I have a job I love but financially it's really more of a side hustle since I also homeschool a third grader. I'm a fiction ghostwriter (mostly romance novels and business parables) and an author. The bulk of my income comes from the former. I'll never be good enough at marketing to rely on the latter, and I'm okay with that. I always say I like to write. If I wanted to market, I'd have an MBA instead of a MFA.
And that brings me to my point, the kind of advice I wish an older person would have given a younger me. Should you go to college? Maybe.
But it shouldn't be a default. I entered school with the idea that without a degree people literally didn't get jobs with livable wages. There may be some truth to this, although I know people who didn't go to college and out earn me significantly. But what we don't talk enough about is that the opposite can also be true. You can go to college and come out with enough debt that while you're being paid a higher wage, your standard of life is the same. You're also delayed in starting your career four years, because a lot of people can't handle working full time and school too.
So, when should you go to college?
When you know exactly what you want to do. "I want to be a lawyer." --> Not yet.
"I want to be a corporate law attorney." --> You're not ready but keep thinking.
"I want to be a corporate law attorney who redefines X elements of Y industry. I'd really like to work for Z Company." Now, you're ready. Get your undergrad in a field related to either law or Y industry. Intern in the summer. Consume media and information about law and Y industry when you're bored. You've got this.
Where should I go to college?
Somewhere really specific. Like insanely specific. The more specific the program the better. If you want to major in English decide what you want to do. Teach? Write? Edit? Read? Once you've decided that get more specific.
"I want to write fiction."
Great. Literary or genre? Or your so artsy you consider literary a genre?
"I want to write literary fiction." Great. Go for an old school with a name. I hear there is a good place in Moscow Iowa.
"I want to write genre fiction." Great. There is a program in PA and one in KY. Although, I think KY only has an applicable in program in post grad.
The point is we have to change the conversation. You shouldn't take enough debt to buy a car to "get a piece of paper" because you think it will get you a job. You should do it because you've found what you love and you want to learn more about it. You think you've mastered what you can, and you're ready to go deeper. You can't get any further on your own. You tend to get more out of things that you put the most into. You're more likely to do this if you're on your way not floundering through life because you're not sure what else to do and getting a degree seems to be the next logical step.
If you've found your path and you're trying to fulfill it, you won't regret your degree. You'll get where you're supposed to be. If you take a degree because it's just step two, you may not be happy with it.
I realize this post has nothing to do with fiction or ghostwriting, but I love processing my thoughts in writing. And after this much work, I had to hit publish. Besides, I need to make sure it's in the archive, so I can refer back to it in a few years when my daughter is older.