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creekland

The Myth of the Successful College Dropout

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I guess it depends on what you think Jobs was-a brilliant computer guy or a brilliant businessman and marketer. I would argue that he was a brilliant businessman and marketer who just happened to be involved in computers. I would think his time at Pixar proves this point. He would probably have become brilliant at business with a degree as well-he just wouldn't have had Apple and might not have been famous (although he may still have been awfully rich and successful). People like Gates, Jobs and Zuckerberg are bright, driven, creative and very lucky. Those first 3 are personality traits that they would possess with or without a degree. They are the sort of people who tend to become successful.

 

This is why I have done something non-traditional for high school. My children aren't brilliant. They are brightish and I am trying to give them an education that allows them to harness that. My children aren't driven. We tried to teach them to be determined instead. That leaves creative. I think they CAN be creative. I've tried to educate them in such a way that the creativity isn't damaged. Creativity without self-discipline is often not very useful or comfortable. The same is true of creativity without drive. It is difficult to balance all three of these rather opposing forces. I think these three things and the pully-hauly between them are a good bit of what is forming this conversation. What one does with a student who is brilliant but has no drive is very different from one one does with a student who has drive but isn't brilliant. What one does with a depressed student with no drive is very different from what one does with a student who is naturally unambitious. Discussing myths about outliers with a bunch of homeschoolers is totally different from discussing them with a bunch on traditionally oriented parents because homeschoolers ARE outliers already. Homeschooled students have a better chance of being part of those who make the myth than your average student becaues they are already outliers for some reason, or in some cases, the children of outliers. Conventional wisdom is less likely to apply to them. Not that I am arguing that this myth needs to be anylized... I do think, though, that for some homeschoolers, your typical state college education is going to be redundent. Some homeschoolers will be past what they offer already and some are going to be so good at teaching themselves what they want to know that they will see college as terribly inefficient. Four years is a fifth of a 20 year old's life - a long time.

 

I'm not saying a college can't be useful or necessary. I do think one needs to be honest with oneself about what sort of student one has and think carefully about what sort of college one sends a particular student to. I'm pretty sure mine wouldn't make it through some kinds of colleges, not if it was going to take four years of their lives, anyway. Some of those brilliant, creative, driven drop-outs might have been at the wrong college. Homeschoolers are outliers. We have already found a way to bend the system to suit ourselves. Is it any wonder that some of us are searching for ways to continue to bend it so that we don't have to pay 200,000 dollars and four years of our students' lives, or force a square peg of a student into a round hole or vice versa?

 

Not that it isn't good to discuss these things... I especially like the part of this discussion where we brainstormed to come up with ways to earn a living without having a college degree. But I think when it comes to the have-to-go-to-college versus no-way-am-I-doing-something-so-stupid part of the discussion, we should remember that we are all outliers. Even if most of us conclude that it would be far safer to send our little outliers to college.

 

Nan, who has run out of sofas for her couch surfers and has noticed that half the time we aren't talking about the same thing (our own children, our couch surfing b+m hs grads, Jobs, our local farmer) and misses hybrid mode very much

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Nan, you are so wise!

 

I'd also like to say that I've got a successful college drop-out in my family and he's doing GREAT! I have a nephew who is profoundly talented with electronics. He started out at a good CC that offered a lot of tech courses. His intention was to get his A.A./vo-tech electronics degree, but due to an unexpectedly huge influx of students, the school couldn't expand fast enough nor hire enough professors to adequately handle the load. He ended up on waiting lists to get into his "gen-ed' requirements though he was able to take all of his tech courses. While he waited, he started advertising as a repair/service guy...drop your I-pod in the pond, I guarantee you he can fix it...drop your phone and it falls apart, he can fix it....he can do all of it better than the tech support departments of these companies and he's largely self-taught.

 

His reputation in the city (small, mid-Michigan city) grew until his name came up at a local Dell computer service center. He ended up being offered a very good paying job with Dell servicing the computer equipment of a local hospital. My 20 year old nephew is the guy they call when the robotics arm fritzes during a surgery. No joke, he does the two minute scrub, and goes in and repairs the thing while the patient is on the table. He's done it more than once. He's the guy that repairs the ultrasound machine, the MRI, the....whatever. He just left Dell for an electronics firm that has put him in management and has him training other techies. Eventually, they'd like for him to have at least his two year degree, if not a bachelor's, but they are willing to give him flexible work time in order to accomodate classes and they are happy to pay for those classes too.

 

He's brilliant and a self-made man. He's also an unlikely success story. He struggled MIGHTILY in high school, he failed geometry twice before finally passing it during a summer online course with a private tutor in order to finally be able to enroll in algebra 2 his senior year so he could graduate and let me tell you, it took a boat load of money invested in tutoring that year in order for him to earn a D in algebra 2 so he could graduate. His GPA was 2.2. Most of what ailed him was bad preparation in math through the private Christian school he attended prior to high school, and the fallout of a VERY acrimonious divorce and the constant emotional turmoil his parents put him through as they volleyed for his affections. Despite it all, he rose above, and today at 20.5 years of age, he earns $62,000 per year with an excellent benefits package and he's moving up. Ask anyone within a two hour radius of here who the guru is in electronics and if they know anything about the field, they'll spit out my nephew's name. I'm so proud of him!!

 

But, again, notice that he didn't just scrape by high school AND land that job. He pursued not only self-education, but formalized education albeit not a degree. He formed a plan, a well-defined plan, and he worked towards it. He got his name out there by offering to do repairs for electronics devices at very low cost in order to build his name rapidly. When he was in high school and wanted to learn how to solder, draw a schematic, etch his own board, and wire it, etc. he came to dh and said, "Uncle M, can you teach me to do this?" He took the initiative. We were so concerned about his future we purchased some rather expensive soldering stations and other such tools and supplies for him to help him get started. His parents wouldn't do it. Note, it took the involvement and financial investment of concerned adults in his life to help him begin.

 

The key is the plan. The problem that we have now is most kids who don't leave high school with a college major in mind or a well-researched vo-tech goal in mind, are planless. That's the danger. These are the kids who will be making minimum wage FOREVER or end up never leaving a job that they won't be truly physically capable of doing well into their middle aged years. These are the kids that end up on Nan and I's couches because some how they made it through their childhoods and either did not possess the drive or did not have the family support to form a plan, a doable, executable, realistic plan and they don't understand that while there are many alternative plans to attending the local four year uni, they'll need to be flexible throughout their work years and at some point may have to take some uni classes in order to remain employed, that they may have to gain some additional training that their employer requires, or that they have to develop more than one skill set, or even someday a degree because we no longer live in an employment climate in which one get a job at 18 and hold that same job until they are 55 and retire on the company pension.

 

Faith

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.

.

.

The key is the plan. The problem that we have now is most kids who don't leave high school with a college major in mind or a well-researched vo-tech goal in mind, are planless. That's the danger. These are the kids who will be making minimum wage FOREVER or end up never leaving a job that they won't be truly physically capable of doing well into their middle aged years. These are the kids that end up on Nan and I's couches because some how they made it through their childhoods and either did not possess the drive or did not have the family support to form a plan, a doable, executable, realistic plan and they don't understand that while there are many alternative plans to attending the local four year uni, they'll need to be flexible throughout their work years and at some point may have to take some uni classes in order to remain employed, that they may have to gain some additional training that their employer requires, or that they have to develop more than one skill set, or even someday a degree because we no longer live in an employment climate in which one get a job at 18 and hold that same job until they are 55 and retire on the company pension.

 

Faith

 

This is why we were ok with our oldest not going to college (although it was a blow). He had a plan. It was a good plan. We liked the college plan better (and after a few years, so did he) but it was a viable plan. It wasn't an instantly self-supporting plan. It required our help. That was fine with us. Instantly self-supporting at 18 isn't something we ever expected, college or no college. But it was a plan that would have led to be able to support a family eventually.

