Sorry kids, I’m not paying for college

18 05 2010

There was a great article in the NYT last week about the value of not getting a college education. Mostly, It dicked around with Bureau of Labor statistics about the fastest growing career fields, and how in the future we’re gonna need more nurse’s aides than nanosurgeons.  And while this is true, and while I completely agree that there is a great need to bring back the vo-tech and ditch the “college or career suicide” type propaganda that seems to be rampant in our high schools… I think that there are better reasons not to go to college than just the best odds for job security. That’s right. Sorry possible future kids, you guys can go screw, because i’m not paying for college. and here’s why:

1. 18 is way too young to know what you want to be when you grow up. Picture it- 1995. When i was 17,I graduated from high school telling everyone that I was going to be a genetic engineer. WTF?! Good at science, but with an obvious passion for art that was somehow completely overlooked by me, my family, and my educators, somehow I wound up at Smith College studying biochemistry. Needless to say, I spent the majority of my 2 semesters there smashed on cheap champagne and watching the Love Boat in the common room. But don’t worry mom and dad, it wasn’t a complete waste! I also learned how to build a gravity bong and got really good at cybersex before they kicked me out! And it only cost you $27,000. A giveaway!

My booze soaked cautionary tale is not unique. The typical American high school aims to trap you in the college machine, programming from day one that higher education is an absolute necessity in order to succeed at life (and that non-college goers are sentenced to permanent loserville, qualified only to work at gas stations and fast food chains). They then give you a brief 4-year overview of a few select subjects, boot your ass out of the nest, and expect you to make good decisions. Except that you’re 18, and you still need the approval of your parents, peers, and teachers, and it’s the worst possible time and place for you to make big giant expensive decisions about the “rest of your life.”

2. Shit’s expensive. A year of tuition at Smith College was $27,000 back in 1995, but it’s edging closer to $40,000 these days. Um, that’s $160,000 for 4 years- not counting all the other bullshit expenses like books and room and board. Sure, there’s financial aid and scholarships and grants… but it can’t be denied that still, SHIT IS EXPENSIVE. Even if you don’t have an honors track top 10 school kind of kid, state school is still not cheap. My eventual and reluctant alma mater, the University of Southern Maine, is still a good $15,000 (in-state) a year after room and board. Coupled with the above point about how ill-equipped teenagers are to make huge life decisions, I think it’s quite clear that college at 18 is a TERRIBLE INVESTMENT.

3. I never appreciated the value of learning more than when I was paying for it myself. After I got the boot from Smith, my parents foolishly STILL sent me back to school to try again. Admittedly, it was a much cheaper school much closer to home. But, how exactly does a summer of shame and repentance make me any more qualified to plan my future? I did manage not to get kicked out of USM, and may have even learned a few things (but not too many). I certainly had fun, but did I graduate in 4 years? Um…NO.

Despite the fact that I stopped attending school in 1999, I would actually be one class short of a diploma until December of 2005. When i was finally tired of being ambiguous about my education on resumes, I enrolled in a couple of classes and finally figured out why non-traditional students seemed so irritating to me back in the day. It’s because they were actually learning something. They showed up to class on time, did their homework, and generally participated in discussion regarding the material that they had actually read (instead of passed out on after one too many Brandy Alexanders). When I was the one paying $80 for a single book, I magically turned into this person, and it was kind of a revelation.

So when I say that I won’t be stashing my pennies away for baby Broke207 to go to Yale, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want him/her to go to college ever (or that I don’t think that a college education can be valuable and worthy). It just means that I want that choice to be free from the pressure that high school life so lovingly and liberally applies. I just want my imaginary future family to be aware of all the options (trade school, apprenticing, working up the ladder!), and experience the world a little before they start themselves out thousands of dollars in debt.

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195 responses

19 05 2010
m

This one hits close to home. I did the same thing but switch Bennington with Smith and 2000 with 1995. I dropped out, got depressed, took a few online classes, then hauled my ass out to Oregon for no reason other than to hide in shame. I finally rejoined school in 2007 and am still completing my degree (another 60 credits to go.) But this time around, I care. I care a lot. I’m that annoying person in class who does all the reading, loves the reading, always has her homework, and gets straight A’s. It’s too expensive not to care about what you’re doing.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

ha! we really are the same person. i can probably count on one hand the people i know who took a successful straight line approach to their education (randomly, my older sister is one of them), although i don’t deny that it can happen. i’m just always glad to hear about people who went off the educational rails, finding their way back to something that works for them. (most especially if they are my west coast alter ego). i loved being a non-traditional student- even knowing how much the traditional college kids thought i was a butt kissing overachiever. embrace it!

19 05 2010
liz

yeah, i did the same thing too, only it was wellesley, and it was way back in 1985. eventually i got a much better education at the university of kansas later because i wasn’t 17 and i had a clue what i was doing there. it’s on my mind a lot lately because my daughter is about to graduate from high school, like, any minute. she’s a smarty and got into her first choice college, but (with my wholehearted encouragement) is taking a year off before college to work and travel and just grow up another little bit.

also, being truly broke is a pretty great position to be in when applying for financial aid…

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

right on! when i was in high school i remember my mom (and other parents) talking shit about the kids who weren’t going to college right away/at all. it definitely added on to the burden that drove me to college before i was really ready. sounds like your daughter is a pretty smart cookie, waaaaay ahead of me when i was that age (no need to worry about drunken love boat reruns for you!).

19 05 2010
Colleen O

I so agree with you on this. I was far too young/indecisive/vulnerable at age 18 to make the best college descision. USM came through for me though.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

i actually had a kick ass time at USM. i don’t regret my education, only that i wasn’t more self aware in a way that would have allowed me to get more out of my studies. next time!

19 05 2010
Winnie P.

Word…

19 05 2010
Jessica

Great post!

19 05 2010
blackgirlinmaine

Well I am dealing with this right now, my kid is a senior, pretty bright kid who actually after spending the 1st 2 yrs in high school just being average and plodding along transferred schools (moved to the Midwest w/his Dad) and got serious about school. Prior to his junior year I would have agreed with your sentiments. Anyway long story short he just got accepted into a small private school and damn that shit is costly. Hell even with the amazing scholarships he snagged we are still looking at 12-20K that will be split between me and his father, desperately hoping my ex MIL who is well off can kick in a few shekels otherwise I might be going back to the surgeon to get a tummy tuck so I can work the pole at Plantnium Plus since my lovely non-profit gig does not pay enough to handle my loan debt and his.

Seriously I think there is a lot of truth in what you are saying, i was in my late 20’s when I went to college and I did my BA in 3 years year round. On my dime I was greatly motivated.

Only thing is that realistically its hard as hell for any kid at 18-19 to even try and work there way through school. I mean when state universities start hitting 15-20G’s a year, how does a kid pay for that?

The system IMO is now rigged to make parents have to pay, the max an undergrad in the first 2 years can take out in loans is like $5500, there is no school they can go to for that kind of money. Even trade/voc/ career schools can be pricey. I was teaching at one a few years ago here in Maine and folks were paying $12,000 to become medical assistants!!! That job pays for shit, and most of the folks who get that certificate still struggle.

So for me I feel like you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I was hoping that my boy would take a year off and travel or work but he has his heart set on college. Ugh…

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

platinum plus! usually you hear about girls stripping their way through college- never the moms! i think you could be on the forefront of a new movement. but seriously, you are SO RIGHT about how the system is rigged for the parents to pay. and for the majority of the population out there making 5 figure incomes… 15-20gs a year is a HUGE chunk of income that most can’t afford to give up. that’s actually one of the reasons that i advocate taking time off. i think if a kid lives on their own for 1 or 2 years, they can apply for financial aid on their own shit salary- and the parental income doesn’t factor in (= better chance at scoring big chunks of need-based aid). anyway, regardless of what i think when to go or how to pay, or even whether they end up graduating or not, higher education is rarely ever a waste of time.

20 05 2010
blackgirlinmaine

Actually the system has changed and a kid has to be 24 or married whichever comes first before they can apply for financial aid under their own name. I know because my brother who is substantially younger than me had that problem. My folks were willing to let him live at home and he could commute to school but when he went to apply for his own financial aid, he literally could not get it until my folks agreed to give up their tax records. My parents ended up taking out some of his loans, actually my Mom signed unbeknowst to my Dad who found after my Mom died unexpectedly and the brother fucked up and didn’t pay the loans.

My Dad who is now a widower, and broke thanks to Mom’s bout with cancer is now getting is wages garnished for my brother’s loan. So my Pops retirement plan is me. Sorry for the book.

Anyway its really messed up that a kid is considered an adult at 18 and up yet has to be 24 to be considered able enough to get their own loans withour relying on the parents.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

damn! although 24 doesn’t seem like a bad age to start college (definitely not old enough to get married though!!!). that’s a really sad story. i’m so sorry to hear that it happened to your family (or anyone really). i agree that the contradictions are fucked up. old enough to vote, enroll in the military, live on their own, get a car loan, but not an educational loan? apparently the government must feel the same way that i do!

19 05 2010
kate @ bbf

plus, think of all the cool ass shit you can do between HS and college that will give you an idea of what you actually want to study (ie americorps (woot!), NOLS, sca, etc etc). when you’re out of college with back-breaking loans, you can’t afford the luxury of taking an unpaid internship or volunteering, since you have those nasty creditors nipping at your heels. how many people get forced into jobs they don’t want or like because of their debt?? i really feel for all those kids who don’t know what they want to do, but feel pressure from every adult in their life to make a super expensive decision at 18 about what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

one of my greatest regrets is that i never joined the peace corps when i was young and untethered enough to just jet off to another continent. you are so right on. debt-less, property-less, responsibility-less youth is the perfect time to run around out in the world and see what it’s like. yet for some insane reason, such escapades are seen as fringe behavior. just makes me want to storm the guidance office and start slapping people around.

19 05 2010
mhokie

This post is spot on. Luckily, I made it through college with no issue, always knowing what I wanted to do for a career. That being said, I also took two years off after college, and moved to a small Colorado ski town. It was here that I started doubting how I spent the previous four years. Being the New Englander I am, when meeting people early on I’d always ask, “What college did you go to?” More often than not, I’d get a chuckle and the name of their high school. I met so many happy, college-loan free people out there, I couldn’t believe it.

While I’m still happy with how things panned out for me thus far, I can’t agree with you enough that my imaginary, future children will know that other options exist.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks! despite my own champagne soaked schooling disaster, i do think that it’s possible to go through the system successfully (and am always glad/jealous to see people making it work). but you’re right- it isn’t about any one path being more valid than the rest, it’s about the presence and acknowledgement of options.

19 05 2010
melanirae

You make valid points. But your argument could strain spaghetti. First of all, not all 18 year olds are drunk, Love Boat watching, lost souls. Secondly, I know maybe 5 people out of hundreds who work in the same area they studied. You don’t have to know what you want to be. Pick what you like and the rest will work it self out. Yes, you can get a job with out a degree. I did for my whole adult life. However, in times of economic crisis, those with out degrees have the hardest time finding work. When 600 people have applied for the same job it is an easy way for employers to weed people out. No degree? Your CV gets trashed. Even if you do land an office job pushing paper you won’t make as much as someone with a degree. And if you want to move up you will likely stall out sooner than someone with a degree. The benefits far out weight the neg.
(and now someone will pipe in with how Bill Gates is a college drop out-But i hate to break it you, there are very few Bill Gates in the world. But by all means if you fancy yourself one, or you know your child is a genius-forget about secondary education!)

I an writing my dissertation now, after going back to university as an adult. And I can tell you the drunk 19 year olds have a way easier time of it. They have no bills to pay, no kids to feed, no family they have to spend time with. Their time belongs to them.

I will I’m just glad I have Swedish citizenship. University education here is free.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

you’re right, not all 18 year olds are love boat addicted lushes like i was, and we should all be very thankful for that. in fact, some kids go straight through high school to college without incident, and that’s great. in fact, at no point in my post did i say that i thought going to college was a waste of time. i wholeheartedly support continuing education, and know exactly how important an element it can be in many career paths! that said, i just think that high school is too young to take on that much responsibility & debt without exploring the world and the myriad of career options that don’t get presented in the high school format. you may think that the 19 year olds in your university classes are having an easier time of it, but i bet they’re getting a whole lot less out of it than you are. i just want my kids to be in control of their own education (including paying for it), so when it comes to making a decision about if/where/when to go, they give it a little more thought than if it was just handed to them for free as the mandatory next step in growing up. you are so incredibly lucky to have access to free education! i could talk for hours about how i would like to overhaul the educational system in the US… but that’s a whole other blog post 🙂

19 05 2010
jenclinton

COMPLETELY AGREE. I think taking a year off is the best thing a kid can do. Granted, most helicopter parents nowadays would be far too paranoid to send their kids on a year of travel or something similar at 17, and most kids would feel left out until they joined the college ranks, but you can bring SO MUCH MORE TO THE TABLE after you get some life experience.

