Is College Necessary for a Successful Life?

Show Notes: Drop the 1-size-fits-all standard about everyone needing college & be open to kids finding their own path to success.

Kids conditioned to believe there is only 1 path to success

I encourage all parents and their daughters to be open to many different paths to success. Kids today are conditioned to believe there is one path that fits everyone: get good grades, go to a top college, get a good job, and make a lot of money. But that path does not fit for the majority of people.

The advantages & disadvantages of a 4-year degree

Dr. Jordan presents a lot of facts about the benefits and disadvantages of a four-year college degree, including economic as well as mental health issues. For example, over 60% of all US adults over 25 do not have a four year degree, 41% of college grads in their 20s are underemployed and working in jobs that typically don’t require a college degree, and only 46% of college grads in 2022 say they currently work in their field of study, i.e. jobs that do not apply the training they received in college.

The high up-front cost of college can dig a hole that takes years to overcome—on average it takes student loan borrowers two decades to pay off their debt.

Who gets the jobs?

There are 30 million jobs in the US that pay an average of $55,000 and don’t require a bachelor’s degree; many of these jobs go to people with vocational degrees. A 2017 survey found that 70 percent of contractors have difficulty finding qualified craft workers such as electricians and plumbers.

What is the return for investing 4-6 years in college?

Dr. Jordan discusses the possible answers to the question: What is the return supposed to be for your four years of college? Is it just about earning more money? Is the only purpose of an education to enable you to get a job? What, in short, is college for? These are great questions to discuss with your daughters during their high school years as they try to decide their next step after high school.

Non-economic benefits of a degree

Dr. Jordan also discusses some of the non-economic benefits of a four year college experience.

Why & how you go to college is more important than if, when, or where you go

He also discusses why HOW you go to college is more important than when or where you go. He also discusses the ways that gap years can be of benefit to young adults, especially if they are conscious about how they use that time.

What every young adult needs is usable skills, and college is hardly the only source for developing these. Support your daughters to carve out their own path, in their own way, & in their own time, and to not live life by shoulds & what everyone else is doing or to not disappoint parents.

Kids need autonomy in choosing their path

If given the choice, given autonomy to choose their path and  whether they go to college & where & when, they will be more invested, engaged, & thus reap more benefits from the experience.

Is college necessary for a successful life? I believe the answer is a resounding no, and we need to appreciate that all young people aren’t cut from the same cloth. Support your kids in finding their own, unique life path that fits their interests, passions, and aptitude, and watch them soar. 

For some great information on how to support young adults with creating their own path, you and your daughter can read Dr. Jordan’s book, Letters from My Grandfather: Timeless Wisdom for a Life Worth Living

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