I hope my boys don’t go to college. There, I said it. Before you burn me at the stake, hear me out. I loved everything about college except the classes. I came into my own during my six years at The Ohio State University then again tuition out of state was only $7,000 bucks a year. My, have times changed since then which is the point of this rant.
Society, because of some archaic and outdated belief systems, values higher education for its citizens regardless of whether its citizens should be going to college or not. First, let me say college “then” and college “now” are two very different arguments. Of course, most of the arguments for college now are being made by people who went to college back then. We’ve already established college back then cost a lot less than now. Furthermore, a degree back then was much more a ticket to a job and career then it is now. The crux of the argument isn’t whether someone should or shouldn’t go to college. To each his own. And I for one want my Doctor, or the engineer I hire to build my building, to go for the full required terms of their professions while excelling while they are there! But whether or not the president I choose to run my organization has a degree (she does) or my VP of Business Development (he doesn’t) could matter less to me. Don’t even get me started on how relevant GPAs are!
Yet despite how I feel, society hasn’t yet gotten to the place I am with education. I remember talking to a contractor during a How to Sell seminar and he responded “that’s easy for you to say, you went to college.” What?! Since when does going to college have anything to do with selling? To this person, and unfortunately many others, college has a lot to do in whether one can succeed or not, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Ever hear of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates both dropping out of college to start businesses in their garages? A scant ten years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was in his dorm room when he stumbled on a concept. Should he have finished his college degree at Harvard nonetheless instead of dropping out and creating Facebook? I don’t think so, do you?
College then isn’t college now and the only thing I’m certain of is it won’t be college either when my boys are ready, or not, to go to college. One thing’s for certain: when my boys go to college, or not, it will look very different than it does now. That’s comforting to me today. Technology will continue to radically shift people’s access to information. Funding for state universities will continue to dry up as secondary education will meet the cold, hard, reality of a free market system unable to support institutions that churn out graduates strangled with debt, without the accompanying ability to pay for it. Nostradamus I’m not, but higher education’s demise, at least how it’s structured today, is as clear as the nose on my face.
So why is it so taboo for me to be talking now about the possibility of my kids not going to college? I think the lack of alternative options, getting a good job notwithstanding, scares parents today. How will my kids grow up and mature if they don’t go away to school? Here’s a newsflash: How do your kids grow up and mature living in your basement and working at Starbucks after attending college? There are about one thousand things I could think of if I were eighteen today that I could do to grow up and mature. I would highly recommend couch surfing Europe for a solid year to my eighteen year old self! Bottom line I hope we reach a point sooner, rather than later, that alternative choices than attending college aren’t meant with negativity that they illicit today. After all, I built a career around my love for turtles. Then again, I went to college.