© 2013 PixelJo

To school or not to school…

The other day, I went to lunch at a little market with the best salad bar.  I’m not usually a healthy eater, but I’m trying to eat healthier.  So when I’m in the mood to be healthy, this is one of the places I have a tendency to go.

As I was leaving, I was approached by a guy holding a video camera and a microphone from Fox 25.  I was asked to comment on the value of a college degree in today’s economy.  I was told I might be on the news that night between 6 and 7.  I was not.  (How thankful are all of you?  I looked like my normal every day run-down self, and in my attempts to be witty, I really was not!)

But the entire experience got me thinking.  I received a very-expensive-for-its-time degree in music.  I don’t do anything with it – although I’d love to be able to say I do.  If you asked me what my dream job would be, I wouldn’t have an answer for you.  I don’t claim to be so old that “I know better from life,” but I do think I’ve lived just long enough to know that my dream job wouldn’t be a job at all, but a means to an end.  That end would be spending time with my family; making memories for my children that they in turn will want to do for their children.

The point is, I’m of a mixed mind about the value of a college degree.  My husband does not have a college degree.  He is successful, and knowledgeable.  What he does required no degree, but a strong technical aptitude.  Certainly, what I do does not require a degree, but a strong grasp of soft skills, and speaking with people.  And  yet, I think a college degree leaves a great experience to pull from.  There is, of course, the value of life skills.  If you go away to college, you learn to balance a budget (although, I’m still working on honing this skill almost 20 years post-grad), do your own laundry (if your parents never had you do that at home), eating right by your own choices, how to use a credit card responsibly – and the consequences that come with irresponsibility.  Some of these skills you could learn by not going away to school.  And ideally, you *should* be learning them even if you don’t go to college at all.

But let’s face it.  Young people today are just not learning these skills without a bail-out.  Yes, I said bail-out.  They have parents who help them out of credit card messes, mom’s who are still willing to do their laundry and cook their dinner.  And even if the parents are trying to teach them the value of money by charging rent, it’s usually unrealistically low, and doesn’t include the cost of food – which the parents are also providing.  So I think the question is not today’s economy that might make the difference in the value of that education, but today’s society in general.

Do I want my kids to go to college?  Of course I do.  And, knowing what I do of their aspirations and ambitions, there is an education to be earned.  Culinary, veterinary, trade or otherwise.  I don’t think it matters.

 


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photo by: Herkie

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