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    College a waste of time and money for kids

    Last week I made an off-the-cuff comment in my column that stirred up several e-mails asking if I was serious. What I said was that I had no intention of sending my kids to college. I was dead serious. I find the thought of college abhorrent, particularly for 18- to 20-year-olds. Kids have a lot of energy at that point, and to deaden it with a forced, unsupervised diversity of random topics taught by mostly mediocre professors is a waste of that energy.

    I canít remember anything good coming from my freshman year Ė other than starting a business with a few of my classmates, which inspired me for subsequent businesses.


    FT.com / Wealth / James Altucher - College a waste of time and money for kids

    #2
    My response would be 18-20 year olds are adults, so it's not really up to the parent to force the kid go to college anyway. BUT.... I think a parent should do his or her best to encourage going to college and not waste the time doing "self-discovery". In general earning a college degree is the best opportunity a person has to succeed in today's world.

    Are there exceptions? Sure, an 18 year old that can make $10mil/year in the NBA? Or in the author's case an 18 year old that is running a successful business? Worry about college later.

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      #3
      Looking back, I wish that I had taken a few years after high school to work and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. At least, I wish I had continued living at home and worked part time while I was in college instead of moving away and living on campus. I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself and suddenly being away from home and independant was a bit overwhelming at first. It was hard to concentrate on school work for a while.
      Brian

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        #4
        I tend to agree with the article. I remember after high school, I didn't know if I was a college material so I joined the Navy for 3 years. It was a self discovering time for me what I wanted to accomplish. Not everyone will go to college but often times kids need another options instead of being force to school.
        Got debt?
        www.mo-moneyman.com

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          #5
          Originally posted by tripods68 View Post
          .... often times kids need another options instead of being force to school.
          Ditto

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            #6
            My son is 17. He and I have already had discussions about what to do once he's out of high school. His 3 basic options are college, job, or military. At no point did I force him one way or another, only to say that I'd support him and help him through whatever choice he decides to make....

            That and to make sure that he sticks to those 3 options, because to me, "Slacker" is not an option.

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              #7
              Originally posted by Broken Arrow View Post
              ...3 basic options are college, job, or military. .."Slacker" is not an option.
              Ditto

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                #8
                The ironic thing is that parents who try to keep all options open for their child by not encouraging him to go to college (or into the military, that's another good option) actually reduce his options later on since most jobs worth having require a college degree or equivalent military experience.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by sweeps View Post
                  .... most jobs worth having require a college degree or equivalent military experience.
                  I wonder who would fix our cars if we didn't respect non college degree jobs...while they may not make enough for your lifestyle, they are not worthless.

                  Many many jobs do require learning..but not all require a four year degree. And forcing someone at 18 to go get a four year degree when they really dream of being a missionary or electrician is much worse limiting than letting them get a job at a garage, and look into what kind of education is really required for their dream. IMO

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                    #10
                    Oh yeah, and any money that was spent on my short college career was a MAJOR waste... I learned more from teaching (PA does not require a degree for K-5 instruction) than I did in the few classes I took.

                    And I use NONE of the class info now, I do use the lessons learned teaching however.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by sweeps View Post
                      The ironic thing is that parents who try to keep all options open for their child by not encouraging him to go to college (or into the military, that's another good option) actually reduce his options later on since most jobs worth having require a college degree or equivalent military experience.
                      You and my mom would get along great, sweeps.

                      I think the true value of a college education is wasted if the child felt he or she is forced to do it rather than realizing for themselves how important it is and to choose to do it for themselves.

                      Sort of the scenario of leading the horse to the water, but can't make him drink it. This is especially true if they felt they were dragged to it kicking and screaming.

                      So, I don't think it's a bad thing if they don't immediately jump into college right after high school. Truth is, I was forced and I never quite understood the value of it until much later and it was too late to change it. (My degree was in Criminology, but if I had to do it all over again, I'd go into finance/business.)

                      A better example would be a co-worker of mine. He had a hard time working on his college degree. When he complained to his father about the work, his father calmly got him a job at the factory he works at. After about six months of back-breaking manual labor, he realized the true value of higher education, went back, and finished his degree.

