Let’s Stop Lying to Our Kids About College
Not every kid has to go to college to be successful in life. Do you agree? I think we have to stop telling our kids the same old lie about college. The lie that says without a college degree, life won’t be as good for them.
College Data reports that a moderate college budget for an in-state public college for the 2017–2018 academic year averaged $25,290. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $50,900.
Let that sink in a minute.
If your child is showing you (or telling you) that college isn’t for them, that price tag should give you pause.
The Truth About College
As a society, we repeat the line over and over again.
“If you want a good job that will translate into a good life, you absolutely have to go to college.”
Spending 4 years of life and getting a bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee a good job. Not even close.
It seems to me that if you want to stand out among applicants for a job fresh out of college, you’d better hope you have either managed to gain some job experience during your time at school, or you have a graduate degree. Maybe both.
The truth about college is that kids may spend years of their life and thousands of dollars only to walk across the stage and out into the world completely without what it takes to provide for themselves.
The Pain of Poor Grades
If a kid is smart as a whip but can’t seem to get over the hurdle of doing well in high school, we parents often beat our heads against the wall trying to encourage them to do better.
We threaten and cajole. We talk about what terrible fate awaits them if they can’t get into college.
And the smart as a whip kid? He or she is left feeling as though they lack whatever magic other kids have. Worse still, they believe us when we tell them it’s either a degree or a life of struggle.
We condemn them to feel less than. What nonsense.
The Joy of Talent
What if algebra really is a total waste of time for your child? What if the ability to write a flowery short story doesn’t matter one whit?
Is the pressure of trying to force them to fit the college mold worth the price of their self-esteem?
But, what if they love working with their hands? It could be that they love to fix things, or build things, or create something from nothing. The thing they love may spring directly from a true talent.
I know someone who is an accomplished welder. He looks at steel and imagines an ornate gate. He puts his hood down and begins to craft the thing he saw in his mind. When it’s finished, it’s nothing short of a work of art.
He was a terrible high school student. He is a magnificent craftsman. And by the way, he makes more money than almost anyone I know. The world would be missing something special had he been forced to go to college.
Skilled Trade Workers Are a Blessing In Our Society
I don’t know about you, but the last time the heating in my house stopped working, I wasn’t looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree to repair it.
I wanted someone with tools, skill, and knowledge of how heating works. Did they graduate from college or from a vocational school? No idea. They could have had a master’s or they could have gone to a specialized HVAC program.
What I do know for sure is that I paid them a whole lot of money to make my house warm again.
The same goes when my car needs to be repaired. I don’t care where the education came from. I want my car to work.
The world needs doctors and dentists and teachers. The world also needs plumbers and wind energy technicians and mechanics.
I’ve made several points about what we say to our kids about college. You may agree with some of what I said, or you may think I’ve lost my mind.
Either way, what I hope you to take away from this post is that I sincerely believe there is more than one way to a happy career.
I don’t hate college. I don’t believe everyone should become a welder.
What I do believe is that parents who clearly see their child isn’t interested in college should consider that it’s not the end of the world. It could be the beginning of something wonderful.
At least that’s my opinion. What’s yours?