How to go to college
@JamesAltucher thinks it's a waste of time. I disagree. Especially given how long people live. Now if you are LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, Roger Federer, or Bill Gates, it might be a waste of time. The odds are not in your favor.....I believe life is about experiences and think everyone should experience college. Except for LeBron....
The median college graduate makes a lot more money over their lifetime than a non-graduate.
1. Do not go at 18
There's a strong chance you are not sure what you want to study, or do the rest of your life. You probably aren't even sure where you would want to go to college. How you want to pay for it. If you are a male, your brain won't fully develop for another 6-10 years. You definitely shouldn't be making life changing decisions at 18. The dropout rate in college is very high. Most people are not mature, or don't have the proper resources to go to school right away.
2. Live and Learn for 2 years
If you can afford it, or can figure it out, go travel. See the world. Live like Anthony Bourdain. Read the book "Vagabonding."
Or join the peace corps.
Or join the military. They will eventually pay for your college.
Or shadow people in your community you are interested in.
Or work for a few years in a trade.
Or start a company. The guy who owns the lawn service in my neighborhood didn't go to college and makes way more money than me. Same with the guy who owns the A/C company. Not every company has to be a tech startup.
Have some fun these 2 years. Be curious.
Maybe you only need 1 year. Maybe you need 4. Whatever. You've got a long life ahead. Don't rush to become an accountant or slave away in a cubicle the rest of your life.
Write down the stories and things you've learned. It will help you on your college applications.
After 2 years, you should have some idea if you actually want to go to college, or not.
If you do, get to work figuring out where you want to go and how you will pay for it.
3. Find a way to go for free
Or really cheap. Most colleges are basically the same. State schools are actually fairly affordable. Junior college even more affordable. If you did well in high school you might qualify for scholarships. The best schools have absurd endowments that make it very affordable for most people to attend, assuming you get in. That's the hard part. 2 years at a JuCo or and then 2 at a state school is possible for almost anyone. You can work while you go to school, if you have to make ends meet.
A billionaire I know went to a worse school than me. I have a friend who went to Harvard and is in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and makes less than me. School ranking largely does not matter. In my friend group, the worse the school and grades they had, the more money they make now. Take that for what it's worth. Nothing, but If you can go to Harvard for free, do it. Don't study a nonsense degree, unless someone else is paying for it. Then do whatever you want.
4. Live cheap
Once you are in. Live dirt cheap. Colleges often have events with free food. Live in the dorms for one semester or one year. Then move off campus and house hack, if you can. Or rent the cheapest room you can find. If you have to split a bedroom with someone to make it cheaper, do it. Save your money.
Even if your family is wealthy. Live cheap. You will learn that you don't need much to survive. The last house I lived in before I graduated was knocked down two years after I lived there. It was a complete dump with roaches and broken windows. I loved it. And it was dirt cheap. I paid hundreds of dollars a month less than anyone I knew.
5. Don't go in debt
This should be #1.
If you need to take out loans, make sure it's not a lot. If you graduate with less than 10-20k in student loans, you'll be fine. I think the cost is worth it. If it's more than that, and you won't be a doctor, it's unclear. The good thing about student loans is they have a low interest rate that doesn't begin until you finish school, I think.....The awful is that you cannot default on the loans.
Better to work your way through school.
6. Take school seriously
You're now at least 20. You've had two years to mess around. Hopefully, you've had some fun. Don't be the kid who gets drunk every single night and doesn't remember what happened.
Do as well as you can in college. It doesn't take that much effort to do ok.
7. Have fun
Be active socially. Go out all the time. You don't have to drink or do drugs. You should have already done a lot of that the last two years. You don't have to hang with the "cool kids." There's a group for anyone in college.
Meet people. Go to the gym. Go to class. Go to events. Enjoy yourself. Be seen. Run for politcal office. Soak up every moment here.
Make memories. Good and bad.
Taking school seriously means networking is your own class. You need to get at least a B here.
By going out socially, you will meet people casually. Join clubs. Play sports. Go to class. Help others. Whatever. Make as many friends as possible. Stay in touch with them over the years. This is really important. WHO YOU KNOW MATTERS A LOT IN LIFE! Friends will help each other. They will go out of their way to help you, if they can.
You never know who will end up being really successful. Some of the guys I least suspected would be wildly successful, did so. Be nice to everyone. Even if they are not nice to you.
Find ways to network with alumni. While you are in college. Talk to them. Get advice. Stay in touch.
9. Go to a fun school
Go to a school where people have fun. There are sports. Even if you don't like sports. The events surrounding the sports are fun. These sort of people are fun and will remain fun throughout their life. These sort of schools have strong alumni networks and they help each other. You'll be more inclined to visit the school after you leave. Many of my friends who went to ivy schools are jealous of my undergraduate experience. I know plenty of people who went to state schools then graduate schools in the ivy league and now do great. They got the best of both worlds. Or, go to a school in a fun city. Or next to a fun college, so you can piggyback.
10. Have a plan before you graduate
Intern. Or get an offer before you graduate. If you don't, it will be harder and you'll have pressure when you are done.
11. Here's a plan....
2 years before you graduate you probably have some idea what you want to do. Even if you want to start a business......
Get a notebook or excel sheet of everyone you know. Adults mainly. Let them know what you want to do. Over time, ask them if they know anyone in that field. Ask them if they will connect you with that person. Ask for a referral over time.
STAY IN TOUCH. - This is the hard part. My friends who are master networkers have killed it in life.
12. Don't be entitled
Before you graduate and go into "the real world," be grateful. Hopefully, you had fun. Be ready to work hard. In whatever you do. The world owes you nothing. If you haven't visited a 3rd world country in your two year break, please do so, to gain some perspective.
13. There's nothing like college
Had a successful businessman when I was in college tell me, "I would give everything away to be you right now."
He would always tell me to enjoy college. It's the best time of your life. Young people all hanging out. No responsibility. I always wanted to be him.
He was right. It is a blast, if you do it right.