19 votes

Need some DP advice! Help a future college student out!

Hey there everyone!

This is my first post on the DP. I've been reading and visiting this site for well over a year now and recently decided to join to get in on the discussions. The community is great :)

To business. I am a junior in high school and, as I'm sure you well know, all of these colleges and federal aid offers are being thrown everywhere. Being the Ron Paul guy I am, whenever I hear anything about "federal student aid" I usually ignore it. That's another issue, though.

In my list of decisions I've mentally made for myself for my life after high school, one of my options I'm considering is something called a "gap year." For those who don't know what that is, it's essentially taking a year off before college and either deferring your start until a later date or applying exactly a year after high school ends.

The only reason I've even considered a gap year is due to the fact I believe it is extremely immature to borrow a massive amount of money for college and then go in not knowing what I'll likely end up doing or if I'll even get a decent job to pay it all back. My peers tend to think they'll be alright, you know, they'll graduate college, get their dream job, and pay it all back quickly. I guess I know that's too good to be true these days.

I should also note that my parents run their own apparel business and my gap year would be spent entirely working for them. That's approximately $800-$1000 a month, more in the summer. I don't believe in laziness, so the idea of be never returning or continuing my education would never happen. I am open to anything. I just have an issue of spending money I don't have (I can thank Dr. Paul for that :-))

I am just looking for some advice on this. I've seen how knowledgeable and amazing some people are on here and thought it'd be a good place to ask.

In liberty!




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bury the silver in the ground

bury the silver in the ground so no one can find it.

lawrence

A couple of options

a community college is half the cost of a 4 year college and the credits usually transfer. After 2 years transfer to a 4 year school to finish up. Whether you take the year off or not I would suggest starting at a community college. Lower cost while you figure things out. Besides the first 2 years of college is just a load of general studies nonsense that has little to do with your major. Why pay full price for that?!!

Also, to help you get an idea of what your missing you may want to live on campus with friends while you work and they go to school. You get the fun side of college without the headaches. Plus you can get an insight of what it is all about and may help you determine if it is worth the cost and effort. I had a great time at school but you don't have to be a student to get most of the experience. Just live there.

Don't forget trade schools. College is not for most people. 2 out of 3 drop out. I think mostly because they discover it is not what they want to do. Therefore, make sure you really know what you want to do and find out how to get there. Don't worry it may change a few times and you may want to do many things. You just need to be honest with yourself and make a plan. The plan may include college, a trade school, or anything else that gets you there.

Certainly

If you don't know what you want to study for then definitely don't waste time and money going to college. Actually even if you do know what you want, it is probably not worth it unless you are seeking some sort of technical degree. Look instead toward starting your own business, I'm sure your parents would allow you to live at home while you launch the business in leiu of coughing up cash for you to go to college. Just a note, I have three young sons, and a four year technical degree myself, but I figure I'f I'd have stayed workign for Wal-Mart when I was in college, I'd probably be a store manager making double what I make as an engineer now, so consider the time value of that extra four years as well.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

tasmlab's picture

College is fun

College is fun. You get to drink beer and chat up cute girls. I certainly wouldn't skip it!

You sound so smart I doubt you'll really have any trouble with life. Just don't trap yourself in a mountain of debt.

Most college is a magical experience for many people who look back on it as the best time of their life.

The education you receive is probably largely worthless unless you do something vocational. Knowledge is free anyways and everywhere.

The certification/degree is useful in only securing your very first low-paying job, and then nobody cares about it for the rest of your life.

I'm blowing over some big, specific categories like medicine, engineering, science, education which all require very specific certs and licenses. If you're on one of those paths then your educational choices are sort of stuck anyways.

Currently consuming: Harry Browne, Free Domain Radio; JT Gatto and Holt; Wii U

Michael Nystrom's picture

Drinking beer and chatting up girls

That line reminded me of this from the Onion:

http://www.good.is/posts/debt-and-no-job-prospects-the-onion...

Ha ha. But the key point you really drive home is this:

Knowledge is free anyways and everywhere.

What a profound point. Reminds me of the Kahn Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/ "Learn almost anything for free."

This brings up another point: A college degree is a credential. It is a piece of paper that opens the door to a variety of opportunities. As a friend put it "the only time you need it is when you don't have it."

