In our LV Moms’ Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money and parenthood. These views are theirs, not ours, but we look forward to opening the floor for discussion.
In the past we’ve featured writers with ideas on everything from how to earn cash while doing other people’s chores to why being in a lesbian relationship doesn’t make achieving work-life balance any easier.
Today, one mom tells us why she’s in no hurry to enroll her son in college when he graduates.
My son Bradley will be a senior in high school next year.
While most of my fellow parents are busy visiting colleges, debating majors and investigating applications, financial aid and party-potential lifestyles with their college-bound teens, I’m doing the opposite: I’m encouraging my son to postpone college and surf the world.
I’m well aware that this is a decision that freaks some people out. What? He’s not going to college? You’re going to send him off into the world? To surf? What if he never comes back to pursue college? The questions, while well-meaning, are tainted with judgment, doubt and a hint of “you’re the worst parent ever.”
But to me, this is a perfectly logical decision.
College Isn’t for Everyone … at Least, Not Right Now
First off, I have always tried to parent each of my two sons as individuals. I do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to raising any child or preparing them for adulthood. My goal has always been to raise independent thinkers who are healthy, happy, willing to give back to the world and passionate about life. If I can do that, I have done my job.
I don’t view my role as a parent to push my children into our mainstream culture where you have to graduate from high school by 18, graduate from college by 22, start working full-time in the corporate world immediately, and then get married, buy the proverbial house with the white picket fence and have 2.2 kids. If all of that happens, that’s fine—but only if that’s their choice.
When the topic of college comes up, I always tell my son, “If you’re not ready, don’t waste your time or our money.” Because the College Board places the price for in-state colleges at $22,261. A year. And private schools? They are a whopping $43,289 a year. Even with grants or federal tax breaks, the net price that in-state students (more likely, parents) at public colleges dish out averages $16,510. As if that’s not enough, most graduates enter the “real world” with nearly $27,000 in student loan debt.