Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Education Reform

We can’t expect colleges and universities to change until we begin to change our expectations for a college education.  It is necessary?  Many opinions have been voiced that no, college is no longer necessary for every child.  The cynic in me wonders where this is coming from.  Is it to further divide the classes, further alienating the middle class thus extending the current era of dependency and extending the welfare state and thus the power of the government?  Although this could be refuted by the First Lady recently professing that all children should go to college.  We are sending our children mixed messages.  
I want my girls to have a degree because in my experience a degree will gain you access to opportunities.  It has also been my experience that even more important than a degree are connections.  Who you know vs. what you know.    I firmly believe that unless a student is seeking a highly specialized field of study, there is no need to pursue top tier colleges. In fact, I hate the term “top tier”.  Is is so condescending and elitist. I have always maintained that I would not seek this for my children.  I would prefer not to expose them to far left liberal, Godless indoctrination for 4 years.
There is also the ever-present issue of college tuition.  It is still rising at a rate far exceeding the cost of living.  Most families have not received any cost of living raises in the past years yet the cost in tuition is skyrocketing.  
These costs do not include room and board.  Add another $10-15,000 on to these already astronomical figures and some 18 year old young adults are facing total costs of at least $100,000.  That is conservative.  These are loans that cannot be defaulted on, ever.  They follow you to the grave and beyond.
Are we so afraid of our children’s potential personal economic shortcomings that we give them such financially unsound advice?  Are we so afraid that they will not find a job, make a decent living, buy into the American Dream, that we in effect, make it almost impossible for them to do so?  What young adult, newly married (add the cost of the wedding to the college debt), can buy a house?  Is there current job affording them the ability to make a dent in their loan payments?
This is not how I want to send my children out into the world.  Greg and I have been saving like crazy to hopefully allow the girls to pursue an education free of debt.  HOWEVER, this is assuming they will not undertake the “traditional” paths I mentioned above.  
This is why I attended a homeschoolers information session at Naugatuck Valley Community College.  I wanted to educate myself on how high school age children can take classes that will apply towards a certificate program or Associate’s Degree with several of the degree programs transferring to Connecticut State Universities.  I walked away from this event firm in my conviction that a “traditional” 4 year private university is not the best financial decision for most teenagers and their families.

The community college pathway provides some unique opportunities.  NVCC is the top nursing school in the state of Connecticut and in the top 5% of nursing programs in the nation!  How impressive.  Grace could get an Associates of Science in Interpreter Preparation: ASL from Northwestern Community College.  4 different schools offer degree or certificate programs in Culinary Arts for Lilah, should she continue on this course.  

I am not going to spend the next 4-6 years talking about college.  I swear I will bite my tongue every time I want to utter “but you need this to get into college....”  I don’t want to be that kind of parent or that kind of teacher.  I want my girls to continue their journey of holistic learning, of interest led learning, while I work behind the scenes quietly and competently filling in the pieces so that college is an avenue available to them.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Great post and timely too!
College costs are ridiculous and the mixed messages being sent to today's students are confusing at best.
I will continue teaching at least one class at the college where I work though, because I believe in the idea of a work college. All of our students work on campus a minimum of fifteen hours a week to offset tuition and get work experience (they receive a grade from their work supervisor each semester). Most students work in an area related to their field of study, which is an amazing opportunity to gain experience.
Should the girls plan to pursue college, we would first take concurrent classes during high school for dual credit, try to CLEP a class or too, and then possibly start out at a work college. At least, that's what we are thinking now.
Thanks for sharing this!

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