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

i’m going to have to print out all of these comments and save them for my future children, because they are not going to like hearing that i’m not paying for school (when all of their friend’s parents probably are). it’s going to be a tough sell, but hopefully they won’t rob me while i’m sleeping. also, if they really want to go to school right out of high school, then they can try to get scholarships etc. on their own. the answer isn’t “i don’t want you to go to college”, it’s “i want you to be in control of your education”.

19 05 2010
misplacedperson

Absolutely right. Having to make that sort of decision and take on that level of debt as a daft teenager, batty.

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

yet it’s the norm! kids who take a year off or even go to trade school are viewed as hopeless losers with no possibility for future career success! i used to think the same thing when i was a kid. so tragic!

19 05 2010
Lara Evans

I see a lot of young people who should not be in college at this particular time of life. I see a handful of students each year who are in college because they are not capable of holding down a job for a variety of reason: no life-skills (and no intention of acquiring them), no sense of responsibility for themselves, or too mentally ill. When did college become the place to go if you can’t do anything useful with yourself? For the ones with severe mental illness, college is cheaper than the inpatient treatment that they need. So many students are coming to college when it really won’t do them any good that it’s turning college into adult day care. Parents, don’t send your kids to college just to get rid of them. teach them how to be responsible, contributing members of society first. Then encourage them to go to college if they have a thirst for knowledge and a goal that actually requires a degree.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

that’s a really interesting take on the subject. i have often thought of colleges as just a transitional “holding tank” for kids not ready to be left to their own devices in the real world. however, i’ve never really thought of that in terms of mental illness. my little sister is autistic and in her early twenties, and i can see how hard it has been on my mom to have to continue raising a child into adulthood. i can definitely see how tempting it would be as a parent of a more highly functional mentally ill child to give them to someone else for a while. on one hand, this doesn’t seem like the best decision… on the other hand, if they want to learn and get something out of the experience, that’s valid too. you’ll find that things tend to get really grey when it comes to mental disability.

19 05 2010
nolastcallforcake

I do agree with many of your comments. The typical 18 year old can’t possibly know what they should do with their lives. And even the responsible ones (like I was) who buckle down and get the most out of college may realize upon graduation they STILL made major (haha) mistakes.

If I could go back and give myself advice I would have done things differently- and all it took was a couple years out of college to realize where I went wrong.

I’ll pay for school for any future kids- but I’m going to insist on taking time off first.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

totally. i don’t think that the kids need to wait decades before they go to school… just have a little breathing room out of high school to experience life out of the bubble (before they trap themselves in another one). 2 years would have made a HUGE difference in my life at 18. it’s amazing how a little distance can change things so much 🙂

19 05 2010
Reassurance! « Goggles & Lace

[…] 19, 2010 at 12:02 PM (Life) Tags: affirmation, hope, life, rant This guy here makes me feel better about not having gone to college.  And so I congratulate him on being Freshly […]

19 05 2010
Roo

Wow.. thank you for this entry. Being 19, graduating highschool in 2009 with a mania that I could conquer the world and having gone through a year of college, I evolved into a nervous, scatterbrained wreck since I haven’t a clue what I want to do with my life. It all feels so rushed, and this brings me back down to earth. Taking time off sounds really good right now.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

i wish i had your level of introspection (and straight up balls) when i was 19! after all, why go through the motions (and the payments) if you don’t know why you’re there? my friend kate commented earlier that now is the perfect time to travel, do an internship, or join a volunteer organization (peace corps, americorps…). if you go out and explore the world for a while, eventually you will find something that really moves you, and you’ll be excited to go back and do the work to get there (whatever it is). good luck!

19 05 2010
Jennifer

Wow I completely agree! My husband was pushed into college by his parents, ended up changing majors 3 times and ending 3 years of state college with $62,000 in debt and only an Associates in Business (which lets face it, is worthless). I went to college to be a nurse, then went to vet tech, then many voc. tech choices and ended up where I knew I wanted to be all along…a stay at home mom. So collectively that’s about $100,000 of debt or wasted money for NOTHING! For our daughter, we put money away for her but not for college, for whatever she wants, whether it’s a business or traveling after she graduates. It was awesome to read that someone else actually feels the same way about college as we do…it’s hard to find!

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

when i wrote this post last night, i thought people were going to rip me a new one for not valuing education or my children’s future. what i learned is that we (who floundered, and changed majors, and dropped out, and went back, and dropped out again…) appear to be the more in the majority than i thought. i’m glad that you’re finally doing something that makes you happy! and might i just say for the record that i think it’s awful that being a stay at home parent isn’t presented/regarded by many (certainly by high school guidance counselors) as a valid career path. this country needs more focused & interactive parenting! also, i think what you’re doing for your daughter is awesome. my boyfriend and i have talked about a similar fund. like $5,000 to travel europe, get an apartment set up, try a new city… whatever, just a head start into adulthood!

19 05 2010
Raul

I do agree that a lot of time people don’t know what they want to be at that age. It’s difficult to spend a lot of money on college when all you might be doing is trying to pick a major your first two years.

http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

and there’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many career options out there that you don’t even know exist at that age! are you listening high school guidance counselors?!

19 05 2010
Elisabeth S. Paquet

Wow, I totally know how you feel. Straight out of high school I went and got a degree and I will tell you that a Fashion Degree is completely worthless in the state of Michigan. At the same time I don’t regret getting it, I had a lot of people trying to steer me into different careers that I just would never have been happy in and due to family pressure I spent 2 years also studying business (which I could have finished had I not been about to lose a co-signer for loans. After 4 children the 5th can get pretty dangerously close to Mommy and Daddy’s limit on loans they can co-sign for) so I dropped out. Suddenly I feel a whole lot better, I don’t think that the 4 years I spent in school were a waste but I never really wanted to do that anyway. If I ever have children I will let them make up their own mind and if they want to take a year or two off to think about it I think that is great (as long as they get a job) I want them to make sure they really like something and do their homework on the availability of openings in that line of business before they go flushing money down the drain…

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

it’s funny, as strong as my feelings are about not paying for my children to go to college, i don’t look on my 5 years (shame) as a traditional student as a waste of time either. i had a wonderful time, made a lot of amazing friends, learned some interesting things… (although my art degree has turned out to be pretty worthless in these parts as well). i’m glad that i had the opportunity, but career-wise, i feel like i’m at square one. right now i manage a commercial real estate office, which is a great job… for somebody else. i feel like if i had taken a couple of years off, worked shit jobs, learned a little responsibility, and learned what career choices are really out there… i probably wouldn’t have squandered my first education to the point where i need to start all over again. i think you totally have the right idea 🙂

19 05 2010
rod

tens of thousands of Filipinos go to the U.S.A. for employment. That’s not counting those from other countries yet. Meaning, USA has no real problem of unemployment because fact is the country is a receiver of foreign workers and that happens only when there is shortage of labor.

So where does the problem of jobless Americans lies. I think it is in the qualification for the jobs. And education is part of it. 😦

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

you’re completely right! education/training is important when it comes to being competitive in the job market. however, i’m not suggesting that young people not become educated after high school, i’m just saying that i think they should put their formal education on pause for a minute before they decide which career path to go down. slow down the process a little, so that when they are ready to make some decisions about college, or trade school, or apprenticeships- they have done enough growing up (learning how to feed themselves, pay bills… and see what career options are really out there), so that they’re not wasting their time when they get there.

19 05 2010
Slawman

Join the military…

Nah don’t join the military.. it’s all just a bunch of crap and you’ll just end up mopping floors and mowing lawns. Strange you don’t see that on the commercials eh?

19 05 2010
bessmarvin

you’re so right! the military is just another fantasy future that college age kids can enroll in. at least it’s less expensive! although at 18 i didn’t have any idea how i felt about government or the armed forces or war… it’s scary to think how many kids join up because they want to be an action hero or they just don’t know what else to do, without really knowing what it’s really all about.

19 05 2010
theanonymousblog00

do they have many lawns to mow in the military?

19 05 2010
SarahElizabeth

I agree completely! Although I still plan to save money for my (far-off) future children (my parents were able to do this and I want to pass it on), there is no reason they should have to go directly after high school. I promptly embarked on that track of 4-year plans directly after high school, but lucky for me my school of choice allowed an “exploratory” plan for those who had no freakin idea (i.e. stick around and waste money while your 18-year-old-self twiddles its thumbs and attempts to make a decision)
…Well, five years later I still have one year of schooling left. YES, it will take me 6 years to complete an undergrad bachelor’s degree (maybe it shows patience and endurance?). I do have to throw in my spiel that I changed majors approximately 3 times and when I decided on a program I didn’t get in the first time simply because my procrastination resulted in my required test scored coming in a week late, after the program was full (i.e. I still have good grades). Therefore I waited a full extra year to finally get into the program.
Lesson being, had I taken a year (at least) between high school and college I likely would have been able to clearly define my desire to be a teacher and would not have had to waste the two first years of psych major classes and completely random electives in every area of interest I’ve ever had…
Well at least I can see a light at the end of the tunnel now!

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

exploratory plan! what a cool idea. am i allowed to ask where you’re going to school? there’s no shame in taking extra time to finish up, especially if the end result is you being qualified to do a job that you really love. plus, while you were exploring, i bet you learned a lot of awesome shit that makes you a well rounded and generally awesome person. (and will make you an even awesomer teacher). now all you need to do is make sure that your students know that a straight line to college isn’t the only choice on the test 😉

19 05 2010
world class

I am going to go to UOP…..pharmacologist

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

that’s awesome! i can guarantee you that in high school, i had no idea what the eff a pharmacologist was. i mean, how can they ask us to choose the “best school” for our future, when we don’t even know about most of the careers available! good luck!

19 05 2010
mangoseeker

Great post…and there lies the genius in taking a year off after high-school, which is common in Europe while unheard of here in the states

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you! i’ve had a surprising amount of feedback from the euro contingent on this post, which has been really interesting. it seems like they have a much better developed view of both the value and process of education (don’t even get me started on the free factor!). i feel like we need to do a national re-assessment of our educational system, because right now- it just ain’t workin.

19 05 2010
sarastas

I completely agree. I am in college now and I am living it up. I know I am at school to learn, but there are so many other fun things happening that I don’t dedicate myself to my books like the older students (aka the Mom’s who came back to school). I don’t even know if I can get into graduate school with my grades, but basically I feel lost because I don’t think I am ready for the “real world”. I don’t want to wish that I didn’t screw around as much, but I do wish I was more enthusiastic and motivated about learning because maybe I wouldn’t be in panic mode as I approach my senior year. Great entry by the way!

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks so much! you know, college is nice because it’s a safe place to figure out who you are, who your friends are, and how to be away from everything you grew up with. even if you end up not wanting to/being able to go to grad school, you can always do things like intern or volunteer. or find a program that will allow you to travel on the cheap! nobody is ever ready for the “real world”, but at some point, you just have to jump in. it’s a wonderful place, i promise!!

19 05 2010
slamdunk

Interesting topic. I certainly agree with you that giving college money to someone not prepared for that evironment is liking flushing money down the toilet.

Lots to think about here. Well done.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you! you put it simply and perfectly. it isn’t about age, it’s about preparedness. 18 or 81, if you’re not ready, you’re not ready.

19 05 2010
chris

i went to UNH in 1984 right out of high school for the sole reason that i didn’t want to get a job, and i knew my parents would pay for it. i majored in chemistry (wtf?), drinking and drugs. after 1 1/2 yrs i got kicked out and it only took me a year of working shitty secretarial jobs to figure out what i wanted to do. i worked full time and went to school nights and weekends and got a BA in accounting in 4 yrs, which is still my area of work. i was VERY motivated to do well in college when I had to pay for it and work at the same time. (sorry mom and dad!)

19 05 2010
sarastas

I just saw your comment and I go to UNH right now! Fun school, haha

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

i knew that we were kindred spirits! there are not enough hallmark cards in the universe to apologize to my parents for how badly i fucked up my college experience the first time around. i’m glad you were able to find a field that works for you- gives an aimless girl some hope!