A college degree is an investment, because it does open doors. But like any investment, you should try to minimize the price you pay for it. Buy low and sell high. It is the same for any investment: Stocks, bonds, real estate, precious metals, and a college education.

To that end, do your first two years at a community college while you live at home. You can supplement your learning with free online sources, like the Kahn Academy. You can also test out of the need to take some classes.

In many ways, you'll have a richer experience: Two years at community college, two years at the University. What are the differences? Who is working harder?

After being in the workforce for a few years, I went back to community college to learn web design, back in 1999. My timing was good enough that I was just able to catch the tail end of the dot.com boom and get a job in the industry before everything crashed.

There was a real diversity of students at the CC. And one thing that another older student pointed out, which we cracked up over, was that you could tell who was paying for their own education, and who was getting a free ride on their parents' dime. Those paying for their own education took things much more seriously.

All art is only done by the individual. The individual is all you ever have, and all schools only serve to classify their members as failures. E.H.

Good morning to you!

I have personal examples of how to avoid being a slave to the lender. Work, don't expect it to come easy and when you've achieved it you'll enjoy it all the more. Then strive to help others do the same by however you've been blessed.

I knew what I wanted to do when I was a freshman in high school. I also worked and saved money while in high school. Thirty six years later I'm still doing it. I had received an associate degree in a technical college, pretty cheap back then. I worked to help fund it and parents assisted also. I was hired immediately after graduation.

Note, just about any employer, in any field, will provide you with tuition benefits related to your field. Understand their requirements and expectations in return, i.e., you may need to commit to work at least a year after receiving degree, or must provide your first child to the business, etc.

I have three children graduated or in college. They all had worked to save money for college and worked while in college one way or another. One had received a scholarship to help with the tuition. They all have to pay for tuition somehow, while I helped out everywhere else, i.e. food, transportation, roof, etc. They are expected to limit and pay for their fun times.

Government grants really promote a slave mentality in the people's children. People who provide their own way without "taking" from others do work hard. It isn't easy. Those who do work hard see these federal grants as being unfair. It's really a hardship for me to see them struggle while friends or acquaintances get new cars with grant money. To be in debt for tens of thousands of dollars sets one back, way back.

Seriously, I was saving for a house when I got out of college and not paying a debt. I later met my wife who had been doing the same. Did you hear about the leading "conservative" forty-one year old Rubio has just paid off his federal student loans this year? Who does he owe for his success? Who do you want to owe? Did he achieve it on his own? He was finally able to pay with the proceeds from an autobiography!! http://tinyurl.com/bev57z7 My kids will look up to this guy? Not at all.

I've three children. My wife and I home-schooled them all. We've tried to provide them with direction and values so as no liberal nor conservative college may uproot their world views. I've always mentioned to them to add value to themselves or add value into their service to others. Helping others is the goal in life. To do this, increase your knowledge and abilities, build upon those understanding and wisdom will be that practical applying of these two things to the opportunities around you. Do this with a good work ethic you'll be set for life. A person can be top brains in society but if you can't work with people or show up for work then you'll have a really hard time keeping a job. Note, a great work ethic can really trump a degree without one.

My first child "earned" a 50% scholarship. She also worked while in college and paid the other 50% of the 20k/year tuition. The last six months she landed an internship at a local business. They ended up creating a position for her to continue to work there after college. I helped with the necessities. She put skin in the game by paying the tuition. Graduated honorably and without any debt. She did wonderfully well, married now and freelances while raising my first grandson. ;-)

Second one, didn't really know what to do. I'm thinking similar to your position. I don't have my own business so he's been working at food service type jobs, he's a great cook. He went to school a couple years hoping to decide while getting the academics out of the way. His field could take him in two different directions but he wouldn't have to decide that until his third year. So, he dove in right away but after two years, he wanted to earn some money and so took a break for a year. Looking back on that he wishes he had known better. I'm helping him, not the fed government, with the money. I'm able to weigh the risks of character and plans, the government doesn't, which puts us all into trouble(soon to come). He's now landed a co-op deal directly related to his field. He'll be able to work a semester and then study a semester until he graduates.

Third one just graduated HS last year and is in her first year of college and has two jobs, wait, three. An internship already, a fast food service and her photography business (weddings, high school pictures). It can be done without grants. Very few get to have everything all at once. Many have to take things step by step. It's all a part of the pursuit of ones own happenstance which may bring us happiness. Happiness is not a guarantee.

