Education versus no education

One of things I kill time doing online is looking at blogs and discussions boards where folks discuss frugal living, it seems without fail the issue of student loans comes up. I am amazed at the number of folks who claim there is no value in paying for an education and as a result have no desire to pay for their own kid to go to college. Often these folks figure if their kid wants to go to college, said kid will find a way to make it happen.

Look, college costs may be a tad inflated, hell even the value of having a degree is not quite what it used to be but I always want to scream at these folks, have you ever lived a life where you had to support you and a kid without an education? I have and it was not pretty at all.

Elder boy was born when I was 19, for less than a year I received government assistance but as I have written in the past, I found it be such a demoralizing experience that as soon as I was able to work, I did. When my son was 2 there was a time I was working 3 jobs to put food on the table, as a high dropout at that time there was not exactly a ton of high paying gigs available. When he turned 3, I was able to secure a decent job that at that time paid well but when you have no education, a good paying job is not always something you can count on….they come and go. Just ask those folks in Michigan who have been living with the decline of the auto industry. Guys and gals who started off at a plant at 18 or 19 and put in years, enough to secure the middle class dream only to see now that the dream is gone.

I know what you are thinking, but what about the college educated folks who are in the same boat? Well the beauty of education is that if done right it can lead to many paths and for better or worse we live in a time where a piece of paper that says BA or BS still has power.

Ok, BGIM you may be thinking but why should I have to pay for my kid to get a degree? Well because child rearing doesn’t stop at 18. Maybe its because my son is less than a year away from turning 18, maybe its because I did put myself through school and will be saddled with student loan debt until I retire but for me personally I can’t see saying sorry kiddo you are 18, you figure it out.

Even in my po dunk ass state, tuition plus room and board (main campus is almost 4 hours from me so elder boy can’t commute) still costs damn near twenty thousand!!!! I don’t know about you but what sort of gig do you expect a 18 or 19 year old to get that can pay those costs and still have time to actually attend a class and maybe even study? Even  a summer gig at 40 hours a week isn’t going to add up to that sort of cash.

Now I know what you may be thinking but what about my retirement? True, you should be concerned about your retirement but maybe a better step is thinking about the cost of kids when you are doing your family planning and no I am not trying to be snarky. The reality is if you only have 1-2 kids it might be a heck of a lot easier to help your kid with college than if you have say 4-5 kids.

Personally while elder boy has no college fund I fully expect that just as I have always figured out a way to pay for things, we will figure out a way to help with college costs. In fact its funny that when baby girl starts school next year, elder boy starts college, so guess the daycare money will get moved to the college payment fund.

As parents we want the best for our kids and starting life struggling in many cases is not the best, yes at 18 they are legal adults but as someone whose own parents took that approach I can say it sucked monkey balls.

However there are options aside from college that are cheaper and they include the military, Americorps (kid can earn valauble work experience plus cash for college) , plus if you have decent community colleges a kid can always start there. Or if the kid is eager to get in the work world, there is always trade school but whatever you do, don’t just tell an 18 yo they are on their own. Its one of the few things my own folks did that still pisses me off.

I am a firm beleiver that having an education gives you options in life, I come across too many women in relationships where they never finished their education, don’t have recent job skills and in many cases feel trapped because they hate their partners but have no way to provide for themselves. I have my days where I hate the student loan debts I have but I know that if for whatever reason the Spousal Unit and I parted ways, that I have the ability to take care of me and my kids. I may have to leave Maine but education gave me options that many years ago I didn’t have…even now I have been able to use my education to do multiple things to earn money. Yes, there is always someone who earns plenty without a degree but in many cases those folks are exceptions.

So think about it, what kind of life do you want for your kids?