 

I think we have so many different sorts of people we are discussing here.

 

What do we do with our poor couch surfers?

What are they doing now?

What should they have done?

What should we do with our own college-willing-and-able students?

What should we do with our own un-college-willing-or-able students?

What should Jobs and his ilk have done?

What should our extremely bright, driven, and creative outliers do?

What should high school students in general do?

 

They are all so different.

 

I happen to think that it is NOT a good idea NOT to send to college any of my children who are able to manage college. Most of my poor couch surfers would have been able to manage college, or at least community college. Willing is a different story. I think that unwillingness is usually either a bad family situation that derailed them, depression, or a school system that supported only their most brilliant students (no home ec or shop classes, for example, and no gradations of lower classes, just brilliant and everyone else). I wish somebody had made sure they had a plan when they graduated and helped them to see that it was going to be very hard to make it on minimum wage. Some of them were a mess when they graduated and needed a few years to straighten themselves out. Now they are straightened out, making minimum wage, and wondering when their lives are going to begin. As I look at them, I can't imagine not sending to college any of my college-able children who were willing to give it a try. But that is a different question from the one of what to do with the unwilling or unable... They need one of Faith's plans. : )

 

Nan

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Nan, loving your ideas. I was pushed to go to college without any plan and ended up changing majors a few times and dropping out. i eventually transfered to a different school and boy, did i wish id' started there. finding the right path for the individual . . .thats really how i try to approach everything with my kids.

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I happen to think that it is NOT a good idea NOT to send to college any of my children who are able to manage college. Most of my poor couch surfers would have been able to manage college, or at least community college. Willing is a different story. I think that unwillingness is usually either a bad family situation that derailed them, depression, or a school system that supported only their most brilliant students (no home ec or shop classes, for example, and no gradations of lower classes, just brilliant and everyone else). I wish somebody had made sure they had a plan when they graduated and helped them to see that it was going to be very hard to make it on minimum wage. Some of them were a mess when they graduated and needed a few years to straighten themselves out. Now they are straightened out, making minimum wage, and wondering when their lives are going to begin. As I look at them, I can't imagine not sending to college any of my college-able children who were willing to give it a try. But that is a different question from the one of what to do with the unwilling or unable... They need one of Faith's plans. : )

 

Nan

 

I agree. Many of my couch surfers would benefit from it as well, including my niece...the elder sister of the above mentioned self-made man. Her life has been a disaster and it's only beginning to sort itself out, but the plan she was willing to follow, her parents were not willing to help with.at.all. and due to the fact that we had foster parented her during her early teen years and in order to do that, had to take some drastic steps (she was suicidal when we got her), she's awkward with us, feels her failures acutely in our eyes, and is therefore unwilling to ask us for help. Sigh....

 

She would have done well if she had chosen to couch surf here and then took a few classes to find out what she's good at. I was even willing to pay for all three levels of cake decorating classes at JoAnn's, flower arranging classes at Michael's, and catering courses at the vo-tech center. But, she wouldn't take us up on it because she didn't know what she wanted to do and was so profoundly afraid of failure (a problem my narcicisstic, perfectionistic, nasty sister-in-law created in the home) that she was paralyzed.

She has just now found her way, at 23.5, and it's massage therapy. She's working towards her certification, but by waiting 5.5 years post high school to go to college to get that cert, she started right off the bat with a problem. She had to pass the college algebra exam in order to take anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and the sports medicine courses. She couldn't do it. Math was a struggle for her through high school though she managed C+ in algebra, geometry, and algebra 2 so had she taken the exam immediately following high school, it's likely she would have passed. She's forgotten it all, and I do mean ALL of it. She's been relegated pre-algebra. Argh.....so, she's delayed two semesters getting into the program because she'll still need to take and pass college algebra before starting her medical courses. Now, this might not sound like much but you have to understand that my niece is a single parent. She has a beautiful 2.5 year old daughter, a lovely grand little niece of mine, whose daddy decided to work only part-time even though he's been offered full-time so that his child support payments will remain abysmally small. GRRRRR..... niece is paying for her classes by financial aid - for low income - and a little bit of money she inherited upon her maternal grandma's death. This money will run out before she graduates the program because of the two remedial courses...that's how tight her finances are.

 

Kills me! My brother and his wife created the nightmare, I could tell you some serious horrow stories and well, we ended up fostering her for a while so that probably says it all, and their philosophy of "you better be self-supporting at 18 because there's the door" has been brutal to their children. Absolutely brutal! (The narcicissist to whom I refer is my brother's second wife, not my nephew's mother from whom he is divorced.)

 

So many of my couch surfers have similar stories. Without parental love and guidance, they aren't making it. They need their parents to care. For every one, lazy wants life handed to him or her on a silver platter, couch surfer we've fed a meal to, there have been exponentially more that are really good kids who could have made it if someone helped them develop a plan and execute it before it was too late, before they'd adopted the mindset that they are stupid, incapable, and worthless. They needed someone to help them think outside the box. They needed to be exposed to more options throughout their childhood. For my brother's kids, it would have helped a whole he** of a lot if he and his wife had actually thought about someone besides themselves. When dear niece needed help with her homework, my brother and wife's comments were, "He** no! That's why we send you to school. Tell your teacher to do her job."

 

Sigh....it's just.not.simple. and I do think more kids would benefit from some college classes than there are those that would not. But, the whole thing is just so darn complicated.

 

Mainly, I'd like to see a revolution in our education system from the ground up - HA, HA, HA...fat chance! - but especially from 7th grade on in which we would have multiple track options and those tracks would include everything from the most challenging academic courses appropriate for teens through Flower Arranging 101 and Advanced Woodworking with all of the options that exist in between, and summer classes for students who find themselves in one track and suddenly realize they'd like to jump to another. I think our society would be a bazillion times better off for providing this. Our economy would be better and kids would be more focused because they have the opportunity to find out what their natural talents and passions are and develop them before the crisis of "how will you support yourself" becomes paramount. Ultimately though, I think our culture needs a wake-up call and that's going to have to include a shift in parenting outlook concerning teens.

 

Faith

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mm, except I think my dd is the narcissistic one . . . like my mom and my sister. We always told her she could stay here as long as she wanted, we paid for community college classes and worked out where the three of us (her, my mom and us) would cover the tuition at the university. but she hated living in my house and convinced my mom to pay for her to be able to rent in town . . . except that she couldnt handle getting the rental herself. this was 4 mo ago. She is at my moms now . . . dropped out of school, going to therapy . .. sigh. i hope she gets her life together, but i'm not sure i want her back here. She was SO mean to us . . . the house is so peaceful without her . . . i was to blame for every single thing that ever went wrong . . .

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mm, except I think my dd is the narcissistic one . . . like my mom and my sister. We always told her she could stay here as long as she wanted, we paid for community college classes and worked out where the three of us (her, my mom and us) would cover the tuition at the university. but she hated living in my house and convinced my mom to pay for her to be able to rent in town . . . except that she couldnt handle getting the rental herself. this was 4 mo ago. She is at my moms now . . . dropped out of school, going to therapy . .. sigh. i hope she gets her life together, but i'm not sure i want her back here. She was SO mean to us . . . the house is so peaceful without her . . . i was to blame for every single thing that ever went wrong . . .

 

I am so sorry! There are definitely those kids too and there isn't anything a parent can do about it. That's the heartbreak of all heartbreaks, the ones that refuse to be helped, refuse to change...I can relate to the narci thing...we've got two, one on each side of the family, and these people are brutal. In these cases, the blame is SQUARELY on the kid and you have to leave it there. It's unfortunate, but there is segment of people who won't change unless they hit rock bottom. Those kids, I just wish I could shake!!!! They cause so much pain and heartache for their loved ones. (Those kids aren't allowed to surf my couch or raid my fridge by the way. We try very hard not to enable that kind of behavior.)