These are our examples of how to get through a college. I'm sure you may find other ways. But, the responsibility is yours! Don't expect others to be responsible for your successes or failures. Many kids do it with no assistance outside of the family. Family is where the charity belongs, not the civil government. Responsible parents understand having ten kids doesn't mean the rest of us have to subsidize them.

You said, "The only reason I've even considered a gap year is due to the fact I believe it is extremely immature to borrow a massive amount of money for college and then go in not knowing what I'll likely end up doing or if I'll even get a decent job to pay it all back." The borrower is a slave to the lender. If the parents can not help you financially, there are other ways but don't fall into the idea that if you don't have it, the government can get it for you. Don't be a Rubio he was in debt for hundreds of thousands just until 2010!! We shouldn't think its ok for taxpayers to take the risk. I tell the kids, be a part of the solution, not the problem.

You said, "I don't believe in laziness, so the idea of be never returning or continuing my education would never happen." Few kids would say they are lazy, most don't know what real hard work is like. Be careful, a lot of time away will make that decision to get that education harder. I've given examples of my kids trying to work it out. My son took a year off and regretted it. All the same, he did for some reason and is back in college and doing well. I guess it depends on what you're going to do with that year away. Is it an excuse to bum around and have fun? Or, do you truly need that time to work hard for "your own future"? The "live for the present for tomorrow we die" mentality will get you know where.

Money solution other than government grants are out there. Those with college scholarships have been working hard to achieve before they even get into high school. They've proven themselves with their grades and past work. There are thousands of scholarships out there and you might want to see if you qualify for any. Others have to work and go to college, it's done all the time. This forces a person to choose wisely that career to take.

So, if you've read this far, I'm thinking you're interested in working hard. I wish you well. Last and not least, IF you have not worked at your parent's business already then that is something you need to do...and start today. Its an opportunity for you to consider and to at least glean experience as well as strengthen those parental bonds.

Now, work hard, learn hard, who knows you may even buy that business from your dad some day. ;-)

Have a blessed day.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
And those who have not heard shall understand.

^that

was excellent advice.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift

If you choose a reasonable degree

(one that has the viability of employment) - live at home and go to the state university. Does your state have scholarships based on your SAT score/class-ranking/gpa? Get one of those to supplement your tuition - they are not very hard to get if you are a decent student. Try your very best not to get a loan.

Our daughter is getting a BSN (bachelor if science in nursing), lives at home, has a state scholarship. So far no loans - we help her because we can (and she is awesome). If she had to get a loan it would be pretty small.

[Advice from a mom who has a kid in college and is homeschooling another, who is also a junior in high school.]

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

you don't need a degree

Join family business. Start from the bottom and look how things are being done. Have in mind that you may one day in a few years take over the business. Study in your own time, read books. Having financial stability you may go to Uni when you find it useful for the job. Studying is very expensive when treated as a hobby.

Michael Nystrom's picture

I disagree that you don't need a degree

A degree is a credential. I opens doors and gives the holder more opportunities, and that is what is key in life: More opportunities. A degree is an investment.

That being said, a degree is not an education. But to my point, without the degree, the opportunities are more limited. Certainly, the family business does not require the degree. But what other opportunities are available without one?

Study in your own time, read books.

Absolutely, I agree with this.

Studying is very expensive when treated as a hobby.

This is true. Studying per se is not expensive, as I pointed out with places like the Kahn Academy, which is free:

https://www.khanacademy.org/

or EdX

https://www.edx.org/

All art is only done by the individual. The individual is all you ever have, and all schools only serve to classify their members as failures. E.H.

You have it right. If I could

You have it right. If I could go back to your position, I would skip going to college too. I was under the hypnosis like many of us believed, that you MUST go to college as soon as possible and MUST take out loans because a JOB is GUARANTEED when you get out. I quickly found all of that to be lies. Work for a year, read and understand what 'really' happens in this world, find out what you are good at and want to do. You may choose to go to college in a few years and that is fine, because by then you will probably be more mature and wiser than most incoming freshmen or even seniors.

Southern Agrarian

Troll!

