View Full Version : Skipping College

05-18-2010, 12:23 PM
This isn't a secular homeschooling-related concern, specifically, yet I thought it would be interesting to see what you all think about it.

The NY Times had an article recently titled "Plan B: Skip College (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/weekinreview/16steinberg.html)", which I found interesting because I have been advocating that option to my kids for many years. While I think it's important to have an education, I'm skeptical of the "need" that many parents have to see their kids go to college, thereby either weighing themselves with a hefty debt load or having their kids saddle themselves with a hefty debt load.

My approach has been to tell the kids that 1) I will not fund their education past 12th grade. They are welcome to do whatever they want, but they are expected to fund it themselves, whether by saving for it, earning a/several scholarship(s), or taking loans. 2) Explaining to them the cost of college, not only the tuition, but the books, room and board, etc. 3) hopefully (I haven't practiced that part yet) having them do a cost analysis: what is my education going to cost me vs. how much am I expecting to earn in my career? I read a comment recently from someone who marveled at the amount of debt incurred by teachers, for example, only to go into a career where they can pretty much never aspire to pay off the debt in a decent amount of time.

I am intrigued by the dual enrollment process. I have suggested it to my older boys and the 16 year-old is talking about it now, but since he is heavily involved in Band and JROTC at his high school, I'm not sure if he'd qualify for dual enrollment. I tasked him with checking with his guidance counselor but I don't think he's done it yet. I guess he could go for an ROTC scholarship but the only interest he seems to have in serving is to be in the Marine Corps Band. The 14 year-old, who, of course, knows better than most of us (ha!), doesn't see the practicality of getting 2 years of college education for free in exchange for doing harder work. I guess that like a 20 year-old poo-pooing saving for retirement, he doesn't realize that time is of the essence when it comes to making those decisions. My 11 year-old daughter was lucky enough to win a college scholarship this past year although it won't cover everything and since college costs keep increasing and her scholarship won't, she will still have to pay for a chunk of her education.

I have been telling my kids that we need people such as plumbers, car mechanics, bakers, etc, and that working for others isn't the only approach. I would love for them to have an entrepreneurial spirit but so far, they haven't been very motivated. I've been raking my brain to see what I could do as an entrepreneur myself to try and inspire them, but so far, no great idea has entered my mind (I'd love to have a homeschool resource B&M store but for it to be profitable here it'd have to carry all the religious stuff and I don't want to deal with it plus people would probably find better deals online anyway)

What are your thoughts on this subject?

05-18-2010, 12:44 PM
I don't have the time right now to articulate this very well, but I'll try and come back later with some more coherent thoughts. My opinion is that a college education isn't primarily for career success, but that it is useful and helpful for a better understanding of the world and to allow one to live more deeply and fully (and I don't mean to imply that someone without a college education can't live meaningfully-as I said, I'll try to come back later with a better and fuller explanation of my views). Education and career training, in my view, are two separate things. I wouldn't be upset if my kids did a university degree that was completely useless and unrelated to their career aspirations if it helped give them a well rounded education, even if they had to go back and do some kind of trade school for their job. I am fine with them being bakers, mechanics, plumbers, etc....but I'd like them to be well educated bakers, mechanics, plumbers, etc.

I realize that college is not the only place this education can happen, but there is an advantage there as it is time and effort specifically set aside for education.

More later.

05-18-2010, 02:21 PM
I am definitely at a point where I see the value of a college education since my husband (an engineer by military training) is denied interviews because he doesn't have a degree. If we could get employers to move past the piece of paper, I could see forgoing the college education. He is in the process of applying to schools now so that he can finally, at age 43, be able to move into jobs that "require" a degree (that he has been doing all along).
Personally, I went to college straight out of high school and have some graduate school under my belt.

05-18-2010, 03:52 PM
I see the point of a college education, but also the point of not going to college. I know several people who got degrees, but now work in careers completely unrelated to their field of study. If the degree earned will not be used, why spend massive amounts of money to get it?
I recently had to have this discussion with my mom. When I told her that I was getting a certificate (not a degree) in Child Psychology, her first response was to tell me that I could get a degree instead of just a certificate. She couldn't seem to understand that I don't want/need a degree in Child Psychology. I've always had an interest in Psychology. Plus, I've got 2 kids, both gifted, both have severe ADHD, and my daughter has Bipolar. A little knowledge of Child Psychology couldn't hurt & might actually help our homeschooling, my parenting, and my business. However, I do not intend to ever have a career in Child Psychology. So why spend extra money to get a degree I'll never use, when a certificate will suffice (and not put me in debt)? Next, I'm thinking of getting a Career Diploma in Home Remodeling & Repair. Again, not an area in which I need/want a degree, but want to do for personal reasons. I do plan to get a degree (actually, several of them), but right now isn't the time for it. I'm waiting a few years to start working toward a degree, because I'll have more time to do school when both kids are working more independantly.
Both my kids are planning on college. They both plan to go into fields that require college. Even if they change their minds before they graduate high school, I still expect them to attend Community College (at least). I want them to have some kind of college education, but if they go for more advanced degrees, I want them to get those degrees in fields in which they are truly interested.

