And then, nearly the same day, this article popped across my feed: I Don't Care Where my Children Go to College.
People are often a bit surprised to find that JB and I really don't have college aspirations for our children. I think they are surprised because JB has an M.D. and I have my half of my master's completed.
I was a school teacher and he is a doctor. We obviously think education is important. Right?
The answer is yes.
It is our feeling that college is ... well ... overrated. If you want to be a teacher, like I did? Then yes, you need college. Our nation requires it. If you want to be a doctor, like JB did? Then yes, you need college. Again. It's a requirement.
But what if you don't know what you want to be? What if you aren't sure? Is spending tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree the best move for you?
We aren't sure it is.
And so we have told our children exactly that. College might be important. Eventually figuring out something that you would like to do that can generate an income is required. But we don't want them to be in a hurry to figure it out. And we especially don't want them to think they have to go tread water at a major University while they find their way.
My brother-in-law is a boat captain and mechanic. He loves his job. And he only had to go to school for about a year to learn how to do that job. And the money he is making is definitely what many people can make after going to a University.
I could list example after example. But you get the idea.
JB did a series of Blog posts over at tcpermaculture.com entitled The Myth of the Perfect Job. In fact, he was interviewed by a few different online podcasts to talk about this post after he wrote it. You can read one of those by clicking here.
Here is, our view in a nutshell:
- We are going to encourage each of our children to take a year after high school to do something before just jumping into school. This may mean a mission trip, a year working, some traveling, or just staying here and farming. Maybe they'll shadow some people in different professions or try out an apprentice with someone who is doing what they want to do. We plan to provide for them an extra year at home, if they would like it, before nudging them out the door. It is our hope that this year will help them figure things out and hopefully allow them to know what they are getting into before they get into it.
- We are not going to pay for college. In Tennessee, the state provides two years of free "junior college" to all children in their borders. If one of our children decides they need college or would just like to go to college, we will encourage them to use these two free years. After that, as a family, we will help them make the best financial decisions for the years that follow. This may include helping to pay for something. But this is not a guarantee. Both JB and I received no financial help from our parents for college. Neither did our siblings. We do not feel college money is a requirement for parents to give.
- We are not going to encourage our children to attend college. Instead, we hope to encourage them to choose something they love that they can make an income doing, and pursue that. We do not think this is a one-time thing. They may change their mind in a few years. We want them to feel free to do that. My husband attended art school and became a graphic designer before returning to school pre-med. But as they make these choices, they must be prepared to do what it takes to handle the financial choices they make. My husband's decision to change careers meant joining the Air Force to pay for it. There were no parents who were going to pay for that in our homes. We had to do it ourselves.
- We want our children to find a job that is not a job. We think that the dream job is one that doesn't feel like a job. And it may not be traditional or just one thing. It may be a series of things that allows you to find contentment in work. While the nature of our society requires that we have some sort of income, we don't believe that we have to gear up our children, for their entire childhood, to get to college so that they can find a perfect job.
- We will not raise free-loaders. My children will not be allowed to live at our house, free-loading for their entire adulthood. If they decide to remain here on the farm, they will be earning their way or finding a new way. We don't intend to allow our children to be lazy or not set priorities.
I'd love to hear from some of you on this topic! Please feel free to ask questions (kindly) or share your own insight.