In 2018, we graduated our second child from our homeschool. The first question everyone asks upon discovering this is–you guessed it–“Where is he going to college?” Well, he’s not going to college. He completed a career assessment tool and his path doesn’t necessarily need college.
The question is uncomfortable, and I wish people would broaden their view of post-high school life. When I say that he isn’t going to college, the barely-concealed disappointment says volumes about the expectations of our youth. Seventy percent of high school graduates attend college as their next step. The generally accepted wisdom is that college is necessary for a successful career and life. Here are some reasons not to go to college.
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College Does Not Equal Success
However, a large percentage of these students start college, not knowing what they are there to study. Most will not finish in four years, and many won’t finish at all. Those who do finish very likely won’t find work in the field that they studied. Meanwhile, the national college debt burden is more than $1 trillion. There are many, many college graduates saddled with more than $35,000 in debt, working at low wage jobs. (About 100 graduates have student debt of $1 million or more!) They can’t find work in those promised, lucrative positions for which they went to college in the first place. I know Millennials who must work two jobs in order to make ends meet.
My oldest daughter encountered several of these unfortunate young people while working full time in the food service industry. She earned money while she took classes in the Adobe Creative Suite and built her design portfolio. Not only did her proficiency in these programs grow, but her expertise in the Microsoft Office Suite grew, too, as she did odd jobs on the side. She eventually changed her mind about graphic design, but we gave her time to learn about herself without pressure. Then, when she changed direction and chose to pursue a nuclear medicine technology career, she didn’t lose a step.
A few of her friends who never attended college got promoted through their food service jobs. Then, with their skills, they connected with a recruiter and got placed as an Administrative Assistant, the same type of entry level job that new college graduates get. But, no debt and money in the bank. How’s that for reasons not to go to college? My daughter and her friends are not the only ones taking their education into their own hands. Find out how others build a successful life without a 4-year degree here.
Why pay for expertise you can get for free (or almost)?
If my son was interested in pursuing a licensed profession–think doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer, architect–then I certainly would bend over backwards to help him do it affordably and successfully. But his interests, like his older sister, are in the digital arts–things like 3-D animation, videography, 3-D modeling, design and illustration, and podcasting. He has already begun teaching himself the software and experimenting with his own storyboarding. If he can teach himself, why does he need a professor?
With YouTube, Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware, Skillshare, Instructables, Lynda.com and many more, anyone can learn anything at any time from anywhere in the world, and even learn from industry leaders and experts; all this at a fraction of the cost of college, even for free. For less than $400, my son can learn from wealthy entrepreneurs how to run an online business, and the information is constantly updated. Why should he pay thousands for a business degree that is outdated the minute he walks out the door? Or, he can take this course and learn how to run his own Etsy shop, selling digital products. In fact, many of the top colleges are offering courses for free. Talk about reasons not to go to college. . .
The only downside is that students need to prove their knowledge, somehow, since they don’t get a degree for self-educating. But a college degree doesn’t necessarily offer the proof employers are looking for. (Click HERE to find out what skills your teen really needs.) In fact, in my discussions with some corporate folks, they complain of a skills gap–a gap between what they need and what new college graduates know. Hmm…
Most colleges don’t offer what businesses are really looking for: experience
Again, those entering the licensed professions must go to college, but most people don’t study those fields. They major in English, History, Psychology, Business, Computer Science, etc., believing that the degree itself is enough to ensure higher wages. I thought that, too, and hold a BA in Psychology. What can you do with a BA in Psychology? Nothing. I soon found that out. And so have countless other college graduates. However, what is the number one requirement on almost every job posting? Experience; experience that most colleges do not offer. Homeschoolers are uniquely positioned to gain work experience, start businesses, and build portfolios while still in high school. We have the ultimate advantages of flexibility, out-of-the-box thinking, lifelong learning, and work ethic, to do things differently. More reasons not to go to college. And here’s the most important one of all . . .
College is a playground of immorality
Parties. Risky behavior. Assault. Christian persecution and conflicting worldviews. We know what goes on at colleges. We issue warnings about drinking, rape and assault, and other shenanigans, but often forget about issues of faith, friendship, and worldview. Even if we diligently discuss those things, when the heat is on, the heat is on. Those professors hold your teen’s future in their hands! If s/he doesn’t fall in line with what they want your teen to think and say, they can destroy your teen’s GPA, scholarship, and potentially their career. And, you will still have to pay the college tuition! While one may question how solid a student’s faith was in the first place, how many of us would compromise our position knowing that our scholarship was on the line? For me, this contributes to the important reasons not to go to college.
I like to think that the values my children learned from being homeschooled don’t end just because they graduated. The propensity to think critically about their educational options, and the desire to pursue their dreams on their own terms, burns brightly in their hearts. With so many paths available to our teens, let’s not put them in the college box unless that is truly the only option.