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“You can be whatever you want to be.” It’s what every good parent tells their children. We want our children to dream big and not be limited to the life they currently know. Our desire to see them succeed drives us to encourage them and tell them how capable they really are. However, college may not be part of their journey.
In the words of Sina from Disney’s Moana,
“Sometimes who we wish we were, what we wish we could do, is just not meant to be.” (Moana, 2016)
While I believe it is necessary to encourage our children, I also believe that filling their heads with unrealistic fluff isn’t helpful.
Since 2010, we have been a homeschooling family. In a family with eight children, we as parents recognize that there are limitations for our children. It’s not that we want to hold them back. No, we want to push them to their full potential, but some kids don’t have the potential to be a doctor or lawyer or scientist. And that’s okay!
As realists, my husband and I recognize that not all of our children will be college graduates, much less grad school graduates, with lots of letters and titles behind their names. The truth is, there may be some who struggle just to finish high school, who will be satisfied with normal, less sought after jobs, careers, and lives.
We believe in our children. We believe that to a certain extent, they have the potential to do anything they are determined to work hard to accomplish. If one of our kids determines to become a scientist, he or she will do what’s necessary to achieve that goal. We have intelligent kids, but we also know them, their character, and their personalities.
Does that mean we don’t care about our children having a better life?
First, I feel like we have been deceived into thinking that a college degree guarantees less hard work and a better life down the road. I know my parents were of that mindset. My dad would tell me all the time, as he looked down at his cracked, blistered, work-worn hands: “Work hard in school, so that you don’t have to work as hard as I do with my hands.”
Not everyone needs or desires to go to college. Regardless of what I wanted or how I felt, I went because that’s what everyone, especially my parents, expected me to do. Truthfully, I didn’t want to work as hard as he did every day, for not so much money, so I worked hard, finished high school with honors, graduated from college, and went on to graduate school. We never discussed another option, but my desire from the time I was a little girl didn’t involve college. All I wanted was to be a wife and a mama.
While I did earn a teaching degree, I only taught for five years before my husband and I decided (to my utter delight) that my place was at home, raising our kids. My college degree had its place in my life and still may serve me in the future, so I don’t regret it completely. Sometimes, though, it seems like I wasted a lot of time and years, and lots and lots of money.
What’s wrong with college?
Is there a problem with college? The problem isn’t college, but that it’s not realistic for us all to assume our kids will take a college path. Some young adults are made for college, and they thrive! But for me to think that all eight of my children will be college graduates is really unrealistic. It would be very much a source of contention if I continually shoved it on them and refused to listen to what they desire.
We need garbage truck drivers, food service workers, farmers, LPNs, and mechanics just as much as we need RNs, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Without all of these different jobs, our world simply doesn’t function.
5 Reasons College Isn’t Right for Everyone:
- The young person doesn’t have what it takes to be successful in college.
- His or her personality feels stifled by the workload.
- He or she wishes to get out and start life.
- Society needs those with vocational training as much as those with college degrees.
- The path the young person desires in life has nothing to do with college.
If I’m not pushing college, then what?
What I want most for my kids is joy in life. I want them to be and do what God created them to be and do. If that means college, fine. Or if it means a technical school, that’s good, too. If it means missions work or military service or even raising babies and managing a home, those are all fine with me. One thing I know is that if they seek and stay in the will of the Lord, they will enjoy life.
Stay-at-home Mom? YES!
Semi-truck driver? YES!
Dog Breeder? YES!
Barrel Racer? You BET!
My only desire for them is joy in life as they follow God’s leading in their lives, and that they be able to provide amply for their families. That’s all.
Instead of trying to persuade my kids to make a “good” career choice, I am choosing to step back and encourage whatever secondary education and career path they choose. What matters most is that my kids pray for guidance in all areas of life, not excluding this one, and then follow the path God has set for them.
You make known to me the paths of life; in your presence is fullness of joy;
~ Psalm 16:11