I’m Not Sending My Son to College!

Brent Pittman —  11/18/2011

Will the next generations throw their hats?

My son just turned 1 this week and I’m not sending him to college, unless he insists on going (but he better have a good reason).

Why should I? Why should I pay for a degree that he’ll never use anyway? This info on college grads extracted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics might shock you:

“Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.”

Unless you “know” that you want to be in a very specific profession at an early age, there is an argument against even attending college. There is so much college debt associated with a degree that it will be a burden on him (Relax grandparents, I am saving for his college, should it be a necessity). I figured out how to saving using these college savings calculators.

There are so many free and inexpensive ways that he’ll be able to learn besides attending college. In 18 years who knows what kind of technologies will exists to gain information?

Here are some current ways you can learn and ideas that I have for teaching. This could be the expansion of the homeschooling movement. Why not play a part in their learning when they leave the nest? [Yes, I realize that much maturing can and needs to occur through the college years, but why pay $10,000 a year for maturity]

Try a combo of the following instead of that Bachelors of Arts in Sociology (which will get you nowhere).

  1. Ted Talks- You think the professors at STATE U are the best in the world? Probably not, try Ted Talks instead from the leading thinkers of the day.
  2. Free talks from Leading universities. Again, free courses from leading universities.
  3. Travel the U.S. working part time and learning new languages. Live in L.A. to learn Spanish, San Francisco to learn Cantonese and NY or L.A. to learn Mandarin.
  4. Personal Coaching- Want to learn to cook or start a business? Get a coach!
  5. Start a business- Here is my favorite idea. Use some of that college money that is saved up to start a business and pay for professional consulting and coaching. Just think about all the leadership and life lessons he’ll learn by starting a business around his passions and getting support in doing that? Isn’t that what most of us end up doing anyway at some point in life? 600,000 small businesses are started each year according to the S.B.A. Here is some of what you’ll learn:
  • Marketing- Blogging ,emails, tweeting 101, Google holograms (its in the future right?) Adsense 101, and newsletters.
  • Graphic Design: Website design, printing design, logo design.
  • Accounting-Quickbooks, Budgeting, Paypal, Square, cash-flow, meeting payroll every week.
  • Sales- Every job in the future will involve sales and negotiating. Start now.
  • Managing & HR: Recruiting, hiring, firing, writing job descriptions.
  • Leadership: Motiving, visioning, inspiring, training, writing business plans.
  • Operations: Shipping, logistics, and basic business functions.

Starting a businesswill basically teach our little sapling about life and following his dreams. Why wait till you’re 33 to  do something that you love when you could start when you’re younger? If you still aren’t doing what you love, try No More Mondays by Dan Miller (Amazon Affiliate Link).

This plan of course might change in the next 18 years and of course has to get approval from my wife, but it seems that the ivory towers of education are becoming less useful as time goes on, especially if you go without a purpose in mind.

Still want to send your kid to college so they can be a barista at the local coffee shop? Why?

(Photo by Kurichan+)

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
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  • My husband and I didn’t go to college. We enlisted in the Air Force. He runs a software consulting business with his friend, they make really good money. All from skills learned while on the job. 

  • My husband and I didn’t go to college. We enlisted in the Air Force. He runs a software consulting business with his friend, they make really good money. All from skills learned while on the job. 

    • Another great alternative to traditional college, plus free training during and money towards college too! Thanks for the reminder. 

  • KG

    You want your kid to aspire to be a barista?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think most parents envision more for their kids. Nobody pays for four years of college with the specific ambition of “serving coffee.” I think things like that happen as a result of not otherwise planning for a career – maybe that’s the real “training” your son needs.

    • KG, 
      I’m not sure you read the article. Alternatives to college and college debt are growing and becoming more viable. I agree, there should be a purpose behind attending college and a career goal in mind. I want my son to open and own the coffee shop, should he choose.

    • There’s nothing wrong with being a Barista in my opinion. As long as your a good, honest and hard working person. Any job or profession is alright with me. 

      My Dad wanted me to be a bartender…

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  • Brent – Interesting take on the college industry. I agree with the overall argument that people need to be critical and assess the true cost of attending college (improved earnings potential).
    I am not sure I would go as far as to say no college at all. Call me old fashion but I think college teaches you critical thinking … something that is undervalued these days … and that is good for you, me and society. Following political debates these days, I wonder what it would be like if people stopped and actually had an independent thought … imagine how rich and diverse our political system could be. Sorry, I’m ranting. I wrote this post about college costs http://vaerdi.com/2012/01/is-college-a-worthwhile-investment/ and it seems that we both agree that going to college is not a guarantee of a decent ROI.

    • Thanks for the link to your article, good read. I agree critical thinking is important, but shouldn’t that already be learned from high school? I guess all I’m saying is don’t follow the herd, especially if the are walking off a cliff. 

  • I’ve felt like this about my kids education for years. When I finally stopped saving/worrying about college educations for my daughters, life became more enjoyable NOW. Living in the future can be really stressful. I rather enjoy them now and if they really really find a passion that requires formal education, we’ll work something out. Go to school, get and job and have kids is a mantra that simply doesn’t work anymore. It’s great that people like you recognize this and are updating their beliefs. Sharing and Tweeting this now 🙂

    • Tony,
      Thanks for commenting. I do think that the importance of a formal 4 year college education is dying out for many people. Passion proceeds education. How are you teaching this message you wrote about in your comment to your children?

      • I’m not really doing anything special. One thing I consciously avoid is over praising good test scores, grades, etc. I praise creativity and effort more. I also talk to my oldest about how doing what you love is most important. Consequently, the lack of pressure they feel their parents helps them with school. They both do very well.

  • Having accumulated a staggering amount of student loans to learn something I could have been payed to learn…I wholeheartedly agree. Like you said, there need to be really good reasons (other than a piece of paper) for my kids to attend traditional college. Time will tell!

    • Ben, I do hope there will be some advances in the education system in the next 17 years, especially on the debt side…if not then we might just have to help our kids start a business instead. Create $ and learning simultaneously.