There. Now you are officially a DP poster... ;)
Avoid debt. What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you REALLY need a degree? Do you plan to take over the apparel store?
My son is $30K+ in debt for a nursing degree - you remember the "nursing shortage" - right? Yeah, he can't get a job. Granted, we live in the boonies but even when he lived in town, he had a job that got him 12 hours a week. Now he is working at what he loves - gardening. It will take a while before he can pay back the loan, and if they make it illegal for us to sell food he may never pay it back.

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:
http://bklim.newsvine.com/_news/2013/05/12/18212165-dr-stan-...

Avoid debt

Avoid debt, avoid government subsidies. One will cost you your money, the other will cost you your integrity.

If you want a tradition 4 year degree, there are a couple of schools that can keep you free of government entanglements: Hillsdale College (MI), Grove City College (PA?), and Lindenwood (MO).

College degrees are not bad things...just don't expect it to lead to a career. It opens some doors (some employers, mostly big corporations, won't touch you without that piece of paper), but it comes with a huge price tag that is, frankly, probably not worth it for most students.

If, however, you are going to college to acquire knowledge of the wider world, regardless of what career it may lead to, then college is a wonderful experience.

Just don't take on debt. Real buzz killer.

Cyril's picture

BUMP.

BUMP.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Cyril's picture

Seriously, sounds like a great idea.

Seriously, sounds like a great idea.

Don't give a dime to whatever the statists will try to sell you to grab you and handcuff you to a curriculum that doesn't even appeal to you - or worse, that could depress you.

You are really BLESSED, as I see it - in these times we live. You can stay at home, work for the family business, get paid for it (and not put yourself in the debt owned to bankster, just so you can live in A STORAGE CLOSET miles away from your folks).

Totally. Just DO IT. Give yourself a year, make yourself a little money, and that might be one of the rare opportunities OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE where you'll be able to ponder, for the best of yourself, about this at an important moment:

1. what do I like / love the REALLY most to do? (list a couple things, in order of prefs.)

2. in which ONE(S) am I excellent or very good or good already?

3. HOW COULD I MAKE money in that one / those?

4. (optional) WHAT DID I DREAM to create NEW in #1 in the world?

(... and all while you're saving from your job's salary at the parents - btw, #1 could very well be the family business you ought to give serious thoughts a priori, albeit it's never mandatory - your parents will be delighted to see you EXCEL in whatever domain you enjoy, anyway)

Then, from that point on : if you can find appealing answers by yourself and from the feedback of those who care around you (your folks) ... you're GUARANTEED TO SUCCEED in whatever you'll have chosen to commit yourself into.

That's the thing :

finding out about the #1 above - that's the gem to find in yourself. And NOBODY can find it for you.

And you could give yourself a year for that with the parents ?

YOU, LUCKY YOU !

If you believe in yourself, FIRST, and in liberty... well, you rock already - compared to the average of today's masses your age.

'Hope it helps,

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

I think you will learn a lot more

working in your parents apparel business than you would in college. You will get more out of college when you know why you are going to be there and how it might apply to your future life. Nothing better than living and working in the real world for a while to see how things work and see how college might apply to it.

Gap it!

I just graduated and I know

I just graduated and I know first hand ... college was a waste of time ... DO NOT TAKE LOANS ... the degree does nothing for you ... so you will just balloon that debt with little chance of getting rid of it anytime soon.

I recommend a trade school. Work as a free assistant in some field that interests you for a little while so you can get your feelers out there to see what you like.

ONLY GO TO COLLEGE IF:

1. you can afford it
2. your parents are rich or won the lottery
3. you plan on becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or anything technical.
4. most private schools are overpriced due to federal aid money ... why pay 25,000 a year tuition when you can get the same degree (piece of paper) from a state or city school in which you will absolutely guaranteed be taught the same propaganda.

I went to business school thinking i was going to learn economics ... and I just found a bunch of people using educating others as a way of validating their own political beliefs and indoctrinating you into theirs by having control over your grade.

whatever you do ... use your head and go into everything you do in life with your eyes as open as possible.

All paper money eventually returns to its real intrinsic value, zero. - Voltaire

Can't Disagree With This - ALSO.....

I also went to college and have experience with management and can tell you right now: a Degree is one of the last things people look at - UNLESS - as the dude above said - it's going to be something TECHNICAL.

I would add this:

1) Look for what interests YOU and go get any job related to that field.
2) Throw logic OUT THE WINDOW.