19 05 2010
Vesper de Vil

Or…you can just send your kids to Norway, where university is free for everyone, including foreigners.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

are you serious? that’s fantastic! that way they can travel the world AND get an education. norwegian lessons for everyone!

19 05 2010
Serenity

I have to agree but honestly, I would go a step further. I feel that most of high school is not necessary either. By having kids stay in a school setting with same age peers for so long, they haven’t learned how to act like adults or how to function in the real world. Now, it seems that adolescence is stretching well into the early to mid twenties for many people. (Obviously, there are exceptions!)

Remember that most of the founders of our country and many of our early presidents did not have any formal schooling. Really, once we learn to read and do basic math, we can teach ourselves anything we want or need. Of course, many parents would lose their built in babysitters and the government (and peoples dependence on it) would be reduced if we began rethinking the way “schools” are in this country.

20 05 2010
bessmarvin

i don’t know if i would do away with high school all together, but i completely agree that some very serious reformatting needs to happen, and soon. i would love to see more life skills & vocational options taught to everyone- not just the fringe kids. i also think that a year abroad should be mandatory… but i probably shouldn’t open those floodgates right now. but yes! i think you totally have the right idea 🙂

19 05 2010
Isabell

I definitely agree with what you are saying. 18 years old is really young to put all of your time and effort into any one thing especially something as expensive as college.

In High School, I was one of those kids who believed those things about college and was really looking forward to higher education.
I did great the first semester and had a 3.6, dormed the next semester and dropped to a 3.0 because of partying. I failed two classes that semester. Then my 2nd year I became a commuter and it wasn’t any better. I changed my major or considered changing it about 3 or 4 times. I went in as a Journalism major, then studied psych, then did some music, then eventually I graduated as a TV/Film major.
Being unsure of your career path, and being an 18,19,20 year old kid who’s getting some REAL social freedom and is trying to manage that whole thing (alcohol, knowing when to party and when not to, peer pressure, no limits, overestimating how smart you are) really is a bad idea because College becomes a big expensive waste of time….at least for a year,usually two. Half the money down the drain.

One thing that people fail to tell graduating high school students is that universities seem to be set up in a way that forces you to take a summer or winter semester (which costs more money) in order for you to even graduate on time. And If you were constantly not sure what major fit you and you kept taking other classes, it was even worse.
I never took a winter or summer class because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction, The extra classes that I did take while considering other majors eventually counted as electives (which means I was lucky that those classes were not taken in vain like some of my other friends ) and I still took longer because I had to wait a year until a class I had to take was available.
During those years I kept telling my parents I wanted a semester off to think about things. They refused.
I’m about $40,000 in debt (which is nothing compared to other friends who went to private schools), I’m 24 years old, it’s been a year since I’ve graduated and I still don’t really know if I want to do what I graduated for. And even if I did ( I’ve been looking for work in the field anyway and have a great resume) because I’m entry level with not that much work experience in the field, there’s hardly any postings that I can apply for or when I do find something it’s really competitive and I end up not getting hired.
I’ve got a B.A. and it seems I am having the same problem as many that didn’t go to college…maybe worse. At least those people have more work experience.

I still feel college is necessary because even though it’s tough for me now, I still know that just having that degree will make it easier for me to make an impression and get hired in any field I want, even if I didn’t necessarily study it, as long as there’s jobs available in that field. That’s where the advantage lies with a degree.
However, I would give a few options for high school graduates.
1.) Go to college part time (or full time if you like being stressed) and work.
This way no matter how many years it takes you to graduate, you’ll more likely have a better gpa, more time and money to party, and at the same time you’ll get work experience.

2.) Take the first year off….to study a trade. In other words go to a trade school first. Then work in that trade as you go to school. You’ll make better money, and if you decide to leave college you’ll have a back up career.

3.) College is a business. Don’t fall into the trap. Don’t take the extra (more expensive) winter/summer semesters. Take your time.

There’s an advantage to stretching out your time in college and that is you’ll REALLY want to get out of there which means you’ll be focused and do much better . My best semester was my last due to my frustration with being there so long. I finally got into the dean’s list. I didn’t even know until I asked for my transcript.

So yeah , definitely work and do college at your pace. It’s your money, your time, your life.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

good call with stretching it out! and you are so spot on about how it’s nearly impossible to finish college in 4 years without overloading or summer/winter sessions. it’s like one flubbed class and the whole system starts to crumble. in my case, one incomplete class senior year, and i didn’t actually graduate until 2005. oops! i’m sorry that your parents didn’t hear you when you asked for time off, and that you’re having such a tough time finding a job in your field. you are most definitely not alone out there (i have friends with lots of experience who are having trouble finding jobs right now). anyway, you seem like an exceptionally smart cookie (and way more self aware than i was when i had just graduated from college), i am sure that the right thing will find you (whether it’s in your field or not). good luck!

19 05 2010
Henry

Lol

So what you were some dipshit like most of the other kids I go to highschool with?
You go to college to get a good education, if it took you until your twenties to figure that out, then what the hell were you doing in highschool? Just getting babied by your parents.
Someone said when they were 18 they didn’t know about government or war…et-cet.
Well grow up, its easy to learn, and its easy to be a part of the world. You are just stupid, and stupid people don’t belong in higher education.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks henry, you’re a peach. you could be right, maybe i am stupid for not figuring it all out sooner. or because my parents were overprotective. or maybe i’m stupid because even at 18 i hadn’t yet really started to question things like politics and religion. whatever the case, i am clearly in good company with many of the people who have chosen to comment here. i am glad to hear however that there are some people out there like you who are having an easy time of it. i hope you realize how lucky you are.

19 05 2010
GraceKay

I’m actually one of those who knew what they wanted to do before high school even began. I do however wish that I took some time off just to “see the world” a bit before I started my real job.

By the way, seeing myself and other students my age compared to those who came back to school after some years off…. well, they were the MUCH better students, because they knew what they needed and wanted by that time, and it showed.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

my mother always used to try to get me to understand that no matter how mature you are for your age, there is a greater maturity that just comes with years. i don’t think i ever understood this lesson more than when it came to my education. i won’t say that my younger stabs at secondary education were worthless… but i definitely feel like my ability to learn, understand and focus increased exponentially with time. you are extremely lucky to have been so focused and determined at such a young age. jealous!!

19 05 2010
pierce

i feel you some what. im 17 and im almost 100 percent confident i know what i want to do. but i know college is freakin pricy. its like a monopoly pretty much

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

the US secondary education system is definitely effed up in terms of price. why make something a requirement for such a large amount of careers, and then make it impossible to achieve without huge amounts of debt? it fills me with rage! i think it’s really cool that you know what you want to do with your future at 17! (what is it?) i didn’t have a clue (sometimes i still don’t). good luck!

19 05 2010
Pammy Girl

In junior high, all students were required to take vo-tech classes. So along with everyone else, I learned how to use a wood saw, a blowtorch, and brick/mortar. I took a career test and some of the “perfect job matches” for me included Zoo Keeper and Private Detective. I didn’t understand why I had to take such a ridiculous class because I was going to college. My dad was a professor… of course I was going to college. I assumed everyone went to college.

Years later I realized that I should have taken an auto mechanics class or a course on refrigeration because let’s face it: my degree in political communications does nothing to help when my transmission craps out.

Not everyone goes to college nor should they. Some people thrive there. I loved it but I know I’m in the minority. Figure out life before you start plopping down thousands of dollars or, if you know you’re going to screw around, go to a state school close to home so no one has to file for bankruptcy.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

i love the idea of you trying to fix your transmission with your political communications degree (like physically trying to use it as a tool), but it’s late and i’m a gigantic dork 🙂 i assumed that everyone went to college too! the kids who took time off (or didn’t go at all) seemed like a dangerous fringe faction- not to be acknowledged. you’re right though- while lots of people thrive at college, it isn’t for everyone. and it’s really unfair of society to make those people feel like they are less worthy of success, just because traditional secondary education doesn’t work for them. i’m not anti-college, i just want my kids to grow up knowing that they have lots of equally valid options- not all of which will involve debt.

19 05 2010
Lakia

Couple of years ago I met this guy who made his son write him a detailed letter outlining why he wanted to go to college. He said it was way to expensive for him to just say he wanted to go, they pay for it, and he play around while there. I thought it was harsh back then, but ummm, college loans are CRAZY! lol

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

college loans are INSANE. i’ll have at least $25,000 strapped around my neck for years to come. i LOVE the idea of making your kids write an essay about why they want to go to college- i’m totally stealing that!! if i ever do decided to help my kids financially with schooling, maybe i’ll make them apply for a loan from the bank of mom- complete with business plan 🙂

19 05 2010
mumbosauce

I agree. I went to high school in Nigeria and graduated in the ’90’s, just before I turned 17. (17’s the normal age there.) Over there back then, you filled out a form in the 10th grade to pick your top 3 future careers based on the subjects you were good at and were pretty much stuck with that career track because you took classes according your chosen career. I chose architecture, went to an American college, got scholarships, worked through college, and graduated with a B.Arch. a semester early. I never practiced architecture, though, having discovered in the 4th year of my 5-year program that I didn’t want to anymore, and so I went into a related field for better pay…and to boss architects around 🙂

Then I woke up at 30 and thought, “Gee, I didn’t know what I want to be when I grow up!” All my life, I’ve just more or less done what I thought was expected of me (school- and career-wise), so I never stopped to explore and experiment as a young person and really REALLY think about what I wanted to do. And as a single parent, I just doggedly ploughed through it all to pay my kid’s private school tuition. I’m now what I want to be, a graphic designer, but struggling to do and learn what I should have a decade ago, had I figured out what I wanted to be and gone to school for it.

So yeah, I’m going to advise my 11-year-old to take that year off after high school to travel and figure things out. College, I believe, is vital because (as the other reader commented) not everyone’s a Bill Gates, but I don’t want him floundering later in life like I have.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

the comments on this post have taught me so much about educational systems around the world! at least architecture is a related field to graphic design, although i’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling. although you should feel fortunate that you were able to wake up and find something that you’re really passionate about. i completely agree that we’re not all bill gates (wouldn’t that be a messed up world if we all were!), and i think that traditional secondary education is very important for a lot of people… but i also know that there are equally valid technical schools, apprenticeships, or career paths that don’t require college at all. and i want my children to know that they are all good choices. it’s about being happy, not about living up to some imaginary standard about what being an intelligent/educated person means.

19 05 2010
Xandalis

32 years old, 5 year veteran of the US Navy, going to school on the GI Bill. All I can say is that yeah, the system is definitely not prepping kids for the “reality of the real world.” At least when it comes to such things as career choice, and how to value an education that is still stereotypically “on a silver platter from mom&dad.” And what’s worse? In my experience as an adult college student so far, the college system isn’t even able to handle a student who actually WANTS a quality education. Especially one who rails at having to “learn” things I’ve already learned “out in the real world,” and could probably teach better than the person usually teaching it. Okay, maybe an overstatement there, as far as considering pure academical knowledge. But seriously, when you’re fresh from “the real world” and what you know to be true from first-hand experience is contradicted by the curriculum, there is something severely wrong with that picture.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

i definitely experienced some of that when i went back to school as an adult. not so much that i had contradictory knowledge, but that the pace of some of the required classed was SO SLOW i thought i would lose it and start throwing punches. SO FRUSTRATING! even when i was an adult and paying for it myself, not every class was worthwhile, although i also found that certain professors could see my frustration and boredom, were able to help create challenges/experiences where i really was able to learn something new. even if the majority of the classes you end up taking do turn out to be bullshit, hopefully you will at least be qualified at the end of it for a career that makes you happy. or maybe you’re just at the wrong school?

19 05 2010
Fire Safes

I dropped out of high school my senior year with no intention of going to college. Figured I had better things to do. A few years later I changed my mind, but it was too late as I spent all the college savings from bonds and stocks on material crap. I ended up paying for it with student loans and by working long hours. Lesson Learned.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

stupid hindsight! i kick myself every time i write out another $200 check to sallie mae (bitch needs to back off). although i try to remind myself often, that even though much of the time and money that i spent in my earlier years seems wasted… without it, i wouldn’t be who i am. and i certainly never would have started this blog or written this crazy post and had a chance to connect with all these amazing people.

19 05 2010
Jim Hagen

Well said.

You want fries with that?

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks! although i am proud to say that despite my lack of a degree for many years… i never once had to pump gas or operate a fry-o-lator. in fact, once i did have my degree, my life didn’t change at all (except for maybe my parents being off my case about it).

