Is College Really Right for Everyone?
“School is the tool to brainwash the youth, and if newborn babies could speak they would be the most intelligent beings on planet earth.” ~ Jaden Smith.
I remember when this tweet first came out in 2013, everyone was so upset, and Jaden Smith was criticized for making that statement. For most people, school and college appears to be the only option available to them. Parents spend thousands of dollars to get their teens in college. I wonder sometimes if that is the only answer. I have friends who did not go to college, and are doing extremely well, doing what they love and I know people who have all the degrees they can get who are not happy, and wish they could be more creative, I believe it really does depend on the individual.
1. School and Creativity
In 1965, Yale university student Frederick W. Smith wrote a paper about a new system designed to help the mailing of time sensitive shipments like computer parts, medicine etc. Apparently this concept was too innovative and his professor did not see the value in it and gave him just an average grade. Thank God that Mr. Smith had faith in his creativity and was not discouraged. We all know what happened with FedEx. So the lesson here is to know your child and encourage him to develop his skill set, even if it’s not in the typical classroom setting. Unfortunately, for some people, school does squelch creativity. Just think about it. In a regular classroom setting, the teacher has a curriculum that she follows and the students are expected to grasp it the way the teacher is teaching it. We now know this does not work for everyone. A more creative child may do better with a more hands on approach. Sometimes in school the more creative children who don’t grasp concepts are thought of as challenged, and it’s not until they are in an environment that promotes their kind of learning that their parents realize the problem was in the delivery of the message, and not with the student. A great example is the FedEx story.
2. Teaching Life Skills
How many times have we heard the expression “this child is book smart but is not street smart?” That is one thing that parents must realize that a super intelligent child does not mean that he automatically knows right from wrong or that he will do better in a social setting. You must still take the time to teach him life survival skills. There are so many students who make all ‘A’s in high school and yet go to college and don’t make it because they get into trouble with drugs, alcohol or they just never learned the discipline of time management etc. Parents should really take the time to give their teens a life education, and not just a school education. Some college graduates don’t have any idea how to even balance a checkbook or how to make a budget or a spending plan, and yet they are expected to live on their own and somehow make it.
3. Is the College Degree a necessity?
There are people who never stepped a day in a classroom, or dropped out of school and are so good in their chosen careers. They know how to negotiate deals, and how to make their money work for them, and how to get along with others and make a difference in the lives of other people. An example will be Tumblr founder David Karp, who dropped out of high school at age 15 and is now selling his company to Yahoo, for $1.1 Billion. There are numerous examples of people like him, who realized they did not need the higher education to live their life purpose, people like Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg the founder of facebook. These people and others took a chance and went after their dreams. Know your child and find out his capabilities. I don’t agree with parents who just support their children whilst they just sit at home making merry and drinking, whilst allegedly “finding themselves.” That is definitely not what I’m talking about. People like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are focused and driven and work hard to achieve their purpose.
4. Beware of the Quick Money Trap
Some teens quit school because they think they can make a quick buck. Some of them earn $5 to $10 an hour, which sounds like a lot of money when they are living in their parent’s home but when they have to make that money stretch to cover rent, and other living expenses they realize what a limited lifestyle it affords them. Sit with your teens and help them realize that with just a little more training, not necessarily in college, but in a trade school or learning culinary or managerial skills or even language skills, their lifestyle will be vastly different. Help them see the big picture rather than living for the moment.
One big trap catches those teens who fall into drug dealing and prostitution to make money quickly. The saddest part of this trap is that these teens are often very skilled and intelligent people who somehow lost direction. They don’t realize the business skills that they demonstrated in order to keep “this business” going and what they could accomplish if they channel these skills into a legitimate business. The could do very well!
Ultimately, the most important thing as a parent is to know your child. Is your child an ‘A’ student and in the gifted and talented program? Congratulations! Encourage your child to be the best they can be and take time to teach them social skills as well as life survival skills. Did your teen drop out of school? Evaluate the situation. Is your teen creative, skilled and entrepreneurial? Be supportive and help them achieve their goals. However if your teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd and not challenging himself but just living off of you, then this may be the time to get him in a more structured environment or help him find out what he is good at. Don’t let laziness be the reason your teen decides not to pursue a higher education, encourage them to be innovative and excel in whatever field they choose to pursue.
As Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” And I will add, with or without a higher education.