My oldest daughter is a junior in high school this year. As you might suspect, that means the college search is upon us in earnest. When my husband and I were her age, the only question was which school to attend. My daughter is wrestling with a much tougher decision … to go or not to go.
The world is changing. That sounds trite, but it’s true. These days, people are likely to change jobs several times; that wasn’t the case when I was growing up. Thus a four-year degree in one field might not be as helpful as it once was.
Rapidly changing technology means that what you learn in school might not be applicable when you graduate. This is particularly true in computer fields. I have a cousin who works in computers; he has no college degree and never gets asked about it. Potential employers just want to know his certifications and experience.
There are some careers, like medicine and law, which still require a college degree and that isn’t likely to change soon. However, for many other professions, experience can be just as valuable. Spending four years at an entry level position in your chosen field – gaining experience and earning an income – may be more useful than spending those years in school. Moreover, the internet has opened up massive entrepreneurial opportunities to anyone with a computer, a good idea, and a willingness to work.
On the flip side, college can be a lot of fun – and I don’t just mean for party animals. There are friends to meet, clubs to join, trips to take. I studied in Ireland for three semesters and it was a great experience. I’d like my kids to have the chance to study abroad.
Through classes and other college experiences, I learned a lot about my field (economics) and life during my time in school. I matured and grew more confident in my abilities. Of course, working can confer many of those same benefits without the debt, so the debate continues.
My daughter is smart enough to know she doesn’t want to graduate with a mountain of debt, so part of her decision will be made based on how she does in the scholarship and financial aid hunt. She is also looking into an exciting apprenticeship program called Praxis that helps jumpstart young adults in startup careers. I’ll share more about this program in a future post.
To go or not to go. In the end, I suspect my daughter will decide to go to college. There are good arguments to be made on both sides, though, so it isn’t an easy decision.
Colleen Hroncich loves that homeschooling allows her to learn right alongside her children. A published author and former policy analyst, Colleen’s favorite subjects are economics/public policy and history. She has been active in several homeschool co-ops and is a speech and debate coach.