Affording college is often on the minds of parents, so let’s rethink the idea of college and how we pay for it!
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…COLLEGE
How do I afford to pay for college for all of my kids?
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.
This is nonsense. And actually detrimental to our society! We NEED people who do jobs that keep the infrastructure of our nation running smoothly.
And the notion that ALL kids need to go to college steals your child’s individuality.
Don’t presume all of your kids are going to college
It is actually highly unlikely that every single one of your children is college-bound. Therefore, there is a good chance you won’t be putting all of your kids through college.
So far, our oldest 2 children went to college, but our third child has no plans to attend as she entrepreneurial aspirations.
But, what if they DID all go to college?
You don’t “owe” your child a college education
To clarify – I don’t believe I owe my kids a college education, paid solely from my own pocket. They need “skin in the game” and be financially invested in their education.
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 taking on full and/or part-time jobs to help pay tuition and fees.
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 kids can do instead of college
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. (Thus the reason so many degrees now require internships as part of their programs!)
Apprenticeships are a win-win situation, where the employer gets free labor and the employee gets free knowledge while making connections with potential clients and colleagues at the same time.
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 whose 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, that 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 eke 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 daughter’s 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!
How have we handled paying for college so far?
So, let’s talk a bit about what my older children have done so far because when I originally published this post my oldest child was 13 years old and only just starting to consider what he might do when he graduated from our homeschool.
First of all, it might benefit you to read the posts linked below:
Blake chose to go to college because everything he was interested in required a college degree – namely technology. He is now 23 and graduated from college with a degree in Business Communications.
For the first 2.5 years of his college career, he lived at home, and we gave him 2 years of my husband’s Post-9/11 Montgomery G.I. Bill and banked the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help pay for the other kids’ potential college degrees.
Meanwhile, Blake took a Work Study job and started saving that money to help pay for his last 2 years of college. We could tell it was not going to be enough to actually pay for 2 full years, so he began formulating a plan for him to get a job off campus to help supplement.
But then, the college hired him as the LMS Administrator for the college AND paid for his final year of college! Praise the Lord! By the time he finished his contract with the college, he had 2 full years of work experience and was able to get an even higher paying job in the same field.
Our next child also chose to go to college because her passion is American Sign Language interpreting. In order to be certified to interpret, she has to have a college degree.
She started by going to Community College to get her General Education requirements out of the way as much as possible. She also worked part time and saved back all of that money to help pay for the private university she would eventually transfer to.
We decided to require her to pay for half of her schooling, so she worked really hard applying for scholarships and negotiating with the private university to get in-house scholarships. (It is important to note if your child has gotten good grades at community college, the universities are much more likely to give really good scholarships to get your child in the door!)
Megan is currently in her Junior year of college and is doing Work Study during the school year and has a full-time job during school breaks to pay her half of the tuition.
Our 17 year old daughter is a Junior in High School and has no intention of going to college at this time. She is working on building a house cleaning business while also working at a local apiary. A few years ago, she made the conscious decision to pursue a career that would allow her to “leave her work at the office” and give her flexible time to pursue her passions during her off hours.
Our 15 year old son is still in the process of weighing his options at this point, but is currently leaning toward not going to college and pursuing a certification of some sort instead.
Every single child has been different so far! And that’s probably the real takeaway from this post. Each child will choose a different path and each child’s education will need to be treated differently. And God will provide for each child differently as well!
Posts in this series:
How do I Afford to Feed my Large Family?
How do I Afford to Educate my Large Family? – this post
How do I Afford to Entertain my Large Family?
How do I Afford to Keep my Large Family Healthy?
Check out my Large Family page for even more Large Family Resources!