Why We Are Not Forcing Our Children To Attend College

Not college material

My husband’s high school counselor told him that he that he was not college material and should not even attempt to go to college. He attended anyway.

College was presented as the only logical choice by my high school counselor.  Even though I was an honor student and had shown great aptitude in the sciences, I felt like I had no other choice but to attend college.  Looking back I often wonder why I went to college.

Raising children nowadays is a whole lot different then when my parents or grandparents were younger.  College was an option, but it was not the only option.  Young women often married young and had children soon after marrying.  Many men went off to the armed services, worked in factories, or had trade jobs.  Women often worked in jobs until they were married and then it was assumed for many that they would remain home once their children were born.

You Don’t Have to Go

My husband and I are not forcing our children to attend college.  My child does not have to attend college. We do not believe in raising our children to believe that college is the only way to go after they graduate from school.

Just a few days ago I ran into a friend at the grocery store.  We were discussing our children’s futures and I said that my oldest daughter was unsure if she wanted to attend college. My friend laughed and exclaimed, “What, not attend college? She has to go!”

This conversation has been resonating in my head for a few days and after mulling it over I decided to do a blog post on it.

Children should not be forced to attend college. Children should not be made to feel inferior if they choose not to pursue college after high school.  College is not the end-all be-all that society would like us to think it is.

If your child chooses to attend college, great.

However, if your child decides not to attend. That is fine, too.

Training a Child

According to Proverbs 6:22, parents should ‘train their children up in the way they should go, even when they are old will not depart from it.”

So what does this mean?  It does not mean what you probably think it does.  Typically, parents misapply this verse and believe if they bring their children to church and teach them the things of the Bible that they will grow up to always love God.  This is not true.

What it is referring to is learning who our children are and raising them according to own unique bent. The part of the verse that says, ‘in the way they should go and not depart from it’ is referring to our child’s particular ‘bent’ in life.

As parents, we must get to know our child.

We must understand their personalities, likes and dislikes, and desires. Once we understand and truly know our child, we can truly help them develop their bent and when they are old they will not depart from it.  If our child has a particular interest in music and gravitates towards music, they are probably not going to be an all-star athlete.  If our child is the intellectual type, chances are they will not become a car mechanic.  If one of our daughters is extremely interested and gifted in home economics and child rearing, chances are she may not want to attend college.

The Lord created each and every one of us differently than the other. We each have our own talents and gifts.  Once a parent recognizes and learns to respect that about their child, training them according to their particular bent will allow our child to go down the path the Lord designated for them.

However, if our children feel forced to attend college or college is presented as the only alternative after high school; our children may be forced into a position they were not destined for.

Reasons why children should not be forced

Below are the reasons why a child should not be forced into attending college.

  1. College is fine. I am all for a good education. In fact, I happen to have my masters degree in middle-level education. However, an education does not have to be gained at a university.  An education can be gained in through life experience, internships, a job, and a trade school.  Most of my education has come in the form of parenting and marriage.
  2. College often forces the majority of students and their parents to take out thousands of dollars in loans every year. These loans are typically put in deferment until after graduation. And at that point, the loan takes years to pay off.
  3. With so many students that rush off to college after high school and getting careers, the amount of mothers staying home with their children is declining. This causes far too many children to be raised in daycares.
  4. With so many students attending college in search of degrees that promise high pay, there is a deficit in skilled trade jobs.  Skilled trades refers to those jobs that involve hands-on skills such as electricians, plumbers, machinists, and welders.  Right now more than 50% of the skilled trade workforce is over the age of 45 years old.  The growing concern is that once these skilled workers begin retiring, there will not be enough workers to replace them. The focus at most high schools is an academic approach instead of also allowing vocational and technical schools as part of that focus.   Not all students leaving high school want to pursue academic endeavors but feel forced to because of the disdain aimed at skilled trades.
  5.  Our country has the strongest military system in the world, and we still need those willing to join.  The military may be a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and maturity for many that do not want to pursue higher education.
  6. Some kids just want to get a job and there is nothing wrong with that.  Not everybody needs to have a ‘career’ in order to be considered successful in life.
  7. The parent-child relationship could be affected in a poor way.  A child that feels coerced or forced into attending college, may end up resenting the parents.  You may be setting the child up for failure.
  8. Attending college against their own will may prevent a child from following their true passions, and utilizing their God-given talents and gifts.
  9. Money is not everything. We do not want the primary goal of our child’s life to become centered around money. Money is necessary to live. However, we are training our children to do what makes them happy by using their God-given talents and gifts, and they will become more content.  How many students have attended college in pursuit of a higher degree that promised more money, only to drop out because they were unhappy and could not find the purpose in their life?

What can be done instead?

Instead of forcing students and children into academic programs that they may not want to do, be suited for, or even be interested in; ask the child!

Learn the following about the child:

  1. What is the child’s interest?
  2. What does the child want to do?
  3. What areas does the child succeed in?
  4. Where does the child see themselves in 5 years?  10 years?
  5. What are the child’s natural gifts and talents?

You must also:

  1. Observe your child in their natural environment.
  2. Learn what their strengths and weaknesses are.
  3. Pray for guidance and patience as you lead them, guide them, and train them.

My oldest daughter is fourteen years old and is working as an apprentice to a seamstress that designs, creates, and embellishes high-end equestrian jackets.  My daughter began as a sorter for her just a few months ago and now is creating and designing her own jackets for sale. She has already sold a few jackets, too.  She has expressed a desire to design.  She has surpassed any other adult helper for this seamstress.  Whether she pursues this as a career or not is up to her, but until then we have supported her by driving her to her job and creating an office space at home for her designs.

In my oldest daughter, we recognized her desire for order early on and she has always been a self-motivated worker with a good work ethic.  To see her in this job suits her personality, interests, and skill set.

However, my second daughter is the complete opposite of her older sister. Instead, she has shown an aptitude for the organization of the home, preparing meals, and being sensitive to the needs of children. Her desires point in the direction of becoming a homemaker.  She has expressed a strong desire to “not go to college” after high school. My husband and I do not get upset with her when she is so adamant about not attending college because we recognized early on what her talents and gifts were.

My third child, is a boy, and also has said that he does not want to attend college but would rather work with his own hands. He wants to attend a career technical school for a skilled trade.  He is only ten and it is easy to see that academics are not his strong suit.

However, his strengths include building things with his hands, designing and fabrication, and hard work.  We have allowed him to pursue his interests as much as we can at home.  The things that this ten-year-old boy can do amaze me and I have absolutely no doubt he will do something great with his talents and gifts, even if he chooses not to attend college.

We have six children. They are all different. They are all created differently.

They each have their own unique bent in life. Is it easy to recognize all of the time? No, but as parents, it is our job and yours to learn who are children are, train them up in the way they should go,  so when they are old they do not depart from it.

Through our action and dedication as we train our children, let’s keep our focus on who our child is, not what we desire for them.



3 thoughts on “Why We Are Not Forcing Our Children To Attend College

  1. I don’t think that college means the same thing for young millennials and the next generation as it did for some of the older generations. I went and do not regret it because I enjoyed my time pursuing a liberal arts degree. However, my degree didn’t open up any new opportunities for me and opened up very few opportunities for the friends that I made in college. We were all faced with employers who wanted a B.A. combined with three years of job experience in our fields, go into a Master’s program so that we could substitute lack of job experience with further education, or to move.

    The decision to go to college needs to be weighed carefully by the students. We also need to open up the apprenticeship and trade routes again.

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