Our society praises people who are first-generation students. I, on the other hand, will be happy if my kids become first-generation unschoolers – that is, if they are the first in my family to not go to college.
I have been told that if my kids don’t go to college they will become complete failures destined for a life of flipping burgers and playing video games. First of all, numerous young people end up doing just that – flipping burgers – after they graduate from college. Secondly, college can be effectively substituted with self-directed learning, private tutoring, online education, and apprenticeships.
What matters is motivation, which comes from being inspired by other people’s accomplishments and from being raised in a family environment which is conducive to learning and creativity, and where parents actually spend time with their kids and share their ideas and experience with them. My husband and I each have our interests, hobbies, and entrepreneurial pursuits, and we constantly try to inspire our kids, to show them interesting things and connect them with interesting people. It is very unlikely that our kids will stay dumb and uninspired in an environment like that. Even if someone gets lazy, they will watch their siblings do interesting things and will eventually become motivated to do (or shamed into doing) something, as well.
If my children are not motivated, drilling knowledge into their minds will not help. College will not help. Motivation comes from within. And when they do become motivated and inspired, they will learn and accomplish things on their own, without needing to go to college. There is no coincidence that nearly all famous entrepreneurs are college dropouts.
College has become pathetic. What used to be an honorable place for learners and thinkers has now become anything but. We now witness the emergence of a new generation of college students – self-centered, insecure, and ignorant young people who can’t take a joke, who get offended at critical or thought-provoking ideas, who want to be babied and protected from challenges, and who want to escape from the reality of life and hide in their fantasy world of “safe places”. Is this what parents are paying for? I believe that such an environment is unhealthy and mind-damaging.
College is ridiculously overpriced. When I was a student ten years ago, I thought college was extremely expensive. Nowadays, I can’t believe my ears when I hear how much more expensive it has become. In ten years, when my oldest child will be approaching college age, I am certain that I will be up for an even bigger surprise. I am not going to pay for my kids’ college, and neither do I want them to pay. I don’t want them to be debt-ridden long after they graduate. I’d much rather prefer to give or lend them that money, so they can use it to start their own businesses.
Is college diploma necessary to get a job? Maybe, though it’s no longer that simple. After having seen their share of incompetent college graduates, employers are starting to realize that actual work experience is more valuable than a paper document. The best way to obtain work experience is by doing things (such as through apprenticeships or working in startups), not by sitting in a classroom.
Besides, I don’t want my kids to get a day job. I want them to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses. For that, experience and motivation are crucial, while a college diploma and even an MBA are completely unnecessary.
Is college worth it? Let’s be honest, was undergraduate school really useful for our careers? Even if we did learn anything useful there, was it truly worth the four wasted years and a hefty price tag? Was it worth going in debt for? Has it ever crossed our minds that the skills we learned in college could have been learned in alternative ways that are much cheaper and more efficient – such as through private tutoring, apprenticeships, select community college classes, or online education – had we only been given the opportunity?
Now, grad school is arguably more useful because it provides a more advanced and specialized education. If my kids choose professions that require grad school, we will discuss their options once they get to that point. I hope that by the time they are certain they need grad school to advance their knowledge, they will have become responsible adults with a vision and with a solid understanding of money and budgeting.