Would You Choose Differently?

My husband and I are both college-educated people. In fact, David is currently working on his doctorate. We both went to private colleges and both received excellent educations. I went to Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I had a great time in college, made lifelong friends, and learned a lot–not only academically but also about life and myself. With all of that said David and I have had conversations regarding our education, or rather our decisions to go to college, and why we decided to go that route. Our conclusion? We weren’t given any other choice. In high school we were both given (we went to different high schools in totally different states) the message (or maybe directly told?) that to be successful in life you went to college, otherwise you would be stuck behind a cash register for the rest of your life. Why were we given this message? I don’t really know. Maybe it was the popular trend of the day. I’m not sure. In any case, this is the message we and 1000s of other high schoolers were given about 15 years ago.

What we have seen since graduating from college is that high schoolers are given a lot more options these days. There are post-secondary classes (meaning the high schooler can take college level classes for college credit for free, which saves lots of money!!!). When I was in high school I remember post-secondary was mentioned, but it was not encouraged. Why on earth not? I was bored out of my mind in high school, especially my senior year, and if I could’ve done something more productive with my time (rather than have 3 study halls!), like take college classes, I would have. But, I didn’t feel that was an option for me. I have also noticed that high school graduates will go to a local community college, take their general course subjects and then transfer. This saves so much money!! I also know that a lot of college students take advantage of summer classes. Now, this isn’t something new, it’s just not something I took advantage of, which I have forever regretted. What would have cost me a lot more to take at MVNU I could’ve taken for less at the local university in my hometown during the summer. Why didn’t I do that?

We have noticed that just like the housing market bubble bursting there is also a higher education bubble getting ready to burst. The cost of college has far out-paced inflation. With so many people with college degrees the value of that degree is not what it used to be. It used to be a huge feat for someone in the family to graduate from college. Probably my parent’s generation being the first generation to have higher education a real possibility for them. Now it’s just a given–you graduate from high school and you go to college.

This leads me (and David) to ask the question: why? Why does a high school graduate have to go to college? Why is this the only option thrown at them? And, if they’re given other options, those other options are certainly looked at as less attractive. Granted, I’ve been out of high school for 15 years (yes, 15…) so maybe I’m totally off base about the options given high schoolers, but I kinda doubt it considering how much colleges and universities compete with each other to get your high schooler to chose them.

David and I are educated beyond high school, and we’re intelligent people. We have no reason to believe our children will not also be intelligent. However, we have already come to the conclusion that though college will be an option for our children we will not make it the only option. What if one of them wants to do something that traditional college just wouldn’t prepare them–like being an electrician, or plumber, or carpenter, or chef, or a stay at home mom? If our children do want to go on to college then we will do everything we can to make sure they go somewhere that will prepare them for their chosen field and to do so costing them as little money as possible. I mean, we’re still paying off our education and right now feel like there’s no end in sight for that!

My question to you is, would you have done things differently? Would you have chosen the college you chose, gone the route you did? If you didn’t go to college do you wish you had? Me? Well, though I believe I made the right decision based on the information I had, looking back I wish I had done things differently. I wish I had taken advantage of post-secondary classes, taken summer classes and done everything I could to still get the private college education I did but not being saddled with as much debt as I have. However, my real wish is that I had had the nerve to do something else, like go to culinary school. Or, at the very least transferred to a school that offered a dietician or nutritionist degree. With all that said, I can’t change the past. I know God sent me to MVNU for a reason, and I’m grateful for my time there, for the friends I made, for the education I received. Still, I find this all to be a very interesting topic of conversation. Would you have decided differently knowing more now then you did as a high schooler?

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3 thoughts on “Would You Choose Differently?

  1. It is good to question all of these things.

    We are having enough of a challenge saving for HIGH SCHOOL, not to mention college for our children. For us, it will be an option and probably expected, but other options will not be off the table…. and our kids will know early on that college is not simply a gift from mom and dad, but a choice they are making and taking the responsibility for (debt!)

    It is very very hard to know in what direction we should encourage them. I suppose the Lord will make it plain when it is time. Now, we just need to get through third grade. (and first, and kindergarten.)

  2. I’ve been pondering this as it comes to my kids. It seems the world is telling us to put them in sports, and focus on their academics and activities so they can excel in life…but is that really the life God wants for us/them? I’m struggling right now between what the world says and what God says…almost thinking about becoming Amish. What happy lives they have! But yet, how are best able to reach the world for God’s glory…that’s probably not the answer. My college experience, although somewhat heathen, was excellent, and I came away from OSU with no debt. So I wouldn’t change that. I just wish I would’ve had a better relationship with the Lord back then.

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