It’s my weekly post about why kids shouldn’t go to college.

To be clear, I write these posts to convince myself that my kids should not go to college. I remember, about ten years ago, when I wrote that entrepreurship is a safety net. I felt like I was writing the post to justify the fact that I really wanted a cushy corporate job, but I woudn’t get to see my kids if I had that job, so I had to make my own job. The blog post was convincing myself that I was doing the right thing.

I was doing the right thing of course. But it’s hard to see in the moment when it feels so unstable and out in left field.

And that’s how I feel now. I’m certain that college is useless, but I cling to the idea that even though I have decided my kids are skipping school, I have this nagging feeling that somehow my kids will have an easier life it they do go to college. All I want, really, is for my kids to have an easier life. It’s so hard to do laundry and bathe and eat food before it goes bad. Life is hard. Getting out of bed each day is hard. I want to do something that makes things easier for my kids.

But really, college is not one of those things.

Here are the big arguments for not going to college that I have found in the last week or so:

1. Even if you still think college is a good idea, you probably can’t afford it.
Paul Frankenberg, author of Burn Your Resume, points out that college tuition has increased 600% since the 1980s, student loan debt is passing one trillion dollars, half of all recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed, and 85% of the 1.8 million new grads are moving back home with their parents. Mark Cuban, one of my favorite pundits, argues that college tuition today is incredibly similar to the housing bubble: Unlimited lending from the government pushes prices up to nonsensical heights where you could never justify the cost.

2. Colleges are lashing out like terrified beasts defending vulnerable territory.
Schools have started refusing to give transcripts to kids who are not caught up on loan payments. This practice is particularly suspect because the students don’t owe the money to the schools. The debt is to the government. But in any case, the net effect is that the student has no proof of academic qualifications if the student is late on loan payments, which seems like extremely harsh punishment, and also, a punnishment that damns that student to low paying jobs.

If colleges would just take responsiblity for placing kids in jobs then they wouldn’t have to be so crazy about enforcing loan payments. If kids had money to pay loans they’d pay the loans.

3. The culture of college is making kids nuts.
When I was in Las Vegas with my son, he was watching TV, which is a treat, because we don’t have a TV on the farm. In the hotel room the TV is huge and bright with surround sound. My son says, “We need to set up a Gerber college savings fund.”

“What? Did you hear that on TV?”

“Yeah.”

“I am not saving for your college. You’ll get a scholarship. Do you know what that is?”

“A boat?”

“No. It’s a big discount on college so we don’t really have to pay anything.”

“Why do we get that?”

“Well. Because you’re Latino. And you live in the middle of nowhere on a farm. And colleges like that stuff. And you are  a very good cellist.”

I say this stuff and I hate myself for thinking this way. But I know that we are going to have to play the Latino farm kid card to get the kids into school. And I can’t believe we are worrying about paying for school right now. It’s messed up. I don’t want this to be the future of my kids’ learning.

He says, “What if I don’t keep playing the cello?”

I say, “That will be fine. You should do what you want.” And then I think, “But I know you won’t quit and every day I think about taking out insurance on your fingers.”

As he arranges the tickets he won to exchange for prizes, he says, “You can have these. Maybe you can exchange them for tokens for college.”

60 replies
  1. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    The good thing is you don’t have to decide whether your kids go to college. They do that themselves.

    The decision of whether to go and not to drop out was a big one for my unschooler. She doesn’t enjoy the predominant college student mentality or wasting her life pleasing professors. After talking to many people she respects she decided to complete her bachelor’s and not go on to grad school.

    As you’ve mentioned to us, many factors that we don’t know yet will be influencing our children’s choices years from now. They just need the development and critical skills to do the deciding. My role is seeking information and presenting points of view but not giving my suggestion.

  2. Francesco
    Francesco says:

    By time your kid and my kids are college-bound, the educational landscape might be different from what it is today. We might see more and more free courses from top universities (http://tinyurl.com/87eoujw) and more affordable online universities (http://tinyurl.com/83o3q6w). Truth is, speaking as a European who went to school both in Europe and in the US, the quality of education in the US is lower (unless you go for a PhD) and certainly not worth $100K or $200K.

    Unless, of course, you go to an Ivy League University (on a scholarship, ideally), and make lots of contacts that will help you land a job on Wall Street, a major real estate investment firm, or support your web 2.0 venture.

  3. Mark K
    Mark K says:

    If your child wants to be a doctor or lawyer or veterinarian, etc. then college is still an essential part of making that happen. Scientist, teacher, professor, there are still a lot of professional careers where this is pretty much the only route.

    I have to assume a certified doctor will be adequate–for example–since there is not competition that would allow me to choose based on quality of services.