19 05 2010
theteacher174

As a teacher, I asked to tell students that the only way to succeed is through a college education. While, education itself is an equalizer, it need not be college. I really wish they had vocational programs for those students who want to be mechanics, who want to work construction, who want to be a medical assistant/nurse.

19 05 2010
D. Marshall

Your experience probably describes a lot of students, but everyone? I’d be hesitant to call it the universal experience. As a high school teacher, I encounter kids who are absolutely ready for college. From my perspective it’s a case by case decision.

20 05 2010
Kaj

Although there may be some kids ready for going off to college and have shown tendencies to study and perform well in high school, does that really mean that they are ready to choose what they will do for the rest of their lives?

I would think that that sort of readiness is way too rare.

I think all 17 yr olds who aspire to college, should do their first year at the cheapest place they can find because it is almost a sure thing that they will not be ready for the responsibility. At least the learning experience will not cost them or their parents the same money twice (having to retake all the same classes if they ever want to get past a bachelors).

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

i think that’s a great plan! another commenter was talking about how great the structure of college was for her, and how it was helping her find her path. for kids that need a little more time, a year or two in a community college setting could have do wonders. it probably would have been a much better choice for me (and my parent’s money)!

19 05 2010
Nick

Great post. i completely agree, I got accepted to one college… one. It was Marquette – a private university. Brainwashed into believing if i didnt go to college I would be damned to hell, I ponied up. We got a little help but my parents couldnt afford it. I still pay over $600/month and hold a decent job while my friends who went to trade school and an in-law who dropped out of college and worked his way up in a big electronics corporation to work at their corporate location are now making 5x more money than me, and they have no debt to show for it. It’s all bullshit, and it’s bad for you. They make you pick your major – the path for the rest of your life, at age 18… then laugh as they count their money.

http://retortnation.com

19 05 2010
Sinn

I find it so crazy everytime i hear how expensive college is in the us! I’m from ireland & we only have to pay registration fees (for now anyway). Even without the financial pressure it’s a hugely daunting decision!
I’m currently in my 2nd year of a 4 year business course & i have to say it was definitely the right choice for me. My particular course is general business for 2 years, a year’s work experience & then you choose a specialism in your final year. This is really useful because you can actually find out what you have a talent for, & more importantly, what you actually like. I went into the course thinking i’d want to do law but now i can’t stand law but find marketing incredibly interesting.
To reiterate the many replies above me, you can never underestimate the value of experience. I don’t think that experience always comes in the same form for everyone though. A year’s travelling could be incredibly beneficial to one person & totally useless for another. In my case, it was practical experience that helped me to make up my mind.
On the subject of the traditional student, i’m surrounded by them. There’s roughly 200 people in my course and i’d say between 60 and 75% are wasting their time. They don’t want to be in the course, they rarely turn up or if they do they don’t listen, their assignments are done last minute & exams are passed due to last minute cramming. What’s the point? They’re going to finish college with a poor to average level business degree. With the number of people studying business, you need to have something better than that! Not to mention how hard jobs are to come by these days, even with a top class degree.
My dad thinks you should go to college for sheer love of learning, to become more knowledgable on the subject for your own personal interest. My mom thinks you should go to college to give your career an edge. Somehow i’ve managed to come out agreeing with both of them.
Finally minus books, college will have cost me €4000. Crazy world, eh?

19 05 2010
blackgirlinmaine

Nope, I wouldn’t rip you a new one 🙂 but I will say its one of those you don’t know till you get there situations. I grew up working class so I always knew no one was paying for me to go to college. Instead at 18 I ran off got married, had a kid at 19 and at 21 was divorced. Due to having my son so young, its pretty safe to say that saving for his college education was never a priority. Instead it wasn’t until the past 2 years that I realized he was college bound despite the fact that I would not have been too bothered if he took time to find himself. Hell, every crap job I had went a long way in making me who I am, so I think there is a lot of value in finding oneself.

However should you ever have kids, I’d say prepare for the possibility that one of those kids might surprise you and while in today’s world I doubt anyone can afford to pay the full frieght at any college. I do feel as a parent I should do something to help the kid out. Looks like my portion of what is in essence $40,000 a year with room and board will be about 6000 I do feel like that is managable.

I think the larger issue is that college is sold as a way to get a good job, well it can help but so can connections. There are many paths to happiness and success and college is not necessarily right for everyone.

19 05 2010
Matt

Yeah you have my agreement.

Australia used to have free university education.

Since when was it a good idea to CHARGE the population of your nation to become more intelligent?

Isn’t that a system designed to completely debilitate a country?

Le sigh, Viva le revolution eh?

19 05 2010
Linnie

18 is way to young to know what you want to be when you grow but that expectation associated with a college education started with a generation that also expected to be in one job, with one company until retirement. That doesn’t exist any more and an 18 year old now will have a couple dozen career changes by the time they reach 50. Since shit is expensive this convoluted path of exploration needs to be income producing not just debt accruing. Our education system needs an overhaul to be responsive to the needs of students in this century and that should happen not just from our government but also from a revolt by the consumers of education. I have three children. Only one of them graduated from high school, the other two obtained a GED. Here’s their current status:
The 18 year old is dean’s list studying medical biology
The 20 year old is in his second year of college with the goal of keeping his grades just at passing so he can have dad pay his rent and food until he figures out how he can make some real money because he knows that college isn’t going to do it for him.
The 22 year old is advocating for diverting his college money to a medicinal marijuana application fee ($15,000!!). Finally the great state of Maine has done something business orientated.

19 05 2010
Menotyou

THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM WITH COLLEGE IS THAT EVERYONE GOES FOR A DEGREE AND NOT AN EDUCATION.

19 05 2010
hana

almost everyone I know has a degree and works in retail/customer service. The jobs we can get demand 12 hour days with no vacations and no pay just for a chance to worm our way up whatever ladder…the competition out there for the “elite” jobs is fierce and just having a degree is hardly enough anymore. Time off before going to college could be spent getting valuable work experience/doing internships/volunteering – stuff that makes you stick out later in the giant pile of resumes for those perfect jobs we are all fighting for…

19 05 2010
skylar

Hells yes! I’m working on degree #2 with plans for a masters degree making for a total of three and I can tell the first degree, which I contributed ZERO dollars to was worth about the same, nothing. It’s taken a lot for me to go to school again and all I can say to anyone graduating from high school is to work for a while in a job you really hate and trade school or university will seem like heaven.

19 05 2010
notesfromrumbleycottage

This is the lesson I hope my 18 y.o. learns because I have no money for him. He is going to school where his father works. I just hope he values it as you came to do.

19 05 2010
GBHull

Great post. I’m 47 and I still don’t know what I want to do. I have a pretty good idea what it is but have to keep the day job until I figure that out.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

my plan exactly! i actually have a great job, but it isn’t my passion. once i figure out how to monetize my passion… maybe i’ll find a career. or maybe i never will. at this point (32), i’m kind of at peace with that possibility.

19 05 2010
kgp10

I know so many people that started college with me at 18 and their parents paid for everything and a good third of them flunked out within the first year of being enrolled as ‘undeclared’ for a major.

I think you’re right about knowing the value of your education when it is coming out of your own pocket. I used to think I was unlucky because I had to work full time and take out loans to pay for college but now I realize it was a blessing because I passed all my classes and finished in 4 years. I am 23 years old and am currently employed with something that related to my degree.

Great blog.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks so much! reading these comments has made me realize how many of us (failures of the traditional college system) there are! i had a few friends in school who were paying their own way, and they have turned out to be some of the most successful people i know. college isn’t a right, it’s a privilege- and when you’re working for that privilege, i think it’s more meaningful. graduating in 4 years on your own dime is crazy impressive and rare! you’re like an educational unicorn!!

19 05 2010
janeseemore

I’m sorry but I do not agree. I can be an asshole and say, “Why have kids then?” If you can’t afford to see them through, then how dare you bring children into this world?

Otherwise, I’ll tell you from my own personal experience. My parents did not pay for my education which I so desperately wanted. It did not matter whether it would be useful or not, the point is, it’s an EDUCATION. What your basic courses teach you will be useful for the rest of your life. Because of that, I ended up becoming a high end escort to pay for my education.

Do you want your daughters to become whores? At least front the first year.

20 05 2010
Kate

I’m sorry, but that’s a little extreme. Not everyone who has to pay for their own college becomes an escort, and insinuating it does undervalues everyone of us who pay for our own college by need rather than our parents choosing not to pay for it. I’m 19 and paying my own way through school. By maintaining a high GPA and applying for every piece of financial aid I could I’ve managed to take the courses I want and get an education I am enjoying. My parents would have gladly paid for school, but unforuntatly that’s not an option. Even so, I value what I’m learning more so than someone who’s having money thrown at them, because I’ve made the sacrifices they don’t have to.

Having your children work for their education is a great idea in my opinion. It’s along the same thread as a child having to do chores to get the toy they want– it is taken care of and loved all the more when the child remembers all the hours of doing dishes, mowing lawns, and cleaning the house instead of playing that they sacrificed to get that one toy. Where as Daddy’s girl who doesn’t have to work for anything so often ends up not caring about the work that went in to get the money that bought the toy, and they’ll abandon it in some corner as soon as something else interesting comes along.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks for the support! i agree that the whore comment was a little much (ok, a lot much), not to mention totally wrong. i’ve been really surprised at how many young people have been supportive and thoughtful about what i’ve had to say. plus it’s a nice reminder that there are a lot of really smart, and self-aware, and thoughtful young people- not all boozed up basket cases like i was 🙂 the chores analogy was brilliant! you should have your own blog! plus, i didn’t even touch upon the concept that many parents can’t pay for their children to go to college- regardless of whether they want to or not. we can’t assume that all children will be failures, just because they’re parents don’t have an extra $100Gs laying around. that’s far too hopeless a view.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

and you have every right to disagree. in fact, i’m surprised there weren’t more naysayers. in my estimation, giving my children a chance to be in control of their own education is seeing them through. it’s not that i don’t want them to go to school (or to grow up to be happy, successful, well-adjusted people), i just want them to know what their options are, and really think it through. putting the financial responsibility on them seems like a good way to do this. but you know, i’m not a parent yet- and i could be totally off base. it’s heartbreaking to hear what you had to go through, but i think that your logic is fundamentally flawed. of course i don’t want my daughters to become whores, but i (and many others like me) have gone through the majority of their adult life without a degree (i got my in ’05) and have managed to stay out of the sex industry entirely.

19 05 2010
Court

I don’t regret my four years a private school, but I DEFINITELY wish I would have waited to partake in them. I’ve been out of school for 3 years, and I still don’t know what I want to do. College didn’t help me figure that out even a little bit. And it’s because I was too young. Now I have thousands of dollars of student loans and I’m working in another country to make enough money so I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Go college degree!

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

that totally sucks! although it’s kind of miraculous to meet a recent graduate who isn’t living paycheck to paycheck. mazel tov to that! even if your degree doesn’t have anything to do with what you want your future to look like, you have it, it’s done, and future employers will be excited to see it. it also sounds like you’re getting some pretty incredible life experience right now that will look good on any resume (foreign languages are universally seductive to employers). i’m convinced that the key to getting any job is to make yourself incredibly interesting- and it sounds like you’re on your way.

