Kids, you don’t have to go to college

Weblogg-Ed’s Will Richardson wants his children to find their passion, learn deeply, earn a living and change the world. They might need college to achieve their dreams. They might not.

Five years ago, he told Tess and Tucker they don’t have to go to college if they don’t want to.

. . .  there are other avenues to achieving that future that may be more instructive, more meaningful, and more relevant than getting a degree.

He’s even more convinced that college should be optional after reading that “of the 2 million graduates in the class of 2011, 85 percent will return home because they can’t secure jobs that might give them more choices and more control over their lives.”

At his son’s basketball game, one mother said her son isn’t going to a four-year college right after high school. “My kid has no idea what he wants to do, and I’m not sending him to some $25,000 a year school to have him figure it out,” she said. “He can take all the standard requirement courses at a community college, transfer out when he’s ready, and in the meantime see where his interests are.”

The other mother wanted the traditional “college experience” for her child.

. . .  I’m willing to bet that the 15% who do get a job out of college are not necessarily the smartest kids out there; they are the ones who are the most passionate and committed to the life’s work they know in their hearts they were meant to do. It’s not like every kid from an Ivy school is getting a job; plenty of kids from what Newsweek or U.S. News would consider third tier colleges will go on to find fulfilling work that will give them “more choices and more control over their lives.” Or, they will be the creative, self-motivated, problem solvers who will start their own businesses, carve out their own paths to success.

Yes, college graduates earn more and work more than non-graduates, Richardson concedes. And “amazing learning” sometimes happens in universities.  But “neither I nor even one of my friends from college ended up doing what they got a degree from school to do.”

Way too many of us are going to college because we’re “supposed to” without any real clue what we want to do with our time there.

Instead of preparing his children for college in the future, he hopes to prepare them to educate themselves, starting now. “And odds are pretty good that 10 years from now when you are looking to strike out on your own, your passion and your portfolio will take you as far if not farther than a degree that came at a great expense and in all likelihood with only a slice of relevance.”