05-19-2010, 12:24 PM
At least 80% of our friends went to college after high school - and NOT ONE of them are working in the field they have a degree in, except one (who went to college later in life). Most of them consider the experience nothing more than a waste of money. At this point, our son would like to take some classes that he's interested in, but doesn't feel the need to pursue a degree. We've told him for years (and years and years) that we'd much rather see him spend a couple of years traveling after "graduation", and then he can go to college if he chooses. I'm also a big proponent of apprenticeships, so if that's what he chooses, that's fine, too :)

05-19-2010, 01:32 PM
I spent about 13 years of off and on schooling to finish my college degrees. Obviously if I put that much time and effort and money into it while raising a child and working full time, I thought it was a worthwhile experience. I did manage to have high paying jobs without having my degrees but it didn't hurt when I told employers that I was working on them. I had a few employers contribute through tuition reimbursement programs which certainly helped. Now, I'm a sah, homeschooling mom and it could be argued that I'm not using my degrees at all but I do feel they were worthwhile anyway. They give me a lot more options if I should ever decide (or need) to return to work. DH has a degree in Chemistry and he is a VP of Analytical R&D for a pharmaceutical company so he is definitely using his degree. Most of the people I know with degrees have either Business degrees or Teaching degrees and are using them in the right field. (although my ex has a Geology degree and was a pharmaceutical sales rep so....)

I don't think everyone should be going to college. Some people have no interest in fields that require college, some have no aptitude for school and it would be a waste. There really should be more options for those who don't want to attend college - internships and the like. Unfortunately, there are a lot of places where you can't even get in for an interview without a degree even if its for something completely unrelated.

My oldest is 2 years away from college. We are willing to pay for some of her college expenses but I told her how much and where she goes is entirely up to her. She has to work hard, get good grades, apply for scholarships, etc. if she wants to go anywhere but community college. They have a program in our state where if she has certain grades/SAT scores she can attend Community College for free so that is definitely an option if the scholarships don't quite make it. She is currently interested in Forensic science and is working hard taking Chemistry, AP Biology and Physics as well as Algebra, Pre-Calculus and Latin to prepare. If she continues with that interest, college is definitely necessary.

05-22-2010, 10:18 PM
Its been a subject around here. dh started college at 16, ended up with 5.5 degrees (his last masters, he gave up the degree so he could sell his thesis to help pay off the loans) - and only finished paying up his loans around when we met, almost 20 years later. And he'd been single all that time. I attended 5 schools and never got a degree. My husband, when we met, said he wouldnt pay for kids to go to college, but has willingly paid for all the community college classes my daughter has taken so far, which were dual enrolled. I believe that, if she stayed here and finished her 2 year degree, he'd be willing to pay for that, too, esp now that she's sick (fibromyalgia/cfs).

My 14 yo is likely to need a lot of support getting through college at all, and has already discussed the idea of getting a 2-year degree while living at home, and then seeing what works out after that. I just think it makes so much more sense, esp economically.

Oh, and when we met, I was making about 60% of dh's salary, and i'd only been working for half as long as he'd been working. He usually only puts 2-3 degrees on his resume, they dont help him get hired at all. Oh, his degrees - bachelors and masters in ancient history, mathematics, and actuarial science (the one where he sold his thesis).

I kinda think its becoming a racket. If a kid really wants it and is willing to do the work to get there, research the school, apply for aid, make it happen, then dont stop them. But i only went to college because I was pressured to, and right now I"m not talking to my mom because she wont stop pressuring me to send my daughter to a 4-year college. She's been pushing for a solid year . . . even tho my daughter is showing only a very vague interest (yeah, i'd like to get maybe a masters in art. I dont know what college, just nothing near here.)


05-23-2010, 11:10 AM
I never really thought of it that way, I always heard "You need to go to college" so I thought you did. I still hear my in-laws pressuring my husband to go back to college (he was in community college for a few months). Though he just moved up a position at his job, it's his 3rd job in this company in 3 years, and each move has come with a raise. Also with just this last position he got the job where a friend of his with 2 Bachelors degrees didn't. My husband just feels he doesn't have the time for school, and his parents think he'd have more opportunities with a degree.

Of course up until recently I've really wanted to get my Bachelors, but I have an AA and that's good enough for me for now. I still don't see where my not having a BFA will affect me getting a commission, or getting into a gallery (everything I've read says galleries look at your work, and maybe previous shows). I still might try to go back for a BFA eventually, but I don't want to get horrific amounts of debt to do it.

As for my daughter I'm working on a savings account for her. I'd like her to use the money for college, but I'll tell her to apply for scholarships and if she gets school paid for she can use the money for whatever she wants.

05-23-2010, 04:05 PM
I attended university for a couple of years and found it just wasn't what I expected or what I wanted. I came back to the family farm instead. No, I don't really make a living doing that alone, but our farm is small enough that I can take time to do other work that pays better, like my custom trucking and skidsteer work. I've never regretted my decision since I like being my own boss. My cost to get get my 1A license (the Saskatchewan equivalent of a commercial drivers license) was about $3000 (to take a 10-day course) and that was reimbursed by a federal government program. In the right situation, one can make a lot of money driving a truck. I know of some making close to (and sometimes over) $100,000 a year. My brother-in-law is one. He's got his own late-model truck and trailers and is leased on with a grain-hauling company. He's home every weekend (and sometimes more often). Did I mention he only has a Grade 8 education?