    But for most paths one may choose in life, what matters more than anything else is your ability to actually contribute to the production of something that provides value for people, be it products or services or information. The skills and knowledge you bring to bear in a competitive market is what will determine your success. College is seldom the most efficient way to get those skills.

    For the non-professional majority, whatever certifications or diplomas you may have are not only irrelevant, they may handicap you because success will depend in large part on your ability to see what you need to learn to take the next step and teach yourself as you go.

    Our culture, and the markets associated with it, and technologies associated with delivering value to those markets, are all moving so fast that they now strongly favor the agile.

    The decision to go to college should not be considered the only path to self advancement anymore, because it is not. It should not be the unchallenged default that it has been for so long.

    The investment of money and time you would put into getting a degree would be better spent starting a business, in many cases.

    • Melody
      Melody says:

      “The investment of money and time you would put into getting a degree would be better spent starting a business, in many cases.”

      I wish I had done this in the first place. Now I’m stuck starting my own business to stay sane (which is a subjective term in and of itself).

      It seems weird to me that I am surrounded by people who judge their own ideas by factors other than how effective and efficiently-implemented they are, due to being trained to respond only to certain kinds of feedback. That authority approval thing went out the window when I found out that school presumed to tell us what our opinions were to be rather than allowing us to learn facts and new methods of investigation.

      Homeschooling is good because not everybody is so stubborn as to willingly subject themselves to the consequences of flouting that convention.

  4. CJ
    CJ says:

    Great, great post today!

    There’s so much to address, for now, I just couldn’t stop myself from saying (screaming) that it really pisses me off that any school would hold back a transcript based off the loan payments or lack thereof. If a student attended and completed coursework, evidence of such would/could be entirely hinge-dependent for said student to get employment. That’s F ing blackmail! The proof of completion of the coursework at any institution should not be linked to debt repayment. The lending agency has its course of action, that’s called bad credit ratings…another attack on the poor, the young, the elderly. But, that’s their weapon. How any educational university can stomach withholding those transcripts is appalling!

    I have never heard of this before and I appreciate you shedding light. Suspect indeed!!!!!!

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    The title of this post (Homeschool kids should not go to college) strikes me as a little bit strange in a couple of ways. It’s advice written to be applicable to all kids (not just homeschool kids) and college is school which was already chosen to be avoided at a younger age. The college benefit from a homeschooler’s perspective is the accredited degree.
    I really liked and agree with Mark Cuban’s post. He describes the recent housing boom and bust and then asks “Can someone please explain to me how what is happening in higher education is any different ?”. Yes, I can, it’s worse because there is no physical asset to reclaim, the applicability of the material taught in classes as it applies to needs of an employer diminishes with time while the recent grad is looking for work in their field, the debt burden is psychologically crushing the college grad and critically impacting their ability to contribute to the economy, the debt can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, etc. etc. It’s discouraging to just think about it … and this issue will affect all of us … all generations.

    • EngineerChic
      EngineerChic says:

      Check out how much government funding has dropped in the last several years. The problem isn’t solely the access to “easy money” but the drop in funding FROM the states at community colleges and 4 yr state universities.

      Seriously, check it out. Rise in student fees is easily related back to a steep drop in state funding.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        So how much funding should be made available from government (federal or state) to an institution that doesn’t represent value and isn’t sustainable for everyone in today’s job market?
        I didn’t view Penelope’s statement ( “… Unlimited lending from the government pushes prices up to nonsensical heights where you could never justify the cost.”) or Mark Cuban’s post from a ‘last several years’ perspective. No, the college problem has been in the making for the last several decades with ‘easy money’.
        College is a good institution. However, I think it has been abused as a baseline requirement for too many jobs so now ‘everyone’ needs a college degree. There needs to be a balance where there is a good fit between educational requirements and the job market.

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          there is certainly not only one problem. However, the explosion of costs is to a large extent due to huge cuts in government support while at the same time asking for more services. The percentage losses through this support are not in the single digits, but for many universities exceed 10-20 or go even up to 30-40% of the funding base. The only way to continue operating is either to cut services by a comparable amount or to charge more tuition. I doubt colleges and universities were high quality in the 60s and are all bad now. What I am objecting to is the oversimplified statement that tuition increase comes from the greed of the colleges and universities.

        • Theresa
          Theresa says:

          “College is a good institution. However, I think it has been abused as a baseline requirement for too many jobs so now ‘everyone’ needs a college degree. There needs to be a balance where there is a good fit between educational requirements and the job market.”

          My thoughts exactly!

