I grew up in a time when kids were told if you want to be anything worth being in life you have to go to college. I had assume by what I was told that college meant success and no college meant you were a failure. I found out that simply isn't true. There are millions of people who have only a high school education who live extremely happy lives. I guess it boils down to two things in my opinion. One how do you define a successful life and two do you need college to get there?
For me a successful life is not defined by the amount of money you make. I have seen way to many celebrities who make millions turn to drugs. They can't buy their happiness. I have also known Doctors and lawyers who spend more time at work than they do with their families. Now that might be the life you want and if so by all means go to college. However if you are like me and you define a successful life by how happy it has been then you will need to also define what that means as far as career choices.
I am going to use my husband and myself as examples. What better way to show your own kids what you mean than your own life. Both of us were high school drop outs. We came from extremely broken homes and jumped head first into the adult world way before we were even adults. I did however go back and get my diploma. My husband loved cars it was his passion and here he is working in the automotive field, working the same job for 20 yrs, and get this he makes 6 figures a yr. He worked his way from the ground floor up and learned as he went. Can you imagine that a man who dropped out of high school is actually making 6 figures a yr. I on the other hand loved animals. I knew that going to school to be a vet. was not an option because I had two young kids at the time and the nearest school was 4 hrs away. So I decided to in my opinion do the next best thing. I became a pet groomer. I studied at a grooming school part time while also working part time a pet grooming and boarding. In other words I learned a trade. The pet industry is a multi million dollar business. After finishing my training I opened up my own business were I brought home $1,000 a week after over head. That means I was making about $52,000 a yr. When my 3nd child was born we decided it was more important for one of us to be home with the kids. I made less money so I closed my business down and became a full time SAHM.
Ok so we are two people who just happen to luck up and have great jobs without college?? I say look at the numbers and the data of reports. The center for College Affordability says 37 percent of college graduates are in occupations requiring no more than a high-school diploma. The number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs is nearly 71
percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics' latest figures.
As of 2012, 284,000 college graduates were working at or below the
minimum wage, up from 167,000 in 2002 and more than two times the
pre-recession low of 127,000 in 2006. The cohort includes an estimated
30,000 people with masters' degrees, a figure that is more than twice as
high as it was in 2002 and three times as high as in 2006. These are just a few reports you can google many more if you choose to. What I am saying is when it comes to careers in this day it is not a diploma that is getting people jobs it is a trade/skill. If you are going to end up working for minimum wage then what is the point in going thousands of dollars in debt before you even get your feet wet in life?
I have always told my children they are the ones who get to decide what their life will be. My job as a parent is to guide them and help them find the information they will need to get there. I tell them to first decide what a successful life means to them. Then find out what type of career they would really enjoy doing as an adult. Key word enjoy. You don't want to wake up to a job that you can not stand just to put food on the table. Once you have narrowed it down then decide what it will take to do that job or that career. If that means college then they know they have to do the work to get into college. If that means learning a trade then I help them find the resources, apprenticeships, or trade schools to get them on their way. My goal for my children is not that they make millions but that they live happy, joy filled, lives. I want them also to know that nothing stands in their way but themselves. In our society we base so much on material items. We let the size of our house or how new our cars are define happiness and success. We forget to stop and enjoy the little things in life. Like nature, adventure, traveling, and family. One word defines success for me and that word is HAPPINESS. Are you truly happy in your life? Do you enjoy waking up everyday? Do you take the time to enjoy the journey? Did you wake up and it was twenty years later and you missed your kids growing up, you haven't had an adventure in years? Then change it.
Lastly I would like to add some resources for those who might be a bit more worried about no college than I am.
The uncollege Alternative
Hacking Your Education
Better Than College
The Best Trade schools.com
Trade Schools Adviser
I also wanted to say that in today's information age it is never to late to learn something new and in most cases you can even learn for free. Many colleges have access to free courses. Many skilled tradesman will allow you to apprentice with them. The world is out there for you to decide the direction and path that is meant just for you.
Free college courses
MIT open courseware
Open Course Library