Every parent breaks into a sweat when they think about putting their kids through college. All those fees, growing larger every day, along with books, living expenses and transportation. For those of us with toddlers now - college fees in twenty years time will cost upwards of $90,000 per child - if they attend public schools in state. If they choose out of state, or private college (NO!), then stop eating now and you may be able to afford it.
It's with the best intentions that we, as young parents, insist on college funds. Insist that college WILL happen for our kids. Pretty much whether they like it for not. Why? Because we want what's best for them. And while a college degree doesn't hold any guarantees, their odds of making more money increase. It also makes us look like good parents, right? Every kid a college grad? Pat ourselves on the back - we done good! It has been drilled into us that it's our job to make sure each of our kids has a college degree.
Except me, maybe. I think it's ridiculous to think that everyone is going to go to college, or even should.
There are many other areas of education; not all at the university level.
My husband and I will encourage all our children to attend university and give them financial help in doing so - a long as they have the capabilities needed as well as the desire. Now not every 18 year old is going to have the "desire" so they'll need encouragement and, let's face it - a push.
But the fact is that university just isn't for everyone and the fact that everyone thinks it is (or should be!) causes a lot of stress for people, both the kids and their parents.
What about all the electricians, plumbers, air conditioning/heat installers, carpenters and landscapers we need? Chimney cleaners, road workers, van drivers and housepainters? And the massage therapists, beauticians, and dry cleaners we use all the time. The medical assistants and paralegals and EMTs we depend on? The farmers and fishermen? The house builders and bookbinders? Trade schools and apprenticeships are what we encourage, not sitting in a classroom discussing Falkner! Anyone can do that, free of charge, at a book club. These people need hands -on training and the salary is often as good - or better, as the guy with a master's degree who sits as his desk.
Even poets, writers and artists don't necessarily need degrees from a University!
What we all need is post secondary education. Whether that's in university, a two year college program or a trade school will depend on what we want in life and how much education we actually need. And some of us simply aren't cut out for four years of third level education. But all of us need third level training of some sort. It will help us stand out, become certified and learn skills that high school does not afford us.
But pressuring young people into a bachelor's degree, when they love carpentry, is a waste of time and money. That person would be far better off heading to trade school and then an apprenticeship under a master carpenter. We need to be practical as well as ideal! Allowing people to find what they love - and learning to be good at it - is what really matters. Not the fact that everyone has letters after their name. We all want our kids to do well in life, but it's unrealistic to think that every single one of them will take off to university. If they do, we're all in big trouble because so many of the trades we need to help us live our lives will be under serviced and life will get far more difficult!
So to those who can and want to go to university - I think it's wonderful. I'm glad I did it and in many ways hope my kids will too. But let's make sure everyone who goes, really wants to and is capable of it. If we really want what's best for them (and not us) let's not stress ourselves, and our children, before we even give them a chance to tell us what they want to do with their lives - and where their true talents lie.
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