The Key:
You can absolutely make anything happen, the only thing that separates Successful people from the others is that the Successful ones did Good Work CONSISTENTLY. It's not about crazy-good talent. There are plenty of shitty movies, shitty beers, shitty restaurants etc. that stay in business because the owner is at least applying CONSISTENT effort the best he can.

Find something you THINK YOU MIGHT ENJOY and do it consistently. Small, consistent effort is how you lay the bricks for your EMPIRE....or whatever you want.

What are your natural talents?
What do you enjoy doing?
When you were in your best moments - what inspired ideas occurred to you?

You can become filthy rich doing anything, so don't labor on "which industry should I get into" -> just pinpoint your interests and go work there.

RISK following your Interests.

*Pitfalls: Do not wait for the 'right' thing. Get an idea AND DIVE IN.

Cyril's picture

BUMP for making much of the same point before I did.

BUMP for making much of the same point before I did.

Only noticing it, eventually.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

I would go straight to

I would go straight to college, choosing the best college that would allow you to graduate with less than $13,000 of debt.

It's all different now

For your parent's generation a college degree meant a better job. Any degree paid off. And it didn't really cost that much back then so it wasn't much of a risk. In today's world, I think you would be better off approaching college just like you would if you decided to open a business and invest $100,000 or more in equipment or other start up costs. Compare your potential income with and without college. Unless you are planning on entering a field that requires a degree like a doctor or something, you'll have a hard time justifying it. As an example, if you go to a 4 year business school you will have spent $100k for a business degree but you won't know much about business because you will have been taught in a classroom by people who probably never ran one. You could learn more about business from a party store owner by shadowing him for 4 weeks. You can learn more about farming on a farm. You can learn more about hotel management in a hotel, etc. Degrees are worth less to employers now too. As one, unless you were some hot shot student from the best schools, your degree didn't mean anything to me. It used to be that having a degree was an accomplishment. Not so much anymore. I know you probably cheated your way through like so many others. Or maybe you didn't but you might as well have because now your degree is diluted by all the other cheater's degrees. It becomes really obvious when the college grads you hire aren't any better than the high school grads and some cases worse because of higher hopes and expectations.

I wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now. I think an apprenticeship would be a good way to go for most careers now because of the high cost of little education at the colleges. What is it you want to do when you graduate?

Check this out now!!!

This is something you really need to check out! High school and college kids across the United States are sick and tired of all the bull shit and are rising together! This concept is revolutionizing the way young people think about making money! I truly believe this is the beginning of something huge and will go down in history!! All of my fellow liberty lovers NEED to see what is going on! Don't work for your money! Why..? Well we all know why. Money has no value. Money is debt. 97% of Americans are slaves to it. Lets put and end to this! This is some exciting stuff so please watch this video and share! This is going to happen with or without you! Our voices will be heard and will go down in history! Might as well come along for the ride (;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9r4cPtSVaM

I suggest trade school.

I suggest trade school.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

Taking a loan IS stupid.

and you would very wise to save up before putting a foot on the campus.

[currently on a student loan in university - it's a hell of a heavy burden that everyone thinks is payable]

I believe in the freedom to be what we choose to be.

I took 2 gap years, then paid for college in cash

I did a quick stint testing video games after high-school. When I decided to go to college I got a job a restaurant and took as many bussing, waiting and bartending shifts as I could while going through SRJC (one of the best in the county) and SSU. I paid my tuition by working. No loans. No aid. Worked.

And this was before I heard of Ron Paul.

Take a gap year, take two, take five. My only advice is if and when you decide to go to school, don't take the 8 year plan. Just get it done in 4 (give or take a semester). If you are going to take more than 4 years to get a degree, you might as well just get an entry level position in the field you want to work in and move up.

I studied English and Political Science. After college I went back to video games as a Tester (entry level). In a few years I learned as much, if not more, than I would have going through a game design program.

Now I farm. I just got into that a couple years ago and have probably learned far more than if I would have gone through a two year program (in fact, I started by WWOOFing for 3 months in the South while volunteering on the Ron Paul campaign).

So, yeah, just don't blow all your money at the bars, and don't go into debt and you'll be golden.

Jack Wagner

Welcome To The Daily Paul JH94!!

Know one can tell you what to do. I suggest you learn a useful skill or trade at some point...Let it be something you will enjoy that there is a demande for. Learn as much as you can at your own pace and don't let people pressure you to learn..

