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Check out our new Study Hall Channel: https://www.youtube.com/studyhall

What is college? And should you go? In our first episode of Crash Course How to College, Erica talks us through some of the reasons you may or may not want to go after that degree.

Dr. Erica Brozovsky (from PBS's Otherwords) hosts and breaks down how to apply for, succeed at, and graduate from college. Check out our all new Study Hall Channel (linked above) where you can watch Fast Guides about college majors and even more series.

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#CrashCourse #StudyHall #College
What even is college?

And an equally important question, should you go? This probably feels like a new kind of question, because unless it's snowing outside, we don't usually ask ourselves whether or not we should go to school.

But college is a different kind of schooling, because going to college is our choice, and it's a choice that requires some reflection and preparation before we take the plunge. Through elementary, middle, and high school, we've got a clear map guiding the way. And we don't have to think about it too much.

After third grade, we eventually go to fourth and fifth grade. After Algebra I we study Algebra I. And we plod along, reaching each checkpoint one after the other.

But one day, we reach the edge of the map--and here, there be dragons! Well, sadly not literally. But the well worn path does run out and it's up to us to ask: what's next?

And one great option that everyone should consider--no matter their background--is college. In college, we finally get to chart our own course. We can choose what subjects to focus on and begin a journey towards achieving our dreams--or discovering new ones.

Just thinking about college and all of the options out there can be both really exciting and intimidating. But don't worry, we got you. With a little preparation, you'll feel empowered to step off the edge of the map, explore new territory, and choose a path towards your very own career.

Hi, I'm Erica Brozovsky and this is Crash Course How to College - a Study Hall series presented in partnership with Arizona State University. Let's discuss what we mean by "college." There's a lot that can fall under teh umbrella of college, but in general a college is a type of school in the US and many other countries that is more advanced than high school and allows students to pursue more specialized studies. At college students can learn from experts and gain a deeper understanding of subjects they may or may not have studied before.

Some of this may be preparation for a job, but some may just be about subjects that you love and want to understand more. College is quite different than we tend to imagine. Today in 2022, over 50% of college students are not the 18-year-old, fresh-out-of-high school student that we often see in media.

Some of us are returning to school after working for many years, and we might even be the first ones in our family to go to college. Others are veterans or transfer students. People with all kinds of backgrounds and experiences arrive at college, but what unites us is our desire to learn something new.

And the reason we choose to learn something new in college is because going to college has always been an excellent way to gain access to the knowledge produced by scholars and professionals. Just as there are many types of professionals, there are many different types of colleges out there. Some colleges are called technical schools, which are meant to train students in a specific skill or trade.

Students might attend one technical school to become an electrician or another to learn culinary skills. There are also community colleges, which typically offer 2-year programs. Students often attend community college because they're usually more affordable, and community colleges can help prepare students to pursue a 4-year degree.

At technical schools and community colleges, students can earn a 2-year degree, called an Associate's degree, and can sometimes also earn certificates that show you have the necessary training for a particular job. And then there are 4-year colleges, which come in a variety of flavors. If a college is a liberal arts college, it's going to be focused on offering a robust undergraduate education in, well, the liberal arts: the social and natural sciences, the humanities, and arts.

Class sizes tend to be smaller, there aren't a lot of teaching assistants, and the teachers themselves tend to dedicate their time to teaching, rather than having research projects outside of the classroom. A university, or research university, is typically a much larger place--it might even have multiple campuses. Universities can have different colleges inside them, like the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering.

There may be students around who are also teachers, and professors often have academic research projects separate from their teaching. And that can be a great opportunity for you if you know you're interested in doing research, because you'll have the change to learn firsthand from the people doing it! Regardless of the type of school, college professors can introduce students to new topics not typically taught in high school.

They can teach classes that are highly specialized. A film student might take "Modern Horror Cinema from 1960 to 2010." Or a business major might take "Financial Accounting for Nonprofits." Some college professors have produced original work in order to attain their degrees, so they can teach about super specific topics. When they're not teaching, professors at 4-year colleges are often working on projects to increase human knowledge in their field.

Professors can also provide mentorship and training to help us understand how their specialties might help us when we look for jobs or explore solutions to the problems of our community and society. Being a college student means gaining access to the advice and mentorship of professionals and experts, such as professors. Students can also pursue special opportunities to get practical experience, like internships or other types of career training.

When we complete enough courses and gain the right experience, we're ready to graduate! Once you've completed the requirements for your chosen field, you receive what's called a Bachelor's degree that's always associated with your major, or the field of study you focused a lot of your time on. For example, I have a Bachelor's in Linguistics.

And don't worry if you don't know what majors are or which one you want to study, we'll talk more about the college major in episode 6. Also, you can check out our Fast Guide series on the Study Hall channel. Each episode looks at a different college major, what you'll study, and the possible career paths those majors can lead to.

Click the card or the link in the description! The Bachelor's degree demonstrates that you have sufficient knowledge and skill in a particular field. Earning a Bachelor's means that you are ready to apply what you learned in practice.

And never fear, there's always more to learn. After earning a Bachelor's, students can pursue graduate degrees, sometimes offered by teh same school. Some careers require master's degrees or special certifications.

