In a dilemma that resonates with many young adults today, a 27-year-old community college student stands at a crossroads, torn between the pursuit of a long-awaited graduation and the practical advice of their parents to switch to trade school. The Reddit community had its vote, so let’s see what they advised.

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Key Takeaways

  • Spending too much time in college can delay entering the workforce and raise questions among potential employers. It’s essential to have a clear academic and career plan.
  • The student’s shift in focus towards becoming a CPA or considering a trade job highlights the need for setting realistic goals. Whether it’s pursuing higher education or a vocational path, clear objectives guide students toward success.
  • Consulting academic advisors and career coaches can significantly aid students in making informed choices about their education and career paths. These experts can help align students’ aspirations with practical steps, ensuring they make decisions that are right for their future.

The journey through higher education is often envisioned as a straight path to graduation, but for many students, like the 27-year-old community college attendee from the recent Reddit post, this journey is anything but linear. Prolonged periods in college, leading to delayed graduations, are becoming increasingly common. Various factors contribute to this trend, including academic challenges, financial constraints, and personal circumstances. Students may take time off, change majors, or struggle with coursework, all of which extend their time in college. This extended academic tenure can lead to mounting debts and a delayed entry into the workforce, creating a ripple effect on a student’s career and financial stability. Furthermore, it raises important questions about the efficiency and adaptability of our educational systems to cater to diverse learning needs and life paths.

The Impact of Prolonged College Education on Student’s Career

The journey through college, typically envisioned as a stepping stone to career advancement, raises questions when extended beyond expected timelines. In the case of a student spending eight years in community college, commenters on a Reddit post express concern and curiosity.

“8 years is an incredibly long time. I’m not sure how you could be in community college for that long and not have an associate’s degree by now — even if you were only taking 1-2 classes per semester. Have you failed a lot of classes? If you’ve only been taking a few classes at a time, what have you been doing otherwise? It sounds like you should take some time off. You can always try to go back to a community college, but 8 years and no degree is quite concerning.”

Such an extended period in college, especially without obtaining a degree, can significantly impact a student’s career trajectory. The delay in entering the workforce not only postpones the start of professional development but also raises questions among potential employers about the student’s commitment and ability to complete tasks. Moreover, spending many years in college without a clear outcome can lead to accumulated debts and missed job opportunities, further complicating the individual’s future prospects.

Setting Clear Goals for Future Success

Despite having spent so much time in college, the OP seems still to have a vague vision of their future:

“I’m not doing an associate degree, if I was I would have obtained it by now. Doing a transfer to university for bachelors. Took this year off to reevaluate things and I think I wanna go back to become a CPA but also considering a trade job”

Having a clear goal is crucial for academic and career success. It helps students focus their efforts and make informed decisions about their education and future. For instance, becoming a CPA is not just about completing a degree; it requires specific qualifications and passing a challenging exam. This journey demands dedication, planning, and a clear understanding of the steps involved.

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On the other hand, the student’s openness to considering a trade job suggests a practical approach to their career. Trade jobs can offer stable and rewarding careers, often with less time and financial investment than a traditional college degree. In either path, setting realistic goals is key. Whether pursuing a CPA certification or a trade, students must align their aspirations with practical steps and a deep understanding of what each path entails.

27-Year-Old Student Faces Parents' Criticism for Staying in College for 8 Years - Should They Give Up?

A lot of Redditors also seemed to share an opinion, that seeking guidance from academic advisors and career coaches is a crucial step. These professionals provide valuable insights and help in crafting a practical plan for the future. One Reddit commenter suggested this and a lot of voices echoed the same thought:

“Have you talked to your college’s career coach and academic advisors about this? They can help you evaluate how close you are to graduating officially and also whether a particular career path will work and how best to get there.”

In many cases, setting a target for an associate degree could be a more achievable and immediate objective. This approach offers a tangible milestone and can be a stepping stone to further education or a career. It’s not just about obtaining a credential; it’s about creating a foundation for future success. As advised by another commenter,

“I would aim for the associate degree if you’re close. It is often easier to transfer with a degree (credit-wise) and you will have a usable credential just in case you need to make another change. You could also talk to your advisor about your ability to switch to an applied associate degree that could be an amazing middle ground.”

After all, it’s important to have a clear and practical educational goal. By consulting with advisors and focusing on attainable milestones like an associate degree, students can navigate their academic paths more effectively, setting themselves up for success in both their studies and future careers.

Parental Concerns and the Trade School Option

The OP mentioned that the initial desire for them to switch paths was expressed by their parents. In some situations, such parental advice might have been taken critically, especially by Redditors. However, in this situation, most users agreed that this was a more practical path for the OP:

“Your parents probably see a 27-year-old man that they’ve enabled by allowing you to continue to live rent-free while you have made zero headway in a career or school. 8yrs at a community college is A LOT, even with remedial courses… Your parents are not telling you to drop out of college out of some nefarious plan. But because you have shown them nothing across 8yrs that gives them any confidence that you will be successful by continuing to try and pursue this current plan. They don’t want to simply say ok again like they have the past 8yrs and you be 30 and still in the same spot you are now.”

Trade school emerges as an alternative, offering a more direct route to employment. The parents and other commenters see this as a viable option, especially given the student’s long tenure in community college without obtaining a degree. One comment notes,

“Your parents are right. Join a trade. Working a shit job for a while isn’t going to magically make you responsible and a good student.”

Still, choosing trade school over college isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. While trade school can lead to a quick entry into the workforce and often requires less time and financial investment, it also means a shift in career direction. The student needs to weigh the immediate benefits of trade school against their long-term career goals and educational aspirations, making a decision that balances parental advice with personal ambitions and capabilities.


The story captures a common dilemma faced by many in the modern educational landscape. It highlights the importance of making informed decisions that balance personal aspirations with practical realities. For this student, and others in similar situations, the decision isn’t merely about choosing one path over another; it’s about aligning their future goals with a realistic understanding of the present. The role of parental advice, embodying both concern and practicality, plays a crucial part in shaping these decisions.

Furthermore, the availability of career guidance in today’s world acts as a beacon of support, offering clarity and direction to students who find themselves in a maze of educational and career choices. Seeking help from academic advisors or career coaches can provide valuable insights and a well-structured plan, aiding students in navigating these pivotal moments of their lives. Each student’s journey is unique, and the path they choose should reflect not only their immediate circumstances but also their long-term vision for their career and life.


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