20 05 2010
caseyruth30

I totally agree with this! I am currently a college student heading into my senior year at a state school in Pennsylvania. I am 1 or 4 and my parents do not pay a penny for our college educations. I pay for everything and because I do I don’t slack off because I know I’d just be screwing myself over if I did. It means more to me that I pay for college myself; sure I’ll be in debt, but I know that it is something that I will have accomplished without the help of Mommy and Daddy.
Tons of my friends have the luxury of parents that are able to afford their college educations, for me that’s not the case. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way either. It has taught me the value of a dollar and I don’t fuck around too much at school like some schmuck’s do. It is SO easy to pick out some of the kids that are getting everything paid for by their parents.
I know I’m going to be more satisfied with myself when I graduate because I paid my own way. I don’t think it’s fair that my college expenses would be a hinderance for my parents because it was my decision to go, not theirs. I’m sure they are proud of me but with four kids it’s not fair for any of us to expect them to pay.
I do agree, 18 is young to choose what you want to do. When I graduate next year, I’m about 85% sure I DON’T want to be in a career that has anything to do with my degree……

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

you’re so right. whether they believe in paying for college philosophically or not, many parents can’t afford to pay- even if they want to, and that doesn’t make them bad parents. it’s been really exciting/affirming to hear all these stories from people who have paid their own way through school, or took a few years off before going to college. even if you don’t use your degree exactly the way it was intended to be used when you graduate, by working your way through and doing it on your own, you have gained YEARS of maturity and self-awareness that the trust fund babies will probably never get. and the truth is that degrees are more flexible than ever these days. you’d be surprised how many weird and wonderful options you’ll have when you are finally released into the wild. 🙂

20 05 2010
i’m wordpress famous! « broke 207

[…] it’s funny actually, because a few weeks ago, i read an article entitled “5 ways to get featured on freshly pressed“. and i was all like “hell yeah i wanna be on freshly pressed”, what do i need to do? apparently, the answer was something about no typos and no adult content. considering that my blog is written entirely in lowercase, and is riddled (and i do mean RIDDLED) with profanity, i figured my chances of being picked were pretty much slim to none (leaning toward the none side). apparently, i was wrong. all i needed to do was write an inflammatory article about not paying for the education of my imaginary future children. […]

20 05 2010
goodfornothing

Amen.
Having grown up in Singapore, I made everybody’s dream decision by enrolling into Nanyang Technological University (Sociology) at age 21 (1-2 years later; standard age of enrollment is 19 years old) only to quit because 1. it will cost me S$24,000 over 4 years in tuition fees alone even after subsidies to study something I know I was not interested in 2.my passion was still in law having graduated 2nd in my cohort at my polytechnic.

… What you took to say in 1 blog post, took me 1 year to figure out & put into words just so my parents could understand

Am packing my ass of to england (when i’ve never been on a plane) in a few months time to law school. And I have cerebral palsy (cue: gasp!)

Let’s home the english kids spare my ass but yes I intend to study my ass of because i’ll be the one to pay S$150K back to my aunt…

Have I made the right decision? Am I dreming too big? Am I too old? (I’m already 22 this year)

Sigh…the perils of life…and all the shit that comes along with it…

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

no such thing as dreaming too big. i think sometimes people forget how fragile we are as humans, and how transient our time is here on earth. we get a mere 80 (maybe) years to be on this amazing planet, which is virtually no time at all. spend your days exploring the world and doing something that brings you joy. it totally rocks that you’re jetting off to england to go to law school. 22 is just the beginning, and you’ve got the two most important things that you need in life already firmly installed (balls and passion). i bet you’re gonna be a great lawyer.

20 05 2010
majordmg779

I hate to think that college is nothing more than just another enterprise, out there just to make money. I also think we have bought the idea that college is going to earn you big bucks, a house, cars, etc and we have not realized that this is just plain false. I know a lot of people who are very successful with no college education. They have much more experience than a recent grad applying for the same position. College can definitely make you a very knowledgeable person, but it wont turn your life around.

21 05 2010
bessmarvin

right on. going to college does not equal instant success any more than not going to college equals instant failure. it’s about who you are, how passionate you are about what you do, and how brave you’re willing to be in attacking your goals.

20 05 2010
chueher85

This article does make some interesting and good points. I agree that you don’t really know what you want to be when you grow up at age 18 because I started college right after highschool and signed up for the wrong major, uhm, major(s). College is expensive, too expensive to waste your money and your time if you don’t really what you want. I’m going to grad school soon and the estimated cost is at about $35,000 after I’m finished. I just hope I can get a job after and pay off the student loans. My best friend did what the last lines of this article suggested and “worked” her way up the ladder and now she’s (almost) manager of a resturant with virtually no college education. Me, on the other hand, am jobless. Jobs are extremely competitive, even though you don’t even get paid well enough for all the work you do. I just hope grad school is the right decision.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you! i just hope you’re studying something that you enjoy at grad school. it’s a slow process, but i think that people are finally starting to realize (a positive effect of the crap economy?) that your salary doesn’t equal your happiness. regardless, hopefully that crap economy will have recovered a bit by the time you’re finished with school and you will not have to be jobless for much longer! although as your friend illustrates, it’s not really about where you went to school- it’s about intelligence and work ethic. if you have those, chances are you won’t end up on the dole no matter what happens with grad school 🙂

20 05 2010
Zeb

I have been a college professor. And I totally agree with you (the original poster). Most students in my classes EXPECT A’s and get really upset when you ask them to do work. Even looking up correct citation style is problematic for them. Most professors who assign written work can tell about how much time has been spent on the assignment. Almost all of the trad students would turn in sloppy work (spelling errors, grammatical errors etc) while the nontrad students would turn in work that showed both effort and time. I think that college, for most people, should be delayed. Even if they went to a community college for their gen eds they would then be a couple of years older, not much into debt, and have a better idea of what they wanted with their education.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

i actually took a freshman level creative writing class when i was 28, and the difference between my work and the rest of the class was kind of astonishing. and it’s not because i think i’m some kind of amazing writer, but at least i thought things out a little before i passed them in. you would think that the concept of the DRAFT was never discussed in their high school lives. and moreover, much of it lacked imagination and spark- not to mention sentence and paragraph structure! coming straight from high school, most of them can complete certain tasks with automation (5 paragraph essay anyone?), but have yet learned how to think independently, and find their voice. i’m vehemently pro work, travel, community college… really, i’m pro anything that helps kids develop into interesting and responsible people who are ready to learn.

20 05 2010
smartfreedom

Education is expensive. Kid can’t afford it nor can’t have a good employment without it. However, if your kid graduate then its worth your sweat money.

As a parent we have alternatives. Mine is to teach my kid to invest wisely with the college money unless he/she wants to go to college.

$160,000 is a lot of money. With 20% return on your investment, your kid will be a millionaire in slightly more than 10 years time. Imagine millionaire at age 28 and debt free. If they can manage it, you have to do it for them until they are ready.

Can your kid do it with college education in short 6 years of working life (4 years in college)? Of course there exceptional cases and most of the time you owe it to your own business.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

that’s a really interesting take! get your kid started investing early, and they could do any number of things with that money. i don’t think that college is NECESSARY in order to have a good job. i’m a huge fan of technical schools, apprenticeships, and just working your way up the chain. but you’re right, many jobs these days REQUIRE a degree, so depending on what your child wants to do… it may be an inevitability. either way, money well invested could be used for education, travel, buy a first home, or start a business… teaching our younger generations the value of money is just as important as teaching them the value of education. they really go hand and hand as far as the college problem is concerned.

20 05 2010
links for 2010-05-20 « Peter’s Side Thoughts

[…] sorry kids, i’m not paying for college. « broke 207 (tags: blog college wordpress) […]

20 05 2010
dressingmyself

I left home and parents in Nebraska in 1968 when I was 17 (you’ve just worked out that I am really old) – and moved to Wales (next to England). I got a degree from an English University in 1973 and then stayed in England where I qualified as an accountant. I worked really hard for all my years of study, partly because I had told my parents that this huge move away from them would work out all right.
They paid for me for 5 years – nothing like at today’s costs, and back then this cost considerably less in money than if I had gone to a US college.

I think this is relevant to your post. I had a clear idea that I wanted to do well academically, that I wanted to move away from the USA and that I would have a ‘professional’ type job. When I started I did not know what that job would be. I went into accountancy because I worked out that I was better with numbers than most people.

I took a very different path from the normal high school to college route and I think my whole life has been more interesting as a result.

thanks for such an interesting post.

31 05 2010
bessmarvin

the overseas contingent definitely wins this argument! for all of its macho posturing, the US definitely has a lot to learn from the rest of the world when it comes to education. i’m glad that you were able to find your passion and get some much needed life experience at the same time. college or no college, sooner or later, my main goal has always been to point out that education does not/should not have to go in a straight line, and i think your story illustrates that beautifully.

20 05 2010
blackwatertown

Congrats on your freshly pressed status.
I dropped out of college first time round to get a job. A few years later when I had earned some cash I went back and did something I actually enjoyed, and so stayed the course. A bit of ife experience helps a lot.

31 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks! it was fleeting but fun. i can’t believe that it’s taken me almost 2 weeks to answer all of the comments! it’s been really interesting to read everyone’s comments and see how many drop-out go-backs there are out there. we are not alone!

20 05 2010
Lisa Jacobs

I love this post! Same story, same timeline! Here, here Class of ’95! Way to re-write the rules.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you! when i graduated, our motto was “can you survive the class of ’95?”. apparently not. gotta lot of drop outs and unfulfilled potential there. that said, i have faith that we’ll all make good in time 🙂

20 05 2010
year 12 jumpers! « Just Me

[…] Sorry kids, I’m not paying for college […]

20 05 2010
izziedarling

A very good post. As with anything else, it all begins and ends with the individual. When I went to college, my dad said, “Enjoy this four-year vacation. It’s all about learning how to get along with people.” I don’t think you have to know what you want to be when you get there – it’s the exposure to so many possibilities that might lead you somewhere. Not everyone is ready for this at 18 … or 28 … or 38. But there are those who are. I’ve got one out and working, the other has another year of college. I did/am pay/paying because I can (so far) and the minute they walk across that stage, they know the pay party is over. And, although difficult, I’ve paid so they won’t start out behind the 8-ball with student loans bigger than my mortgage. That’s just my story. But I realize many of the other stories are quite the opposite. Again, it’s personal. Thank you for your post … thinking.

31 05 2010
bessmarvin

agreed. although you should consider yourself extremely lucky that you and your father were both able to pay for your children to go to college- even knowing what a risky proposition it is. i do admire your desire to keep your children from starting out with a mountain of debt- although i know many parents sacrifice their own retirement funds for the sake of their kid’s education, and that doesn’t seem right either. when you’re 18- you have a whole life of earning potential ahead of you. i’m not saying that $100K in student loan debt is the right way to go (generally i think it isn’t!), but there is no better time (though there never is a “good” time) to be in debt than youth. when the time is right, secondary education will cost some money- and few are likely to be able to pay in full up front. a few small student loans at a low interest rate can help build credit, won’t harm a FICO score, and can teach young people about the value of their education.

20 05 2010
Ms. Pants

It’s so unfair you don’t have a Commonwealth-supported scheme like we do here in Australia… I’m pretty sure if I lived in the US I wouldn’t bother going to college!

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

seriously! if we as a nation are going to put such a pressure on our kids to go to school, it seems as if the government should be more proactive about regulating costs and providing higher quality financial aid. i’m not asking for an immediate nationalization of secondary education or anything (although i wouldn’t push it out of bed), but i would like to see the system radically revamped.

20 05 2010
LauraK

Excellent post. All arguments are valid, but I’m particularly partial to point #1. I think it’s ridiculous to hinge a kid’s entire future prospects on 4-8 years (high school and college) where they could honestly care less. I was a good student in high school, but I could have done better had I cared about the actual education part of the program. The point is, I didn’t. High school is and should be about getting enough of a grip on yourself to go out into the world and see what it’s all about.

18 is entirely too young to honestly determine “what you want to be when you grow up.” The person you are at that age is vastly different than the person you are at 28 or 38. And the absence of vocational training in this country is disturbing. I believe college is important and motivated kids pursuing a passion and basic aptitude for something should attend…at some point. But there’s nothing wrong with a few years off to see the world (on your own dime) and mull it over.

Incidentally, a crucial point overlooked here is, as a parent (or future parent), do you want to fork out the dough for your kids’ college education or save for your retirement and elminate the possibility of being a burden to them during the time when they are trying to raise their own families? You can get a loan for college, but not for retirement, my friend.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you! that’s an incredibly brilliant idea about shifting the college money over to retirement savings. people hang so much of their hope and energy on their children, it’s almost like that they forget that they are still alive and worthy of hope and energy themselves. but back to point #1… you would think we would have learned as a country by now that the current system doesn’t work. if college is assumed to be where you receive your professional training, and most people can barely afford to do it one time, why make it the norm to do it at a period in life where poor decisions are likely to be made? if people had to wait for a while before secondary training, i bet there would be a whole lot more people out there with less debt and jobs that made them happier.

20 05 2010
fdaray of tubag bohol.com

After graduating high school, I was unmindful of my college work. I have not decided to take any course. Years latter, i find it more easily working at the same time studying.
With my our initiative, I finish education, an become a teacher, the noblest profession.

31 05 2010
bessmarvin

i think it’s awesome how many people our there who had difficulty finding their way eventually became teachers. hopefully now, you can educate your students to know what their options are, and will be able to share your story with them.