 

:grouphug: :grouphug:

 

Faith

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One thing I try to make sure Dd knows is that college can actually really be a great deal of fun. I am not talking about parties or such, more the experience of having a smorgasboard of offerings to indulge the mind over four years. I joke that education and vacation have a great deal in common. College allows the chance to season oneself before entering the punch the clock world of work and bills. Seems a shame to miss it.

 

 

Agree. My college experience was rich and mentally stimulating as well. Exposed to many wonderful new ideas. I also became a Christian and met my future DH there, so college was a very life-defining event for me. BUT...

 

The skyrocketing college costs mean that what I paid for tuition and books (there were no fees back then), about $400-500/semester at the local university -- my DSs will pay over TEN TIMES as much at the same school (now $5000+/semester). Our income has certainly not increased in similar fashion. So it may not be so much a matter of choosing to miss the experience -- but simply not being able to afford the experience.

 

I think the money pressure is SO huge, that students who DO go to college don't feel free to have fun and explore. It's all about "grind it out as fast as you can" to avoid having to go even an extra semester (another $5000+), get the highest GPA you can to scrabble for the few available scholarship $$ or land one of few internships, and then scramble for one of the few jobs that are available even if you do get a degree.

 

I really feel the whole atmosphere of college (at least our local state university) has shifted towards the idea of work world readiness, and away from the original "mission statement" of colleges, which was development of philosophy, humanities, and the arts and sciences. But that somewhat reflects our everyday culture -- which is all about overtime, frantic pace, over-commitment, and not about time for reflection, developing the arts, or taking the time to do something well or beautifully.

 

And then add the stress of the slow economy and now we're all freaked about making enough to survive today, and about how we'll survive in retirement...

 

The college experience you and I had, Nscribe -- I think that today it is far less common that a school can provide it and students can receive it. By no means impossible; I just think students today have to make MUCH more of a conscious effort to look for and choose to have that rich experience...

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Sigh. Yes, there seems to be the damaged, the unfortunate, and the selfish. We know a few selfish ones we wish we could shake, too. Sigh.

 

Hugs, everyone.

Nan

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(Those kids aren't allowed to surf my couch or raid my fridge by the way. We try very hard not to enable that kind of behavior.)

 

Faith

 

Just goes to show the adage, "even Faith has limits"

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The college experience you and I had, Nscribe -- I think that today it is far less common that a school can provide it and students can receive it. By no means impossible; I just think students today have to make MUCH more of a conscious effort to look for and choose to have that rich experience...

 

 

I paid my way with a patchwork of jobs and merit aid. Frankly, I doubt it could be done today. It is like a place value has been added to every number, the decimal just made a leap to the right and appears to be ready to make another.

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Just goes to show the adage, "even Faith has limits"

 

 

:smilielol5:

 

Oh, yeah...as much as we love students and want to help them succeed there are limits and I have more times than not resembled this little image - :toetap05: :banghead:

 

Faith

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Beautiful posts, Nan and Faith! Thanks for sharing in depth on the couch surfing, mentoring, and alternatives to college, or postponing of college!

 

(I thought of quoting, but you each said SO many great things in several of the posts just above, that it would have exceeded maximum word count for a post... ;))

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I paid my way with a patchwork of jobs and merit aid. Frankly, I doubt it could be done today.

 

 

 

Exactly the same here. (Hmmm... maybe we are twins separated at birth... :cheers2: ) ;)

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Nan, you are so wise!

 

I'd also like to say that I've got a successful college drop-out in my family and he's doing GREAT! I have a nephew who is profoundly talented with electronics. He started out at a good CC that offered a lot of tech courses. His intention was to get his A.A./vo-tech electronics degree, but due to an unexpectedly huge influx of students, the school couldn't expand fast enough nor hire enough professors to adequately handle the load. He ended up on waiting lists to get into his "gen-ed' requirements though he was able to take all of his tech courses. While he waited, he started advertising as a repair/service guy...drop your I-pod in the pond, I guarantee you he can fix it...drop your phone and it falls apart, he can fix it....he can do all of it better than the tech support departments of these companies and he's largely self-taught.

 

His reputation in the city (small, mid-Michigan city) grew until his name came up at a local Dell computer service center. He ended up being offered a very good paying job with Dell servicing the computer equipment of a local hospital. My 20 year old nephew is the guy they call when the robotics arm fritzes during a surgery. No joke, he does the two minute scrub, and goes in and repairs the thing while the patient is on the table. He's done it more than once. He's the guy that repairs the ultrasound machine, the MRI, the....whatever. He just left Dell for an electronics firm that has put him in management and has him training other techies. Eventually, they'd like for him to have at least his two year degree, if not a bachelor's, but they are willing to give him flexible work time in order to accomodate classes and they are happy to pay for those classes too.

 

He's brilliant and a self-made man. He's also an unlikely success story. He struggled MIGHTILY in high school, he failed geometry twice before finally passing it during a summer online course with a private tutor in order to finally be able to enroll in algebra 2 his senior year so he could graduate and let me tell you, it took a boat load of money invested in tutoring that year in order for him to earn a D in algebra 2 so he could graduate. His GPA was 2.2. Most of what ailed him was bad preparation in math through the private Christian school he attended prior to high school, and the fallout of a VERY acrimonious divorce and the constant emotional turmoil his parents put him through as they volleyed for his affections. Despite it all, he rose above, and today at 20.5 years of age, he earns $62,000 per year with an excellent benefits package and he's moving up. Ask anyone within a two hour radius of here who the guru is in electronics and if they know anything about the field, they'll spit out my nephew's name. I'm so proud of him!!

 

But, again, notice that he didn't just scrape by high school AND land that job. He pursued not only self-education, but formalized education albeit not a degree. He formed a plan, a well-defined plan, and he worked towards it. He got his name out there by offering to do repairs for electronics devices at very low cost in order to build his name rapidly. When he was in high school and wanted to learn how to solder, draw a schematic, etch his own board, and wire it, etc. he came to dh and said, "Uncle M, can you teach me to do this?" He took the initiative. We were so concerned about his future we purchased some rather expensive soldering stations and other such tools and supplies for him to help him get started. His parents wouldn't do it. Note, it took the involvement and financial investment of concerned adults in his life to help him begin.

 

The key is the plan. The problem that we have now is most kids who don't leave high school with a college major in mind or a well-researched vo-tech goal in mind, are planless. That's the danger. These are the kids who will be making minimum wage FOREVER or end up never leaving a job that they won't be truly physically capable of doing well into their middle aged years. These are the kids that end up on Nan and I's couches because some how they made it through their childhoods and either did not possess the drive or did not have the family support to form a plan, a doable, executable, realistic plan and they don't understand that while there are many alternative plans to attending the local four year uni, they'll need to be flexible throughout their work years and at some point may have to take some uni classes in order to remain employed, that they may have to gain some additional training that their employer requires, or that they have to develop more than one skill set, or even someday a degree because we no longer live in an employment climate in which one get a job at 18 and hold that same job until they are 55 and retire on the company pension.

 

Faith

 

Faith, what an awesome post, even if I have to wipe up the water spots on the desk. :crying:

 

I have a tremendous amount respect for your nephew and what he has accomplished. That cannot have been an easy road. You and your dh are pretty amazing yourselves.

 

As someone whose older children are choosing alternate paths in place of a college education, I have been checking in on this thread when I can and really appreciate all of the wonderful input even though some of it is tough to read. Thanks everyone for taking the time to contribute and thanks to the OP for starting the thread.

