seems like everyone is expected to go to college, a) not everyone should and b) just being […]


I Want To Make A Lot Of Money As A Lawyer & Use It To Help Animals – Is That Okay To Tell Scholarship Judges?

August 26, 2014

I’ve been reading your site and emails for a while, and definitely have found them to be super helpful in a general sense. I would like your advice on my situation in more specificity though. Shoot it at me, Hannah! I’m a senior in undergraduate, and have been accepted to one of my top law […]


Should You Work During High School?

August 21, 2014

Josh, I’m 17, a senior in high school. I’m taking three AP classes (Bio, Literature and Comparative Government) as well as Choir and Yearbook, which I am the business manager of. I’m not taking a ton of classes, but the ones I am taking require a lot of effort! On top of that, I’m working […]


Should She Take 2 Free Years of Community College?

August 5, 2014

Dear Mr. Barsch, Stop it, call me Josh. I feel old enough already. My name is Lindsey and I discovered you through and have read every email I’ve gotten with your advice from your blog on various and important topics that many students face. Excellent. is a site where we list various individual […]


What’s Old is New Again: Or, the Return of the Judge-Eye!

July 8, 2013

Short Version: So, yeah. I’m back. Long version: Man, life does take its funny twists and turns, doesn’t it? One minute you’re blogging like a fool every day, knocking it out, everything’s going smoothly. And seemingly in the blink of an eye, you take some time off to catch up on a couple of weak […]


Caitlin & the State-School Blues

June 9, 2011

Caitlin’s feeling a little down in the dumps about the college aspirations she once had for herself and the reality that’s seeming to be a little different these days. I’m guessing there’s a few dozen of you out there feeling the same way. Hello! I’m a recently graduated senior and salutatorian from a high school […]


Should a Man Go To Cosmetology School?

March 31, 2011

Jordan wants to go to cosmetology school, but is it too — you know, womanly? I have read many of your article and posts and I have come to a conclusion that you are quite a knowledgeable person, which is what I really need right now. Well, thank you very much. Glad to be held […]


Supporting a Family While Going to School

March 23, 2011

Franklin’s a passionate guy with many interests. He also has many responsibilities, namely supporting his family. He wants to go to college. How can he pull that off? Hey Josh, how’s it going? I’m sleep-deprived but overcaffeinated, so it should balance out long enough for me to give you a decent answer here. Hopefully you […]


First Family High School Graduate. Wait For College?

March 18, 2011

Lashawn thinks she’s got it worse than I think she really does. Almost to the point where she’s considering skipping college for a bit, but I think that’s a bad idea considering her setup. I’ll be the first one of my family to graduate from high school, let alone go to college, so there is […]


Summer School vs. Working For Extra Cash

March 15, 2011

Adam’s situation is much better than a stick in the eye. He’s been accepted to his dream school, but they want him to pack up and leave pronto. If he waits, he might make more cash at a summer job, and who knows, maybe even get a fat scholarship — at a less competitive school. […]


Engineering vs. James Bond

February 14, 2011

Lots of students who write me have a career-choice dilemma on their hands, but none quite like that of RDX. Which is the writer’s name, btw. I like it. I think if I was going to have a three-letter moniker, I’d definitely have the last letter be X. JDX. How’s that sound? Anyway, here’s RDX’s […]


Should the Valedictorian Drop Out?

February 3, 2011

Stella’s got problems. She was the valedictorian in high school, headed for great things, and now things are off the rails. Hi, Judge Josh! First of all, I love your blog. I like you already. I’m in a bit of a tight situation. My college is more or less running me bankrupt. I graduated valedictorian […]


Sneak Off To Another College?

January 25, 2011

Aly is a daring lass with a plan that might actually make a great screenplay, as long as there were a lot of screwball antics and coming-of-age challenges to overcome triumphantly. Dear Josh, My parents have decided that instead of allowing me to go off to college next year, they want me to attend a […]


From Canada to Harvard Law School?

January 17, 2011

Rebecca’s a Canadian student who’s transferring in the States to marry her CanadiAmerican fiance. Many congrats in advance to the happy couple. But she has big dreams of Ivy League law school and wants to know if her current plans will translate into admission there. Hey Judge Josh, Thanks for all the great advice you […]


Is Tattooing Worthy Of My Art Degree?

January 4, 2011

Jacob’s a tortured artist — and he hasn’t really even started being an artist yet! I imagine his situation and mindset are not uncommon, though, for art students about to jump into the professional world. Hi Judge Josh, I am at a crucial moment in my educational life. I will graduate next semester with a […]


I Was Raped. Should I Tell The Committee?

December 28, 2010

Sarah was finishing up a stellar undergrad career at a very selective university, and then she was raped. That changed things, but it didn’t derail her, and she needs some advice on how to continue righting the ship. Hi Judge Josh, Hi! I’m a longtime reader and fan of your Q&A section, just never thought […]


Should I Mention My Criminal History?

December 17, 2010

Shiro’s like a rapper. Or, at least like a lot of rappers pretend to be. He’s made something of himself, but his past is a little sketchy. Had to do a little hustlin’ to get by back in the day. Hi Judge Josh, I am applying for a scholarship program and I have difficulties deciding […]


I Want Baylor. Parents Want Ivy League.

December 15, 2010

Danielle wants to a be a neo-natal nurse, and she wants to go to Baylor, which is an expensive private school. Mom & Dad don’t approve…but not for the reasons you might expect. Hello there. Hi. I’m a Senior in high school in Oklahoma City. I’ve known all of my life that I’ve wanted to […]


Bad College Advice, Volume I

December 13, 2010

Man, Rebecca’s been getting some terrible college advice. I want to thank her in advance for allowing me to smash some of it here in a public forum. My question has two parts. I will be graduating with my A.A.S in Accounting this December with a 3.6GPA after taking classes for four years. Congrats! It […]


When It’s OK to Lie

December 8, 2010

Sheri’s trying to get me in trouble today. Hey Josh, Hey! I’ve got a pretty great thing going on. I’m currently a debt-free sophomore in college with a 3.86 cumulative GPA, my family is supportive of me, and I’ve never had any trouble with people bullying me about my race, religion, or other attributes. To […]


Multiple Degrees, Same School: Bad?

December 7, 2010

Jennifer’s heard the chatter about getting your degrees from different schools, if you’re getting more than one. Is it worth listening to? I usually have a lot of input, but figured I would poll the troops. I am finally graduating with my Associates in Business from American Military University with honors – WOOHOO. It looks […]


I’m a Lesbian. Should I Hide That?

December 6, 2010

Victoria’s a lesbian, and her experience of being a lesbian actually makes a pretty sweet answer to one of her essay questions that could win her some money. But she’s not sure if it’s a great idea. Hi Josh, I’m in my final year of University and though I know what I want to do […]


Weighted GPA vs. Non-Weighted GPA

December 3, 2010

Brittany has an interesting question today. If a scholarship committee asks for your GPA but doesn’t specify weighted or unweighted, which one should you give ‘em? At my high school we are currently on an honors grading scale for majority of our classes. We are given a GPA that is considered to be weighted; when […]