20 05 2010
fdaray of tubag bohol.com

Not finishing a college education is not a problem if you want to be a jack of all trade.
Some says, ” as long as you work, you earn.”

20 05 2010
sittingpugs

Not sure if anyone’s already expressed this, but regarding your first point, there are people who never figure out what they want to be when they grow up or do with their life. They just have certain interests or skills and could theoretically apply their knowledge and talents to any industry, any position as long as they didn’t despite their job function or the people with which and under whom they work.

A college education is just one way to figure it out or make social connections.

Was art school completely out of the question? Was your passion for the arts more on the creator or consumer side? There are also a lot of people like you who may have smarts in one discipline but interests in another. If only you had a way of cultivating your science and your art, eh?

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

art school was not exactly “out of the question”, but was more subtly discouraged. when i said i wanted to be a scientist, everyone clapped and said what a great idea that was, and how i was going to be able to get a great job. the positive reinforcement felt good. i felt impressive, assured for success… i would eventually get my art degree (although not from an art or design school which i will always regret), but i still don’t really know where i’m supposed to be. i’m definitely one of those people that might never figure it out. although, i have no intention of giving up!

24 05 2010
sittingpugs

Don’t give up. If the picture doesn’t become clearer to you, it might become clearer to someone else who’ll then make a suggestion or ask if you could help them with something, and it’ll click.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

i was actually talking to someone yesterday about how maybe i should stop looking for that magical “1 thing” that i’m good at. maybe i’m a generalist? maybe i need to find some sort of composite job that will allow me to do a lot of different things at once so i don’t get bored or feel like any of my abilities are wasting away. anyway, thanks for the encouragement, hopefully you’re right!

20 05 2010
Brian

Been there done that. Let me know how that works for you in 25 years. Brian

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

you’ll probably see me on the news when my future children (intensely bitter about their lack of college funds), try to have me arrested for cruelty.

20 05 2010
Nikhil Kardale

Great post. I totally agree with what you say about not being mature enough to fully decide your ‘course of life’ at the age of 18. At that age you tend to follow peers and random prejudices towards a certain field, which is far from ideal when you have thousands of bucks of your parents’ money at stake!

I worked for a few years after my Bachelor’s degree and am planning to do my Masters sometime in the near future, and my perspective towards ‘learning’ has undergone a huge change over the years. Obviously I’ll be paying for any future education, but more than that I think I’m in a better position to reap the benefits of college now than I was during my Bachelor’s degree!

By the time my kids grow up to that age, say in another 20 years, a lot would have changed on the education front, but I will definitely like to take into consideration the points that you have talked about in the blog post.

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you!! that is an awesome compliment. i have a close friend whose dad was an electrician, but his parents really wanted him to go to college and get a white collar job. they wanted him to be “better” than his old man. as a result, he got his degree and is presently stuck in an industry that he kind of hates. next year he’ll be headed back school to be an auto mechanic (which has always been his dream job). you’re so right, at 18, most of us are not ready to stand up to our parents, friends, and teachers… or even know what we should be standing up for. i do hope that the educational system has undergone some changes in 20 years… but 18 year olds will likely be pretty much the same. good luck with your masters!

20 05 2010
vanityandselfabsorption

Well said! I’m a college dropout and I still have a great career that gets me 20-40$ an hour. I spent 3 years in post secondary education, and changed majors 5 time and have nothing to show for it, never finished anything. I STILL don’t know what I want to do when I “grow up” and i’m 26 years old now!

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

i wonder what percentage of people out there ever really do find out what they want to be when they grow up. maybe we’re like people who never get married, but have a series of differing but fulfilling relationships throughout our lives. maybe there isn’t one answer. i’m 32, and i still got jack. maybe medical school? maybe write a book? maybe try to be a professional blogger (ha!)? the good news is that i’m having a lot of fun. when i’m 135 and on my death bed, that is what i want to see flash before my eyes.

20 05 2010
Teresa

We are exactly at this point of helping our graduating daughter decide “what to do next”. She has some really obvious “gifts” that we agree ought to play into her educational choices, but has she even explored those enough to know what that looks like? There is something about “exploration” before “education” that is important…figuring out what you are wired to do. She is a young grad – 17 – and it is pretty daunting trying to figure out her path from here on…

On another note, we are Canadian and in Canada “paying for your kids education” is definitely not a given nor an expectation (I can’t imagine it being an expectation!), and in our case, we won’t be paying for any of our kids to go to school. We will help in other ways (she can live at home, we will help with gas money and other living expenses and if we can give her a boost and pay for a class or some books along the way, we will), but there is something about earning your way that will teach her creativity, grow her work ethic and will, we believe, also give her a huge sense of accomplishment in the end.

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

“exploration before education”! i think you’ve just named the educational movement that i need to get started in the US. sounds like canada has got things ironed out a little better! we have a whole lotta entitlement going on here, as well as hugely bloated education costs. i too was a young grad, and even though i excelled with the study part of education, i definitely was a little bit behind in the emotional maturity department. i wish my parents had done what you’re doing for your daughter. it’s really the love, support, and willingness to discuss the subject like adults that they need. the money is secondary. i wish her the best of luck!

20 05 2010
editor

At the risk of being repetitive with a lot of the comments here, I did the exact same thing at the University of Maryland, where I, too, learned the intracacies of the gravity bong and got way more use out of the free basketball tickets for students than any of my actual books. I spent another semester at a local community college a couple years later before I bagged the college thing altogether and just started working in the field I wanted to. I’m a writer, and I got an entry level position at a magazine as an editorial assistant, moved on to managing editor for a regional boating magazine in three years and ultimately publisher and founder of my own company six years after that. If anything, the 15 or 20 grand I blew on college could have been pretty useful in the actual real working world. I agree, college can be useful for some, but for the majority, it’s a money racket that indoctrinates kids into life-long wage slavery through crushing debt before you’re even old enough to have any idea of what you want to do with your life. If anything, I think there should be at least a one year waiting period after high school before you could even attend college.

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

mandatory 1 year waiting/working period- now you’re talking!! don’t worry about being repetitive, i’m loving getting a chance to hear everyone’s stories. it’s like we’ve formed a pick-up support group on right here on my blog, and it’s really refreshing. so thank you for sharing your history, and showing everyone that success isn’t always a direct path from point a to point b. sometimes there’s a gravity bong and a couple wasted grand in the middle. even better, i’m sure there’s a lot of college grads out there who would KILL for your job.

20 05 2010
gvn2fly

There’s always another way out, think about this, what if instead of sending your boys and daughters far away to a university in the other coast you encourage them to learn spanish and send them to Mexico, they can get a real good education in one of the best private universities around, it will cost you less than half the price you are paying right now and they will have a better understanding about how this new global economy works… think about it!

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

oh, i won’t be “sending” them anywhere. i want them to decide where they need to be. if mexico is the answer, i say ole! i will support them whatever they decide to do.

20 05 2010
lauramichet

A lot of kids enjoy structured environments. I was one of those kids.

I’m a junior in college right now. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I was 18, but I do not, and it’s only because I was able to find the mentors and role-models in college that I needed.

If my parents had slung me off into an unstructured environment and told me to sort that stuff out for myself, I’d be a wreck right now. It’s just the kind of person I was: I needed a structured environment with rules and goals and established standards of success that I could aim for. After that, everything fell into place.

Not all kids get smashed on Andre and fail everything. Not all kids can’t be trusted to know what they want. Not all kids want to waste their parents’ money. In fact, a lot of us know exactly how much college is worth.

You might want to meet those imaginary kids before you decide what kind of life experiences will be best for them.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

you’re lucky to have found the guidance that you needed to find your path in college! and you are completely right, all kids are different and need different things from their parents and life. and of course, i am aware that not every 18 year old will spend their college career wasted on korbel. i’m also sure that you would not be the only one to have a tough time getting dumped into the wild right after high school. although i’m not convinced that makes it a bad idea. life is not structured! and at some point you will need to figure out how to function without it. my main point has always been that what i want for my children is to find their own way, and to choose something that makes them happy in the long term- in whatever incarnation that might take. i hope you are able to find yours!

20 05 2010
Melanie Killingsworth

While I agree a lot of 18-year-olds are not mature enough to make huge life decisions, I think saying ‘put off college’ is treating the symptoms, not the problem.

The problem with many (though by no means all) of said 18-year-olds is their parents are not only planning to foot the college bill, but have footed every bill all through high school. Heaven forbid little John or Jane have to work while getting a high school diploma, which is theoretically the easiest education hurdle they’ll face. Now kids aren’t expected to shoulder responsibility until they have a college degree, at least.

I was told when I was young I’d be paying for college, but more than that, I was paying for my ‘fun’ even in high school. I wanted to go play paintball, or get that CD? Sure, if I had the pocket money.

And so I babysat and did odd jobs when I was 15, had a part-time job when I was 16 that I kept through high school graduation. All this time I was expected to contribute around the house, as well, but I didn’t get an allowance. Well, I mean, my parents kept me well clothed and fed and drove me around before I had my license and had a TV and bed and books and house I used . . . oh. Guess I had it pretty good.

Then, 70% of the money I earned went straight to a college fund, meaning when I was 18 I not only had enough money to start paying for a private college, I had enough responsibility built in that I was able to work while a full-time student. I appreciated every class and every credit because I’d put in a lot of hours, and was continuing to do so. I worked night jobs, odd jobs, school jobs, and it wasn’t odd to me because I had already been through the stage of ‘figuring out’ how to balance a schedule. (I also played 4 years of NCAA soccer . . . now that made for some creative scheduling.)

Not to say I didn’t have fun, because I did! But I didn’t fritter away days on end doing nonsense.

So while I absolutely agree we should encourage 18 year olds who aren’t ready to take time off and work, go to trade school, learn what they love, I think we should also encourage them to grow up not just after they graduate college, not just between high school and college, but before they ever walk across their high school platform and get that certificate saying they’ve served their term and may or may not have ‘learned’ anything about life. If they’re grown up and still take time off, well awesome for them! But they’ll also be better prepared for *that*. Everybody wins.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

amen! you put that beautifully, and that’s EXACTLY why the boyfriend and i are having these conversations now- instead of on our future baby’s 18th birthday. that kid will grow with chores, part time jobs, and knowing exactly what our feelings are about college, independence, adulthood. i’m hoping this will encourage a good deal of discussion and pre-planning for what the future is going to hold. it’s not just a decision we’ve made regarding college, it’s about how we’ve decided to raise our children. sounds like your parents did a pretty good job! it’s good to know that my plan (well, your parent’s plan first) can actually work!

20 05 2010
blairpet

I’ll say! It seems like EVERYthing costs more now. Very astute observations.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

thanks! i wonder how inflated the price of an education will have to get before the system gets changed?

20 05 2010
Brad

I found your post to be a unique approach to the thought of saving four someone’s future. I’m currently a college student myself and I was brought up being told that college was one of those things that was essential. However, I agree that it isn’t for everyone; my father served a tour in Viet Nam and stopped at simply an associates degree before he took up work with UPS. However, he’s more than happy with his career.

As someone who is still progressing in getting a degree, I’ve often questioned if college is right for me – both because of costs and because an education doesn’t always pave the way to a job that everyone can be happy with. I only hope there are folks out there who will see it the way you do.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

we have such a short time on this planet, that it’s shameful to think of how many of us are spending so much time doing what is expected- instead of what will bring us the greatest joy. there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from college and taking some time to think. the good news is that you’re an adult. nobody has to agree with you, or understand what you’re doing, it just has to feel right to you. good luck!

20 05 2010
crisitunity

I don’t agree with you about some of this. I didn’t waste very much of my time and my parents’ money when I was in college; I mostly spent the time getting an education, one I value highly. (I also never once smoked pot.) I also think that, even though it’s hard on the parent, college is the time that the kid should be able to explore a partially independent life while not risking his/her own livelihood. I’ll admit that I applied myself more carefully to school that I paid for on my own, once out of college, but that’s not a lesson that any 18-year-old in America is fit to learn, because we’ve been in school for our entire goddamn lives and take it for granted. I don’t think I would have been capable of such intense intellectual exploration if I’d taken time off and come back to school, either, which is an experience I am grateful for every day.

