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Is College a waste of time?
I certainly don't think it is, although there are many problems with our system of higher education.
First of all, the cost. I went into debt for college and highly regret it. Student debt is becoming a epidemic. This is leaking into other parts of society, preventing my generation from buying homes, or making significant investments across the board.
Second, underemployment is a problem, y'all. So much of our youth are pursuing a college degree then end up unable to find employment that matches their education level, both in pay and actual skills. One of my good friends from high school has a master's in psychology and is working a grocery store. Why? Because there isn't enough demand in her area for that skill set, and she is unable to move to a myriad of reasons.
Third, we have a shortage of workers for well paying, in-demand trades like electrical maintenance, plumbing, etc. Over the last few decades, our school system has pushed college over trade schools, meaning that our workers in those fields are aging without replacements. Trade school is cheaper, shorter, and can be just as lucrative as college without crippling amounts of debt.
Fourth, my kids may not want to pursue higher education right after graduation. Forcing them to go will not produce a real education no more than force an 8 year old to read will create a love of reading in them.
What's the Alternative?
While I dream of all my children pursuing higher education simply for the dignity of it, I don’t desire to pressure them into it. Honestly, I feel like I was pressured into college, a mountain of debt, and have little to show for it. There are many ways to create wealth, and a college degree is only one of those ways.
By making sure they develop a valuable skill, and monetizing it, I know they will meet independence prepared to support themselves either way. I am not set on my kids being tradesmen, either. I am just focusing on getting them to start a small business whether it be a blog, selling something like a craft or services, or something totally different.
If they do go to college, they will (hopefully) be able to pay for it without loans, and it will look good on their application. Or, they can choose to create a career from their business and pursue a higher education later.
They will learn about personal and business finance, how banking works, customer service, the actual skill that drives their business, patience in building a customer base, marketing skills, and how to deal with devastating setbacks. They will learn how building something great takes time, patience, diligent effort, and that it is rarely a linear process. Most importantly the work they put into their business will show them the value of work and the value of themselves.
I do not expect my children to become millionaires or work at this business their whole life. I simply want to give them a practical, valuable starting point.
I urge you to consider that college may not be the best fit for your kids right out of high school. Teach and prepare them to make money through their own business or to consider a trade, first. You will find this opens their homeschool curriculum to things that are probably more interesting to them, while teaching them they are capable of great things, and making money. You will give the opportunity to fail, and raise form the ashes of that. Business is a social activity, too, so you will be ensuring they get to mingle more. Last, you will not be saddling them with debt or scraping to help them pay.
Please leave me a comment if you would like to hear more about children and teens starting a business, the college dilemma and why the answer is a trade, or kids who have successfully started companies.