Dear Parents, Before you drop 250K on that overpriced college education, stop to consider this:
● Is college the right choice for my child?
Does little Johnny even want to go to college or is this one of those times where the “everyone else is doing it” phase kicks in? College is not for everyone. Frankly, both you and your child would be better off accepting that than trying to force him to commit to another four years of school, if his heart and head simply aren’t in it.
● Are the classes in his/her major available at your local community college?
Is it Betty Sue’s dream to be a pastry chef or to open up her own restaurant? Most community colleges offer classes in just about every field imaginable, like culinary arts. Betty Sue can take all the intro to cooking classes she wants for a very reasonable per unit price. So that the first time she cuts her finger or burns her eyebrows off and decides she wants to be an animal trainer instead, you have saved yourself a headache (and a ton of money too!)
● Is there a vocational or trade school nearby that offers education as well as employment assistance?
Trade schools are one of the most underrated and underestimated investments. Rather than meandering around a huge campus with keg parties and designer drugs, your child can enroll in a school specifically designed to train her and employ her in her field of study. Some programs require only 6-9 months of classes and exams before handing you a certificate.
For young adults interested in nursing, phlebotomy, physical or massage therapy, vocational school is an excellent alternative to a four-year university. Trade school will teach your son or daughter a particular skill such as auto mechanics or HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning). The skills your child develops in his or her trade could jumpstart their career in the service industry.
However, if your son or daughter is determined to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant then congratulations, you are of the few people in which a college education is the right path. So by all means, sign that big, fat tuition check. But for the other 99% of parents with teens who have no clue what they want to do for a living, you may want to rethink sending your kid off to that university.
Despite the garbage high school guidance counsellors have been spewing for the last several decades, college is NOT the place to “find yourself”. If you’re looking for self-discovery, join the Peace Corps. If you’re looking for a career, start by finding a job. Working a job is the best way to find out if that is something you want to do for the next 30 or 40 years.
But what kind of job can my child get with a high school diploma, you ask? There are endless job opportunities for 18-year-olds because no employer will expect them to have experience yet.
If after a year or two of working menial jobs, your child has discovered their calling for business management, then great. There is no prerequisite for college other than a diploma or GED. But after a certain point, landing that dream job will require experience, which most 22-year-old college grads don’t have.
So once he/she is enrolled, to pad their resume even further, your adolescent will need to work or do internships while attending school.
Keep in mind that college is a business, it is not just an opportunity for keg parties and sleeping ‘til noon. It is the stepping stone, the very foundation that will set the tone for the rest of your child’s professional and academic life.
Our education system is severely lacking in its means to provide our children with the. necessary tools to succeed in the real world. That’s why it’s up to their parents to guide them and set them on a more productive and realistic path than college can sometimes provide.
I speak from experience. I am 30 years old with a Bachelor’s and law degree under my belt, but I owe Uncle Sam more money than I can pay back in 10 lifetimes. And now, I’m not even utilizing either of my degrees in my current career.
Everyone’s situation is different. Perhaps you want your children to attend college because everyone in your family has before them. This is understandable. But it is more important that your son or daughter is educated about the pitfalls of college, so they can make smart choices that impact their academic, professional, and financial future. Don’t get stuck in a one-track mind where you see college as the only means for your kid to achieve success. There are dozens of pathways leading to the same goal, you just have to be willing to search for them.