I didn’t pursue a career in what I studied, but what I studied wasn’t practical. This was exactly the right time for me to do something impractical. It may have been unfair to my parents for me to do that on their dime, but that’s the responsibility they took on when they decided to have me, and agreed to send me to school. Now I have a practical career and pursue what I studied in college on my free time. I think this is how college should go – it’s a way to ease into independence, not a way to prepare for your career. Again, sure, it’s unfair if you’re a parent. But it is what it is.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

what’s scary is that i don’t entirely disagree with you. our society is such that most students aren’t ready to get dumped directly into “real life” right out of school. in many ways, college has become “13th grade”- a transitional environment in which to safely grow up (as you said). however, i feel that this is more a failure of the system than anything else. i am glad to hear that you were able to get a lot out of your undergrad, and i completely agree that youth is the perfect time for intellectual exploration and impractical pursuits… however, i does disturb me a little that you’re so flip about having your parents bankroll it. it may have been accidental, but you come off sounding pretty entitled. i guess it’s my pursuit to try to help future parents know that they have a choice.

24 05 2010
crisitunity

Blame that entitlement on my parents. They never made me feel that it was anything but their responsibility to pay for college for me. (Which is how all of my friends were raised, as well.) And also – seven years later, and for another ten years, I’m paying the student loans, because they didn’t pay for all of it.

25 05 2010
bessmarvin

don’t worry, i totally blame your parents! but seriously, if they were willing and able to spend for a college education that was primarily a intellectual exploration phase for you (be it a highly valued one), then i don’t really see a problem. that is assuming that you feel good about the 20 years of student loans that came with the deal (plus the price tag for the education you paid for after your undergrad). i just don’t see it as a good system to raise our children to expect a free ride to secondary education. i feel as if it’s something that needs to be earned, and just being a good student in high school doesn’t seem like enough. also, if it’s intellectual exploration that kids need- why not hook them up with americorps or an internship or some community college classes. it just seems like college is presented as the only real option (unless you want to get on the fast train to loserville), and with a $50-$100K price tag- i just can’t stand up for that.

20 05 2010
Laura Hunt

Yes, please learn how to punctuate and capitalize properly. And it wouldn’t hurt at all to chill with the profanity. Both things distract from your message. WordPress needs to re-read its “5 ways to get featured…”. Call this a complaint.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

i’m surprised you’re not the only one to call me on my lack of capitalization and gross overuse of commas! this post was really asking for it. i can honestly say that i was as shocked as you when i got on freshly pressed. i suppose they found the message worth ignoring the profanity, and that makes me doubly proud. i actually do know how to capitalize properly (although i’ll probably always be overzealous with the punctuation), but i choose not to for reasons that perhaps i will reveal someday. it’s complicated. consider your complaint registered 🙂

20 05 2010
Sarah Baram

I understand your logic in more ways than one. I was always a fan of taking a couple years off. My parents bowed down to the great university scheme…. And won. In the end, they wasted major private school tuition over a course of three semesters. The first two, I made the grades. The third, I decided I was leaving and would just get myself pushed out. I was just above the kick out GPA, so I dropped out myself. Next day, I enrolled in a community college. I swear, those places should be required. I learned so much there, and met the best teachers and professionals. Now, almost two years later, I am transferring to a university and doing education the way I wish I had done it years ago. And guess what? I have a great GPA and saved a ton of money.
I can agree that most kids have no idea what they want to do with their life at 18. I was set on being an English teacher. Then I did student teaching and realized I would hate my life if I spent my days teaching any aged child. Now, I’m sticking with what I have always loved: writing. I’ll probably starve on a street corner but it’s what I want, and I wish I knew that at 18.
When I have children, sometime far off from now, I am truly going to push them for a year off of self exploration and then community college. Going straight in to a university is such a drastic social and personal change for someone so young. It’s not worth it. Who cares if you don’t graduate at the same time as all your peers. Most colleges are now designed that you can’t graduate in four years anyway.
Great post!

24 05 2010
bessmarvin

community college is awesome, and i wish it didn’t have such a bum rap! there are so many different ways to get an education, and i am absolutely livid that only one is really taught in high school (college or perish!). i’m always excited to hear stories about people who had the balls to take the educational road less traveled. mazel tov! but worry not, i have a number of friends who pay their bills just fine as writers. you may not be a famous novelist (or maybe you will!), but you definitely don’t have to starve on a street corner!

20 05 2010
Pheadra

This is why community colleges are the most overlooked resource for education. It’s cheap, you can figure out what you like, and many of the professors also teach at the more “prestigious” schools. Example, my geology professor also works at Yale. I’m paying $300 for a class that some people are paying $3,000 for. My entire tuition is about $1500, and the school has programs that encourage you to go onto a state school after getting your associates degree, with cash incentives of course.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

damn straight! education is what you make of it. one of my professors at smith used to teach at the school that i would eventually graduate from (the university of southern maine). there are great teachers everywhere, and you don’t always have to pay the big bucks to get to them.

20 05 2010
Melanie Killingsworth

I should add I certainly don’t think college is for everyone. Some don’t want it, but have had the idea implanted it’s ‘something every halfway-intelligent being just has to do.’ Some would be over-pressured by the environment and people. Others are better served by taking other paths. And I say, more power to ’em! But either way, a general environment of more responsibility won’t hurt.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

that part makes me so angry! i know a lot of really brilliant people who never went to/finished college, and i do think it’s completely unfair that people look down their noses at them. plus you’re right, it puts unnecessary pressure on people to go to college, just because it’s the acceptable thing to do.

20 05 2010
wellwords2

Man, you are jaded – the point to college is not necessarily to get a job – it’s to train yourself on how to learn, so you can get better jobs, and live a more fufilled and interesting life. I use my degree every day.
There are other ways to learn how to learn, but I found college worked for me. I would love to go back and attend graduate school – you are right about that – it is too expensive.
When you encourage people to not go to college though, you are basically just encouraging parents to raise children to become less intelligent adults – even the brightest young child, if not educated, will never reach their potential. It’s all about expanding the mind! 🙂
There are ways to educate, other than college. It’s a matter of preference. But everyone should have access to a continued education – it’s all worthwhile – it sounds like you just wasted yours.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

let me clarify and say that i don’t think that my education was a completely waste. not at all! i just wish that i was a little older when i got it, so that i had gotten a little more of the drinkin and screwing around part out of my system first. because when i did learn how to learn, it was really amazing. i am always glad to hear people say that college worked for them, and i hope that someday my children will be able to find an outlet that works for them too. i NEVER said that i thought secondary education was a waste- i completely agree that it can be extremely important and worthwhile. i hope to go to graduate school someday too! and i know that when i do, i will definitely not be squandering the time spent 🙂

20 05 2010
Holly Mangan

Awesome. I actually have an 18 year old stepson who’s going to college and doesn’t drink, has managed to find his passion and is pursuing it. But, he’s also like a freak of nature (in a good way). God, it seems like most everything when you take a cold hard look at it is just another marketing ploy. Damn, I’m getting so jaded! Sure, a college degree will probably look better to a potential employer. But, like you said, at what cost? You might get the $40,000/yr job (if you’re lucky these days) with you or your parents $100,000+ in debt… Or you could get a $20,000/yr job with no debt, ample time off and excess funds (if we re-appropriate the college $) to learn a little about life, yourself, and the joy of discovering new things. Meanwhile, invest excess funds, or simply get in debt later toward a degree you WANT to pay for.
Many an 18 year old kid will squander their parents’ money whether its put toward college, or life experience. So, I say, parents should help foster the attitude that you fortunately discovered. Require some responsibility, encourage an appreciation for the value of money and the things that it can buy – like education. Let the kid enhance or, for many, even develop a sense of self-worth and self-knowing before somebody gets chained to a shitload of debt. I won’t argue that college can be an awesome time developmentally, socially, etc. But, if the primary reason for a college education is education and “real-world” prep, then most 18 year olds aren’t ready.
Imagine what a better country we’d be if we turned out individuals passionate about their careers and not unhappily tied to them to pay off college debt and expensive lifestyles. Seriously. We’d take pride in our work, do a better job and just be happier people not looking for constant escapes from our less than satisfactory lives. Wow. Never considered the implication “going to college” can have on this phenomenon until reading your post. Thanks.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

all parents should be so lucky to have such a freak of nature! i really do wish that your son was the rule, and not the exception- and that i never had to write this post at all… but even if that was the case, that doesn’t change the fundamental problems with the educational system that you so astutely pointed out. i also think you hit is right on when you distilled it all down to the concept of the need to instill our children self worth. anyway, thank you for commenting! you gave me a lot of great things to think about too:)

20 05 2010
blogger

I absolutely agree with #1. I got my education in psychology, but I work with computers now. My college education was a complete waste.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

i don’t see my undergraduate degree (in art ) as being a COMPLETE waste… i learned a lot, had fun, made amazing connections, and at least have something to put on my resume that keeps people from giving me the educational side eye. but i do wish i had waited and used those dollars for a different degree. you should just feel lucky that regardless of your degree, you’re doing something that you enjoy- isn’t that the whole point anyway?

26 05 2010
smartfreedom

Learning psychology is the best education. I’ve start learning it some 3 years ago and still learning it now – all free of charge thru books, internet, etc.

Psychology is linked to virtually everything you involved in. We are dealing with people, their emotion. Even thought you’re working with computers now, you still need to understand your consumers preferences and how your products or services stand up against your competitors. Money is made when the buyer buys.

20 05 2010
Amy-jean

I agree with all of this, so much. I completely wasted my first year of university, and spent the second one in a weird undeclared state of pointlessness. And yep, my parents wasted their money on all of it. In fairness, I’m in Canada, so university is less ridiculously expensive (but still $6000 a year), and I had wanted to pay for my own education. My parents insisted, though, and now that I’ve transferred schools, changed my major to something completely different and relocated to a different province, I think they finally figured out that I had no idea what I was doing when I was 18. So they decided not to pay for me anymore, so I guess I got what I wanted, even though it would have been nice to have a little warning so I could, you know… save my pennies a little.

I am probably going to end up dropping out and going to school to be a pastry chef anyway.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

pastry chef!!! that’s totally awesome. i have a friend who went to pastry school, and let me just tell you that he is a good friend to have around. $6,000 a year is still nothing to slouch at though. i feel like we should have a contest to see whose parents wasted the most money!

20 05 2010
Songbird

Very good points, and very well put!! I went to college- and paid an arm and a leg for it have never used my degree in any of the jobs I have had. So there, how’s that for money down the drain. And still I frowned when my niece announced she will not be going to university or college after High School, she wants to get vocational training as a medic. I just realized she is doing something that I probably shoul’ve done and that with that attitude- I am snob… :o(

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

we get programmed pretty good as kids, i think it’s a hard concept to let go of. i think it’s cool that your niece is going to vocational school, but she’s still 18. she could always change her mind! (but don’t frown too hard, she needs your support!)

20 05 2010
Tim

So let me get this straight. At 18, kids are too young to know what they want to do with their lives but at 12 they are capable of choosing sex partners and determining their sexuality? I’m not making any judgement one way or the other, I just want to add that thought to the mix.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

that doesn’t really feel like a relevant comparison to me, but i also believe that sexual preference is primarily biological. thus, when a 12 year old kid going through puberty says that they are having same-sex feelings… i would listen, be supportive, and loving. the emotional maturity do deal with the ramifications of those feelings, and whether or not they stay the same as time progresses is another thing entirely. i believe that readiness for college and adulthood is also about emotional maturity. and at 18, that level of maturity in most kids is sorely lacking.

21 05 2010
batikmania

My niece is going to start her college life soon this year, but I think she’s just not ready for that yet. Her mother might save some money for her tuition then, this year 😉 Maybe she has to work before join the college 😉 If she get the chance to study in college this year, may she be diligent enough and do her best.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

sometimes, you just don’t know how a kid will fare in the college world- until they get in there. it could be just the thing to help her grow up, or it could be a total disaster. hopefully it works out!

22 05 2010
Stacia

I think you make a lot of excellent points. I also think, however, that it can be a huge mistake to not financially help your children if they want to go to college. My own parents disowned for ridiculous reasons that aren’t pertinent to the issue. I struggled for years to get through university, which I desperately wanted to complete. When I was 21, I thought I could do it, that it would be all my accomplishment and I didn’t need help from anyone. But it turned out I couldn’t do it on my own — now I know there’s no shame in sometimes needing some help — yet there was no help to be had. Thanks to lack of support system, money, and some health issues, I wound up 9 hours short of a degree and $40K in debt.

I’m 38 now, unable to finish the degree, and know my entire life is going to be lived in the shadow of what happened when my parents refused to help me with college. We could have afforded it then; even if you figure in inflation, tuition was 60% less back then than it is now.

