And, as for the critical thinking bit, I’ll go ahead and be a REAL rebel and suggest that human beings have the ability to acquire and practice critical thinking skills at a much younger age than 18. If you’ve been pressured into believing that you need to pay $35,000 a year in order for your child to understand and participate in logical discussions about ideas (as opposed to discussing events or people), I want you to look me straight in the eye right now. Take a deep breath. Are you ready?
I promise. Just start right now. If you have an idea, talk about it with them. If they have an idea, talk about it with them. If there is an idea presented in a blog post you read or a book you have or a television program you watch and you’re turning it over in your mind or you wish your child would, talk to them about it. Encourage, nay INSIST, that they read quality literature chock full of the kinds of ideas and the kinds of thinking you have in mind when you envision your son or daughter in one of those glossy college recruitment brochures. It’s WAY cheaper than tuition and totally works. Seriously.
Which leads me to believe the following: a four year college degree does not guarantee financial success and financial success does not guarantee happiness. College is not an inherent good, nor is it an inherent evil. College is not something that should be expected of everyone and should not be the stick by which we measure a person’s success or value. College is great for some and unnecessary for others.
So when someone says to me, or to somebody I love, or to somebody I don’t even know, that they shouldn’t have more children because “GASP! How are you going to pay for all that college tuition!” it makes me curdle inside. Because the assumption is a) every person is expected to go to college and b) all good parents are able to pay for said college education. It also subtly implies that older siblings would prefer a free college education to the love and joy of having younger siblings.
Yes, if your child wants to go to college and shows an aptitude for a specific discipline and has a plan, of course they should go. And you should help them find scholarships and work study programs and grants so they don’t graduate with the burden of student debt. But not every person falls into that category and they shouldn’t be expected to.
And a family certainly shouldn’t shun the opportunity to grow their family, to multiply their love, to care for another soul, a gift from God, just because somehow we’ve decided that no matter who they are and what they enjoy, that every child should go to a four year college and the parents must be prepared to pay for every cent of it. Because it just isn’t true.