          • Mark W.
            Mark W. says:

            Thanks Theresa.
            I read an article yesterday ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/education/edlife/edl-24masters-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all ) I thought was very interesting as it addressed credential inflation. There’s a glut of people with 4 year degrees so now they’re either setting themselves apart by getting a graduate degree or employers have raised the bar to graduate degree status. This trend exacerbates the student loan debt problem and doesn’t necessarily provide the employer with a better qualified candidate to fill a job position.

  6. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Hmmm… Not sure I agree with this post.

    If you define college as it is at most big schools (or even many small ones), where you are just talking about taking classes, filling your requirements, so you can get a piece of paper, then maybe I agree. But college can be a very different experience, depending upon where you go. When I headed off to college (oh so many years ago), I went to a small liberal arts college in Iowa — and for the first time in my life, felt like I was with peers. It wasn’t about the classes or the professors. It was about for the first time being in a group of other really bright, intellectual, complicated people from all over the world (not just the various small towns I had lived in) who thought it was normal to argue philosophy at 3am, who could open my eyes to other worlds, who challenged me to think. I’ve never found that intense gathering in any other situation since then, certainly not at work or with my neighbors — except perhaps online sometimes.

    Now, I didn’t end up staying there for all 4 years, and I’m not sure that part is necessary, unless you really do need the piece of paper for something. But for those 2 years, it was an incredible experience I could not have gotten anywhere else. So, yes, my homeschooled kids are heading off to college, at least for a couple of years. (And no, they aren’t taking out big loans to do it). But it isn’t going to be about the particular classes they take, or how it prepares them for a “career”. They will learn to think, to analyze, but again, most likely by being challenged by a dorm mate in a 2am conversation than by a professor “teaching them to think” in some class. And yes, I wish there were other places to find this type of environment.

    • Darlene
      Darlene says:

      Rachel, I totally agree with you. I remember starting grad school in Syracuse (a million years ago) and being surrounded by a group of funny, bright, intellectuals and thinking that I belonged for the first time ever. And then wondered where the hell they had been all my life. And since then, I haven’t found a community like that again, either. CERTAINLY not with my neighbors, maybe I come close with some of the folks at work. But that would be why I’d want my kids to go away to school, at least for a while, to know that there are others, many others, like them. I, too, wish we could find our tribe, not just in cyberspace.

      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        I agree. I wish it were easier to find that community outside of a college – I’m still looking. Thankful for my internet community, but it would be nice to have someone to sit and have tea with.

    • Diane Dawson
      Diane Dawson says:

      So interesting. I completed a 4 year arts degree and for the most part, it was as miserable as high school. It wasn’t until i backpacked through Europe for 2 years that I experienced what you are describing. Meeting a peer group who were smart, marched to their own drum and were up for discussing philosophy at 3am. it was eye-opening and inspiring and totally changed my life.

      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        It really can depend both upon the college you end up in, and whether it is a good “fit” for you — meaning that you find YOUR people there. I’ve certainly known colleges that seemed much like high school to me, in terms of the students and the interactions. In fact, most of them aren’t that much different. You have to really search out the ones that have a different culture.

  7. leftbrainfemale
    leftbrainfemale says:

    Hi Pen – Keep ’em coming! I particularly need these as I have (next year) a Junior and Senior in high school. The Senior is a very talented artist who also loves to write, but would be absolutely miserable in college. I’m doing my best to imbue her with an entrepreneurial spirit (no small task since I’ve really only begun to come into my own in the last 10 years, and I don’t make a large income yet myself). The thing is, I can see that when it comes to art, she’s actually got talent – she has a vision and is far more observant than I, so I am doing my best to help her get set up.

  8. redrock
    redrock says:

    You could set up “a” fund for them – they could go to college with it or not, set up a business, travel the world…

    • Mark K
      Mark K says:

      I think that is a great idea Redrock. It seems like there are two options in people’s minds, college or “you’re on your own kid.” Why we accept the boundary of 18 as the limit for helping kids get a start in the world is a little mystifying to me.

  9. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Not everyone should goto college. I loved that Time article you referenced the other day about high school students in Arizona going to high-quality vocational school rather than spending all their day on academics (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2113794,00.html) . Most people will grow up and take jobs other than doctor, scientist, etc. and they will not need college degrees. If they could just do the vocational training described in the Time article, then upon graduating high school go into some targeted (less expensive) program, that would be so much better! And this would reduce the number of college applicants, forcing the costs to go down. The only problem I see to this solution is the stigma behind vocational schools and the prestige associated with having a college degree. People just want a college degree to label themselves as being smart. It is often just a ticket into social circles and other privilages. Honestly, I can’t think of any friends of mine who don’t have college degrees. Is that because I have excluded those without degrees as being beneath me? Or is it because traditionally one couldn’t get a good job without a degree and I surround myself with people who have jobs? I don’t know why. Your posts have made me take a look at myself in a whole new light! I don’t believe this will change until we have better vocational schools or internship programs which address not only low-level skills, but also high-level, high-paying skills. There’s no arguing with success, and if one can be successful and NOT go to college, that person will have no problem having friends from all backgrounds, “educated” or not.

