Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why I Might Not Encourage My Girls to Go to College

I know it's mostly irrational, but lately I've been struggling with regret over going to college.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Bible.  I do not need that degree for what I'm doing now, and I don't even think I needed that degree to do what I did before I had kids.  I graduated from college ten years ago, and I still have several years of payments, unless the Lord decides to intervene in a big way.

I like to blame Dave Ramsey for my regret.  After taking Financial Peace University, I realized that if my husband and I had just lived a little simpler during those four years before having kids, we could have completely knocked out out school debt.  But we didn't know, so we didn't, then we chose for me to stay home with the babies and forego the second income, and now it looks like my oldest will be 10 or 11 before we see the end of those payments.  I blame Dave because he made me aware of this. But I'm not really mad at him or anything.

Here's the thing about college: it's great and necessary if you've chosen a field where it is necessary.  But I'm not sure every vocation of life requires a full four-year education.  I'm one of those old-fashioned prudes who really did want to get married and have a home and kids, and that is not a college-degree field.  The administrative assistant work I did before kids and am doing now truly doesn't require a degree either.  I suppose employers think it's nice and all, knowing you completed something as massive as a college education, but the actual work is something that most anyone can be trained to do, degree or not.

I'm not sure that most kids out of high school truly know what they want to do anyway.  It takes a couple of years to figure that out.  It seems the American way is to go ahead and rack up those college expenses while you're figuring it out, hoping that you've chosen the right path so you haven't wasted money on classes you don't need.  I think all I've really wanted to do is write, and I could have accomplished a writer's education much more cheaply by taking writers courses only.  There are a lot of things I find fascinating about the Duggar family, but one of them is the way they encourage their kids to explore the fields of things they think they might be interested in, without committing to the expense of college.  They do this by shadowing or apprenticing with whatever they want, and then if it's really what they want to do, only then will they pursue the education to make it happen.  I think America has it backwards.  Normally it's education first, no matter the cost, and THEN figure out if you have the education to do what you want to do.

I'm not saying that no one should go to college.  I'm saying that we should give our kids time to figure a few things out before they dive into that expense.  And I might go that way with the girls.

I don't completely regret college.  If I hadn't gone to the college I went to, I wouldn't have met my husband.  I wouldn't have met our friends who then ended up moving out here to Colorado to be the worship pastor of the church where I am now employed as the nursery director, which means we wouldn't be attending this church or having this job.  I wouldn't have some of the friendships that I cherish so deeply or some of the memories that still bring joy to my heart.  But in light of the expense, those things feel more like the way God takes things and works them out for the good of those who love Him rather than the justification for years and year of debt.

Debt is lame.

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