next stop college?When I was growing up, my plans after high school were already in place. I knew, without question, my next step was going to college. The decision was not forced on me, but was something we did in my family. Once we finished high school, we moved on to college.

College was (and still is for many) extremely important. I never questioned that step in my academic career. The only challenge regarding that fact was deciding where I wanted to go to school.

I only applied to one college and one university. One was on the West Coast (my father’s alma mater) and the other was in the South (my mother’s alma mater). Of course there were more options for schools, but application fees were expensive and I wanted a good return on my investment. Although applying to only two schools left me with reduced options, I figured my odds were good. I knew I would be accepted into at least one of those schools. Fortunately, I was accepted into both. Just in case you are wondering, I went to the South only because my roots were on the West Coast and I wanted to experience something new.

I received a good education while in college, but it was not until more than 10 years later that I worked in positions reflective of my education. Most of the skills I used after receiving my degree were ones I learned in high school or while on the job. Having a degree did open doors for me to acquire positions that paid me well. Sometimes, I do wonder how far I would have gone without earning a college degree that came with a huge price tag.

Pursuing higher education is still an important goal on our academic journey, but I have reconsidered my view on college and the need for my children to attend. Sometimes, I wonder if college is really worth it. You have the degree, but often have the student loans unless you receive a scholarship. You have the social experiences of being with your peers and access to the knowledge your professors possess. But who is to say that same or more cannot be acquired from someone you regularly chat with on the subway or serve beside while working on a foreign mission field. Having a degree from an Ivy League or other prominent institution is not always necessary (or a guarantee) for success. Just ask Matt Mullenweg, Arash Ferdowski, Larry Page or Kat Cole.

A few years ago, I would have told you my children would definitely attend college once they finish high school. Now, I just cannot imagine the amount of tuition by the time they graduate. If my children attend college, it will be their decision. As their teacher, I will continue to prepare them, so they will be college-ready. I want them to be able to make a choice for themselves.

How important is college to you for your children in their education? College tuition continues to grow and degrees and professions that used to be “hot” are no longer.

I am proud I earned a college degree, but times are changing with the four-year college route no longer being the only path. If you have a high school student, are they considering college in the future? Do you think they would be better off learning a skill through a technical or trade school and immediately joining the workforce, moving into self-employment or some other direction?

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