Thursday, August 13, 2009

The price of a child, revisited.

I warn you my friends. Of all the posts I've written, this may be the one to get me the most hate mail. And that's big y'all, seeing my strong opinions on breastfeeding and not allowing a stranger to raise your child, er.... putting your child in daycare. Maybe. I dunno, the daycare issue does get me a lot of hate mail.... (and as always, I don't mean grandma's, aunts, uncles, dads, best friends since 2nd grade that watch your child minimally. I mean Daycare. Please fill out your child's name, age, and whether or not they've had chicken pox and how many times they've pooped each day and sign on the dotted line. Our hours are from 6-6, drop your child off in a commercial building to spend their day, daycare) .... moving on please.

Anyway. I received a comment today to my post from last year The price of a child. A comment that brought up a very good point. What about education?

Well, for the short term, being the first 18 years of my child's life that is, I figured that the costs of school supplies, clothes, and extra curriculars would probably equal that of the diapers, gear, etc the first years. So, no change there. But that's not what this dear commenter was reffering to. The word that makes our hands tremble as we hold our checkbooks. A huge reason why most people do not have more than one or two children. COLLEGE.

As the commenter pointed out, by the time our children reach college age a decent public school will cost about $30,000 a year. Heck, I'm in college right now and by the time I graduate a year from now I'll be about $24,000 in debt. So why didn't I factor that in? I mean if you figure 6 kids who go to a 4 year University at $30,000 a year. My God that's $120,000 EACH CHILD. That's almost 3/4 of a million to send them all off for Bachelor's degrees in something or another. $720,000 to be exact. So if I were saving each month I'd be shucking back $555.56 per month per child, so $3,333.33 for my 6. PER MONTH.

So how could that HUGE sum have slipped my mind in my calculations?

Well, let me calculate how much it will cost me to send my children to college.........



Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I have zero intention of paying my kids' way through college. None.

I know. You're thinking WHY on earth would I want my children to possibly not go to college and get a degree to have a comfortable life.

Well I do want that. I want very much for them to find something they are passionate about, pursue it, excel at it, and have a easier time of it than I do.

I also want them to be responsible for that. To be proud of that. And to be sure they follow their dreams, not mine.

I think so many kids graduate high school without a clue as to what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They simply haven't had time to test the waters and figure that out yet, at such a young age. Years before they've even earned the credits to graduate high school they are applying to this college and that, this program or that one. They are expected to leave the nest and fly to the dorm. Whether or not they have a clue what they are doing there. 4 years later (if they work hard) they leave the doors of the University of whatever with a degree and if they are lucky find a job in their chosen field. 3 years later many of them drag their butts out of bed everyday to sit at a desk they hate, in a cubicle they hate, with co-workers they hate doing a job they hate. Many of them choose broad degrees, Bachelors of Arts, Bachelors of Science... What exactly does that mean? My own sister has a Bachelors of Science degree in Sociology and an Associates degree in Criminology. She is an officer at a supermax prison. And she despises her job.

Ideally my children will not go to college at age 18. They will take some time to live. Take some time to get their wild hairs grown out and take the time to listen to the direction they are being called. Ideally, only when that happens will they apply to college. Ideally. Also Ideally they will attend a tech school and get a specific education to allow them to do precisely what it is they want to do, with the option of furthering that Associates degree to a bachelors, masters, PHD in the future if that's where the future leads.

They will pay for their own schooling because they will be better people for it. When they enter the doors of that school it will be with the prize in sight. A dream turning into reality. They will work hard to pay for each class, each book. They will work very hard at their studies knowing that if they fail they will have to pay for the class again. They will be less likely to skip class, less likely to party before that big final exam. They will be less likely to drink and do drugs on campus because they have class the next day and because they realize that at the end of the week, after you've paid for classes and rent, there's no money left for those things. Just like in real life. They will likely not waste time on Basketweaving 101. They will work their tails off for minimum wage and know what that's like and why they want better. They will be responsible with money because they have no other choice. They will learn to be frugal. They will not have to think they are dissapointing me if they decide college is not for them. And it may not be. And that's ok. And if it IS, they will walk out on graduation day with a tremendous sense of pride that THEY did this. All by themselves. Just like they learned to ride that bike, learned to tie their shoes..... the same smile of beaming pride they got when they won that spelling bee, all by themselves.

Having said that, our children WILL be welcome to remain in our home through college and go to one of the great tech schools or Universities in our area. If their passion lies in a career field not offered here or not offered online, we will do what we can to help them with housing near the nearest school that does. We will help them fill out paperwork for whatever student loans they may be eligable for, we will babysit their dog during finals week, and we may even do a load of laundry or two during midterms. We have no intentions of throwing them out of the nest to fend completely for themselves. Only to help them achieve THEIR dreams, not ours.

And if our children decided NOT to go to college. We will be ok with that too. Just as their father didn't attend college and makes a decent living because of his hard work, we hope the same for them if they choose that route. We will not put OUR demands on our children and will not try to make them live the lives we did or we wished we did. Because their lives are not our story to tell, but theirs.


Lyndsay said...

I could not agree with you more! I think that parents pressuring their kids to attend college doesn't work. We will be doing the exact same thing for our kids, routing them on, assisting them if need, but in no way paying their way and rolling out the red carpet. They need to learn about life and life takes work and is hard, but they will find the rewards in their hard work.

Debbie said...

I came across your blog from another and I have to say that was well said! I feel the same way...I went to college right after school and never got a job in that field..After being married and having 3 kids at age 25/26 I wanted to be a teacher in the worst way....went back and I did alot better with my classes...never finished becasue two more little guys came along but it showed me that at 18 you are still not sure what you want and it takes a few years to decide.

Just "me" said...

I read your blog from time to time and I just have to say that I completely agree with your feelings regarding college!!

What a concept (paying for one's own education)...I did and so can they! Also...deciding if college is even the right path for them...

Thank you for a fresh perspective!!

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