Kids n’ College

Kids n’ College

I didn’t go to college. I don’t have a college degree.

My daughter won’t be like me!

She’s gonna get edumacated. Good words are gonna fall out of her mouth and everything. She’s gonna be the best cypherin’ girl you ever seen.

The truth is, I’ve successfully hacked three industries. That is, I have created a financially supportive career with little to no formal education. With few exceptions, the experience you gain in four years of doing something FAR outweighs the knowledge you get from four years of listening to someone talk about it.

The education itself isn’t worth the price of admission.

…but what she will learn in college is truly important. I just don’t believe it comes from the teachers themselves.

The Journey

My daughter is going to college for the experience.

Long before we had created college, or formal education, or beer pong, we gave our children a rite of passage. We sent them into the woods for some arbitrary amount of time with little to survive on but what they already know… and some talisman akin to a shrunken head. We expected that this journey would teach them to learn on their own – out of necessity. We expected the journey would help them find who they are and what they were meant for.

When’s the last time you dressed in a lion’s pelt and wandered into the unknown in search of some mystical truth?

Did you find beer pong along the way?

Simply put, we seem to think that we’re going to coddle our kids until they’re eighteen… maybe 25… oh please not 40! Then, they simply move out and they’re on their own.

…no safety net!

You know what happens? They fall back home… because they just have no idea what to do with this new freedom.

Hugh Milne suggests back-packing around Europe is the new vision quest. With that idea going by the wayside, going to college becomes the only “I can return home if I don’t figure this out” venture our kids get before they’re expected to just figure it out.

A Good Education

It’s not about the books or the information the professors will drone on about. It’s about learning themselves.

When do you learn who you hunt well with? Where do you learn to build a fire on your own? When do you learn that huge once-in-a-lifetime choices aren’t always once-in-a-lifetime?

In college:

There’s no one to get them up in the morning.

There’s no one to get them fed.

There’s no one complaining if they don’t get somewhere on time before the consequences.

They’re forced to ask for help getting all their requirements together in an environment that’s overwhelming and convoluted.

They have to plan ahead.

AND if we, as parents, keep our noses out of it enough, there’s no one telling them where they should even go.

Most importantly, if our kids go off to a “sleep-over” college, they’re totally out of the house!

The Rest of Their Lives Hang in the Balance

Yep. I’ve got no degree, but never had any college debt and still wound up creating a stable life.

What I don’t have is the group of college buddies.

I don’t have the nights of trading memories.

I don’t have the meeting and getting to know people in a place where you’re all in the same boat.

I don’t have the relatively lazy few years figuring out what I want to do with my life…

what I enjoy doing…

what purposes matter – to me.

College gives our kids a place for all of this…

knowing if they screw up too bad, they can always come home.

We Need To Have a Talk

Is your kid nervous about college? Here’s a couple things I talked to my daughter about:

  1. You don’t need to know right now. You’ll have a couple years in college to pick up credits before you really need to know what you want to do.
  2. It’s OK if you change your mind. Statistically, 80% of all college students change their major… at least once.
  3. Just think, you won’t have to deal with me! This worked for my daughter, maybe not everyone’s.
  4. There isn’t always a right answer. College is the best place to figure out what’s right for you, while still working toward something useful.
  5. The alternative is a minimum wage job, living in a cardboard box, wearing mis-matched clothes just to keep warm. (I’m not above a little scare tactic)
  6. The education is secondary. What you learn academically in college isn’t the real point. You’ll need the paper to make it easier to get a job, but you’ll use the experience to make it easier to “get” you.
  7. You can always come home. I’ve found part of the issue with kids nervous about college is that they think there’s no turning back.

What kids truly build in college is a foundation to develop their life around. That IS worth the price of admission.

Stay tuned for next month’s article. I’ll let you in on the three secrets to paying for college.

Stu11

PS – In case it’s you nervous about your kid going to college: they will always come home.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Amanda February 11, 2015

    I’m on the same page as you Stu. My son has nearly come to the end of his school years but has absolutely had enough of studying. He’s bored, disinterested and every day I’m nervous that he’s going to come home and tell me he can’t do it any more. I just want to get him through these last few months. I think The Uni experience could be the making of him. Even if he doesn’t enjoy the study (he’s chosen business as he doesn’t know what else to do), he will grow as a person and hopefully have a fantastic time and learn alongside his peers. Added bonus is he can learn to cook and wash his own clothes! Well, hopefully…. Glad you are going to discuss costs in your next blog!

    • Avatar
      Stu February 13, 2015

      Business is a great choice! I encouraged my daughter to take business since you can do SO much with it after school. Well, it doesn’t limit you like more specific degrees can. As a benefit (and plucks at my heart) the actual education can help him build his own business and not get sucked into the 9-5 if he wanted to go that way.

      The last few months are nerve-wracking! Flight attendant for a year? No!!! Community college until you figure out what you want to do? Well… OK… if you HAVE to. I actually do see value in a gap year, but she’d better do something awesome with it!

      I’m not sure boiling water for Cup a’ Noodles constitutes “cooking,” but I’d love to hear how fares coming through the last few months.

      Thanks so much for the comment,

      -Stu

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