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Just goes to show the adage, "even Faith has limits"

 

LOL

I think.

Sigh.

We've had to unfriend three. It is heartbreaking.

I guess the bit you don't want to limit is how often you try again.

keep trying, everyone.

 

Nan, who is emulating Jane in NC's example and is off to teach one of her couch surfers to knit socks (now that Jane has explained the hard bits). Maybe faith is the uninformed teaching the even more uninformed how to make socks. Prayers that we never let these young ones down when they need us would be welcome.

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LOL

I think.

Sigh.

We've had to unfriend three. It is heartbreaking.

I guess the bit you don't want to limit is how often you try again.

keep trying, everyone.

 

Nan, who is emulating Jane in NC's example and is off to teach one of her couch surfers to knit socks (now that Jane has explained the hard bits). Maybe faith is the uninformed teaching the even more uninformed how to make socks. Prayers that we never let these young ones down when they need us would be welcome.

 

You pray for me and I'll pray for you. Believe me, when I see my niece stumbling around for a foothold, in dark moments, I find myself questioning if we really did everything we could do when she lived with us. My head knows we did, my heart has a hard time believing it. But, she's in a better place now and we have hope, a lot of hope.

 

Sometimes I see a former couch occupant and it's not good and my chest hurts. Thankfully, sometimes I see former couch surfers happily employed with their own little apartments and plans for the future and do feel a little better. The successes keep me going.

 

I'm impressed you are teaching sock knitting. That always looks so hard to me! I'm teaching quilting to my current "drifter" - a boy and a very creative soul. He doesn't seem to mind. His first quilt top was made from material from used army uniforms. It has a red, white, and blue star border around it...doesn't exactly match all the camo and I'm certain others would think it's ugly, but I think it's beautiful.

 

Seriously, despite all of my declarations that I will retire from the education game when I'm done homeschooling, sometimes I think that's just a pipe dream because I have no self control and keep jumping into deep end of the education pool - I'm tutoring math, chemistry, physics, and reading comprehension on Wednesday nights at church starting the 13th. I didn't need one more thing to do between now and dd's wedding, but I honestly couldn't help myself.

 

Faith

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Mainly, I'd like to see a revolution in our education system from the ground up - HA, HA, HA...fat chance! - but especially from 7th grade on in which we would have multiple track options and those tracks would include everything from the most challenging academic courses appropriate for teens through Flower Arranging 101 and Advanced Woodworking with all of the options that exist in between, and summer classes for students who find themselves in one track and suddenly realize they'd like to jump to another. I think our society would be a bazillion times better off for providing this. Our economy would be better and kids would be more focused because they have the opportunity to find out what their natural talents and passions are and develop them before the crisis of "how will you support yourself" becomes paramount. Ultimately though, I think our culture needs a wake-up call and that's going to have to include a shift in parenting outlook concerning teens.

 

Faith

 

I think it's amazing and I am awed to see what you all are doing to help other young people.

 

I agree that the whole education system needs to be restructured, but gosh, it seems like such an overwhelming task. I feel like the problem is that it tries to get everyone to meet the same standards, just get everyone to meet X and Y requirements and then get them out the door. We have to be able to help kids make that plan, or else it doesn't matter whether they took all AP classes and have a 4.0 or if they barely passed algebra.

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ds18 is looking at Paramedic trng. $1000 for EMT and then going on for for paramedic trng (~$8k) with 99% hiring of grads and excellent future in health care- if you are willing to work for a hospital it's a great way to get RN, BSn etc paid for while making $35 -55K

 

 

The 99% hiring for paramedics must vary for different areas of the country. My son had a minimum wage summer job as a caregiver at an assisted living facility last year before starting college. He said several of his co-workers were EMTs and paramedics who could not find work in their field.

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One thing I try to make sure Dd knows is that college can actually really be a great deal of fun. I am not talking about parties or such, more the experience of having a smorgasboard of offerings to indulge the mind over four years. I joke that education and vacation have a great deal in common. College allows the chance to season oneself before entering the punch the clock world of work and bills. Seems a shame to miss it.

 

 

We spent the whole day in the car yesterday picking up middle son and his friend. The second half was full of hearing about their fun and academics. Alcoholic parties aren't part of their life. It was a blast! They are learning so much (academic and otherwise) and enjoying themselves in the process.

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So, why does the article not state how much debt these young people go into in order to get that degree? Why doesn't a degree guarantee a job? There are so many reports of college graduates working entry level jobs, or still living at home with no jobs. The best thing to do is not to go into debt for a college degree, but to take the long term approach work, and go to school, pay as you go, if you can not get scholarships to go to college. No need making your student a debtor to his degree. How many families are struggling to pay college debt while trying to start a family?

 

I don't think it's so unusual for college graduates to start off at the bottom. I think overall they have more options and the potential to earn more. Not that as soon as they graduate the sky is the limit. That is the sort of thing a lot of people don't talk about.

 

I actually did do a great deal better financially almost as soon as I graduated (and that was with a degree in a field that isn't notoriously a big money maker). Yes, I did start off in a job where the job description didn't require a degree, but shortly after gaining some experience I applied for positions within the company that did require a degree. Within a year of working at the place I made quite a bit more money.

 

This was the same with my husband. He has an engineering degree. His first couple of jobs were not the highest paying jobs and were the sorts of things that one could do without a degree. But he had a lot more options and within a few years he was making decent money. Now that he has years of experience he has more options and none of the jobs he would qualify for would be the sorts of things that one could get without a degree.

 

I agree on not wanting to graduate with choking amounts of debt, but not everyone does.

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We spent the whole day in the car yesterday picking up middle son and his friend. The second half was full of hearing about their fun and academics. Alcoholic parties aren't part of their life. It was a blast! They are learning so much (academic and otherwise) and enjoying themselves in the process.

 

That's wonderful, Creekland!

 

You know, I know the horror stories about the partying scene on campus, I just don't really know anyone who personally took part. My brother and I were serious students in college though we certainly had fun, appropriate, decent fun and my sister as well. My cousins were all the same way, and my nieces and nephews too. Sure, every parent worries that maybe their kid will become involved in that, but honestly, when dd started college, it just wasn't on my horizons.

 

I love hearing how your boy is doing. I suspect that good portion of his freshman year success has a lot to do with his upbringing coupled with a college that is an excellent fit for him.

 

Faith

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...My head knows we did, my heart has a hard time believing it.....

 

 

I am similarly haunted.

 

Agreed - I'll pray for you and you pray for me.

 

Hugs,

nan

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Beautiful posts, Nan and Faith! Thanks for sharing in depth on the couch surfing, mentoring, and alternatives to college, or postponing of college!

 

(I thought of quoting, but you each said SO many great things in several of the posts just above, that it would have exceeded maximum word count for a post... ;))

 

 

:iagree: I started off multi-quoting some of them, but there there was just so much I agreed with that it was nice to come across this post and make my life easier! Thanks Lori! (and Faith and Nan)

 

Agree. My college experience was rich and mentally stimulating as well. Exposed to many wonderful new ideas. I also became a Christian and met my future DH there, so college was a very life-defining event for me. BUT...

 

The skyrocketing college costs mean that what I paid for tuition and books (there were no fees back then), about $400-500/semester at the local university -- my DSs will pay over TEN TIMES as much at the same school (now $5000+/semester). Our income has certainly not increased in similar fashion. So it may not be so much a matter of choosing to miss the experience -- but simply not being able to afford the experience.

 

I think the money pressure is SO huge, that students who DO go to college don't feel free to have fun and explore. It's all about "grind it out as fast as you can" to avoid having to go even an extra semester (another $5000+), get the highest GPA you can to scrabble for the few available scholarship $$ or land one of few internships, and then scramble for one of the few jobs that are available even if you do get a degree.

