Should Everyone Go to College?

IMG_0728With all the news about presidential candidates promising free college, free community college, or forgiving college debt, I’ve been wondering if everyone should go to college? Why spend $120,000 for a state university to $260,000 for a private school out of your
life-savings or saddle your kids with debt? What are the kids getting in return? A bill that will take them 30 years to pay off?

I have several friends whose children are going off to college next year. They have opted for a year of work to save, two years of community college out of town, or staying at home and going to the local community college. Then they will transfer to a UC school.      I was always a fan of the four-year experience because that’s how I was raised. But, this makes practical sense. Why take out a loan as big as a mortgage for an education that you can at least cut the costs in half?

Several years ago I wrote some thoughts about the college experience and why so many kids fail or drop out. With the high costs of college it doesn’t make sense to waste that money if your kids aren’t ready. Here’s my thoughts:

I wonder why so many kids fail college? I was shocked to read a statistic from the ACT that 50% of freshman students do not return for their second year. Then, 30% of those remaining, do not graduate within five years!

Why? What can we do to better prepare our kids for college? There is so much pressure on our kids to get into great schools. You’d think with the great expense, and all their work to get in, it would be a breeze once they are there. But, it’s not.

My daughter and friend on a recruit trip.

My daughter and friend on a recruit trip.

Here’s my list of why I think kids fail their freshman year:

ONE

Too many kids go to college. I do not think everyone should go. When I was in high school the majority of students did not continue their education past high school. They were able to get jobs, support themselves and their families without a college education. There are many trades and careers that can support families like plumbers, contractors, electricians, hair dressers, masseuses, etc. Today, a college degree has become the norm and standard. There are many kids who would be better served to work for a few years, and then decide if they want to go to college. By having everyone go, and not everyone is equipped to go, some kids are set up for failure.


TWO

High school doesn’t prepare kids for college. The work is often spoon-fed by teachers in little lumps of daily assignments and reading. Having a syllabus with a couple dates on it and no day-to-day requirements is more what college is like. It takes discipline, motivation and self-determination to not procrastinate but to work and study in advance of deadlines.

imgres

A gorgeous location. UCSB.

THREE

We do too much. As helicopter, hovering parents, we are afraid to let our kids fail. We don’t let our kids learn from their mistakes. They need to have more chores, part-time jobs or something to do besides homework. Some of the crazy, heavy AP schedules don’t allow for real-life experiences. Plus, we cater to our kids’ every need—even to the point of helping them complete projects or assignments. My conversation with four-time Olympian and former University of Texas head coach Jill Sterkel included some great advice that you can read on SwimSwam here. She believes in letting kids work out their problems in a less high-stakes environment. We need to give them room to do this.

FOUR

Millennials mature later, according to Kari Ellingson, Vice President at the University of Utah. I attended a talk by her at orientation with my daughter. I wrote more about her talk here. According to Ellingson, “It used to be people matured around 19, 20, 21. Today it’s 26, 27 or 28.” It’s no wonder they can’t handle the many demands of laundry, getting their own food, studying, etc. Maybe our kids are not mature enough to handle the responsibilities of college at age 18?

What do you think are the reasons why so many kids fail in college? What alternatives have you seen to high college costs? 

My kids not wanting me to take their pic on the UCSB campus.

My kids not wanting me to take their pic on the UCSB campus.

Advertisements

What is a “quarter-life crisis” and are our kids headed for one?

IMG_0235

As a parent with two kids in the millennial age group, I was struck by the term “quarter-life crisis.” There is definitely a transition period after college graduation and trying to figure out the next phase of their lives. My daughter is a senior in college and she’s unsure what comes next. My son spent six-months after college graduation trying out a few different jobs before landing one that he thinks he’s sticking with for “a year or two.” Then it’s back to graduate school?

In an article I read on CNBC, Linda Ha describes the uncertainty of graduating from college and facing the question—“what’s next?”

“Millennials face life after college, finding a ‘quarter-life crisis’ instead of dream jobs

“Some freshly minted graduates feel sad, helpless and isolated because of constant change and too many choices.

“The idea of a ‘quarter-life crisis’ has led some millennials to struggle in their search for post-graduate meaning.

” ‘I consistently tried to avoid people, and I would ignore messages on my phone,’ one grad tells CNBC.

“Raphael Natividad is guilty of something most millennials don’t usually do: ignoring his phone.

“Natividad, who recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a degree in heath policy, has a legitimate reason, one that speaks to an existential crisis that has befallen a growing number recent graduates.

” ‘I was ashamed that I didn’t have a full-time job right after college, and that shame made me hesitant to spend time with underclassmen or with peers who I thought had brighter futures,’ Natividad told CNBC in a recent interview.

” ‘I consistently tried to avoid people, and I would ignore messages on my phone or on group chats to avoid any conversation about the future.’

“Although not an official designation by the American Psychiatric Association, a few therapists are using the term ‘post-graduation depression.’ According to mental health professionals — and recent graduates feeling its effects — the condition is characterized by a period of severe sadness, loss of motivation, helplessness and isolation due to constant change and an overabundance of choices.”

The article always references how social media is causing this age group to have more anxiety and depression. Everyone is portraying their life on social media as fantastic, amazing and that they are on track to success. In reality that makes some people feel withdrawn and less accomplished. The reality is that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. And yes, the transition from having a structured life with the focus on education and being supervised by parents to living alone and making their own decisions and choices is a tough one. We can make it better as parents by giving our kids more freedom to make choices when they’re younger.

Are your kids headed for a “quarter-life crisis?” Did you go through a rough transition from college life to adulthood, too?

IMG_2810

My millennials.