Friday, January 24, 2014


So...earlier this week I read a blog post written by Matt Walsh titled, Thank God I Wasn't College Material! and decided to share it with my Facebook friends. Well, things got a little hot in the comments of my post until I pointed out that I just wanted to share Mr. Walsh's ideas with my friends, not tell them his educational path was the one and only way to go. After things calmed down I started to wonder when education decisions had moved into that category of things we don't talk about, things like religion and politics.

I've never really been the kind of person who tries to force my opinions down other people's throats. I think sometimes people misinterpret my motives because when something really makes an impact on me, I can get a little too excited in my sharing. In the last few years, homeschooling, organic eating, and running have all been high on my list of things I want to share with others. When I get interested in something new I spend a lot of time reading everything I can find on that topic. This results in my perceived need to talk through my new knowledge to help me better understand what I am learning. Just ask my husband. He has been the target of this out-loud organizing of thoughts.

My quick summary of the Matt Walsh post is that college may not be the answer for all kids. In fact, maybe it's not the answer for most kids. I agree with him that certain careers obviously need to start with a degree. But are we really doing our kids a service pushing college as the 'best' path? As someone who has already pulled her kids off the normal educational highway by homeschooling, I am familiar with the doubt that comes with such a choice. So far, that move has paid off for our family. Now don't get me wrong, I plan to continue to prepare both boys for the possibility of college. I will make sure their writing skills are up to par, I will sign them up for the PHAA diploma program, I will help them work on their organization and study skills. But I will not tell them college is the only option.

I look at JT and see a kid who has always excelled in everything academic until now when he's really starting to struggle with the application of some concepts he's learning in early Algebra. It's a foreign language to him. Of course, he can get through it. But I wonder how much of it is really making sense to him and how much is just him learning to imitate the examples shown in the videos. I was an excellent math example imitator, but after Algebra, that skill stopped working and I had no idea what was going on most days. I see him approaching math the same way I did. It's a completely different story for EM. He just takes one look at his math book and can apply what he's seeing and it makes perfect sense to him. But EM doesn't want to write a four sentence paragraph because writing is not natural for him. Yes, I know they both have time before the college years are here. I just don't want them to think when the time comes, they have only one option, even if that option doesn't fit them well. 

We've come this far off the beaten path. Who's to say they can't continue down the road less traveled?

Not me.


Hwee said...

Thank you for sharing the article and your thoughts. I'm with you on this, wrt the educational options. It seems that nowadays people are taking political-correctness overboard by not even allowing others with a different opinion to voice their view without taking a personal offence to it. Shutting down a debate or a different view is the quickest way to ensure confirmity. Perhaps that is what those who took offence to your posting want! :-)

Hwee said...

Oh, I also recommend the book, "Don't Go Back to School" by Kio Stark, as a really good read on this topic.

Jessica said...

I so often feel your writing mirrors my thoughts. I read this blog post by Matt Walsh. I also read another by an ultra conservative site that hypothesized that perhaps their is an ulterior motive behind the questioning of college, one to actually dumb down our "workforce" and produce a collective of workers, not thinkers. It gave me pause. However, I feel that the college inflation is unsustainable. The debt incurred by kids by age 25 is unimaginable, and the cost/benefit ratio given the job marketplace is questionable. I have no idea what path my girls will take. Like you I am preparing them for college but right now I see the best option as a 2 year community college followed up by 2 additional years should they chose somewhere else.

Cyber Momma said...

Hwee - Part of the problem with having discussions in these virtual environments is that it's so much harder to judge someone's intent without the body language cues. I'm sure if I had the same conversation in the 'real world' in might have been easier for my friends to see I wasn't trying to 'convert' them to my way of thinking. I was only trying to share something I found interesting.
I will be sure to look for the book you recommend. I want to gather as much information as possible to best help my boys make their decision.

Cyber Momma said...

Jessica -the problem of college cost is definitely a huge concern for us. I have friends who are in their early 40s still paying off student loans for themselves and now their kids are approaching college age! I know that a university environment is a great place to stretch yourself, in more ways than education, but at what cost?
I have just started exploring the early community college option for JT. If he can get some classes under his belt during his junior and senior high school years, maybe college won't be too outrageous.
But I will not make the decision for him. I want him to look at all the options.