 

I really feel the whole atmosphere of college (at least our local state university) has shifted towards the idea of work world readiness, and away from the original "mission statement" of colleges, which was development of philosophy, humanities, and the arts and sciences. But that somewhat reflects our everyday culture -- which is all about overtime, frantic pace, over-commitment, and not about time for reflection, developing the arts, or taking the time to do something well or beautifully.

 

And then add the stress of the slow economy and now we're all freaked about making enough to survive today, and about how we'll survive in retirement...

 

The college experience you and I had, Nscribe -- I think that today it is far less common that a school can provide it and students can receive it. By no means impossible; I just think students today have to make MUCH more of a conscious effort to look for and choose to have that rich experience...

 

 

I agree with you here, too, Lori. I'm really glad we've found niches for my older two where they can enjoy the experience (including academic education) of college and have fun at affordable prices (albeit with some debt for them - just not tons of it). Middle son is even eagerly talking about taking 5 years with UR's Take Five (free tuition the 5th year) program and it's great to hear him loving what he is doing and knowing it can be an option. I really, really hope youngest can find an affordable school that fits him well. He's taking the SAT today. We'll see what happens. It was definitely easier finding affordable fits with high stats kids... But time will tell.

 

He will get in to schools he is considering (currently Palm Beach Atlantic, Eckerd, Juniata, Baylor) but at what price? Not all schools are great with aid (merit or need based). We're also still combing through school data carefully looking for more options and will consider anything else suggested. He insists it not be north of PA and has a definite preference for south.

 

I think it's amazing and I am awed to see what you all are doing to help other young people.

 

I agree that the whole education system needs to be restructured, but gosh, it seems like such an overwhelming task. I feel like the problem is that it tries to get everyone to meet the same standards, just get everyone to meet X and Y requirements and then get them out the door. We have to be able to help kids make that plan, or else it doesn't matter whether they took all AP classes and have a 4.0 or if they barely passed algebra.

 

 

:iagree: :iagree: :iagree: !

 

That's wonderful, Creekland!

 

You know, I know the horror stories about the partying scene on campus, I just don't really know anyone who personally took part. My brother and I were serious students in college though we certainly had fun, appropriate, decent fun and my sister as well. My cousins were all the same way, and my nieces and nephews too. Sure, every parent worries that maybe their kid will become involved in that, but honestly, when dd started college, it just wasn't on my horizons.

 

I love hearing how your boy is doing. I suspect that good portion of his freshman year success has a lot to do with his upbringing coupled with a college that is an excellent fit for him.

 

Faith

 

 

There are definitely kids at school who major or minor in party (at both of my kid's schools). It's just never been part of our lifestyle. (I went to a party once when I was in college and hated it.) I'm thankful my boys have inherited my (and hubby's) genes in that regard and get their dopamine rushes doing other things - and continue the studying (which they enjoy since they are topics they like). Yesterday they talked about snowball wars, American Sign Language events, movies - both popular and niche - a Presidential Writing exhibit, Improv, making "campaign" videos (not politics, but for clubs), relaxing in the lounge, relaxing on the quad, frisbee, and much more I'm forgetting right now - 6 hours worth, probably 7 with dinner.

 

Finding an excellent fit is incredibly important. Finding one that is also affordable is like gold to me, but it take a bit of research. It seldom is just "college A." When one doesn't have the money, one has to look carefully at stats, types and amounts of aid, and fit. Prayer hasn't hurt either.

 

I do know we (parents) will be donating to our boy's schools long after tuition payments are finished. I'm eternally grateful they gave my boys their opportunities.

 

One more to try my best with and see what happens.

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I don't think it's so unusual for college graduates to start off at the bottom. I think overall they have more options and the potential to earn more. Not that as soon as they graduate the sky is the limit. That is the sort of thing a lot of people don't talk about.

 

I actually did do a great deal better financially almost as soon as I graduated (and that was with a degree in a field that isn't notoriously a big money maker). Yes, I did start off in a job where the job description didn't require a degree, but shortly after gaining some experience I applied for positions within the company that did require a degree. Within a year of working at the place I made quite a bit more money.

 

This was the same with my husband. He has an engineering degree. His first couple of jobs were not the highest paying jobs and were the sorts of things that one could do without a degree. But he had a lot more options and within a few years he was making decent money. Now that he has years of experience he has more options and none of the jobs he would qualify for would be the sorts of things that one could get without a degree.

 

I agree on not wanting to graduate with choking amounts of debt, but not everyone does.

 

 

Good point.

 

Life is long. Statistics have a hard time predicting what will happen over our children's lifetimes based on what happened over our grandparents' lifetimes. College is such an enormous investiment that I think some of the people for whom this is a new part of their family culture want proof beforehand that it is going to be worth it, and statistics can't really show that. Those of us with living examples of whole lives that were better because of college (not just in monetary ways) have an easier time believing that this is going to be worth it. They want statistics and all we can offer them is examples.

 

Nan

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I do know we (parents) will be donating to our boy's schools long after tuition payments are finished. I'm eternally grateful they gave my boys their opportunities.

 

One more to try my best with and see what happens.

 

 

We feel the same way. U of M has been a good fit for R and treated her well. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's great for her and we've donated to some merit funds in order to give back for someone else.

 

I hope we feel this way about each of the institutions the boys eventually land at.

 

Faith

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Good point.

 

Life is long. Statistics have a hard time predicting what will happen over our children's lifetimes based on what happened over our grandparents' lifetimes. College is such an enormous investiment that I think some of the people for whom this is a new part of their family culture want proof beforehand that it is going to be worth it, and statistics can't really show that. Those of us with living examples of whole lives that were better because of college (not just in monetary ways) have an easier time believing that this is going to be worth it. They want statistics and all we can offer them is examples.

 

Nan

 

 

I've seen the proof for myself. Yes, I kind of was under the impression it would be easier when I got out of college than it actually was, but I think having that degree did open doors for me that would not have been open.

 

I've also seen older family members lose their jobs they had for years (without a degree) who found themselves in a tough spot because their choices were limited by not having a degree. If the economy is tight and employers have their pick, they probably are going to choose those with a degree over those who don't. I'm talking about jobs that pay something. Not the minimum wage cashier job.

 

At the company my husband works for they won't hire anyone without a degree. Even the receptionist position requires a minimum of an associate's degree. The people who answer the phones to assist customers with the products also need degrees. Frankly neither of those jobs, IMO, really NEED to be performed by people with college educations, but they have their pick of applicants.

 

Although there are careers/options for people who go to these 1 or 2 year technical schools. My sister went for medical assisting and had tons of options that paid a living wage.

 

But for those with no education at all, I don't even know what kinds of jobs they could get that would pay anything. I guess one can work their way up somewhere, but I imagine the climb up is steeper and if they go up against someone with a degree who has the same experience the applicant with the degree will likely get the job.

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One thing I try to make sure Dd knows is that college can actually really be a great deal of fun. I am not talking about parties or such, more the experience of having a smorgasboard of offerings to indulge the mind over four years. I joke that education and vacation have a great deal in common. College allows the chance to season oneself before entering the punch the clock world of work and bills. Seems a shame to miss it.

 

 

My youngest belongs to a multi-aged pack of friends. When the oldest went off to college, before he made friends there he emailed my son a blow-by-blow account of his experiences. It happened when his older brother was miserably trying to make it through his college degree and we were all sympathizing, trying to help him. I was SO grateful for that older friend! Ours had heard our college stories from the time they were little, but he needed something a bit more current to counteract oldest's misery. (Oldest is now an exceedingly happy graduate, by the way, daily proof of the benefits and a staunch advocate of working hard at college. He's not big on the "fun" part, though.)