    • Diane Dawson
      Diane Dawson says:

      When I moved to Los Angeles in 1998, and was willing to work anywhere, doing anything initially… I needed a college degree to apply for reception jobs! And as a assistant in the entertainment industry, making $25000 a year. Crazy. At today’s costs of college, what assistant or receptionist could justify paying back a loan at that salary. Of course, the assumption is you’ll keep moving up…. but still. There was no clear pathway up to anywhere from my job then.

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      I think you may have friends who do not have college degrees. There are few of us out there, but most adults without college degrees are too embarrassed to let anyone know. As an example, I had a co-worker who became a close friend. She went to college for a short time but did not graduate. When people would ask her where she went to college, she would tell them the name of the college she attended. No one ever asked if she graduated! She only let me in on her little secret because I didn’t go to college either, so she wasn’t embarrassed about it around me.

  10. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    The NY Times is also doing a student loans series. One thing I notice in all of the discussions is that the idea of parents saving up money for college when kids are young seems to have fallen by the wayside without discussion.

    I have two kids who will go to private colleges without taking out loans using mostly money saved in 529 accounts. We put thousands of dollars away each year, forgoing fancy cars, home remodeling, and expensive vacations, knowing that our kids wouldn’t qualify for financial aid due to family assets.

    Although I agree that their degrees might not be worth the investment (depending on how they use the opportunity college provides), I’m shocked that so few other parents seem to have been saving for their kid’s college all these years.

    • Diane Dawson
      Diane Dawson says:

      For us, we gave up on the idea of saving because we realized that no matter how hard we tried… we would never have enough for both kids to go to college. So while we do have a savings account for each kid, and it may go to help with college, we’re not saving for that specifically. I guess we might make it work if I went back to work full-time… but we decided the children would ultimately benefit from being home with me in their younger years. Trade offs, trade offs.

      • Hazel
        Hazel says:

        I stayed home with my kids for 7 years and then went back to work. When I went to college in the 80s, my mom reentered the workforce to basically earn the money to pay for my brother and I to go to college. Affordability is definitely an issue but it is separate from whether college is a good idea.

        • Hazel
          Hazel says:

          I worry about Penelope’s anti-education stance and how it bodes for the future of our society. Hello Idiocracy. Her kids are not typical. But her arguments can be used to defund public education for the majority of youth who won’t be learning how to think at home.

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            If you look at he Hole in the Wall Project, you will see her children ARE typical (no disrespect to your darling boys Penelope). While there are certainly examples of prodigies and the highest IQ geniuses, the truth is that most children on earth have amazing capacities for knowledge, experiential expertise and talent. The revolution that needs to happen for the parents and children in low income/poverty level environments where both parents must work for basic survival is the Free School movements. If we discuss institutions where kids can flourish and learn and grow their minds, this is the answer staring the entirety of the planet blankly in the wisdom-starved eyes. It is much more economical than our prison/hospital/corporate/consumer based public and private institutional models. Check out Slbany Free School as an example, or the Sudbury Schools, etc.

            I will not pressume to speak for Penelope, but as a fan I would not describe her as anti education to anyone. I would describe her as anti education SYSTEM. This is drastically different as a term of specificity. She might prefer another adjective. Anyhow, I just ruffled at your implication that children won’t learn at home. O’ contrare…

          • Hazel
            Hazel says:

            Thanks for your response. I wasn’t precise enough. What I meant was not that other children can’t learn the way Penelope’s sons do, but that other parents won’t be able to teach the way she can.

            Also, I understand that she is pointing real flaws in the educational system, not in education, but her solution seems to be to chuck it all. I think that is dangerous and prefer efforts to make the education system work better. The Albany Free School seems great.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            Believe me, I’m not teaching anything. I’m following their lead, which is very scary to do. But I really am certain that all kids have special learning capacity if you find it – if you give them space to find it.

            I don’t think I’m doing anything special in terms of teaching. Which maybe is why I’m so adamant that any parent can do this. I’m working full time. I’m letting my kids have unlimited screentime. I’m living in a very very low income area. Anyone can do this. Really.

