Why Does College Matter So Much to Parents?

This is a written transcript of a portion of an Ask Isaac podcast episode.

We get this question a LOT, with people who are interested in Praxis or just interested in opting out and creating their own path. They know that college is not going to do anything for them. It’s boring. It’s super expensive. They’re not interested in sitting in a classroom and hearing things that they could learn on their own or things that they don’t even care about, often from professors who don’t care, fellow students who aren’t into it. I mean there are just a lot of people, a growing number, who are just like this isn’t all that great. And all the social aspects… I can get those. I can go to football games and parties and whatever. I don’t need to enroll for 4+ years to do this. But, it’s so much the dominant view among our parent’s generation that — I shouldn’t say “our”, I’m sort of in between — but college… that is really like a signal that you’re doing OK.

It gives Mom and Dad something to brag about at the cocktail party with their friends. It’s kind of like if you grow up in a religious community and people say, “How are you doing with God. Are you on the right track?” And if you just say, “Yeah, I’m going to church,” they’re fine. But, you could be going to church and horribly depressed or like doubting everything or totally unhappy… everything in your life is not going well. But, to them, that’s all they needed to hear. That signals that you’re OK. It’s a shortcut for them that makes them feel like you’re “good-to-go.” And you could be like, “I haven’t been going to church for a year, but I’ve never been better. My spiritual life is really great. I’ve been exploring new ways to connect with God,” and it doesn’t matter what you say they’re going to be scared. Right? They’re going to be worried about you because that signal, that shortcut: going to church equals I’m doing well spiritually… or going to college equals I am doing well in my life professionally.

You know… maybe that emerged for a reason, where the correlation was so strong, that it made sense for people to make that shortcut. You don’t want to get to know everyone’s life story so it’s like “oh, you’re in college, cool. You’re good to go.” But that correlation is so poor and it’s getting poorer. And it’s such a weak correlation and there is certainly no causation there. So you could say, “Oh, I dropped out of school, but I’m working on a start-up. I’m doing this fitness routine. I’m traveling the world. I’ve never been happier. I’m writing a book.” And all they heard was, “I dropped out of college,” and they’re just like, “Oh, my Gosh. You’re sleeping on a park bench and you’re a loser. I’m so depressed; I’m ashamed of you.”

And you could say, “Oh, I’m just about to graduate from a good school and I’m having really dark thoughts, and I hate my life, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t care about the job I was just offered. I’m depressed. My girlfriend broke up with me.” And all they hear is “Oh, you’re about to graduate. Well, that’s good. Everything else will take care of itself.” Right? It’s this weird, weird thing. So, it is very hard to convince your parents to let you do something other than college.

See part one for the answer to how to get your parents to open up to the idea.

How Do I Convince My Parents to Let Me Do Something Other Than College?

Check out www.discoverpraxis.com if you want to take a year to get out of the classroom and do something awesome, on your terms, in the real world.