The first thing to consider is the likelihood of you starting a business during or after your post-secondary education. If you likely to start a business and offer products or services that do not require a lengthy university education, do not go for MBA in university or something that barely relates to the type of business you would like to do. Entrepreneurs do best taking college programs because they are geared towards learning the ins and outs of running different types of businesses and making them successful. More knowledge is never better than the right kind of knowledge. If you want to make music, taking an art or a music related university program would be a mistake in most cases- you need college and tons of practical experience, either through co-op or internships you find by yourself. Or, if you want to start a news channel on YouTube, again college would prepare you better than a lengthy loosely related university program. The old idea that universities are always better than colleges is no longer valid- the question is do you know how to do your job or business, and whether or not you can do it. Sure, if you want to become a lawyer, a doctor or a university professor, naturally you have to go to university. For everything else, this may not be the case.
The next issue that I keep hearing about is how college and university program choices are being romanticized. People are being brainwashed into thinking that you need to be in love with your program and that comes first. It has to be a love marriage, so to speak. Well, there is also such a thing as an arranged marriage, and those often work out great, if not better. What am I even talking about? I am talking about picking education that will lead you towards a career you are not in love with instantly, but you will grow into it and become good at it. There is a good show from the States called Dirty Jobs. Its creator made a career out of exploring jobs most people cannot imagine going to school for or loving, but they grow into them and embrace them. Oh and guess what? These jobs pay amazing money. How about a professional logger who is in his early 20's and makes 80K per year? Then there are people like sewer system specialists who make 150K and much more. Sure, a lot of these jobs are trades, but not all of them. Now, what do you think happens once these people embrace their unexpected careers and live amazing lives thanks to the high salaries? They thank their lucky stars is what they do, while they order their lattes from Starbucks baristas with university degrees that those baristas fell in love with.
The third big issue I need to address is that students need to be told there are no guarantees of anything when they invest money in their education, and that depending on what program they choose the deck may even be stacked against them. The failure of parents, teachers, as well as college and university administrators to make this clear to students presents one of the largest, most effective sources of radicalization and extremism in the West! Someone should write a book about that, if they have not already. In many industries that involve you investing money, false advertising, false promises and deliberate misleading are wrong and often illegal as well. What post-secondary institutions are doing is that they are advertising their programs like they were GIC's, but really they have to advertise them as mutual funds. There are no guarantees on what you will get after 3-7 years of investing, you may win or lose everything. Post 2008 economy is still not where it should be, schools are disconnected from the job market, and it means nothing that salaries for people who get certain degrees can start at 70K if 200 people apply for a single opening and recent grads compete for it with experienced professionals who were let go because their previous employer may have tanked. The second part of this issue is that some programs, especially in universities, translate horribly into actual careers and there are very few jobs for them. History, political science, anthropology, Health and Society and similar are the types of programs where the deck is really stacked against you. Unless you plan on starting a YouTube channel after you graduate (or during your studies), you will be competing with so many people for a tiny handful of jobs, and you can only go so long after graduating until you have to get a job, and it ends up being retail, hospitality or call center. Those are fine jobs too, but not when you owe 40K or more for your education. People who choose these and similar programs must be told a few things. You better love your program, you cannot work or mess around- you must study all the time, the only friends you will make are the ones who can help you network, and you must become the best of the best or else you will be unemployed, hungry and possibly become radicalized down the road. Nobody should pay money and spend some of the best years of their lives putting themselves on such a destructive path.
The final issue I want to address is the lack of attention due to tech and social media induced ADD. If you are a student paying for an education, sooner or later you will need to put what you have learned to the test, and your boss will quickly decide whether you will remain hired, or whether your ass is getting fired. Also, before you even get hired, it may take six months after graduation or even longer to get the right job (if you get it at all). How will you remember anything that long once you are out of school if you do not focus in your classes and pay attention? it is really simple- you will not remember nearly enough to call yourself a grad. Drop all your messaging, leave social media feeds for later, do not play YouTube or Netflix in class, do not listen to anything distracting while you study, and for the love of all that is holy, do not do group study sessions because everyone knows you get nothing, totally nothing, done during these!
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything I ever heard students say or do that causes concern, I hope you will find it a sober, down to earth and almost utilitarian approach to understanding the misconceptions around the role and function of higher education, and perhaps help someone in your life evaluate these issues and more in their own post-secondary pursuits.