            Penelope

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            That’s poppycashe! You do so limit screen time. By your own admission you don’t have a television in your home/at the farm. That limits, oh I don’t know, a gazillion hours of screen time and advertising exposure most children are exposed to in the industrialized world. You have to drive/go far, in fact make an effort to expose your kids to ads and screens. Your sons playing bionicles and doing all the free range stuff at the farm by default does limit screen time. Yes, so they play video games sometimes, from your descriptions there is a lot of reading (such as your older son with the farmer while you are away each night), such as cello practice, etc. I know you want to/have argued that freedom for video game time should be unlimited, but your described life has tons of limits on screen time and it is more than ok to own it.

  11. karelys
    karelys says:

    I get that some kids will make the decision to go to college anyway. And that’s fine.

    The difference is when kids are coerced to go to college because they have always been taught that it’s the golden ticket to success or will make life easier or bla bla bla.

    The housing bubble burst. So did the college bubble. The need for college hasn’t gone away like the need for houses. But people are more conscious about what it really means and entails to own a house and a college education.

    Personally I was sold into the idea that college was a golden ticket to success. And I dislike that. I still will go back for a masters so I can get licensed to do what I want to do. But with a different perspective and reason.

  12. Colin
    Colin says:

    Not going to college rules out a significant number of jobs:

    Accountant
    Architect
    Audiologist
    Chiropractor
    Dentist
    Doctor
    Engineer
    Landscape Architect
    Lawyer
    Librarian (above a clerk pretty much requires an MLIS)
    Optometrist
    Pharmacist
    Physical Therapist
    Psychologist
    Podiatrist
    Registered Nurse
    Social Worker
    Teacher
    Veterinarian

    And that’s off the top of my head and a quick search. Most of these require a college degree to be licensed in most states and you cannot practice without being licensed.

    So shun college all you want, so long as you are willing to forego any of these jobs (and others I have forgotten). I am right there with you on the price of college, etc. but your blanket rejection of college is because you are biased by your own history and that is a shame. There are a number of rewarding careers that REQUIRE college education that you CANNOT legally practice without that education. You need to step out of your English major box and open your eyes.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      Of course. She’s assuming her homeschoolers won’t go into those fields. If that is the case she doubts the value of a degree.

      • Colin
        Colin says:

        The percentage of jobs representing these fields is not insignificant. I attempted to compile a statistic on this but I could not readily find useable employment numbers so I gave up.

    • JKB
      JKB says:

      You make a good point there are many artificial barriers to entry put in place to protect incumbents and keep out competition.

      But it is also interesting, not one of the careers you mention can be done with a humanities degree. Most require very specialized knowledge based expertise. Social worker is a fools errand as there is no way they’ll ever get paid enough to pay off student loans. Librarian, I wouldn’t put to much stock in that being a career for the future.

      One thing should be noted, in most of those professions, the degree granting institution is an after thought and quickly of no importance at all after the first job.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        you would not be open to the idea that many of these professions require an extended period of learning to do them well? It is not the fear of competition but assurance of quality and a certain knowledge baseline which drives these particular professions to require a degree and college level education. Having said this, not all institutions live up to this goal.

      • Colin
        Colin says:

        “protect incumbents and keep out competition”

        For the fields I list, I would chalk this comment to ignorance, not one of knowledge, but I do not like presuming such for random people I do not know. Barriers necessarily keep people out so it is a sliding scale of how many “bad” people do you want to keep out to keep out otherwise “good” people? For things health related or public safety (notably Engineers) I want that to be a really conservative set point. I find state licensure of some fields like cosmetology or manicuring a bit unnecessary, but for the fields I list I do not find such a perspective.

        “But it is also interesting, not one of the careers you mention can be done with a humanities degree.”

        And Trunk always rails against college with only the humanities in mind (that *IS*, after all, all she knows). This is a position of ignorance for her and she only sometimes slightly admits such.

        • Richard
          Richard says:

          Medical licensing is a total cartel. The AMA works hard to keep the supply of doctors artificially low. It’s extremely difficult to start a new medical school, or to get approval for increase medical school classes sizes. Further, the logistics of the USMLE add all sorts of delays and irrelevant hurdles for foreign doctors to work in the US. (For exam, allowing US Medical students to take parts of the exam during medical school, but not foreign students. Or using idiomatic English on the test, which foreign students are less likely to know.)

          The sky high pay for doctors (because of artificially constrained supply) is one of the reasons why US medical costs are much higher than other developed countries. (Of course there are lots of other reasons too.)

          • Colin
            Colin says:

            If Trunk’s kids do not go to college then they will NOT be doctors. End of story and it doesn’t matter how much the supply is restricted by the AMA or anyone else. (Assuming, again, that things remain the same.)

