Is college worth it? For some, maybe. For others, no – college isn’t worth the expense or the time. That’s why I’m not encouraging my kids to go to college.
Really, it’s not that simple. Let’s get this out of the way:
- We homeschool and we make college prep a priority.
- It is my responsibility to prepare my children to attend college just in case they decide they want to go. I take that responsibility seriously.
- If my children’s dream for a particular career requires a college degree, I’ll encourage them to pursue their dream and attend college.
- While I don’t believe that college is important, I do believe that knowledge, information and the love of learning are vital for a good life.
- If you think learning is a waste of time, this post is not meant to support your opinion, because we don’t agree on that matter.
10 Reasons I’m Not Encouraging My Kids to go to College
We Don’t Use Our Degrees
My husband and I both went to college straight out of high school, like good little 90s kids. We both attained degrees. I went to grad school.Neither of us has jobs that use our degrees. My husband has never had a job in his degree field. I only worked in my field briefly before I realized it was a bad choice for me.
Our passions – soccer coaching for him and writing for me – are the only money-making pursuits that are as fulfilling for us they are profitable. Both have more income potential than any other job we’ve had. Both still make our hearts sing after years of daily work. Both offer us the flexibility and freedom we crave. Neither requires a college degree.
My husband and I are prime examples of people who shouldn’t have attended college. We did great in high school, scored well on our ACTs and were easily accepted into the schools of our choice. We put in the time and we’re still putting in the money for degrees that we will never use. I won’t encourage my kids to go to college because my and my husband’s personal experiences only serve to prove that college is not worth it.
College is a Waste of Money
I don’t need to quote statistics for you to know college is expensive. I won’t bore you with numbers. I will tell you my children could have a better quality of life and my husband and I would have higher credit scores if we hadn’t gone to college.
My husband and I only received a small amount of help from our parents and scholarships. We paid for our degrees ourselves with both government and private loans. It wasn’t worth it.
We won’t finish paying off our college before our children are college-aged. Our combined student loans totals are more than our mortgage. The cost of college is outrageous and it doesn’t come with a guarantee that you’ll get a job. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a job that will allow you repay your loans before you have to pay for your own children’s college.
College is a Waste of Time
The years we spent going to school and working multiple part-time jobs, we could have been climbing the career ladder at a single company. We saw several of our friends drop out of college in the late 90s to do just that and they were financially set long before we were.
Granted, the corporate life is not appealing to either of us, but we would’ve had more time to build our own businesses if we’d skipped college. I’ll talk more about that later.
For us, college was a waste of time.
College is a Bad Environment for Making Good Decisions
But what about socialization? What about the college experience?
I’ve heard the same arguments time and again in regard to homeschooling. My children know exactly what they miss by not attending public school. They miss being trapped in a desk all day. They miss being taught to memorize facts that they’ll store until the next test and then forget. They miss being bullied or having to defend others from bullies. They miss being pressured to have girlfriends and date before they’re ready. They miss being subjected to rules that are made for the worst-behaved kids but stifle those who are mature enough to handle freedom. They miss not getting enough sleep. They miss a rushed lunchtime. They miss the opportunity to be with their family less.
But, that’s a whole other post.
I remember college. Even at a private, Christian, all-girls college, I had opportunities to drink, smoke, date boys I had no business spending time with and more. And I was a very good girl comparatively. When I transferred to a public university, the culture was even more focused on drinking, drugs, and sex. Again, I was a good girl with mostly good friends but none of us were immune to bad decisions – decisions that I’ve now had to explain to my kids.
Do I expect my children to never encounter situations where they have to make tough decisions? No. The world is big and life happens. I won’t be disappointed in them if they succumb to temptation. But why would I send them into a hotbed of kids making bad choices if there was another way for them to fulfill their dreams?
College Guarantees My Children Nothing
When my husband and I attended college in the 90s, we were told it was our ticket to a good job and a solid middle-class lifestyle. The wheels were just starting to come off of the college-driven machine back then. Some of us did go on to great careers thanks to a college degree and others didn’t.
Today, the chance of finding a job that pays enough for my sons to support themselves well is much slimmer. Everyone has a college degree. No one is impressed by a college degree. It means nothing. Experience, though, still means something.
