I try not to give out advice-ok, that’s a lie, I do, but I try to keep it to a minimum when it comes to parenting. Everyone’s different. Every child’s different.
Hell, we have five boys-all raised in the same house, with the same rules, benefits and advantages. Guess what? Each of them is VERY different. What works for Corey doesn’t work for Joe. And what works for Joe doesn’t necessarily work for Addi, and so on and so on.
But there is one thing I SOOOO want to stress, one thing I REALLY want to get out there, especially for parents that will be looking at colleges here soon.
Be smart about it!
And by that I mean this-talk to your kids. Figure out what they want to do with their lives, encourage them to do some research, to forge their own path, and do NOT forget this.
In this day and age, college NEEDS to be a financial decision too.
It’s awesome that Timmy got into college, but if he’s an average student is going to that private college that costs 60k a year the best thing for him?
Does he show interest in a field where stability is hard to come by? If so, how is he going to make ends meet AND pay off those loans?
When Corey was getting ready to graduate we sat down and talked to him, and that was my concern. I DID NOT want my son to have 200K in debt hanging over his head. I had no concerns about him getting in to a good school. Our son (and yes, Roy and I are VERY proud!) graduated with honors and an Advanced Degree from a good high school. He did excellent on his SAT’s, and we had no doubt he could have his pick of schools, but his passion lied in cooking. We have done some traveling in the past few years, and he adored it. Soaked up the culture, willing to try new things, new cuisine, etc. So, travel and food?
He has expressed interest in being a chef, in working on a cruise ship for a few years, and surprise, surprise, Roy and I encouraged him to go for it!
Why you ask? Why not encourage our good student to go right to college?
Well, we did. He went to a community college and is getting his Associate’s with NO debt, but we also talked to chef’s, to teachers, we did research, I read books written by the best of the best in the culinary world, and they all said the same thing-experience is more important.
So, why would I encourage my son to waste money on a degree RIGHT NOW, when he is young? He is untethered by a family and the responsibilities that come with it.
Joe was pretty set, he wanted to join the military, and surprisingly, Corey is considering it as well, though for different reasons.
In the end, we want our boys to follow their dreams, but we also want them to be smart. We’re in that tax bracket that claims we have XX amount of dollars to give for college, so grants are limited, and yet because we have other children, a mortgage, etc we don’t have 20k laying around.
But most importantly, college needs to be a decision our children make with our guidance. Roy and I told them right up front we can’t drop that kind of money. We’ll help any way we can, we’ll help with paperwork, scholorship applications, etc, but the fact of the matter is saving for our retirement has to be a priority.
SHOULD it ever come down to it, if the boys need to return home due to a job loss, an illness-we need to make sure they have a home to come back to! Simple as that. IF the kids have to, loans can be taken out for college, we can’t take out loans for our retirement.
But back to said loans-We broke it down for our kids in simple numbers. Do you want 200k in loans, or 100k? Well, neither ideally, but four years of loans, versus two years CAN be broken down as simply as that.
I know of one young lady that went to a very good school here in Virginia. She went for one year,and couldn’t’ keep up…she left with no degree, nothing to show for her year at school other than almost 30k in student loans.
I graduated from high school with one young man, he went to a four year college, got a degree, and couldn’t find a job. He has one, but it isn’t in a field related to that degree, and he’s struggling to pay loans.
Does this happen to everyone? OF COURSE NOT, I’m just saying finances need to be taken into account, they SHOULD be taken into account. And yes, it sucks, maybe it isn’t right, but that’s where our economy is right now.
Following your dreams isn’t always lucrative, I should know, I couldn’t write if Roy didn’t have a good job to support us, as I don’t’ make much money doing it.
Bottom line-there are no easy answers. BUT, if your child shows a real love of say-hair dressing, does she need to go to Yale? Encourage him/her to attend school for what she loves.
If your child has a real gift with automotives, what’s wrong with technical school?
If your child has her heart set on being a teacher, is going to a community college and then transferring such a horrible thing?
With two boys either past or at this point, and another one getting there quicker than we would like (and two more moving up in the ranks) these are all things we looked at, all things we asked ourselves, and talked to the boys about.
We have to get smart about continuing education, and I realize perhaps it’s strange that a parent is talking about this, but sadly I think this is the world we are living in today, and I think as parents it’s our job to think of the things our kids might not.