DR. WALLACE: I'm a graduating senior this year, and our senior class recently had a university counselor talk to us about attending a college or university after we graduate. I never really thought about colleges or universities much at all: I've just been trying to make it through high school! My grades are not great but not that bad, either. I come from a good family, but we don't have much money, so I just figured I'd look for an entry-level job somewhere after I graduate from high school. I'll admit I've heard other kids at school talking about college, and this counselor has made me curious. Is college really worth the time and money it takes, or should I just look for a local job to make some cash once I graduate? I should mention that I live in a small town. — College Curious, via email
COLLEGE CURIOUS: There are so many possibilities when it comes to universities and college options overall. Some schools have a huge number of enrollments paired with sprawling campuses and are quite expensive to attend. Some are smaller and more specialized but still require a serious amount of money for tuition and books. And then there are also community colleges, which are much less expensive and available in every state.
Community colleges can be a perfect choice for students who wish to save money and reduce their dependence on student loans. It's also a good way to help recent high school graduates ease into college life and build successful learning strategies before they transfer to a larger institution. And perhaps best of all, there are several community colleges that provide vocational training as part of their curriculums.
In your case, I would recommend you locate the nearest community college to your residence and go visit the campus. Call in advance and see if you might be able to meet a counselor there. Have an open discussion about your interests, goals and skills as they are now — and as you would like to see them develop in the future.
Whether or not you decide to enroll, I trust you will find the experience valuable. You can, at the very least, do some job networking and perhaps even study what career options and job training are available there. This might help you find a better job right out of high school, or it may motivate you to take at least a class or two at a junior college to see how it goes. I trust you will be positively surprised at how beneficial the wide range of resources your community college provides truly is. Good luck to you!
I HAVE A HARD TIME SLEEPING
DR. WALLACE: I'm a very active teen, and my life is almost perfect, except for one big problem. I have a hard time falling asleep, and then when this happens, I feel tired and grumpy in the morning. I really don't like to feel this way because I am normally happy and friendly, but I can sure be a crabby, crotchety grouch some days when I wake up tired. What do you suggest for getting me back to a sunny disposition in the morning? — Chronic Insomniac, via email
CHRONIC INSOMNIAC: Here's quick list that may help you out a bit!
— Go to bed at the same time every night. Once this becomes a habit, it will automatically help to trigger your body's sleep response.
— Never read, write or eat in bed. Any activity other than sleep that you associate with being in bed will encourage insomnia.
— Exercise or work out in the morning or afternoon. Overstimulation before bedtime often sabotages restful sleep.
— Say no to coffee, tea, chocolate and cola drinks after dinner. A cup of warm milk is fine to promote sleep, if you are so inclined.
— Sleep in the dark with all lights and sounds off. Keep your cellphone turned off or in another room so the glow from it can't reach your closed eyes.
— If you wake up during the night, don't raid the refrigerator or watch late night television. Don't use your cellphone for anything, especially streaming videos. These "rewards" can serve as an incentive to make a habit out of waking up in the middle of the night.
Your goal is to seek to achieve a sleeping routine by implementing conducive evening habits that lead to restful, consistent sleep.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.