                      Now, I know you said "encourage" not "force", but sometimes, teenagers do feel a bit "forced" anyway, when they feel like they have to live up to the parent's expectations. No, if my son wants to go to college, he's going to have to want it for himself and he has to tell me so. But the same thing goes for the military or a job.
                      Last edited by Broken Arrow; 02-14-2008, 11:20 AM.

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                        #12
                        No degree required for teaching in PA? That's scary.

                        Technology, medicine, science, engineering, accounting, finance, law, business management, education, politics. No degree? You've all but eliminated yourself from those professions. It's hard to go back and earn, say, a bachelor's degree when 5-10 years have gone by, you have a family, very little time, and bills stacking up.

                        Manufacturing jobs? Low skills jobs like data entry and customer service? Getting automated or shipped out overseas, daily.

                        Sure there are construction, trades, waiting tables. If that is your choice of career, great. More power to you. But these are the exceptions nowadays, not the rule. Also it's likely those jobs will become more and more competitive as people without degrees as well as immigrants fight over them.

                        By the way... College... it's not just about what you learn, but the connections you make, the credentials you earn, and the demonstration of your ability and desire to learn. (And honestly you still get a lot of free time and opportunity for exploring your goals and desires.)

                        I'm an idealist in many ways, but in this sense I am a realist. To give yourself the best chance to succeed, you maximize your education.

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                          #13
                          Well, I didn’t read the article, but I will say that college can certainly be a waste of time and money for a young person if they don’t know what they even want to be when they grow up (18-20 is NOT a grown up in my opinion – although they certainly are physically an adult). I went to university for 1 semester after high school and didn’t know what the hell I was doing there. I certainly didn’t want to be there, I felt pressured into going, it all seemed like useless crap I was being taught (and it was) – I failed MISERABLY. I had been an honour student all through school before that.

                          I think it is useless to go unless you have a real goal in mind. I needed to get out into the real world, work, find out how hard it is to get a good paying job with no education, etc. I had a kid in that time too. A few years later I went to college for two years and did great. The difference in maturity was amazing.

                          Now, at 37 I’ve recently gone back to college again and am working on my accounting degree. I am doing great and I have a direction and goal. I know now what I enjoy and where I’m going. I am still working full time, raising a teenaged daughter, and paying for the schooling without any debt! If you would have put me into this program at 18 I wouldn’t have had a chance at doing well. It probably wouldn’t have even interested me back then.

                          I would say the kids who know what they want to do in life at such a young age are probably the exeption to the rule. I’m just figuring it out at 37!

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by sweeps View Post
                            No degree required for teaching in PA? That's scary.
                            Only for kindergarten and k-4...and that may have only applied to private schools, not sure. All I know is I was legal to teach..and I did a good job, I also learned a lot. I had help, not in the room, but lots of guidance. contrast that to the previous k-5 teacher..she had a degree, I was pulled in because she wasn't doing any real teaching

                            Pieces of paper are not all they are cracked up to be..and I for one am glad some fellow (or a hundred of em) decided to go into construction..I certainly don't know how to build a house!

                            Whatever my kid decides to do, so long as they do it well I am happy. (and without relying on assistance for it)

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by DebbieL View Post
                              I certainly didn’t want to be there, I felt pressured into going, it all seemed like useless crap I was being taught (and it was) – I failed MISERABLY. I had been an honour student all through school before that.
                              I was the same way actually. I graduated high school with honors, but was stressed out. I was then pressured into college even though that's not what I had wanted to do at the time. So, even though I did eventually finish my bachelors, my grades were mediocre.

                              I think the experience of having to live up to my parent's expectations really put a sour taste in my mouth for any continued education.... Not that I'm blaming them or anything, because ultimately, they were right. But it still didn't change the fact that it took me the entire time just to figure it out, while going into debt for it.

                              To be clear, I do agree that getting a college degree is a Good Thing. However, I won't make my kids do it unless they actually want to.
                              Last edited by Broken Arrow; 02-14-2008, 12:02 PM.

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