 

Nan

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Faith - I LOVE the quilt story. I will treasure that one. As for the socks - she's lefthanded and I'm righthanded, so this is going to be especially interesting. On the other hand, she just made three hats with no pattern at all, so obviously she's not all thumbs. -Nan

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The key is the plan. The problem that we have now is most kids who don't leave high school with a college major in mind or a well-researched vo-tech goal in mind, are planless. That's the danger. These are the kids who will be making minimum wage FOREVER or end up never leaving a job that they won't be truly physically capable of doing well into their middle aged years. These are the kids that end up on Nan and I's couches because some how they made it through their childhoods and either did not possess the drive or did not have the family support to form a plan, a doable, executable, realistic plan and they don't understand that while there are many alternative plans to attending the local four year uni, they'll need to be flexible throughout their work years and at some point may have to take some uni classes in order to remain employed, that they may have to gain some additional training that their employer requires, or that they have to develop more than one skill set, or even someday a degree because we no longer live in an employment climate in which one get a job at 18 and hold that same job until they are 55 and retire on the company pension.

 

Faith

 

 

I think when people point to the high school drop outs or non-college degreed who are struggling OR to the college graduate who is struggling, there may be a common trait of lack of planning. It is one thing to say that college is a place to explore, think and mature. But that doesn't mean that it is wise to take a six figure loan and come out prepared to be an entry level teacher or social worker with little prospect of paying those loans off. And it may well be that the exploring, thinking and maturing that used to happen on college campuses doesn't happen quite so much these days. (Sometimes I think it's a lot more about advocating for this or that pet issue without real research or reflection.) When I look at how little military history or American History is taught for example, I think that the time for these subjects will have to be self-study during morning commutes after earning the degree to get a job. I would probably say the same for most study of classic works too.)

 

I got interupted in the midst of my "don't raise your kids to be dupes" post up-thread. It's not only for those who don't go to college. Lack of real insight and planning and an expectation that you gain the world by wishing, not working can hit college students too. And they are often older and more in debt to boot.

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We spent the whole day in the car yesterday picking up middle son and his friend. The second half was full of hearing about their fun and academics. Alcoholic parties aren't part of their life. It was a blast! They are learning so much (academic and otherwise) and enjoying themselves in the process.

 

 

 

That is wonderful! It's so good to hear how all of your DC are doing, being in the same place of life with all you lovely ladies! :)

 

 

We are very blessed that our DSs are having a wonderful post-high school experience as well. Older DS is very connected with friends around the country from working on Worldview Academy staff. He also is part of a college Bible study group he really enjoys, and he plays ultimate frisbee regularly with a group of high school and college students. Younger DS hangs out a lot with a group of young men he knows from homeschooling that range in age from 16-21, some finishing home school high school, some going to college, one working full time. They go to the gym together regularly, go hiking, watch action movies, having gaming nights, etc. We are so blessed neither DS is at all interested in the "party" scene!!

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I think when people point to the high school drop outs or non-college degreed who are struggling OR to the college graduate who is struggling, there may be a common trait of lack of planning. It is one thing to say that college is a place to explore, think and mature. But that doesn't mean that it is wise to take a six figure loan and come out prepared to be an entry level teacher or social worker with little prospect of paying those loans off. And it may well be that the exploring, thinking and maturing that used to happen on college campuses doesn't happen quite so much these days. (Sometimes I think it's a lot more about advocating for this or that pet issue without real research or reflection.) When I look at how little military history or American History is taught for example, I think that the time for these subjects will have to be self-study during morning commutes after earning the degree to get a job. I would probably say the same for most study of classic works too.)

 

I got interupted in the midst of my "don't raise your kids to be dupes" post up-thread. It's not only for those who don't go to college. Lack of real insight and planning and an expectation that you gain the world by wishing, not working can hit college students too. And they are often older and more in debt to boot.

Let's bear in mind that the average debt load is not $100K+--it is $25K. The latter may actually prove to be a wise investment in the student's future.

 

I will beg to differ on your comment regarding history and classics. While perhaps not directly applicable to the "real world", learning to think and research can pay off. Do you remember when MBAs started entering the corporate world enmasse in the '90's? I encountered one group of bean counters that could only see the immediate bottom line and not the long term picture. They made changes affecting office purchases (immediate bottom line) that made employees jobs less productive in the long run. It was stupid. Their training consisted of analyzing spread sheets--not thinking or observing.

 

I still see a place for a solid Liberal Arts education. Technology and procedures change. Being able to think and adapt is a good thing.

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Let's bear in mind that the average debt load is not $100K+--it is $25K. The latter may actually prove to be a wise investment in the student's future.

 

I will beg to differ on your comment regarding history and classics. While perhaps not directly applicable to the "real world", learning to think and research can pay off. Do you remember when MBAs started entering the corporate world enmasse in the '90's? I encountered one group of bean counters that could only see the immediate bottom line and not the long term picture. They made changes affecting office purchases (immediate bottom line) that made employees jobs less productive in the long run. It was stupid. Their training consisted of analyzing spread sheets--not thinking or observing.

 

I still see a place for a solid Liberal Arts education. Technology and procedures change. Being able to think and adapt is a good thing.

 

 

:rofl: Hey! I resemble that remark.

 

Jane, one of the most embarrassing, yet enlightening moments of my graduate school career came on my way out the door. I think the class was something like Finance 565 and was the final case study. I received an "A: in the class and went to talk to the professor. Weird, I know, but I knew on that final that I had blown a mathematical model - an important one and in my mind there was no way I could get an "A." It was an enlightening meeting. It came down to the fact that while he could see that my mathematical skills were not quite what they could be, my analytic skills were fine. Actually, I am not even sure if I would call them analytic skills, often I can "see" an outcome even if I can't quantify it. After the prof told me it was unusual to have a student complain about a higher grade, he chuckled and suggested that in my future career, I hire a "bean counter" to construct the those pesky models, as long as I could understand the outcome and what the analysis meant in terms of the impact on the workforce. :blushing:

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that reminds me of my programming class when I was a freshman. i'd gotten permission to skip the first level course because i'd taken it over the summer, elsewhere. we had accounts on the mainframe with only 1 hour of time per day. on our final project, i didnt manage to get it fully running and i was out of time. he gave me a much higher grade than I expected - but he'd done it on an earlier project, too. He could see that my logic was correct but i had some simple errors in my coding.

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Let's bear in mind that the average debt load is not $100K+--it is $25K. The latter may actually prove to be a wise investment in the student's future.

 

I will beg to differ on your comment regarding history and classics. While perhaps not directly applicable to the "real world", learning to think and research can pay off. Do you remember when MBAs started entering the corporate world enmasse in the '90's? I encountered one group of bean counters that could only see the immediate bottom line and not the long term picture. They made changes affecting office purchases (immediate bottom line) that made employees jobs less productive in the long run. It was stupid. Their training consisted of analyzing spread sheets--not thinking or observing.

 

I still see a place for a solid Liberal Arts education. Technology and procedures change. Being able to think and adapt is a good thing.

 

 

I think it's also important to remember that average debt load means some people have $100,000 in loans and some have $0. And do these averages take into account parent loans? I don't think you need to take on any significant debt to get a college degree. I know people who go part-time, who choose low cost cc options, etc.

 

There is merit in studying what interests you. I also believe there is a place for a solid l liberal arts education. My 10th grader loves classics. I would be just as supportive of minimal debt for a classics major as an engineering major. I would not support taking bigger debt for either major. My oldest is graduating from pharmacy school this year. Her company interviewed over 100 internal candidates for positions and sent out about 16 offers when she got her offer. She also knows people who've spent several years doing a residency and now can't find a job. There are no guarantees anywhere, even in so-called high demand fields. When dd started school, her college's job placement rate for her program was 100%. No longer. There are way more pharmacy schools in our area now. And I'm pretty sure all these schools are assuring kids they will land a great six-figure plus job. Buyer beware.

