I’m not paying for my kids to go to college. I refuse. I would do anything for my kids…but I won’t do that. First, I should preface this whole post by saying that I am a firm believer in the power of higher education. I think it is an amazing, wonderfully enriching experience that improved my life significantly. If I could make a career going to school for the rest of my life, I would. I would be a lifetime student. I am a firm believer in the benefits of going to college. So I don’t want anyone to come into this post thinking I am going to trash higher education, because I find so much value in it. I will be thrilled when any of my kids tell me they want to go to college and I will back them 100 percent. This post isn’t about crapping on our higher education system, though it is not without its faults. This post is simply about why I am not putting away extra money to pay for it for my kids. I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, and here are my reasons:
1. College May Not Be Necessary
Not all kids will go to college. Some of them will go to trade schools, some of them open their own business, some of them go directly into the workforce and end up with fulfilling careers through networking or moving up the ranks. College isn’t right for everyone. Right now a college degree is usually necessary to get a good job, but with tuition and costs continuing to rise dramatically every decade and putting more young people in the hole, I can’t help but think maybe we are too hasty in thinking that every kid needs to go to a traditional, four-year college. I also think we are hitting some sort of turning point in the post secondary education system. Kids are leaving school with crippling debt and not finding jobs in the industry they trained for, and if they do, they’re not getting pay that offsets the cost of their degree for several years down the road. All in all, while I value higher education, I think that the current system needs a complete overhaul. Costs will need to stop increasing so dramatically, or more financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships will need to be made available to a wider array of students. We are already seeing kids leaving school angry and bitter; they spend tens of thousands for the promise of a fulfilling career and end up feeling cheated if those promises aren’t kept.
My point is that maybe we should consider that college isn’t right for everyone, and instead of throwing money at the school and expecting a high earning middle manager to be spit out, we consider our child’s unique personality and skills and decide together if it’s the right choice. And who knows, we may get some crazy socialist in the white house who will make college free for my kids and it won’t even matter! Hahahaha!
2. Kids aren’t always ready for college right out of high school
Going to college right after high school and deciding the career path you want to take seems crazy to me. Especially if you have to make that decision before ever entering the workforce. Even as an adult going back to school, I was SURE that I was going to go into accounting and planned my major accordingly. Then I took some higher level accounting courses at UW and decided NOPE. I was bored to tears and couldn’t care less about balance sheets. Subsequently, I took two extra quarters to graduate to make up for the time I took on all those accounting classes. As for teenagers in that situation, the odds of choosing the right major and sticking with it are even lower. Their prefrontal cortex, which manages risk assessment, isn’t fully developed yet. They’re still living with their parents. It is a yuuuge decision to be making right out of high school. People are putting a lot of time and a lot more money into taking these classes, and if they screw up and choose the wrong major, all that time and money has gone down the drain. I know countless people who got a degree and don’t work in the industry or field they went to school for, and for a myriad of different reasons. I’m not saying they all wasted their money, not at all, (remember that I truly value the college experience as a form of personal enrichment if nothing else) I just don’t want to pay $40,000 to send my kid to a good college for a year on the possibility that they will go into accounting and make a career out of it. These days, people are waiting longer than ever to meet the arbitrary milestones that previous generations met right after high school. That includes getting married and having kids (if they decide to at all), buying a house, and so on.
Plus, many kids out of high school don’t take college seriously because they don’t understand or care about how much is at stake, and I feel like that is compounded when it’s not their own money being spent. College is such a new experience and there is so much to do and think about; academics and career planning may go on the back burner while they take in everything campus life has to offer AND have the responsibility of becoming an adult on their shoulders.
Oh my god.
This guy gets it.
I think going to work for awhile before going to school gives people a dose of reality and a real appreciation for learning. They know what the job market is like; they know what a real employer is looking for and what is expected of them. Quite frankly, they know that working sucks and that you’re probably not going to get the job of your dreams when you step foot off that campus for the last time.
I think if you put the responsibility of college tuition on your kids instead of shouldering all of the debt yourself, they are going to make smarter decisions about their future and really think about the career path that is right for them. I think it’s similar to buying a car or a house. People don’t take those decisions lightly. They are committing to YEARS of payments and they want to make sure they’re making the best choice.
