Learn English – Usage of “vary from”

usage

I'm writing an essay about why people go to college. I want to express that there are many different reasons for going to college.

Many people, from very different background, attend college or
university rather than enter workforce immediately after high school.
The reasons may vary from trying to meet parents' expectation to
fulfilling intellectual curiosity
.

I'm not sure if I have used vary from correctly.

I'm wondering is it true that when using "reasons vary from A to B" reason A must be a simple reason and reason B must be a complex reason?

Best Answer

First off, since the "reasons" sentence follows one where the subject is "many people," I'd suggest using their reasons (instead of the reasons).

Also, you've only given two reasons, and there may be a host of other reasons as well. As far as I can tell, nothing puts these two reasons at the far ends of any spectrum of reasons. Some other possible reasons include: they are succumbing to a form of peer pressure (their friends are all going to college, so maybe they feel like they should go, too). Maybe they just see college as an easy way to get away from home. Maybe they see college as a necessary step toward a career goal. Maybe they want to be a college athlete.

With all that said, I'd remove the from-to construct altogether:

Many people, from very different backgrounds, attend college or university rather than enter the workforce immediately after high school. Their reasons may vary: some are trying to meet their parents' expectations, others seek to fulfilling intellectual curiosity, still others just want to get away from home. Some may see college as a necessary stepping stone to joining a profession.

I think the vary from .. to construct works better when there is more clear ordering in the variance. So, it would be more appropriate in a context like this:

Many people from very different backgrounds, varying from the poorest families, through the middle class, all the way up to the megarich, attend college after high school. These students may decide to enter college for several different reasons...

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