My sister and I have this longstanding debate. We get into every once in a while, whenever the subject of college comes up in our discussions.
argue debate over whether our kids should be required to go to college.
Actually, it usually turns into me telling her that she would be making a mistake if she tells my nephews they don’t have to go to college if they doesn’t want to.
As a college instructor I am admittedly biased on the subject. Here is my reasoning.
Should You Require Your Kids to Go to College?
In a nutshell, our stances are this:
My Sister: She believes her kids don’t need to go to college IF they choose a job that pays good money and doesn’t require a degree.
Me: I believe, whether or not you plan to use your degree immediately, you should get a minimum of a 2- or 4-year-degree (depending on the field) so you will have a base education in case you want to change your course in the future.
Her argument: She knows people who didn’t go to college, but have high paying jobs.
My argument: I believe that college isn’t just about what you learn, it’s about learning to learn. It gives you an almost unfair advantage in the real world, and if you choose the right major (one you can actually use to earn money), a college education is an incredibly good value over the long term.
What College Really Teaches You
College teaches you critical thinking skills in an intensive crash course rather than you learning critical thinking through years of experience.
Regarding her argument that you can still get a good-paying job without a college degree – I can’t think of many of those jobs that don’t require physical labor…and your physical state will likely deteriorate long before your mind does.
Another reason to go to college, even if you don’t think you’ll stick with your chosen field long-term….you can always change course and add a Masters degree in certain fields on top of any Bachelor degree and quickly enter another field. I have many accountant friends who used to work in completely different fields, then decided they wanted something new. They just added a one-year Master of Accounting degree to their other degree, and got a job in accounting! Can’t get any easier than that.
Difficulties of Going to School as an Older Student
As a college instructor, I see so many students who are returning to school after years in the workforce. Some have hit a promotion ceiling at work and need a degree to be qualified for a higher level management position. Others frittered away the years immediately following high school; some had kids right away while others halfheartedly tried college once or twice before.
A common refrain among my older students:
I wish I had gotten a college degree out of the way BEFORE I had children.
Home life can interfere with your ability to make the most of college. Even if you have a supportive spouse, it’s often difficult to get away to attend networking events (as you get close to graduation), travel to interviews, and meet with groups to complete projects. If you attend online college, it’s difficult to find quiet time to do your homework, and sometimes child-related issues come up that prevent you from attending school.
I generally tend to trust the advice of those older than me, so for this reason alone, I think going to school when you’re young and have no major life obligations makes the most sense.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Should kids be pressured into going to college? Why?