Friday, February 16, 2007

Dear Mom and Dad: I'm Not Going To College

Your homeschooled highschooler (or even your government/public or private schooler) may announce one day that he has no intentions of attending college. Should you panic? I think the short answer is NO. If anything, you may rejoice at the amount of money you may save in college costs. Kids change their minds and majors regarding career several times in college, and in fact unless they have a clear view of what it is college will accomplish for them, it most likely will be wasted time.

Many people delay college for that very reason. They want to have some time to figure out what it is they really want to do. Statistics may prove out that kids with college degrees make more money in the long run and may get better jobs or have an advantage over others. The plain fact is that nowadays college is quite an expense and quite an investment. Your child may be saddled with thousands of dollars of loans payable soon after college graduation. While there are no guarantees, you at least want to be sure that you'll have the credentials to get you a job that will help pay that off.

If your child decides that they don't want to attend a college they should have a plan in their pocket about what they are planning on doing. Perhaps attending a trade school or doing an apprenticeship is an option. Some kids who have had some really great ideas and a bit of ingenuity have even gone into business for themselves. I have known a few people over the years who began working right away and eventually attended and completed college with financial help derived from the benefits of their job. There is no law that says you must go right into college when you finish high school. For most people, getting college out of the way, right away, is the tactic, and for others getting experience by working is another.

There are many famous and successful people who either never went to college, or went a year or two and then dropped out. Some people attend colleges years, and even decades, later after they finished high school. The Internet provides lists of famous people who even dropped out of elementary school!

Now don't get me wrong, I am not advocating not pursuing a college degree or furthering your education, but what I am saying is that there are other paths to success, and if you have the drive and ambition to do something in life then you certainly can be successful. Just look around and see the number of people who have worked very hard to get a degree, like an MBA, and see that it has not gotten them an automatic job. Many are waiting tables. So sometimes it might be worthwhile to get into the job market right away and perhaps consider college when you are more ready and have a clear idea of what you will do with that college degree.

What you really ought to be thinking about is your overall goals. Realize that there are many ways to achieve them and college is a means to an end in that respect. Life offers us many opportunities, and some pop up out of nowhere. The path to reach your goals may not be entirely clear, nor will you always stay on course and sometimes you will have to be flexible and meet some challenges, but isn't that part of what makes the future so interesting?