It's my understanding that in some areas tradespeople are in very short supply. It would certainly be a way to spend a minimal amount of time in school and be able to make a good living fairly quickly if you can find work in an area with a strong economy. A couple of years ago a guy I know who is a carpenter doing framing in residential construction started his own company and very quickly had enough work to have to hire a bunch of other guys. There are some places that take advantage of government programs that allow them to hire students for the summer, too. It would certainly help a young person get in the door in a certain career. A prerequisite is usually that you are enrolled for the coming year in a post-secondary institution, but that's not necessarily college/university. A possible scenario is getting a summer job at a certain coal mine and being enrolled in a heavy equipment operator or mechanic program. You see the relationship.

I hope that gives a few ideas.

05-23-2010, 08:06 PM
I am researching this with my boys too. I want the best for them but that doesn't always mean going to college, it really depends on what they want to do with their life. I agree with Nathalie, I will help in anyway possible but they need to work for it themselves. My husband and I have worked and paid for everything ourselves since we were 16 and that is why we appreciate where we are at now. Of course they are allowed to stay here as long as they need but they have to either go to college,trade school or have a job Again I have been pushing my 7th grader a bit to give me a area that he would like to look into, not necessary what he is going to do. But that it a major benefit to homeschooling that he can discover a broad areas of things that he is interested in before going to college, etc.
well thats my 2 cents;)

05-23-2010, 09:21 PM
I have one other thing to add, more specifically about my art major, but still college related. I went to an art magnet high school, was in the fine arts program, the main focus was prep for college. I go into a bunch of art classes in community college and the main focus was prep for transfer into a bigger college. I can't help but wonder would I get into a 4-year art school and then just receive a bunch of prep for graduate school. It would have been really nice if somewhere along the line we learned about how to handle a career as an artist. I've had to research on my own to get a lot of my questions answered. It also still bugs me that the head of the art department on the one campus at CCBC, told me that I would need a BFA just to be a professional artist, when all I've found is sometimes it really doesn't matter.

05-23-2010, 10:14 PM
It also still bugs me that the head of the art department on the one campus at CCBC, told me that I would need a BFA just to be a professional artist, when all I've found is sometimes it really doesn't matter. Well, sure, they want your money! They're always going to tell you that you need the piece of paper; It goes to show you that, just like when you go see a doctor, you need to question and do your own research and not always trust that those in positions of authority have the definite answers. At least, that's my opinion, lol. I wish you a long, happy, and prosperous artistic career, riceball_mommy.

05-25-2010, 01:25 AM
I listened to this today and thought it'd be appropriate for this thread:


I gave this issue a bit of thought today. My first, kneejerk reaction was that going to college should be a high priority. As I read over the posts and thought about it more, though, I came to realize that it depends greatly on the person. Don't go because everyone else is doing it, or because it's been the unspoken goal for the first part of your life, or you haven't really found a better thing to do. It seems like some people spend too much time and money in college looking for a purpose, rather than coming with at least the outlines of one.

That being said, college has a value beyond the job market immediately thereafter (although it may get a foot in the door, rightly or wrongly.) Shoe brought this up earlier, and there's some relation to homeschooling as well. A good, liberal (in the classical sense) education helps to make for a well-rounded, well-educated person. It's not the only way, nor necessarily the best way for everyone. However, while core curriculums are being watered down significantly, it's still an intensive and extensive immersion in learning. It appeals to me in the same way that TWTM does - in fact, TWTM appealed to me because of my college experience (yes, I know, a nice circular argument there!) A good college education shouldn't just prepare you for a particular job, it should expose you to ideas, to ways of thinking, to interesting people. It should promote a life of the mind.

This is idealizing college, I know. However, I would go so far as to wager that in most, if not all, colleges, those who want this exposure can find someone else, some faculty and students who share this ideal.

And I freely admit bias when it comes to meeting interesting people - it's where I met my wife. :)

05-26-2010, 08:32 PM
While learning for its own sake is a great goal, the problem is that costs have risen so much faster than incomes . . . the debt is just overwhelming. I do believe that college is where many people want and need to be, but I am an extremely practical person - my mother told me I needed to send my daughter to a 4 year college because thats where young people find themselves. Those were her words. My jaw dropped. But as I said before, if its something YOU want for YOU, do it!

05-31-2010, 02:03 PM
the debt is just overwhelming.

There is an article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/29/your-money/student-loans/29money.html?pagewanted=1) about someone who was "allowed" to rack up $97,000 in loans to pay for her 4 year degree in religious and women studies and who is to blame for this ... Personal responsibility much? Couldn't that student (and her mother who co-signed some loans) not have realized that maybe, just maybe, the type of career that one can find with a degree in religious and women studies might not pay all that much? Unless she planned on becoming a televangelist?