An accounting student will often go on to earn a master’s degree, then a Certified Public Accountant designation, or CPA. There are also professional degrees, such as the MD (which is a medical doctor designation) or JD (which is juris doctor, for attorneys). No matter what career we choose, college can serve as an avenue to get there by giving us the right preparation, connecting us to the right people, and helping us gain the right experience.

Now more than ever there are so many ways to go to college. That doesn’t mean we all have to. But we each can have a lot of different motivations for becoming a more formally educated person. Like let’s look at some external reasons. For one, there’s money—We all need it! It may not be the most romantic reason, but it’s incredibly important.

People who have a Bachelor’s degree earn about $2.8 million more over their lifetimes than people with a high school degree alone. People with college degrees are also more likely to pass on their earning power to their families, making the college degree a strong way to increase the wealth of the next generation.This may be very appealing for students who are the first in their family to get a college degree.

Second, some careers really do require college degrees. Lawyers need a Bachelor’s degree before pursuing a law degree and medical students must complete certain coursework before enrolling in medical school. Even if your chosen career doesn’t require a degree, college can help expand your career options. Students can work with on-campus career counselors to explore new paths that they hadn’t considered.

Even after graduation, students can rely on their college’s alumni network to give advice or open doors into new industries. Having a network of peers, professors, and professionals is extremely important as a resource for your future career. And we might also have internal motivators.

If you’re like me, you might have had favorite subjects in school. Mine were humanities and linear algebra. There are topics or projects that get us excited because they are genuinely meaningful to us. It’s something that we recognize when we are working on a hobby or reading a genre of book that we enjoy.

When we discover a passion like that, it might change the way we organize our lives. We might dream of becoming someone who fights for a certain cause (like a writer or an executive at a nonprofit) or who devotes their expertise to educating others (like a teacher, a nurse, or a scientist).

The beauty of college is that it gives us the opportunity to dive deep into any field and gain skills that help us make our dreams a reality. Throughout our lives, our passions may grow and change, and we might discover new ones too.

But even when we’re unsure of our passion, we might still want to go to college simply because we’re motivated to become a more well-rounded person. College presents us with the opportunity to learn about other cultures than our own. We can use our college’s resources to apply to study in other countries and to explore jobs that are completely unexpected. We can meet new people and make new friends that have had different experiences from the people we knew in high school.

So there are lots of reasons to go to college whether it’s to get an edge on the job market, or to help us grow as a person by developing our values through real life experiences. College is a one-of-a-kind experience with lots of benefits. It’s also a big commitment.

Now that you have some background information on what college is, you’re ready to ask yourself: Should I go? Before answering this question, it’s important to set goals for yourself. Some students have a clear goal, like “I want to become a physician.” Others might set goals centered on exploration, like “I want to find the right career for me in the arts.”

I pursued college because I really love learning and I didn't know what else I wanted to do yet, so my first goal was to explore all of my options. Once we write our goals down, even if they’re tentative, we’re on our way towards getting a clearer vantage point for choosing the right college experience.

Goal setting is hard though, so if you find yourself staring at a blank page, try talking to someone you trust and admire or researching someone who enjoyed college or someone whose job sounds interesting. Maybe it’s a cousin who works in film production, a family friend who works in engineering, or a teacher who taught in Spain.

You can even find a lot of great advice from professionals and mentors on YouTube. Look at their LinkedIn pages or research their career histories. Ask them how they felt about their preparation for their careers. Interview them and take notes. They can tell you how they approached college and can even explain what they might have done differently.

We each have our own journey, but seeing the paths others have taken can help us chart our own. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with changing and evolving your goal throughout college. As you take courses and collect experiences, you may want to mold your path to suit new talents and interests. Life experiences tend to change you, and college will definitely be a big one.

So at any point in your life, you may end up asking yourself “Is college the best step for me to take right now?” And it’s okay if you conclude that it’s not the right time for you to go to college. We tend to have a set image of “going to college” in our minds, but there are actually many ways to go to college.

You might take a few college-level classes before enrolling in a program, or you might enroll right away. You might choose an on-campus experience, or you might pursue an online degree instead. You might take a gap year or two so that you can pursue a hobby or work a job before you enroll. You could decide to get an associate’s degree before pursuing a bachelor’s. You may choose to intern or shadow in a field that piques your interest before choosing a college that’s right for you. You might even change your goal in the middle of your academic career.

There’s no one “right way” to go to college, so you’re totally free to choose a path that suits your life best. It’s natural to feel lost or unsure what to do next. But remember that you’re not alone, and that no matter what you’re pursuing, others have tread the same paths you are starting down.

Even if you are the first person to pursue college in your family, there are many people who have had the same experiences as you, including many of us on the Crash Course team! The important thing is to view college as a journey that you are taking after proactive reflection and planning.

Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course How to College. This series is part of an expanded program called Study Hall. Crash Course has partnered with Arizona State University to launch Study Hall on its own channel. Check out youtube.com/studyhall where you’ll find more tips about navigating college, choosing a major, plus foundational courses connected to college credit courses that students struggle most with in their first 2 years. We hope you see you over there!