Many parents want their children to attend college. It is true that studies in the past have shown people with college degrees can earn a higher lifetime wage. Today we have learned that it is becoming more and more rare to stay at the same job for life. Technology is changing our world at warp speed. It would likely take several lifetimes to even begin to learn all the knowledge we have accumulated, and this knowledge continues to increase exponentially. Our children and grandchildren must be life-long learners. So much of what our older generation learned has become obsolete. I am pretty sure that this will be more the case for our grandchildren. Colleges must surely be struggling to keep up with the changes needed to reflect new information, new discoveries, and new challenges. There are many jobs in technology and what my father called “the trades” that continue go unfilled. Wages are stagnant and the possibility of having a better life than your parents did is becoming more remote. More education beyond high school is certainly necessary, but there are other options. Children who have different learning styles and can make a good living as an electrician, plumber, construction worker, auto mechanic or even computer programmer. A technical education is a viable option. Community colleges with technical courses can be the answer.
I have always recommended that young high school graduates who are not yet ready to submit to academic discipline need to be a success in college or ready to live without some “adult” supervision, should work for a year or two to learn the workplace skills to keep a job, and experience the “real” world impact of the benefits of more education. With the price of college today, and the heavy debts incurred young people are carrying unless parents have money to help, these young people will be facing an uncertain future. Colleges and universities should have internships and job placement services to help college graduates know that the money they have invested will enable them to live a comfortable and successful life.
I must quote my father who insisted back in the early 60’s that I take the courses to qualify as a teacher. I had no intention of going that way. My dad said, “No child of mine is going to graduate and not be prepared for a job.” Widowed at 22 and about to become a single parent, I was very glad I could get a job in education.
I also remember a good friend and social worker who told me, “Never say to your children if you go to college, always say when you go to college.”
There are many options other than immediately sending your still immature teenagers off to school. And in case they can’t get a job that pays well after graduation do not make the mistake of turning their room into a home office or craft room.
They may be coming back home again.