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Colin, let us just start with your list from the medical fields for sake of succinct debate: with EdX, Kahn, and some basic less-than-two year course work in junior college (= cheap!!!) biochemistry, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, EBM (evidence based medicine), counseling, etc. a student, let’s call her Doogie, can get very close to the requirements fulfilled for premed. Then she goes and takes some labs for a summer or a couple of semesters and takes her med school entry exams. Then she goes to med school (k, now the real $$$ have to be spent) and goes into practice. Yes, PRACTICE. From the days of Hippocrates, practice practice practice, or to use “trunks” verbiage, “vocational” hands on. OJT (on job training). I want a surgeon who has had a zillion hours with his hands ON, not some shmo that sat for 6 years of flippen lectures. Do you know the story of the blue babies and Vivien?

      Fine, don’t like your docs to be shy of undergrad ceramics electives, how bout your lawyer? S/he can take the bar without law school and now with EdX and MIT and a whole host of others coming down the pike- our kids can easily be self taught to sit for such exams.

      How bout engineers? khan and EdX with Math, chem, etc. our kids can get just about all they need to put together an amazing portfolio to start their university level coursework at GRAD School level.

      The list goes on….

      • CJ
        CJ says:

        Ooopsie! Forgot to say those (EdX, MIT, Khan and many many more to come) are all FREEEEEEEEEE

        Peace, J

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          The investment for MIT-x from Harvard is $ 30 Million, with the same amount coming from MIT. I think it is a great program and have great hopes for the future but the costs are substantial. And while the instruction a.k.a. the lecture itself is identical on youtube and in the classroom, the direct interaction with fellow students (and the prof and assistant) is missing. That might seem irrelevant to many, but even in the fact based hard sciences discussion and discourse play a large role. WE will see in the next few years whether students educated on MIT-x and on college campuses bring the same skills to the table when going to grad school (I cannot comment on students who are using courses only selectively to fill gaps or get a select skill).

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            Yes, yes, agreed on initial investment and ongoing from donors, support, etc. is huge and no small factor to take into consideration.

            I was being quite playful with my words because I am always a little put off when someone repeats a non fact opinion as a fact over and over. As if repeating makes it more true. Like yelling.

            I should have said free to the user. EdX (Stamford) is going to be amazing. Khan has already been incredible globally. At the very least these coming down the pike are seriously cheap. My greater intent in arguing with Colin was to establish that the information is freely accessible to all already. I have done some free law courses, ethics, science, etc. My kids use Khan all the time. The system doesn’t have to own us. We can positively manipulate our our careers, educations– freely

      • Colin
        Colin says:

        I’m not sure what your point has to do with what I am saying. The title of this post is “Homeschool kids should not go to college” which necessarily means Trunk’s kids WILL NOT be able to do any of the things I listed. There are plenty of other fields but those are immediately out of the realm of possibility. (I would add “as things stand today” but that should go without saying.) No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Period, end of story: no soup for you. I do not think Trunk realizes this, much less admit it.

        I am not even remotely talking about how things COULD be and that is what your reply is 100% about. So you’re not even talking to me. Maybe someday things will change and what you propose is a possibility but I do not see that on the horizon for any of the fields I have listed.

        You also need to be more careful. The things you listed are not “free.” They are subsidized by those students currently paying tuition and/or through donations plus YouTube’s ad revenue. TINSTAAFL. If MIT’s and Harvard’s enrollment ended this spring and YouTube started charging money, then these things you champion as “free” would be gone or no longer “free.” Luckily neither is likely to happen.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          Awwww sweetie. No.

          No ends. No End, sorry (really not being sarcastic) to stomp on your constant “end of story” “period” “done-ness”

          The days of the 4 yr university track for the masses are over….have been over for a long while. We just havent looked upon the grave withen eyes. It is not that nobody will go to four year institutions, but MOST won’t. 9 billion people my friend. 9 friggon BILLLLLLLion.

          Yes, I can agree that many vocations will need the grad level edu, but not the undergrad as we have been experiencing as the college tradition americana.

          I will even admit to use your words that I speak of what-could-be oft, however….much of what I speak of is in the NOW.

          Again I suggest a look at Vivien. And add a look at the California State University system collapsing, and look to Holts words. Watch weapons of mass instruction, see Race to Nowhere. Listen with your heart.

          I am, as ever an optimist to the highest order, but only fools ignore history….period, end of story, no chowder for me

          • Colin
            Colin says:

            “much of what I speak of is in the NOW.”

            Find me the licensure boards for states that are revoking the requirement for a bachelor’s degree for those that previously did require them. That’s fine if you see the tide changing but that doesn’t matter until states change too. They may or they may not (speculation abound) but if you want to be an engineer who builds bridges NOW then you have no choice but to hold a BS from an accredited university.