You have your whole life ahead of you, don't waste it. Going to college is great for some, others it is a big expense and no better off after graduation..Make sure college is right for you..

Just do me one favor - Don't put to much pressure on yourelf. Work hard and enjoy everything you do, because time passes you buy fast. Save your money and don't waste it on some useless venture.

Keep out of debt if at all possible and you will be much happier.

Remember, a man is rich in what he can afford to do without..

If you don't believe the above, you'll remember later in life what you could have done without..

When I was you age I made after taxes about $75 bucks a week and saved more than half of that. My first place was a furnished one bedroom studio for $90 bucks a month..and Lyndon Baines Johnson was our POTUS

Boy has the dollar gone down in value..

America is almost gone now, and along with it most of our freedoms.

Do the best you can and be polite, kind and cheerful to others..It was and still is an asset all through your life.

Read all of Ron Paul's books and learn the constitution backwards and forwards.

Keep in touch young man and chime in once in awhile and let us know how you are doin..

All the best,

"E"

There's a couple things to consider

If you have potential scholarships, some of those don't last beyond a year. So, you need to take advantage of those while you can.

There's a good chance that an economic collapse will occur, so it's possible that college might not be the most logical choice.

However, we cannot be certain a financial collapse is just around the corner and so I say go for college. I don't like the idea of taking a break from school and I'll tell you why. 40% (I've crunched the numbers) of students I graduated HS with went on to college (myself included). Out of the 60% that didn't, 80% of those people never continued on to college. They either got families or got locked into employment and decided college wasn't the best route for them.

Those people are now making a bit over minimum wage, which by yearly standards is between 25k-30k. The people I know that graduated college are making between 50k-60k.

Granted, unemployment for grads is still a problem, so some of those alumni haven't gotten to experience their degree in practice, but the moral of the story is: unless you're a genius or just have that CEO spark, college is the best alternative.

Though I received a few honorary degrees & gave speeches...

College study was not for me. Yet, a college course seems a might easier than following my example.

"It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others--and less trouble." - Mark Twain, Doctor Van Dyke speech, 1906

"Considering Dr. Paul has done nothing but tell the truth and the whole truth throughout his entire public life... The truth is a hard pill to swallow. Even if you have been a supporter of Dr. Paul's for the longest time." - DailyPaul member, 2013

Best wishes to ya.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

First ask yourself

What exactly is the reason that you're thinking of going to college? Is it because you think that's what people are supposed to do once they graduate from high school? Are you just following the crowd? Do you equate not continuing your education at one of these overpriced institutions with laziness?

It's good that you're deferring for a year and spending some time working, but you should stop and ask yourself: do your future plans really necessitate spending tens of thousands of dollars attending an institution that in the end, will probably only provide you with a piece of paper you can show corporate employers to prove you're a worthy drone?

If you plan on pursuing a career that requires a post-graduate education (such as an M.D.), then yes, you should attend somewhere that you can afford (although that's a near impossibility these days). Otherwise, my personal advice would be to forget college.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but knowing what I know now, I would have never gone to college. It was a complete waste of time and money and cursed me with spending many years in the corporate world. Although I'm just guessing here, I would have probably been better off working right out of high school and starting my own business (which I'm doing now).

Thank goodness you are using your head

A gap year (or 2 or 3) is a fine idea. If you need to borrow money for college, you had better be absolutely *certain* in this economy that your degree will net you a job that is worth the money your degree cost. It's a cost-benefit analysis. To be honest, many college degrees today are not worth (in job advantages and salary) what they cost. Actual work experience, initiative and performance may be just as valuable. In certain careers, degrees are required (i.e. medicine), but in many careers, an internship, apprenticeship or on-the-job training may be just as helpful, and cost you nothing. Peter Schiff has said many times that he is just as likely to hire someone without a degree as with one to work in his company if that person appears intelligent, competent and hard working.
Learn some business and entrepreneurial skills from your parents. Perhaps you can take over that business some day. You can always go to school in the future, either when you have saved enough money to do it without a loan, when you can earn a scholarship, or when the economic bubble in education bursts and college costs come down. I say all this as a parent of kids who will be graduating high school in the next 5 years. It is the same advice I give them. College is only worth the cost if it can net the student a job worth more than the cost of the degree. These days, that is rare.