 

I also don't know many people who make a conscious decision to drop out of college because they think are going to have fabulous results by quitting part-way through. People I know who believe such things tend to like taking the easy way out. They have grandiose ideas/plans that never seem to pan out.

 

I agree more employers want degrees for jobs that never required them before, but the push for credentials (especially narrowly focused credentials) for every job is not necessarily a good thing. Education becomes more about very focused job training, not about learning how to think. And this is where I think that guy who wrote the CC/new head of the CB goes awry with his statement that kids shouldn't be journaling about their childhood but should instead be doing market analyses.

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I think it's also important to remember that average debt load means some people have $100,000 in loans and some have $0. And do these averages take into account parent loans? I don't think you need to take on any significant debt to get a college degree. I know people who go part-time, who choose low cost cc options, etc.

 

I believe that many of the people with $100K+ in student loans are people who have attended medical or law school. These programs are expensive with no time for a side job to fund one's housing, etc.

 

Perhaps there is an analysis that includes parent PLUS loans, but there is no way that a study could look at home equity loans to determine if people are using the money for school or a new roof.

 

No one has argued a case for "significant" debt. Here is a case in which people have their own comfort zone. The median debt (usually accrued by Stafford loans) is not significant for some but significant for others. It comes back to finding the best college fit for our students given their talents and interests as well as our family finances. No one size fits all. And that includes attending college. I think many of us as parents know that there are no guarantees. We are trying to improve odds.

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I believe that many of the people with $100K+ in student loans are people who have attended medical or law school. These programs are expensive with no time for a side job to fund one's housing, etc.

 

Perhaps there is an analysis that includes parent PLUS loans, but there is no way that a study could look at home equity loans to determine if people are using the money for school or a new roof.

 

No one has argued a case for "significant" debt. Here is a case in which people have their own comfort zone. The median debt (usually accrued by Stafford loans) is not significant for some but significant for others. It comes back to finding the best college fit for our students given their talents and interests as well as our family finances. No one size fits all. And that includes attending college. I think many of us as parents know that there are no guarantees. We are trying to improve odds.

 

 

I was just pointing out that "average" does not mean that's what any one person has for debt. :) But I do think some people make a case for significant debt. They believe there is a payoff at the end of the road. They believe the college experience is worth it. They think that's the only way to get a degree. I know people shackled by debt who are suffering because of it, but at one point in time they felt it was perfectly fine for them to take that debt on. Are they the rare exception? I don't know. And I also know all about what's involved in getting through a graduate professional program, having done it myself. There are law schools that have part-time programs where students work day jobs. http://grad-schools....me-law-rankings

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Because most do not go into outrageous amounts of debt to obtain a degree. The average debt among college grads is < $25000 and that doesn't count those with no debt who make up a significant proportion of grads.

 

Those with huge debt make the headlines, but they aren't the norm and NO ONE I know ever recommends a student take on so much. The other article I posted today showed that many employers prefer state schools as much as private (with flagships scoring higher).

 

With regards to not getting jobs, college grads still have a lower unemployment rate and higher earnings than those without a degree of some sort. That degree can be a two year or trade school.

 

I just listened to an NPR podcast about this very subject. The host discussed this article from a recent Atlantic Monthly:

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/myth-student-loan-crisis/309231/

 

Of course there are no "guarantees," but, on average, as a group, those who go to college experience lower unemployment and higher earnings than those who don't. The graphic at the link above also shows that the vast majority (over 70%) of students in this country graduate with a total debt of less than $25,000.

 

Admittedly, math is not my strong suit. However, as I read this graphic, it looks to me like the difference in average weekly salaries between someone with a high school diploma only and someone with a bachelor's degree is a little over $400. If we divide that $25,000 debt by $400, it works out to a little over 62 weeks, or 1.2 years. That seems to me like an extremely reasonable investment in one's future, even if all we take into account is the economic value.

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I was just pointing out that "average" does not mean that's what any one person has for debt. :)

Valid point. And it occurs to me that students who are enrolled in for-profit colleges (often part timers) have more average debt than those attending traditional colleges.

 

Buyer beware.

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And a bad back, too, due to an on-the-job injury that he has had to contend with now for probably 15 years. It only takes one unexpected accident to very suddenly and very thoroughly change physical well-being for the rest of your life. :(

 

 

I know you weren't discounting our experience Tibbie. I just needed a moment to vent... It is so hard to carry the double load of watching the job eat my DH alive, and to have it also have cut off so many of my dreams by turning my DH into an old man before his time. :(

 

Take a moment to be grateful for good health, a strong back, a clear mind, and being able to enjoy simple pleasures without pain.

 

 

My husband struggles with this kind of thing, too. When he was still in his teens, he was working his first full-time job in the same company at which his father spent almost all of his career (in the days when that was still something one did). He lifted a piece of equipment, didn't support it properly, and injured his back. For the last 30 years, he's had to cope with the fall-out of that one incorrect lift. And it gets more difficult for him with every passing year. Now, at going-on-50, it's rare that he has a day without significant pain. And there are more and more times when he has to pass on participating in even simple activities he used to enjoy, because his body simply won't cooperate.

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We spent the whole day in the car yesterday picking up middle son and his friend. The second half was full of hearing about their fun and academics. Alcoholic parties aren't part of their life. It was a blast! They are learning so much (academic and otherwise) and enjoying themselves in the process.

 

 

It is good to hear that many of you have college age kids who have avoided the party scene and are enjoying their lives happily without that experience. What do you think you did or what do you think made them resistant to falling in to the peer pressures of that? Is it the major they chose, where it was a closer knit group of kids more serious about school? (I could see that being the case in a science major, for example, where it was a smaller group of kids together from freshman year on.) When I was in college, most people were "undeclared" from the beginning, and lots of people chose things like fraternities and sororities to become a group they would identify with. I really want to start forming my sons' attitudes about this now, at the beginning of the teen years, and not just hope that they don't fall into this.

 

 

Also, I think that, as a young person who was an idealist and didn't have basically any help or guidance with forming a plan, it is not so much about not wanting to work hard, or thinking that you can wish yourself into a successful job later. For me, I don't think I really knew what life and the real world would be like. I didn't really "know", in the way of being helped to plan for, that it would be helpful to have a plan B and C and D, or that it would be really hard to go back to school for something specific after I had kids, etc. I just thought, oh, I want a family, I can have a career later, money is not important, a career isn't worth anything if you don't have happiness, family, etc. So, while I still believe those things to be true, now I just have a different and more realistic perspective of what it takes in the real world. No, money is not the most important thing in the world. However, having money allows you to do a lot of things. Support a family, give your kids opportunities, contribute to the world in terms of volunteering your time and resources, help your parents as they age, etc. If you are struggling trying to pay the bills and put food on the table, then that is really stressful.

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It is good to hear that many of you have college age kids who have avoided the party scene and are enjoying their lives happily without that experience. What do you think you did or what do you think made them resistant to falling in to the peer pressures of that? Is it the major they chose, where it was a closer knit group of kids more serious about school? (I could see that being the case in a science major, for example, where it was a smaller group of kids together from freshman year on.) When I was in college, most people were "undeclared" from the beginning, and lots of people chose things like fraternities and sororities to become a group they would identify with. I really want to start forming my sons' attitudes about this now, at the beginning of the teen years, and not just hope that they don't fall into this.

 

 

I don't think it's the major, esp since my two in college have chosen completely different fields. I think it's more a bunch of small things adding up. We, ourselves, don't drink often - perhaps once or twice a year and just to celebrate things (or just with dinner when that's what's happening where we are). We definitely don't forbid drinking. If we did, I think that would be a "rebellion factor" and could end up negative.

