You probably think I am talking about homeschooling them on the cheap, but I’ve already covered much of that in another post. This post is about what the world deems as a big drain when you have a large family…
You know the question:
How will you be able to afford to put all those kids through college?
I’m going to give you fair warning…this post is counter-cultural. Stick with me, pray your way through it all, and let me know your thoughts at the end.
First off, I do not believe every child should go to college. Suggesting that is like suggesting the plumber who skillfully unclogged your drain is not good at what he does simply because he doesn’t hold a college degree. It is like suggesting a person is unintelligent or “less than” if they haven’t been to college. It is buying into the lie that paying thousands of dollars to a government or private institution of higher learning creates a better citizen, a better worker, a better Christian.
And it steals your child’s uniqueness. (College doesn’t necessarily steal their uniqueness, but the notion that they MUST attend college can.)
I want my children to pursue the giftings our Heavenly Father placed within them. I want them to take those to new heights for Him. However, the place to hone those skills is not ALWAYS a college. (Read this article from CollegePlus! for some insight into this concept and also find out more in the Botkin sisters’ book So Much More.) We should not presume each one of our children is college-bound. Therefore, there is a good chance I won’t be putting every single one of my children through college.
But, what if they DID all go to college?
Well, I don’t believe I “owe” them a college education, paid solely from my own pocket.
We expect our children to contribute to their college education in some way. This may mean scholarships, work study money, investments and savings, CLEPing out of certain subjects, taking classes online or at a nearby community college in order to pay less per credit hour, attend college nearby so as to be able to save costs by staying at home longer, and/or utilizing programs like CollegePlus!
It is not a requirement for children to be post-secondary educated on their parent’s dime. Yes, we want the very best for our children, but adults go to college, not children. And adults who pay their own way tend to make wiser decisions.
Back to the idea that not every one of our children will attend college…
What might they do instead?
Apprenticeships – I have a daughter who adores animals. We’ve talked about the possibility of her apprenticing herself out to a pet groomer in order to learn the trade and open her own shop someday. The concept of learning firsthand may seem antiquated, but it shouldn’t. You can only learn so much from sitting in a desk with a textbook. Much more is learned hands-on. We even see this in college grads who hit the workforce only to realize their impressions of their chosen career were not true to life. Even our first-born, whom we assume will be going to college, will be looking into apprenticeships. They are a win-win situation, where the employer gets free labor and the employee gets free knowledge.
Pursuing Interests/Talents – Music, photography, website building, graphic design, cooking, etc easily lend themselves to money making projects. I would much rather my children focus themselves on something they are truly passionate about, rather than spend copious amounts of time on classes they hate.
Real Life Focus – Much of college does nothing to prepare a person for what a real work environment will be like. Couple that with the fact that few 18 year olds are driven and focused enough to know what they are on a college campus for, and you have a recipe for thousands of wasted hours and dollars.
It is our hope and prayer that by the time our children are 18 they are adults. Part of the planning for their adulthood involves working on honing real life skills. We want them to learn money management, time management, creativity in every realm of home life. We are preparing them to be husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, but most importantly, followers of Christ and stewards of His blessings. The more real life we can pour into our children, the better. And through that real life training, they will be able to walk the path to their future with a steady focus, rather than a shaky insecurity.
Certifications – Perhaps I have a plumber in my midst. Maybe my little guy who is forever into the tool box will be a mechanic. It does not make sense to push a child into a 4 year degree who’s passion lies with a career that requires a certificate and initiative. Americans have bought into the idea that the only proof of success is a college diploma and a job that requires that diploma. That simply is not true. Thankfully, God looks on a man’s heart…we should too.
Networking – Bet you didn’t expect that word to be in the mix! No, I don’t necessarily mean social networking on the internet (however, those can be helpful at times), I am talking more of the opportunities that come from being around people who share your passions and are perhaps further down the path than you.
We played host to a young man a few weeks ago whom we’ve known for many years. He is now an adult and pursuing an interest in politics. He was in the area meeting with some Christian politicians who were willing to come alongside our friend and mentor him. Networking often goes hand in hand with apprenticeships, but it can also stand alone as a young person meets new people and makes new connections.
Be an Entrepreneur – It is my hope that many of my children branch out and give voice to their passions through entrepreneurship. In many ways, that is what I do here. I love to write. I love to give others a taste of the Hope that is within me. I also manage to eek out a bit of money in the process. It’s nothing to write home about, but it does pay the bills and keep the lights on here at Raising Arrows.
So perhaps my daughters love of animals WILL lead to a pet shop or grooming business. Or perhaps she will be a farm wife and save her family money by doing much of the animal husbandry herself. Or maybe her writing or photography will take off and create a side business. I am anxious to see if my encouragement of entrepreneurial ideas leads to anything as my children age!
There is so much more I could say about this because this subject is a real passion of mine, but I also feel I’m not fully qualified to speak to this issue as I have yet to have a child actually graduate from high school, let alone navigate the adult years with or without a college degree. So, I would love to hear from any of you who have something you think contributes to this discussion! It truly is a hot topic with a lot of viewpoints!