Call me heartless, but Iâ€™m not paying for my childrenâ€™s college education. Iâ€™m not going to write a check when their tuition bill arrives or put money aside in an educational savings account for them. If my kids want to attend an institution of higher learning, theyâ€™re going to have to pay for it themselves. Yet parents are told that if we donâ€™t start saving now, our kids will never be able to afford school and be shut out for the American Dream.
Sure, college is expensive. This year students attending a public university will shell out an average of $5,836 dollars a year for tuition and fees if they attend a public university. You can more than double that figure if you include room and board charges. Private university students can pay over $22,000 in tuition and fees.But whatâ€™s wrong with the idea of encouraging our children to pay for it through working, scholarships, loans, or a combination of the three?
People tend to value things more when they have an ownership interest in it. Whether itâ€™s a house, a car, or a college degree, once someone becomes responsible for paying for it, it often means more to them. This was my experience with college.
The first college I attended was a small community college in Wyoming. Because my dad was a professor there, my tuition and fees were waived. I enjoyed my two years there but certainly didnâ€™t study as hard as I should have. I did just enough to get by and left after two years with a B+ average. I could have done much better.
Then I transferred to a large out-of-state university. Because of my mediocre grades and accomplishments at my first school, scholarship money was not forthcoming. After realizing that the paying school was going to fall on me, I had to make a choice: either pay for it myself or drop out.
I decided to continue school. That first tuition check I wrote nearly wiped out my savings account. But one thing did change: my grades and overall school performance improved dramatically. My first quarter back, I earned straight Aâ€™s. I studied harder, settled on a major, and made sure I was taking classes that would help me obtain a degree quickly. All of the hard work eventually paid off. Some of my writings won awards and was published. I was invited to participate in conferences. If mom and dad had been paying the bill, I doubt I would have motivated to accomplish as much as I did.
Let me make one thing clear: I donâ€™t have anything against a college education. I found my college experience to be worthwhile and it helped develop my unique skills and abilities. But I also want my children to develop their talents so they can be successful and love what they do with their life.
If my kids think college is a good way to develop their unique abilities, then I will certainly encourage them to attend. But not everyone has the capability or aptitude to do well in a college environment and a college degree ticket isnâ€™t a magic ticket to a successful and happy life. I want those to go to college to have earned not only a degree but the knowledge that comes with learning how to afford something one really wants.
Even though I wonâ€™t be footing my childrenâ€™s tuition, Iâ€™m not a complete Grinch. If my kids come asking me for money to pay for school, Iâ€™d be more than happy to give them a loan.
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