3. I already pay for SO MUCH
– Preschool. Preschool tuition for three kids for two years each! I’ve been paying preschool tuition for four of the last five years, and I have two more years ahead of me. I think preschool is really important, not just for academics, but for socializing and getting an understanding of what to expect when they go to kindergarten, so I pay up the rear end so they all get that experience.
– Medical Stuff. I’m paying $1500 for an ER visit when one of my boys had the flu and ran a temperature of 104.7. That kid also has asthma and requires regular inhaler prescriptions and checkups that aren’t cheap. I have to pay for vision therapy to the tune of $8400, (Read: Eight thousand, four hundred dollars) for my other little guy due to strabismus. I’ve gone through so much amoxicillan and Tylenol in the past 4 months alone that I should probably buy stock in pharmaceuticals. We have insurance premiums, deductibles and copays for these kids that take a huge chunk out of our budget every month.
Oh, YOU’RE sad? That injury just cost me all my wine bar money for the next year. jk I’m never giving that up.
– A MILLION other things
All three of my kids will likely need braces. They will need money for extracurricular activities. They regularly need new clothes and shoes, school supplies and haircuts. And TOYS. I’ve spent a lot of money on toys over the last 8 years, and while the number of toys reduces significantly over time, they get dramatically more expensive as the kids get older. Suddenly $20 on a Lego set doesn’t seem too bad compared to $60 on a new video game. After 2, you have to buy a plane ticket for your kids, which brings me to my next reason why I don’t want to pay for college:
4. I want to take vacations.
We go to the ocean and Great Wolf Lodge every year. We went to Orlando and hit all the theme parks there a few months ago. I want to take them to Hawaii and New York and Washington DC and maybe even Europe one day. I would much rather spend my money on quality, family vacations to build lifetime memories than a boring college fund. Maybe that’s the Millennial in me; thinking for the here and now. Oh, well. It’s something I never had as a kid and something I value greatly.
5. Location, location, location.
We are closing on a house next month in a really nice neighborhood in a really nice school district. We are paying a premium to be in this neighborhood and school district. To put it simply: Our old house had just under an acre of land in a quiet neighborhood, and our property taxes were lower than the 8000 square foot (read: 0.18 acre) lot we are buying just one city over. That’s not even a quarter of an acre! The same home and lot size would cost a lot less in another local city, but we love the town and the school district and we want the best for our kids, so we are paying for the nice house in the good school district.
And pay up the ass for it!
Birthdays. All three of my kids’ birthdays fall within the first four months of the year, which means we have Christmas, and then one birthday after another until April 2nd. Having to plan a party and buy gifts is super expensive, but it’s even worse when you have to turn around and start on the next one immediately after one ends. I have a friend who has a lovely home on an awesome farm, and my son loved it so much he asked to have his birthday party there. I am considering hitting up my friend because that sounds a hell of a lot better than $350 for two hours at a bounce house. And you can’t bring Sangria to a bounce house. It’s frowned upon.
Check out Chloe’s birthday party. My wedding wasn’t even this nice. Or my prom.
Sophia’s parents bought a zoo!
Now on to my next reason….
6. There are other things I want to buy
When my kids grow up and start to move out, I want to spend my money on Steve and I. I want to get regular pedicures, go on vacations and take up expensive hobbies. I want to go out to nice dinners and do fun things that empty-nesters do. After putting 23+ years into funneling every moment and penny into my kids, I want to start doing things for myself, and I would much rather spend my savings on those things than sending the kids, ALL THREE OF THEM, off to college. I mean just picture it: I’ve been pissing and moaning about six years of preschool tuition, can you imagine up to 12 years of college tuition?! NAH.
The bottom line is that if these guys want to go to college, they better find a way to pay for it themselves. Unless we happen to come upon a million bucks unexpectedly, they better hope for a scholarship or some grants. Plus, by the time I finally get me and Steve’s student loans pay off, Danny will be going to college. That doesn’t seem fair. Sorry not sorry.
I’m not sure you heard me. I said ‘Bye, Felicia.’
If you have a college fund for your kids, that’s great. I applaud your willingness to invest in their future and allow them to live comfortably; I’m not judging by any means. I’m just tired of feeling guilty for not doing it myself. We provide so much for the first 18 years of life, after that it’s okay to be a little selfish. Hello, Hawaii!