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How many times have you heard the question, “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” or “What are you majoring in when you go to college?”
I bet I know the answer… A LOT.
Sadly, it’s programmed into our brains at a young age that we need to go to college, choose a career, and figure out what we want to do with the rest of our life before we’re even old enough to purchase alcohol.
Here are seven things to consider if you’re asking yourself, Should my kid go to college? or Should I go to college?
1. Your expectations
When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, they’re expecting answers like “a teacher” or “a nurse.” They expect answers about what career you’ll choose. Then they’ll follow up with questions about college and what type of degree you want.
For some, college is exactly what works for them, and that’s what makes them happy and successful. But what about those who don’t see having a degree as something that will make them successful and happy?
Blogging was something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, but that’s not the answer you give when someone asks what you’re doing with your life. Or at least it’s not the expectation.
Maybe if we stopped expecting everyone to go to college and started expecting everyone to find a way to make a living by just doing what makes them happy, the world might be just a little bit better.
Don’t expect your child’s life to turn out the way you or society says it should. Shift your expectations a bit, and maybe you’ll find that your child may be created for things bigger and better than college.
2. Isn’t college the only option?
For some, yes! Some people dream of being a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. So, going to college is the only way for them to achieve success.
For others, no. College isn’t for everyone, and not going to college doesn’t mean you’re failing at life.
What if your child wants to be a real estate agent, a mechanic, a plumber, a blogger, a police officer, an entrepreneur, a firefighter, a farmer? The list of things you can do without a college degree goes on and on.
So, no. College isn’t the only option, and it doesn’t define success.
3. What about bills?
I understand that the world revolves around working and paying bills. I know that you gotta do what you gotta do to live the life that you want. You gotta have a roof over your head and food on your table. I get it. But why is college the only way to achieve these things?
Is going to college, getting a degree, and having a potentially unfulfilling career the only way to make money? Is that the only way to become successful? Is that the only way to afford a house, a car, and food?
Having an education is so important. Having a degree is an incredible accomplishment! But is taking this specific path something that we need to ingrain into the minds of our children? Is this what we want them to think they need to do to succeed in life?
There are so many other options to consider when it comes to earning a living.
4. A college degree does not equal more money
I went to college for years to get my teaching degree, and I’m proud of myself for doing that! I know that no matter what, I will always have a career that I can go back to, and I think that kind of security is a good thing!
But my husband never went to college. He doesn’t have a degree. But he’s a plumber and makes way more than I ever could as a teacher, and he also has the same security in knowing that he’ll always have a job in that field.
So, why should the answer to “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” always require a college degree if having a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make more money?
5. You might be wasting your time and money
Only one out of my parents’ three children is currently using her college degree. We all went to college, and each got a degree. But my sister is the only one who has a career with the degree that she earned. I used mine for two years, and I’m pretty sure my brother never used his.
Although we are all successful, college wasn’t necessarily required to get us all to where we are today.
I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I not spent so many years in college. What if I had started this whole blogging thing years ago? Where would I be now?
Did I waste time and money going to college if I never go back to teaching? Did my brother waste time and money going to college if he never becomes a physical therapist?
Don’t push college on your kids if it’s not something they’re sure of. They’ll waste their time doing something they probably don’t want to do, and you’ll waste your money if you’re paying for them to go to college.
Even if you aren’t paying for them to attend college, the student loans that they’ll be stuck with will not set them up for success.
6. It’s not your life
No matter how bad you want to have a child who’s a doctor or a lawyer, pushing them toward something they aren’t interested in probably won’t end the way you want it to.
Encourage your children to find out what they’re good at. Let them discover the things that make them happy.
Then, help them learn the skills that they’ll need to make a living by doing that. Inform them of the potential outcomes (good and bad) of choosing this path and allow them to make an informed decision for themselves.
The bottom line is it’s not your choice, and it’s not your life. If your child doesn’t choose college, it’s not the end of the world, it doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean they won’t ever be successful.
7. Having a formal education doesn’t mean you’re educated
I’ve worked for someone who has multiple college degrees, yet he didn’t understand the basics of grammar. He constantly misspoke and couldn’t write so much as a quick note of encouragement without a grammatical error. The sad part is he was in charge of educating hundreds of elementary-aged children.
And did you ever meet someone who was extremely smart but didn’t have a lick of common sense? Your kid will learn much more by doing things and being out in the real world than they ever will in a classroom.
So, what’s the answer? Should my kid go to college?
I’m not telling you that your child shouldn’t go to college. But I am saying that there are lots of things for you and your child to consider when looking at their future.
Try to sit down and write out some of the things that your child may want to pursue. Write out the steps that they’ll need to take to get there. Write down some pros and cons. Have a discussion. Listen to your child and decide together whether or not college is the right path for them.
Here are some other resources that might be helpful to you when making a decision about college.