            The case of Thomas (you use his first name like you were good friends) and CSU system are irrelevant. College is still, currently, required for many fields. Again: *that* is my point and, frankly, it’s quite annoying having to repeat it.

  13. CJ
    CJ says:

    Hazel, I am so not good at tech, I don’t know how to respond to you on here when there isn’t a reply button (just to make you laugh- I hold three college degrees and I can’t work a blog response! Lol)

    Thanks for your response as well. I appreciate your words!

    I guess i just think things like how I have friends that have been on the frontlines of global human rights movements in every capacity I can think of from protecting rape victims on a mass scale in Uganda to getting schools, teachers and medical supplies into Haiti to trying to slow malaria in the greatoutreaches of Africa. Please know with all my heart that I understand the edu conundrum is not only lacking in simple answers and support, but also in the context of those living at or below the poverty line- all they know is what they have been sold and that is that there is this system in America that if you come here and get an edu and go to college this will equate into some fantastical American dream of the past.

    I genuinely don’t mean to attack anyone with a good idea, I just know with all my being that we are in a time where “radical” change is the only thing to embrace. Politics, religion, financial status, etc….none of it can get in the way anymore. As our planet pummels toward that 9 billion citizen number I think to myself, “NOW” we have to do things differently. We have to let the children of the globe be children and grow to be global citizens. We have to model this ethic before it’s too late. everywhere.

    When you have been on the front lines and seen children younger than my son of 8 with guns and grenades on their person- that’s it. You just know.

    If we can just let these beautiful minds be beautiful on a mass scale, real change could happen.

  14. Julianna
    Julianna says:

    I can almost guarantee that your kids won’t get scholarships based on race in 10 years. or musical ability. omg, no.

    I can’t compute that in one post you say you make 15k a speech and here you say you save nothing for college.

    Do you save anything for retirement? I fear I know the answer.

  15. Meg
    Meg says:

    Perhaps revisiting the ancient Confucian idea of merit-based opportunity, would be good for our society. It appears that very often, extremes in corruption have precipitated some form of meritocracy, and competitive government exams to asses competency in any field are an idea that goes back to ancient China, for one example.

    Great Britain, and even eventually the US, did enact some semblance of this system with some positive effect on corruption, historically, at least for positions of governance, or in the case of the US, the often-maligned Civil Service.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing such exams count for college credit, open to all, and free, in our society today. After all, you shouldn’t be required to prove you bought your knowledge…if you came by it yourself, and can demonstrate it, you are just as knowledgeable. Often more so.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Cannot applaud this post enough Meg!! In the military, especially when in hot spots overseas or lots of changing duty assignments/locations, many of us were advised to CLEP test for college credits. I think there are some other programs similar, but I hope there is a greater movement toward testing out as freely available information is more accessible globally.

      Today, it is well esptablished that the bulk of high SAT scores that get kids into the best colleges are most associated with children of wealth. CLEP and other programs like it would provide huge opportunity, to say a kid in rural India if they became more widely respected/accepted on a grand scale.

  16. Andi
    Andi says:

    My son is about to graduate from high school. He is Hispanic & comes from a very small farm village. He also qualified for State this year during wrestling. So he has options. He wants to be a physical therapist, specializing in sports medicine or athletic training. He has also thought about becoming an EMT because of his interest in health, community, & danger (all rolled into one). These fields all require college degrees, but he has offers & is pretty sure he can do what he wants.

    The closer we get to graduation date, however, the more he is considering skipping the 4-yr deal & doing something more immediate to fulfill his aforementioned goals of health, community, & danger. There are some options this direction, too. The firefighters in our area are looking for new recruits & will even provide free training. Another choice under consideration is enlisting in the military & letting them pay for his schooling. Or skipping it all so he can dive full-time into MMA & become a fighter.

