The current trend that every child must eventually have a college degree is the height of foolishness. The mantra of too many parents has become “Our kids gotta go to college.” Why college? Usually for one of three reasons. Either because “We did,” because “We couldn’t,” or because a college degree will give their children “a better life.” As a result, those parents scrimp to save for their kids’ tuition, or their children take on mammoth debt to pay their own tuition bills. Often, that’s foolishness, pure and simple.
Not every young person is equipped to “go to college.” Not equipped academically. Not equipped mentally. I’m not talking about their mental capacities, but about their individual dreams and desires, their hopes for their own futures. What they want to be. What they want to do for or with the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, too many parents continue to nudge their children – in some cases push them – to “go to college.”
College is not for everyone, particularly when there are countless other choices, many of which can also provide that “better life.” For those young people who can’t afford to go to college – or who don’t want to – some of those options for continuing their education, options that can lead to that “better life,” include:
1. Independent on-line learning…without the burden of staggering tuition bills. While it takes a measure of self-discipline, the variety of on-line courses – both free and fee-based – outside of a formal college setting should be more than enough to satisfy the interests of any young person with a desire to learn.
2. With most high schools offering a variety of hands-on classes these days, learning how to work with their hands as well as their minds is a great option for young people. For example, most unions offer apprentice programs which, in the five years it now seems to require to earn a college degree, can provide a young man or woman with a respectable income sufficient to provide that “better life.” And because apprentices are earning while they’re learning, they’ll be free of the burdensome debt carried by most college graduates.
3. Both high schools and our nation’s relatively inexpensive community college system teach courses on subjects ranging from auto or diesel mechanics, to computer aided design, wood working, culinary arts, computer technology, even truck driving. Those courses can lead to an Associate Degree or to certifications in various specialties.
It’s the knowledge, skills and experience a young person is able to acquire and can apply – not necessarily the fact they have a college degree – that will provide the satisfying “better life” many of today’s high school grads are looking for.