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

Sincerely,
Rebekah

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!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

L. Hernandez September 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Robert Heinlein, the SF author had a great quote about specialization being only for insects. I know it looks like everyone going off to school has their single choice all picked out and will be doing that for life, but it’s an open secret that “the real world” actually is prone to changes and colleges are often open to students changing their major, adding a minor or designing an interdisciplinary major. I would suggest having a look at Barbara Sher’s book “Refuse to Choose” where she talks about people with lots of varied interests and the false sense they must pick only one interest and forsake all others. There is nothing wrong with either putting off some interests for later, or pursuing them simultaneously, it is only wrong to think saying yes to one means no to all those others and that school is the only place to develop those interests.

My husband is very interested in sharks, and marine life, but rather than go through years of studying plankton and invertebrate physiology, he has worked with scientists in their reef surveys through earthwatch.org and CEDAM, which lets people participate in scientific expeditions. Right now, I am back in school going for a bachelor’s degree in computer information technology. I dropped out of many schools, not sure what I wanted to do. I did some community college and state schools, and took very long breaks in between. The degree I am pursuing is still not necessarily my last career.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594863032/qid=1137700399/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-4524712-8792631?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

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Danielle September 22, 2014 at 5:55 am

So when you brought up Europe, my first thought was “Taken,” but hearing that you have friends and connections there helped a bit. So why not? Especially if you don’t know what you want to do. Maybe you’ll find your passion there! I don’t see why you shouldn’t, especially because you’re not married with children yet, and once that happens, who knows? My favorite line from Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” is Mrs. Gibbs: “Only it seems to me that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to.”

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Russell H. September 22, 2014 at 11:25 am

Hey Josh and Rebekah! Interesting situation and questions, but I like the fact that you have thought things through. However, I’ll throw in a bit of advice from personal experience.

I had a friend do the same thing as you would like to do, take a year off to explore Europe after high school. He stayed with a host family and explored a bit before returning to the US.
I took the other approach and went to college, graduated, then went abroad.

We compared our experiences one night and he told he really wished that he waited until after college to go, for a few reasons. First, by studying at a university he grew to appreciate the arts and cultures more than he had in high school. Second was security; although he was there “on his own”, many people were still looking after him. He felt like he would have benefited from the trip if he was older amd

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Nimrodiel September 22, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Another thing to look into is if your community college has a study abroad program. I wish I had been able to take advantage of mine when I was there as it is much more affordable to travel, you have a choice of how long you will be there ( a few weeks, a semester, or sometimes a year).

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alice September 22, 2014 at 9:21 pm

This is what I would do. I would take a year of school, but while in school take language classes. Look at what study abroad programs you would like to go on. Go on an exchange program. Usually its longer. My school is better to go through the department you are studying vs the study abroad program just because you have more opportunities to go longer and better scholarships.
I am a junior. I am going on a 4 month exchange in Germany next year with a full ride from the department and getting a monthly stipend that pays for my food and rent. All I have to pay for are my plane tickets and anything extra I want to do. The girl that took the exchange program last year said she only had 4 hours of classes each week and she got to travel 4 days out of the week.

I would think about it. If you did it my way at least you have some school done and you get your European trip maybe paid for. Talk to the teacher before you enroll in school. Just make sure you find out when scholarship applications are due. Mine are due 6 months before the trip.

Good luck.

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