    When my son was in middle school, I knew with all my heart that no matter what, he would go to college. I worked, one class at a time, to achieve a two-year degree over a period of TEN years. I had to pay for each class myself, & by the time I graduated, it meant so much more than a mere associate’s degree. It represented a milestone I achieved all by myself, with no help from my parents. I wanted it to be easier for my son. I wanted to be supportive & have him know I am here to push him or catch him, whatever he needs. Now, because of what I’ve seen my rinky-dink degree net me, & because of what he is considering doing with his life, I am no longer pushing him down the traditional, four years of school, path. Times are changing. I can change too.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Andi,I love this post! Partly because I identify with it in a big way and partly because it addresses so much that is needed to be talked about for the larger picture. You really hit my heart strings!
      PAnd, add in much of Meg’s post and we are onto something. I was a broke, oldest of four, on my own by my mid teens. All my friends headed off to college after grad. I joined the air force. While in I did emergency training, police work, nutrition and health and wellness advising, among other things. All my co workers and friends at the time were emts, firefighters, cops, er nurses, etc. so I totally relate to your son. All I knew was that I wanted to do all these things and had no money and I was (luckily) terrified of debt. I did go to college AFTER the military, three times, one degree was entirely paid for by the GI bill, half of the next was covered as well as half my flght lessons, and by the time I went for my masters, I was older and had saved/earned enough to pay cash. Your son can do it!!! I am in my forties, my closest girlfriends from childhood still have a mountain of student loan debts to the tune of 6 figures. I consider myself wealthy- not because I make a big fortune, but because I have no debt. I just wanted you to know it definitely can be done in the several ways he is considering. It sounds like he understands the danger too, which is helpful. Even if you had all the money to pay for college, there are so many other ways for him to get his success and you are so wise not to push him one way or the other! And getting it for ourselves makes the victory so much sweeter. And, college is never off the table. He can go anytime. Your last paragraph is beautiful. I agree, I want to give my children everything so they have it much easier. But then I wonder, will any of it matter to them if they dont accomplish it for themselves? And, I want them to feel my trust in them, to know I believed in them from day one. Sounds like you believe in your son completely! Lastly, have you seen Ken Robinsons YouTube video from 2006? He discusses a firefighter- it is a great story.

  17. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    When we as parents say “Go to college,” we think of a brick and mortar ivy covered bell tower centered college instead of what college can be for kids. Teens can go to college without a “college” these days. There is so much available online, that the traditional going away to school is going by the wayside for parents who understand that financially, $50K+ per year is just out of the question. So while my homeschooled children might choose college, I hope they understand that it isn’t necessary to leave home to be educated.

  18. Violeta
    Violeta says:

    I think that formal university/college education will have to change and that, in a very near future, universities and colleges may consider running exams and granting certifications and leaving teaching to others. (Self-employed university/college professors? No cushy tenured life? ) We already live in a world in which, with access to the Internet, you automatically have access to so much information and opportunity for knowledge sharing and learning that attending university/college classes may seem unnecessary.
    On the other hand, going to university was a great life experience for me – social and personal. And I would like my son to get that experience, too. Of course, I would love for my son to become a doctor or a dentist. That way he could be self-employed and he could be making a lot of money without much risk. But any degree is fine regardless of what the major is. Because, university/college education opens many doors that would otherwise be tightly shut.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      I am sure college and universities will change. But I also think that a lot of the change in education one way or another will come out of the traditional places of learning, udacity as well as coursera are outgrowths of strong college/university teaching. Why do you want to relegate the colleges and universities to the running of exams?

      As to the cushy tenured job many seem to envy: my own workweek is a very un-cushy 60-80 hours, I can hardly remember a weekend without work, and have never spent the frequently mentioned 3 months of summer holiday as a holiday but use them for research and to get money for doing the research.

  19. Keith
    Keith says:

    I think your posts about “kids not needing college” are biased by the thought that all people will be working in some sort of “entreprenuer” or “management” type job.

    But that isn’t reality.

    What about more technical jobs?
    Chemists, Engineers, Lab Technicians, Scientists?
    Could any of those folks get a job in those fields without a college degree? I doubt it.
    How could they compete for those highly technical jobs?
    While it’s true that many of those people will eventually rise to mangement positions, they don’t start there.

    And I don’t think that homeschooling is mutually exclusive of college. If anything, homeschooling (in my opinion) better prepares college freshmen for responsibilities and work loads.
    This is the path my cousin is taking; homeschooled since early grade school aged, now in college, as an engineer. And she’s doing fantastic, in part because she was forced to be responsible earlier than her classmates.

    my $0.02

  20. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    To bridge the divide here…

    What if we say: stop encouraging kids to go to college “to figure out” what they want to do. It’s too costly for wafflers/wanderers in time and money. It’s the last stop in the search, not the first.

    If they find some profession–working, traveling, reading, volunteering–that excites them, that motivates them, then the cost will be worth it (esp. if they’re paying for it themselves & taking out their own loans).

    At 19, I was so anxious about doing the right thing and not wasting my life that I followed others’ directives. It was a mistake.I went to and stayed in college because all my Baby Boomer teachers & family said it was the right thing, the necessary thing.

    I believed them.

    I regret it.

    Now, I’m considering returning once my home-schooled kids are grown. I have my eye on a profession that requires state board certification. I read & research others’ solutions; I work a job that complements my “future” profession.

    I DON’T have to rush into anything. College is not going to answer my questions. It may *be* the answer, but it is not a guarantee of anything (we can all agree on that, it seems).

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