Before this rant commences, I want to let you know that I completely own my thoughts and opinions and I am happy to discuss and explain them further. I also recognize that my life experience shapes my interpretation of the various facts of the world around me, and that alternative interpretations can be considered valid in various circumstances.
Also, college and groceries just get people all kinds of riled up.
Commence hippie libertarian rant about education
I think it's only fair for all of you to know that I on most political and social issues, I walk the line of a crunchy conservative. That is to say, I believe in capitalism, but I also believe in love and global warming. I read Atlas Shrugged, and I thought to myself, "John Gult is right, but he's an asshole. I'm going to go protest something with my friends."
In short, there is nobody who you should listen to less than crunchy conservatives (or hippie libertarians) because we are an awfully small group, and it's generally a good practice to avoid listening to people who wear Birkenstocks.
Even though it's not a good idea for you to listen to me, I listen to myself, and my kids, for better or for worse, will have to listen to me for 18 years too. In those 18 years, I have just a few goals (though I recognize that I truly have little control over the outcome). I want my kids to love God, and I want them to love people, and by the time they leave the house, I want them to add more to society than they take away.
For the most part, I think that traditional (ie public, private or charter) schools are ill suited to help me achieve those goals. Not that these institutions are bad or evil or any such thing. Just that, they aren't helpful for what I want. As such, I plan on homeschooling my kids for most of their primary and secondary education. Of course, it might turn out that I am wrong, that my goals are stupid, or that my kids have no interest in my goals. All of which I consider valid reasons to reconsider the home school position.
My kids will have the privilege to skip college
When you start thinking about homeschooling, it's advantageous to try to figure out your educational goals before your kids turn into teenage reticents who only communicate via whatever comes after SnapChat. One common goal that home school parents float is "college readiness."
To me, this seemed like a good place to start. After all, I went to college and now I am a passably mature, gainfulish member of society. However, pursuing college readiness assumes something about college that I don't think is true. Namely, it seems to assume that attending college is a worthy goal for all young adults (why else would you pursue college readiness?).
I don't think this is a worthy goal. One reason I think its a bad goal is that for the majority of rich kids (and my kids will most likely be rich kids) it's really easy to get into college, so college readiness is setting the bar extremely low. The other reason is that I think that my kids won't *require* college to move from adolescence to adulthood.
In my experience, most people see college as the opportunity to grow up, transition to adulthood, or gain access to employment opportunities. Tonya of Budget and the Beach, even went so far as to say that college saved her life. I think those are all great reasons to go to college, but I also think that my kids aren't going to require college to have those opportunities.
Sure, if my kids dream of being accountants, engineers, teachers or quantitative risk analysts for a Fortune 500 company, then they will probably require a college degree. However, there are many jobs that don't require a degree (for example, every single one of my dream jobs including food truck owner, tennis instructor, professional snowboarder, model for Athleta), and furthermore there are many types of people who don't want to primarily be defined by their career.
One privilege that I will pass to my kids is the privilege of getting to define their own path in life. This isn't a privilege that I will pass on lightly, but it's one that my parents gave to me. I was never expected to live up to their expectations. With the freedom to pursue their dreams, I hope that my kids only go to college if it's part of the journey to get where they want to go.
College isn't the only viable transition to adulthood
So if my kids don't go to college, what are they going to do?
Well, I'm not 100% sure, but I can guarantee that there are plenty of viable alternatives to attending college that will help kids transition to adulthood. Ideally, my husband and I will parent our children well enough that they are already practicing grown up principles by the time they hit 18 or 19 years old. At that time, their transition to adulthood will mostly require circumstances that will push them beyond the comforts and safety net of home.
What could those include? Living on their own while working, travel (that they pay for themselves), missions work, military, entrepreneurship, pursuing performance or artistic endeavors, pursuing professional athletics and, of course, attending college come to mind.
Any opportunity where my kid has a supportive network, good friends, and the opportunity to grow as a human being and work hard towards their goals seems like it might be a good opportunity to me. Of course, this could include attending a University, but it doesn't have to.
I would be willing to financially support my kids during the transition to full fledged adulthood when I would certainly expect them to be "financially independent from mom and dad"
There are at least 101 ways to "Hack" College
If one or all my kids want to go to college, I'm still not worried about it. I've started a college savings account, but I doubt that is what will be the primary way we will pay for the cost of a university education. The first few years of college can usually be covered by AP classes, dual enrollment or community college, all of which are pennies on the dollar even compared to state universities.
Then there are college scholarships, positions at the school, and work that can help defray the costs of attending a university. A friend of mine recently graduated from college, paid for his wedding, and had enough to pay for his wife's student loan debt by alternating between working in North Dakota and attending school for Engineering. My parents/grandparents paid about half my tuition costs, while a few scholarships covered the rest and I covered living expenses. When you start to cobble together a patchwork quilt of options, paying for college doesn't seem so daunting
Normal assumes that college has to be paid for, and that debt might be the only way. I don't think that needs to be the case for my kids, and not just because I'm not going to pay for 100% of their schooling.
Are college costs concerning to you?
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.