Is College the Best Option?

I was raised to go to college. In fact, when I was still very young, one of my mom’s friends, with whom I was very close (I still think of her like an aunt) told me that one day she just KNEW she’d see me in the White House.

Well, I did live in a white house for seven months while my husband was stationed in Rhode Island, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what she meant.  Whatever the case, my parents AND their friends told me I would get educated and become some kind of a success.

Bottom line, college was never an option or a hope – it was just assumed that both my brother and I would go. I did, and my brother did not. He could have, but he chose not to. Long story, I won’t go there, he’s fine, working hard, and enjoying life.

I’ve raised my own children to go to college. I never considered whether or not they could or should, it was just the thing that was going to happen. We homeschooled them with the classical model, because we thought it was the best one to teach them how to think, how to reason, how to be logical, and of course, how to study hard. When they went on to public high school, they were more than prepared and they all excelled.

Now Rocky is finishing up his Master’s degree, but he is very disillusioned with academia and has decided not to go on to pursue his PhD, which was the original plan. Petunia is in her freshman year of college, with several thousand dollars worth of loans helping to cushion what scholarships won’t cover.

And now it is time for Daisy to go to college. Of my three children, she has been the best student – that’s not to say she’s any smarter than the other two, but she’s jumped through all the proverbial hoops that colleges like. She’s taken AP classes, participated in varsity sports three years running, joined multiple clubs, is active in NHS, and she’s had the same part time job for two years. Even her SAT scores are competitive. She’s also a talented writer, so she’ll probably have a competitive essay for her college applications.

BUT – this seems to be the generation of kids who get big time degrees but who can’t find jobs to match them.

I know several families whose SMART kids have returned home – yes HOME – after graduating college, forced to move back in with mom and dad so they can work three minimum wage jobs only to pay off their student loans. They can’t find jobs in their field, and they can’t earn enough to live on their own and pay off those loans.

Yet – there sit the community colleges offering two-year degrees for a cost that will require no loans at all. And the two-year degree will produce a person who has a marketable skill, such as dental hygienist, mechanic, or what have you. There are ALWAYS jobs in those fields.

So that begs the question – what are we telling our kids? Daisy is part of the “crowd” at the public school which is college bound. They are all athletes with good grades and the right high school “pedigree” if you will. She is looking at colleges all out of state, which are far out of our price range (let’s face it, all but the community college are out of our price range) and she just assumes she’ll have scholarships and let loans cover the rest… to a point, of course.

But is this what’s best? And even if I’m not sure it is, has the dye been cast in Daisy’s mind so much that she wouldn’t even consider options other than the 4-year college?

I have far more questions than answers and usually I just feel like I’m being swept along by a current over which I have no control.  So, as with most things in this stage of life, I’ll keep hanging on for the ride.

One thought on “Is College the Best Option?

  1. We are firm believers in the community college system. You can learn a trade or you can get your associates degree and transfer to a four year college to get your bachelors at a much cheaper cost than all four years at the university. And when it’s all said and done your degree is the same.

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