GraduatesThere’s a slew of articles coming out now concerning the class of 2014 graduating from college. The articles talk about the issues they face, important facts of this class, and more. This article, in particular, paints a bleak picture of what faces these students post graduation.

Upon reading that, any number of reactions make sense. “It’s not worth going to college if I’m going to graduate with debt and unable to find a job,” goes one line of thinking. “I need to devote the entirety of my collegiate plans to making sure I’ll be able to get a good job after,” goes another.

So, what should you take away from this article? How should you look ahead to your post-graduation life? And how should it affect your college planning now, especially if you’re a junior in high school just getting started?

#1: Think about what you can study

There are many reports out there about which majors are more likely to provide you with a greater higher income than others — here’s a particularly good one from Look at one of these, and take it together with your own interests to determine what you’d like to study. It’s not worth pursuing something that’ll get you a lot of money if it’ll make you miserable.

Then, once you know what you might want to study that could net you the overall income you’d need to sustain yourself after college, start looking to find out whether or not a given college can help you with that. Most liberal arts colleges will offer a similar set of programs and majors, but it’s always worth investigating. Look into the specifics of the programs available, the extracurriculars, the faculty, and so on.

It can only help your college process to know which schools are going to be the best at what you’d like to do, and the beautiful thing about most undergraduate liberal arts schools is that if you change your mind, they’ll still be equipped to give you a solid education.

#2: Think about what you can afford

There’s a ton of financial aid out there, between scholarships and loans and grants and more — you can find some great scholarships through the scholarship search tool — but even so, you need to take into account what you and your family can actually afford when considering colleges.

If you’re going to come out of college with a terrible burden of debt, then that might be exactly the warning sign that you need to tell you you shouldn’t attend that college. Check out some of the tips here in this article about how to graduate from college debt-free by attending schools that cost less to see some of what I’m talking about.

While you’re looking at colleges, have a good idea of what you can actually pay, and how much aid you’ll need, and be sure to be constantly inquiring about how much aid you can actually get from the school in question. That’ll help make sure that when you ultimately graduate college, you’ll get out on the right foot.

#3: Think about if college is right for you

College education is always beneficial, but it might not be the best possible use of your time and money, depending upon your own personality and situation. Absolutely look into college, but always think about whether or not it’s the right move for you to make, because it’s not always the right thing to do for every student.

This article, “When College Isn’t In The Cards,” talks a bit about students deciding that college isn’t for them, and what that means. Be sure to read it, and keep the ideas therein close to your heart, even as you’re going through every step of the college process. In the end, if you actively decide that college is the right choice for you, you’ll be that much more devoted once you finally get there.