College Doesn’t Provide Experience
Experience is especially important in a country where nearly 40% of working-age people have degrees. I recently left a corporate job where experience was valued over education. I won’t encourage my children to attend college, but I will encourage them to get experience.
A practicum or an internship during the last year or last semester of college doesn’t offer much experience. It’s my opinion that more professions should offer longer apprenticeship or residencies in place of classroom time. I’m not the only one who thinks so.
My Children Can Attend College Anytime
Let’s be honest. Colleges and universities now cater to non-traditional students. You don’t have to be between the ages of 18-22 to attend college.
If my children want to pursue a career for which college is unnecessary and then later decided to pursue a career for which college is necessary, they have the freedom to do that.
Knowledge and Information are Free
Here’s where I say something that makes my blood boil to consider: Everything I paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn in my undergrad and graduate studies is free online and in libraries.
Class lectures consisted of professors reading from textbooks or telling me things I can now learn for free in a YouTube video. If my children want to learn something, they can do that right now – FOR FREE. They don’t have to wait for a college professor to tell them. They don’t even need a textbook, though textbooks, in my opinion, are valuable.
The only reason my children need college is if they choose a profession such as medicine, law, education, social work or others that require a completed degree program before moving to the next step. Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t want a surgeon who learned his skills from a YouTube video. I wouldn’t want to be represented by an attorney who learned to practice law by Googling (although, I bet Google helps lawyers do their job every day). College has its place.
There is no doubt a need for higher education in the lives of my children if their dreams include a career in certain professions. But, I will not encourage my children to attend college if they don’t absolutely need it to move toward their dreams.
College Perpetuates Inside-the-Box Thinking
College prepares students to be good workers. While there is a lot of progressive and open-minded discussions on college campuses, ultimately college prepares students for the 9-5 life. I don’t want that lifestyle for my boys. I’ve worked too hard to leave that world behind and show my children that there is more to life than putting in 40+ hours per week and living for the weekend.
Ultimately, my children will have to decide what kind of lifestyle is right for them, but I want them to know that they don’t have to be stuck in a classroom while their entrepreneur-minded counterparts are out building their dreams.
I want my children to be free to build their own dreams so they don’t spend their lives working to build someone else’s.
I Want My Children to Embrace Entrepreneurship
No, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Most entrepreneurs need educated worker bees to carry out the work involved in running a business. Educated workers are vital to our nation’s economy. Not everyone wants to work for themselves. There are a lot of positive things to be said for the security of paid employment.
On the flipside, there are a lot of negative things to be said for employment. We’re raising our children with the idea that they can be entrepreneurs. We want them to know that they don’t have to follow the same path that the majority of people take just because it seems safe. Both my husband and I are entrepreneurs. We will teach them and support them while they pursue their dreams.
We want our children to know that there are alternatives to attending college. Neither college nor entrepreneurship guarantees a good income. They both take time and money. We want our children to know that they can always come back to college if they decide entrepreneurship isn’t what they want. But, they can never get back the time and money spent on college that could have been put toward pursuing their dreams.
What Do Our Children Think?
You might think we’ve indoctrinated our children pretty hard against attending college. That’s not true, though. As I said at the beginning of this article, we’re preparing our children for college if they decide that’s what they want to do.
Our oldest is 15 and we began talking to him about college a couple of years ago. He doesn’t want to attend college, but he is aware that to follow his dreams, he may have to attend for at least a few years. We’re actively looking into alternative paths for him, but as of now, he’ll probably have to go to college.
Our 13-year-old is also interested in a career that will probably require college. We’ve found some good online programs that may serve as an alternative to traditional classroom attendance. He’s neutral on the idea of college and doesn’t seem to mind whether he has to attend or not.
Our youngest is just 10 but is our strongest entrepreneurially-minded child. It is likely he will have his own business before he’s old enough to attend college, but who knows?
We have shared our experiences and our lessons learned concerning college attendance. Our boys know that we will support them – financially and otherwise – whether they choose to attend college or not.
Alternatives to a College Education
If you’re interested in finding alternatives to a college education for your children, check out these resources below: