Should I Tell My Kids to go College or Not?

Over the past week or so I've been reading up on colleges and all the  pros and cons of going to college nowadays.

I've been hearing some not so nice news about colleges;
  • higher education costs and lower output
  • the inability of college grads to find jobs and pay back student loans
  • degrees taking longer and longer to get as if the colleges are purposely turning 4 years into 5 or even 6 just to get the money
  • the use of way more adjuncts and fewer professor/student interactions, etc.  
Luckily, my kids are still pretty young and it's not something we need to figure out right now.

I'd kind of like to know what they plan on doing and being when they're older because that would tremendously help me in figuring out what materials to expose them to and what they need to know to succeed.

 I know that it's not realistic to expect them to know what they want they want to do though and that for now we just need to keep plugging away at what we're doing.

The idea of colleges may be a topic I'll want to revisit with each of the kids when they reach freshman year of high school but even that is at least a few years away & they may still not know what they want to do yet.

We have time and I'm thankful for that.

I'm also aware that in all those intervening years things could change with my boys, with colleges, with the economy, with jobs, etc. so this whole post is just meant to help me jot down my thoughts and possibly get feedback from others.

When I was growing up it was pretty much understood that I was going to college; no questions asked.

 It was believed that college opened doors, led to a better life, and was pretty much THE only way to go.

It was believed that any degree from any college was better than no degree.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated high school and so I did go on to college.

I eventually ended up at a local community college because I did not like the idea of living away from home, in a dorm, with lots of partying college students; that was just not me.  I never enjoyed parties even in high school and couldn't see myself fitting in at college.  I'm sure I would have found plenty of like minded individuals and had a great time but at the time I just didn't feel comfortable there.

After I received my associates degree I went on to a four year college where I could commute and still not have to live in a dorm.  I showed up, did well in all my classes, got my degree and left.  Still not sure what to do with my degree I went back to that same college and got my Master's degree.

I never used any of my degrees because I CHOSE to be a stay at home mom and had a husband who wholeheartedly supported my decision.

Money and time wasted?


I don't know.

I am a firm believer that all our experiences shape us into who we later become so I wouldn't be who I am now if I had chosen some other path rather than going to college.  But I liked college, it was familiar to me since I had always enjoyed school.  

I'd still take college classes just for fun if I could afford it both financially and time management wise.  I love learning and I enjoy school.

I certainly could have branched out more: in my four or so years of commuting I never wandered into a single building that did not house one of my classes! I packed my lunches and never even ate in our school cafeteria.... I'm still not even entirely sure where it was! I never made any effort to make or maintain friendships; I had classroom acquaintances and even worked with many on school projects but when graduation came I was mostly just a face in the crowd & didn't even want to go.

 I didn't take advantage of any trips or internships which I'd have to assume were available so I probably could have gotten more out of it all.  Yet I look at my kids and think they'd probably be the same way.  Show up, attend, work hard, get the degree and get out.

Yet, I realize that had I not gotten my degree in teaching, I would not have been working in the schools, I might not have noticed how unhappy my kids were or had the confidence to pull them out and homeschool.
When we had kids I assumed my kids would all go to school, do well, finish high school and go onto college and that I'd be encouraging & pushing them to go; now I'm not so sure.

Don't get me wrong I'm certainly not going to tell my kids NOT to go to college but I am going to encourage them to explore all their options.

I'm going to make sure they ask themselves if they want to go to college.

Do they NEED to go to college?  

Much like turning to homeschooling (instead of the more socially expected public or private schools) thinking of telling my kids they don't NEED to go to college is scary (so scary that I secretly hope they all do end up wanting to go!) but I am determined to make sure they don't feel like it's something they have to do just because everyone else is doing it.

 I want to make sure if they go to college that they're doing it for the right reasons, that they want to be there, that they'll get the most out of their experience.  I want them to walk in and interview the college rather than letting the college interview them.  

 Being on a college campus this weekend with the younger two opened us up to just a bit of a discussion.   I hadn't consciously been reading up on colleges to have this discussion with the boys but was glad I had read a bit about what colleges are like nowadays so I had a slightly better reference point than my own meager experiences.

I found so many wonderful articles that talked about colleges & college life, how to get and keep good jobs, alternatives to college that many people seem to pass right by, and I found something to agree with (and something to disagree with) in just about all of them.

If you want to read some of the originals you can click:

  •  here to read about the Pros and Cons of attending a 4 year college
  •  here to read 5 reasons why you may wan to re-think college
  •  here to read a letter from Mike Rowe about career advice
  •  here to read about college alternatives for Homeschooling children
  •  here to read about 100 more alternatives to traditional college degrees
  • here to read about who college is for
After reading everything I was more confused than before I started so I can't say I'll help anyone determine if college is the right path or not but I guess that's a good thing.  If there was a clearly defined answer than that would mean that there was only one clear choice; if it's all a bit murky and gray I'd say that means people do well with or without college degrees.

Therefor it really is a case by case basis and one my kids will have to make for themselves when they get older.

 In the meantime we'll keep focusing on these things that, if they learn nothing else from me, I want my kids to know:
  • Not to confuse wealth with success; wealth does not mean someone is happy or content.  Work on making yourself happy, not rich.  
  • Take pride in your work.  Whatever work you end up doing on any given day; work the hardest you can, take pride in a job well done.  Don't be the complainer that no one wants to be around. 
  • Never stop learning!  You don't need a school or a teacher to learn so there is no need to ever stop.  Learn about anything you are interested in.  Ask questions & read often.  
  • Don't compare yourself, your life, or your job to others.  It's hard not to but you will be much happier if you stop worrying about other people.  Be true to yourself.
  • Don't be afraid of making mistakes or even of failure.  We all make mistakes and we've all felt a failure at times.  Learn from your mistakes, apologize if need be and then move on.   
I'll just keep hoping we're doing enough, learning enough, and that they can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. 


  1. I grew up believing that college was the only way to go. Like you, I'm starting to wonder about it. My kids are getting close to needing to make some decisions, and I'm not pushing college on them. I'm hoping we can search out options that will open doors for them--if college is the way to do that, then we'll work at it, but I'm not sure that college will do that for all of my kids.

    It was so interesting to read your post and see my own thoughts and concerns so perfectly mirrored. :)

    1. My oldest is starting 7th this year and insists that he does not want to go to high school or college. I have no problem homeschooling high school but I do worry that he'll have nothing to "prove" himself without any sort of "real" diploma.

  2. Great article! I got my Marketing degree to end up being a homeschool Momma. I don't see the degree as wasted though. I am able to help my church with fundraisers and events because of my degree. Don't think yours is wasted. We are planning online college for my sons, unless they want the experience to go to a campus. It's good of you to do all this research and weight the pros and cons. Thanks for sharing!


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