 

Over the years we've watched various shows/movies/etc that show excessive drinking in a bad light - Bill Cosby has a great comedy routine for this. There's also a section in Proverbs - chapter 31 - that has a mom talking to her son, the king, telling him, "It is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more." We don't discuss it often, but it has been discussed and is something they recognize when they are making their own decisions. My boys want to be the kings...

 

Then, they see the local "drinking" culture and realize many of those kids/adults really don't have much of a future beyond basic jobs. Oldest worked at a food factory and saw essentially all his permanent co-workers complaining about everything from lack of money to lack of opportunity - then spend their paycheck each week at the local bar. My kids have decided they wanted more/better. Drinking is NOT wrong (in our opinion), but spending all your time/money to get drunk... well, it's not what they want out of life.

 

And... we brought them up doing other things to get their "highs." They were never couch potatoes and can't tell you all the hits on TV. They aren't good at video games (but have played some). They can describe many hikes, National Parks, they're scuba certified, they read and/or do science labs of their own - they use our microscope for fun. They've launched rockets, climbed trees, built forts, fished, hunted, rode ponies, and played a ton of board games. They know HOW to have fun by deciding to do other things and they have a wealth of options to choose from - plus aren't afraid of trying new things.

 

None of this started from high school or college age. It started from toddlerhood. We always took them with us when they traveled and didn't have them hooked on videos in the back. Instead, they invented their own game - something about buying/selling stuff they saw along the sides of the road - from water rights and forests to livestock. I never totally understood it, but it kept them engaged for miles and hours - plus - they saw the sights.

 

We didn't know how to pass on our lifestyle - no more than any parent really. It was nothing we purposely did. It just happened because we included them as part of our life without "making" them be like us. They've always known it was their choice. I think that may be an important step - along with learning how to enjoy the many aspects of life.

 

ps We don't shelter them from TV/movies when we choose to watch them. We've watched everything from MASH to the Big Bang Theory (neither of which are particularly "our" life, but are fun to watch). We also remain friends with those who choose to live lifestyles different than ours (TV, drinking, whatever). In our family, tolerance and "Live and Let Live" is important. What we choose for ourselves, we choose. We allow others to do the same. Perhaps that made it easier to choose to be different elsewhere too - but mine aren't the only "different" ones out there. They have similar minded friends, and the non-drinking "crowd" isn't necessarily based upon religious beliefs. It's a bunch of kids who choose to get their highs with other things in life.

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Let's bear in mind that the average debt load is not $100K+--it is $25K. The latter may actually prove to be a wise investment in the student's future.

 

I will beg to differ on your comment regarding history and classics. While perhaps not directly applicable to the "real world", learning to think and research can pay off. Do you remember when MBAs started entering the corporate world enmasse in the '90's? I encountered one group of bean counters that could only see the immediate bottom line and not the long term picture. They made changes affecting office purchases (immediate bottom line) that made employees jobs less productive in the long run. It was stupid. Their training consisted of analyzing spread sheets--not thinking or observing.

 

I still see a place for a solid Liberal Arts education. Technology and procedures change. Being able to think and adapt is a good thing.

I must have phrased it poorly. I'm not discounting the value of classics at all. I am concerned that they are little taught or oft pushed aside in favor of boutique classes that claim to be more relevant, but are often just trendy.

 

Try to find a great books class or a military history course (let alone a degree). How many students read ancient works or great world literature?

 

My point was not that these thing are low value but rather that they may have to be subjects pursued by interested students outside academe.

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I can't like the above post enough!

 

We've taken a similar path. Our kids have seen us drink an occasional glass of wine with a meal and in the back of the fridge there is a small amount of rum and another small amount of sherry for me to cook with. They know that every October I struggle with a virus that causes three weeks of laryingitis that doctors have never been able to help with, but if I have one hot toddy before I go to bed at night for three straight evenings, I have only three or four days of laryingitis and much less throat pain. So, they've seen the medicinal use of alcohol or responsible occasional imbibing and I think that helped dd develop a healthy outlook on alcohol consumption and healthy boundaries.

 

Additionally, we've tried over the years to befriend and help an alcoholic neighbor. The kids have seen the other side of drinking, passed out in a pool of his own vomit, rolled the car from drinking and driving, only has supervised visitation to his kids who eventually grew into teens that want nothing to do with him, etc. I would hazard a guess that this affected their perspective as well.

 

I will say that when I was in college the factors that appeared to relate to the partying crowd were coming from monied families that gave their college students generous spending allowances with no strings attached and not having to contribute to their own school bills by working a campus job, taking out a student loan, working like a dog every summer to make money for the next year, or having scholarships that had to be maintained with GPA requirements or community service requirements, or research or whatever. The lack of responsibility for how one spent his/her money and the fact that this was not likely to negatively impact their ability to stay in school, seemed to lead to more irresponsible behavior. Not only did dh and I have merit aid tied to GPA, but I had scholarships tied to the amount of hours I lived and breathed piano practice and at the first sign of not meeting expectations, I was going to be bounced. So, you can bet I worked hard and so did dh. Shoot, if he'd had a single grade drop his father would have been on campus embarassing him in front of his friends and busting his hump so fast his head would have spun clean off his shoulders. I do think that having responsibility to your family to act responsibly does make a difference. Since we have no intention of financially underwriting poor grades, dd has had to maintain a 3.0 minimum to continue to have money from us. It will be the same for the boys. DD has managed a 3.89 without tremendous angst and she does have a social life...she is having fun. It's just good clean fun that leaves your brain cells quite capable of going directly from the pizza party to the lab without sobering up or sleeping it off first.

 

The other thing I'd like to speak to is s*x scene which often goes hand in hand with drinking scene. We.have.been.brutally.frank. and for a lot of parents, that's an uncomfortable conversation they hope someone else is having with their kid in health class because they don't want to. But, we have not left that to chance. Dd and the elder boys who are mature enough to really talk about this stuff know exactly what Aids, Hep C, and a host of s*xually transmitted disease look like, what life is like living with them, and the fact that anyone you have s*x with is bringing to you the risk factors of all the other people they've had s*x with...procreative abilities are not to be taken lightly. While we come from a religious background in which celibacy until marriage is definitely considered a moral good, we aren't naive enough to believe the kids won't be tempted and they are only human. So, we prepare them...we want them to think and think carefully about these encounters. As we put it, "Choose, but choose wisely. For while the true grail will bring you life, the false grail will take it from you." To quote the Knight in Indiana Jones III...it is very true.

 

When dd was in paramedic school, I had her bring home her OBGYN text. We MADE the boys look at the pics from some of the lesser known, not talked about much, diseases. We are talking about black, necrotic flesh here and the pics are not pretty. Again, our goal wasn't to permanently scare them, but to impress upon them the necessity of choosing wisely when it comes to the party life.

 

Of course, dd, ever the pragmatic medical professional, told her fiance he'd have to get his privates checked out and certified clean as a whistle before there would ever be a honeymoon! Snicker, snicker...so much for romance!

 

But, I think that information, information, information, is the key. We cannot guarantee the choices that our kids will make when they leave our watchful care, but we can absolutely make sure they have the facts, the bald face facts before them and this hopefully, means they'll choose to live responsibly. Also, I truly do not think it is manipulative for a parent so say to a child, "Our financial help and continued support is based on your work ethic." No, I think forcing a 4.0 is unreasonable because no matter how hard they study and work, they may encounter professors who are very stingy with A's. But, a 3.0 does allow for that or a C in a particularly difficult class and a lot of B's and I think that is a reasonable expectation. For a student who really wants to attend college but might have some maturity issues, having a campus job or having some accountability at home, is not a bad thing.

 

Faith

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