Don’t get me wrong, your reasons are solid ones and I think you make good points. But if your child wanted to go to college and you had the ability to help financially, if you talked about it and sorted things out, I think denying your kid help could be a big mistake. It’s not black and white. Helping doesn’t mean handing them everything on a platter. Teaching them the value of education doesn’t mean refusing them any financial help at all.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

i won’t lie, assuming that the child was both worthy and ready, and i had the financial capacity to do so- i would CONSIDER sliding over a few dollars for education pursuits. however, i would make sure that they were also paying for a semi-significant amount, and that they were not pursuing a 100K+ education, unless it was the best possible option for their chosen field. ive known many people who have gone for the fancy pants education, just because it was offered to them, not because it made sense. sometimes, turning down harvard and going to umaine is the right thing to do. that said, i don’t think that not fronting the money is a mistake. i’ve known lots of people who have paid for their own school and have turned out to be totally productive and cool to boot. adulthood means responsibilities .

27 05 2010
fatso784

The way universities are running America today is irresponsible. Ideologies like this ->> http://www.edtrust.org/dc/presentation/session-37-college-begins-in-kindergarten prolong a linear educational system. Kids are told, from a very early age, that college is the only place one goes after finishing high school. I most definitely agree with #2, and argue that were college a lot cheaper in the United States, issues like #1 and #3 would be of lesser importance. In Canada, major institutions cost a significant fraction than their US counterparts, because the government largely subsidizes education. We should either reform college education so that it becomes an affordable option, or completely change the linear aspect of education.

28 05 2010
bessmarvin

yeah, don’t even get me started on the shortcomings of the american secondary education system! makes a girl want to jump the border in the middle of the night. that program is scary! although it just confirms my feelings that self worth & college education have an unhealthy attachment in our society. even if college were free, i still don’t think that makes it right for everyone. more accessible yes, more right, definitely not.

11 06 2010
Confused

This entry is particularly interesting for me, and I definitely read it through. Right now, I just turned 18, and I am VERY undecided which path I want to take in life.

I grew up in one of the wealthiest areas of the United States, so you bet that people went to college to become CFOs or doctors or whatever. I also attended one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the country, so throughout my entire senior year, it was not “are you going to college,” but “where are you going to college?” Around here, college is the accepted way of life.

The problem with me is that I have no idea what I want to do with my life, and
I am having a hard time choosing what I want to do. I was fortunate to be accepted by universities, and I did eventually accept to one university in April. All of my friends are going off to universities nation-wide, and I actually have some friends who are going to the same university that I am, so seeing them happy talking about it has saddened me because they are all so sure what they want to do.

Also, the economy has hit my family hard, and I do have an older sister who is at a university, so it seems impractical for me to go to college. We can barely pay the bills, so how would my parents be able to pay for two kids in college?

My parents have answered my questions by saying that “who knows what they want to do when they go to college? Just switch majors as time goes on if you don’t like your first one,” and that “we’ll just have to get plenty of student loans.” Plus, they keep stressing that college isn’t just about education, but it’s about the social aspects as well. They have indirectly made me feel guilty for not wanting to go to college right away, and as a result, I’m constantly debating with myself about my feelings towards college. One second, I don’t want to go, and I want to take a year off. The next second after talking to family and friends, college is the only acceptable route, and waiting a year would be just ridiculous.

I am so confused….

11 06 2010
bessmarvin

oh no! i am so sorry to hear that you are in this very difficult/complicated situation (i wanted to hug your post because it made me sad!). the truth of the matter is that when you’re 18, you are legally an adult and in charge of your own life. your family can not force you to go to college if you are not ready to go. as well, their flippancy about getting “plenty of student loans” really shocks me. those student loans will be your responsibility to pay off someday, and it is unfair of them to saddle you with this burden against your will. even if your friends say that they know what they are going to do with their future, the vast majority of them will probably change their minds at some point on their path. you should in no way feel bad about yourself for being conflicted. in fact, you should feel pretty awesome that you have the self awareness and guts to know that you’re not ready and speak out to your family about it. i wish i had been smart enough to do the same thing! most people your age just follow the track and never ask questions- so you’re already starting out pretty amazing 🙂 college is not a bad thing, and it certainly won’t ruin your life if you go there not knowing what you want to do. you will end up with some debt (possibly a lot of debt), but you will also learn a lot about yourself and likely make some lifelong connections with other students and faculty that will continue to positively influence your life into later adulthood. that said, anyone who tells you that taking a year or two off before secondary education is a fast track to loserville is a LIAR! taking a year off to travel, or work, or volunteer (or any combination thereof) can only serve to help you learn about yourself, grow into your adulthood, and find a path that makes you happy. people are scared of the unknown- and going straight to college is the only thing they’ve ever been taught. don’t fault them for trying to help you do what THEY think is right, but don’t be too afraid to do what YOU think is right. you’re in the driver’s seat now, and you can make your life whatever you want it to be. good luck!

28 06 2010
chris

wow. i actually cried after reading this post.

I thought i was the only odd 1. At least now i have the comfort knowing that I’m not alone.

I’m from malaysia and here though, but our experience are pretty much similar.

After high school, i really didn’t know what i wanted to do. eventhough i excelled in scince, i never really enjoyed it. i was offered a scholarship to study engineering. i took it coz i was talk into it by my parents. after a semester i really hated it. so i applied for another scholarship. i didn’t know what i wanted. i just wanted to quit.

I wanted to work but my parents told me to get a degree. hence the second scholarship application. i was accepted and was offered a full overseas scholarship to studypharmacy. i really did’t want to go for it but my parents forced me to.

after a sesmester i quit. this time for good.

i was really ashamed of my self. really thought of suicide on many ocasion.

i hide my self from friends coz i just hated my self.

eventually i met some students in singapore while i was looking for a job. they introduced me to the world of business. i was hiiked. i liked it. for once, i was interested in something.

so i applied for an accounting course. i managed to finish 1 semester. i’m in my second now.

ocasionally i still feel like quitting. that’s how i stumbled across ur site. lol

knowing that i’m not alone makes it easier.

nice post. really appreciate it.

30 06 2010
bessmarvin

it breaks my heart to hear about your struggles! but you are most definitely not alone. in many ways i think it’s a myth that there’s a “dream job” out there for everyone. i think that some people are able to find it, but that the majority of us just find something that we like well enough, and fill our lives with lots of other things that make it meaningful (like friends, and family, and hobbies, and travel…). i am so glad to hear that you’ve found something that you like, and where you can feel successful. i don’t think there’s anybody out there (even people who claim to have their “dream job”) who don’t think about quitting sometimes. no matter how great your job is, work is still work, and brings all sorts of challenges and stressful situations. you sound like a pretty tough cookie to have made it through everything in one piece (i know they only do it because they love us, but parents can be so damn hard sometimes!). i’m sure you’re gonna be great. thanks for stopping by, and good luck!!!

22 08 2010
C KNIGHT

So glad I found this site. Help… I have 4 kids. My oldest just finished his 2nd year at a private college and doesn’t want to go back, doesn’t know what he wants to major in or do in his life. I’m heartbroken because he had a partial scholarship to a very good school that he’s now throwing away. He’s now working part-time and will be taking classes at the local community college but even the councelors there had a hard time placing him in classes because he doesn’t know what he want to be. My 2nd just finished her 1st year of college if you can call it that. It was just a long,expensive vacation–had too much fun, not enough studying. She’s home now and will also be working and taking classes part-time at the comm. college. But like my son, she has no idea what to do with her life. I worry that they are wasting their time or lack the motivation to figure it out. What’s with young adults that have NO IDEA what to do w/ their lives? My husband and I picked practical careers and while they are not glamorous, they pay the bills and we aren’t worrying about losing our jobs in this recession. We’ve tried giving them our imput, suggestions,etc but so far, no light bulbs have gone off. Why do some kids just know at 16, 17 that they want to be a nurse, teacher,etc. and others don’t? My 3rd is graduating high school this year and I’m tempted to let her take a year off to figure it out but how will I know she won’t get “comfortable” and never go back to school? She will also likely get some scholarship offers because she’s very bright but without knowing what to do, she may turn them down because I don’t want her in the same situation as my son. How long do I give them until they “figure out what they what to do with their lives”? Do kids today have TOO many choices and are scared to just pick something for fear they will be stuck doing it for the rest of their lives? Should high schools be doing a better job of guiding our kids to career paths? It’s hard as a parent because you get your kids through school and you imagine them going to college and getting a job and moving on with their lives but now I have a huge curve in the road and I don’t know what the future holds for them…

23 08 2010
bessmarvin

don’t be heartbroken! and please don’t fault your children for not having more direction!! it’s not their fault, or your fault. back in the day, there was auto body, wood shop, home ec… back in the day, kids were encouraged/required to learn trades and choose practical careers with end goal being stability/solid income. these days, the system is set up almost completely the opposite. kids are taught to reach for the stars, go for their “dream job”, and the end result is the ever elusive “happiness”. values have just changed, and with it the system no longer works the way it used to. that’s not entirely a bad thing… but, i personally feel like we need to work on landing somewhere in the middle. kids should be encouraged to find a job that they find fulfilling, but they should also be aware that there are lots of practical trades and career paths that don’t necessarily even require a 4 year degree- but are just as valid. i don’t think that schools are doing a good job at presenting all of the options, and making high school the gateway into adulthood that it used to be.

as for your children… if it were my decision, i would just let them be. if they don’t want to attend college right now, tell them to get jobs (even if they’re low level retail or service jobs) and apartments (or pay rent, food, & utilities if they’re living at home), and think about it for a while. sometimes, it just takes some time living in the real world (and working a real job), to realize what you’re good at, and what you like to/want to do. traveling abroad or volunteering (think americorps, peace corps, or teaching english overseas) are also great options for learning about hard work and growing up. now is the time for kids to be out in the world exploring and experimenting, finding themselves & their passions before they’re saddled with $100,000 in student loans, mortgages, or careers. and even if they never do go to college or choose one solid career (it isn’t for everyone), as long as they can pay their bills and take care of themselves, as long as they are good people, you shouldn’t ever have to be disappointed in them. you have clearly done a great job taking them as far as you can. they need to know that the next steps are their choice, their future, and no matter what they choose, they will always be loved.

your kids may not turn out to have the future that you imagined for them, but i assure you, they will be just fine! please, just be patient, and don’t judge (them or yourself). let them surprise you! good luck 🙂

24 08 2010
C KNIGHT

bessmarvin,
thank you so much for the encouragement. i needed to hear that so much. i am totally taking your advice. i am going to back off for a while and let them figure it out. knowing i am not alone means so much! thanks again!!!!!

26 08 2010
bessmarvin

you’re so welcome! i’m always so afraid to steer people in the wrong direction, but i’m glad you found my advice helpful. having been that aimless wanderer during my college years, i can definitely relate! i may not have turned into the lawyer or genetic engineer that my parents had hoped for, but i think that i have become someone that they can be proud of. your kids are going to be great. good luck, and take care!

5 10 2011
jess

Here is my story…
I graduated high school in 2007 with a 3.4 gpa, national honors socioty, magna something, blah blah blah. I had straight a’s my junior and senior year. Did I get scholarships….NO! I wanted to go to vet school and knew that since I was a little girl and still do. My parents always told me that they would pay for my school and they did but only 1500 dollars. Needless to say, less than six month before I had to go to college I was like wtf. That will barely pay for a tiny in the sticks college, much less a veterinary school. So I took equine at the local community college. Than I decided I was tired of living at home half way through the year and moved to hocking hills to go to hocking college. Same degree, different school. I than realized there was nothing to do with that degree so I changed degrees. I pick paramedic. I finished it and hate it. Now I have no help from my parents, cannot get financial aid b/c my parents make too much money and I’m only 22 soooo now I have to wait two years to turn 24 to get the money I need to go back to school at a brown mackie for the vet tech program. I also have a certificate for agriculture that I have from high school that I can’t do anything with. Yay…. I’m just disappointed b/c I am good at school and dedicated myself and have nothing to show for it.

16 10 2011
bessmarvin

but you do have something to show for it! i bet you’ve learned a lot in the last 4 years, even if you haven’t ended up with your vet tech degree. and you know what, you’re only 22. you’re not allowed to declare that you’ve wasted your life yet! i definitely empathize with your predicament (the waiting until you’re 24 for financial aid thing is bullshit), but there are much worse things than having to wait a couple of years to go back to school. get a job, save your cash, and by the time you do get to go back to school you’ll be doubly ready and dedicated. good luck!

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