Sunday, June 11, 2006

"What College Is She Going To?"

Is College for Everyone?

It's graduation season. I just love this time of year- warm weather, long days and graduation parties - what's not to like. Graduation open houses give us a chance to see friends and family in a non-stressful setting (as opposed to funerals and weddings) and catch up with eachother. The children are growing up and your old friends growing older. Yet we older folks must keep the temptation to say "back in my day" at bay - and for God's sake we mustn't prattle on about our afflictions and the "procedures" we've had to endure. This day is all about the young and all about the future.

Inevitably someone is going to ask about your daughter who is now 20 and graduated 2 years ago.

"So, what college is she going to?"

"Well, actually, um, well, she is, um - she's not in college."

Suddenly, it is if you just said "my broker is EF Hutton, and EF Hutton says"...

There are audible gasps and you can see the eyebrows raise out of your peripheral vision. It's simply scandalous. Unheard of. It's just not right!

Is college for everyone? It seems to me growing up in a lower middle class household in the 60's and 70's that college was not necessarliy part of the evolutionary path toward a successful adulthood. Though even then we knew that succeeding college nearly always led to a nice, financially comfortable life. But the fact was that it was not affordably within everyone's reach way back then. It still isn't - in fact, it's ridiculously expensive.

Yet in today's world it is as if you are somehow less of a parent if your child is not in college at the comencement of the next graduation season. For two years now I have had to explain and defend my daughter (it's not that anyone is nasty about it, just shocked and a little disbelieving).

The bottom line is that a high school diploma is not going to be enough for real financial security. There is a need to learn a trade, develop a skill or earn a degree. However, college - a four year college - with it's big tradition and big price tag is not for everyone. Some sort of post high school education is a must.

When I look at myself and my 6 siblings (now all over 40 years old) it's no fluke that every one of us went to some sort of school or institute to get were we are today. Considering that only two went to college after high school it illustrates how important it is to get a formal post secondary education in a viable field. The really neat thing is that everyone of us is very successful at what we do. We may not all be rolling in the dough but none of us has to hang our heads either. Not a slouch among us.

That being said, believe me, I have been counciling my daughter along those very lines. She does understand that simply having a high school diploma is not sufficient. She does understand that going to school when she is young and still living at home is far easier than what me and most of my siblings did. I have urged her to consider pursuing a junior college for two years to see if it is for her before committing to a university. We have set aside "some" money for her and it will be there when she does decide what she wants to do.

But it is ultimately her life, and if she does it the hard way like I did is she wrong? Who is to say? Is it possible that there are kids in college right now because of their parents expectations? Possible? Probable. The trauma of high school for some kids must wear off before they dive head first into college. Face it, some kids are just late bloomers.



Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday! MR