School for Launch
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School for Launch

College Isn’t the Only Way. Parents, Give Yourself a Talk.

The stories you’re telling yourself to justify college are bullshit.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

Of course, they need to go to college, you say.
They need a well-rounded education. The degree is vital to get a good job.

But what you’re really saying:
I’m anxious and afraid for their future. The world is getting tougher. I’m not sure what else they should do.

Some parents get downright angry when confronted with their feelings about their child’s future. But it would be really helpful to your kid if you’d own up to how you feel, and how that factors into the decisions you’ve made for them.

Let’s unpack this.

They need a well-rounded education
I’m not making up this reason. I swear to you, I’ve had several parents use it. I think the origins of this reason must come from the time when only wealthy kids attended college. The working class looked at them and decided that because they went to college those kids had all sorts of advantages. That is partly true, but it’s not the whole reason. A story on generational wealth accounts for so much of the advantage. It would blow your mind at how critical generational wealth is to financial security. But that’s for another day.

Have you been to college?? Even when I attended college, eons ago, very few students were busy getting a well-rounded education. The term is laughable. College can be a place to learn but the vision that parents have of their child sitting eagerly in class waiting for knowledge to be imparted on them is a dream. Maybe the dream helps the parents as they try to quell their anxiety over their kid’s future.

College is a place to learn to be independent, with a bit of a safety net for most kids. It’s a place to learn how to navigate pseudo adult situations, again, with a safety net. It’s a place where a student goes to classes and hopefully passes them. A good portion of these students graduate with no idea what the next step is. So really, they’re back to where they were when they graduated from high school, only with a few more classes under their belt and some great parties to remember.

So, you really need to stop using the well-rounded education argument. It’s bullshit.

Sidenote: I should probably say here, to those of you who have students who are serious about their studies, you go! College is for them. It’s not for everyone, like we keep trying to tell ourselves.

The degree is vital to get a good job.
Yeah, not so much these days.

There was a time when you couldn’t even get an interview without a college degree. The gatekeepers put your resume in the reject pile. This is only a half-truth now. Recruiters and companies are now willing to look at individuals who have unique qualifications or alternative experiences. Once upon a time, if you had a college degree, regardless of the other competitors experience, you were selected. But with so many college degrees flying around, employers have begun digging a little deeper. So, if your student is interested in a specific area and has learned some skills in it just from their own initiative, that skill set now counts for something.

Seriously, people. I know college graduates who now work at the Verizon store because that was the option available. A college degree does not guarantee a high paying, career inspiring job.

So, quit worrying that they won’t get a job. They’ll get one. It might not be the one you wanted for them, but would that be such a bad thing?

The real question.
How much of this worrying is because you’re afraid they’ll miss out on the brass ring of life?

I get it. We want the best for our kids. But sometimes the best, is working through it and letting them find their way. Even the Verizon kid is finding his way. It just doesn’t look the way you want it to.

Let them be the architect of their life even if it means they fail and struggle. If they’re lucky, you are the parent that’s there to back them up, support them. And maybe you’ll be the one to suggest a pivot in the plan. Help them. Don’t dictate.

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Current wisdom suggests young adults go straight to college, even if they don’t know why. We’re exploring what growing up looks like on other paths.

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Arlene Guillen

Arlene Guillen

Writer here on Medium and

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