Good parents make sure their kids get into a good college. They may pay their way or help them pay for it, but either way, college is a must for any kid who wants to be successful, right?
I’m sure you’ve judged by the title of this article that my answer is: nope!
There is a stigma surrounding people who don’t go to college. Even as the world becomes more BA and MBA saturated, we still preach, “go to college, get good grades, and you’ll be successful.”
If only it was that easy. If only success was just about financial prosperity.
This mindset is misinformed. College doesn’t always guarantee success, and frankly, college simply isn’t for everyone.
The choice is ultimately your child’s, but you’re here to guide them along.
For example, too often we discredit trade schools.
Meg St-Espirit highlighted this trade-school stigma in an article for The Atlantic. Meg shared a a story of a kid who was basically forced into medical school, and ultimately ended up dropping out and going to a trade school.
It’s simple: we make too many decisions based on the monetary value.
There are a lot of blue collar jobs that pay as much or more than white collar jobs.
This is when people would chime in with how hard blue collar jobs can be on your body, and while that’s true in some cases, it’s not always the case.
A good friend of mine just finished his time in the military and got a welding certification that will garner him $90/hour in California. Which I know, seems like minimum wage for Cali, but still, that’s pretty good.
A U.S. News report showed the average physician makes around $200,000 annually.1 Here are the specifics:
“Physicians made a median salary of $194,500 in 2018. The best-paid 25 percent made $208,000 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $88,630.”
If we assume a 40-hour workweek, and we take the average of $200,000, that’s around $90/hour. So here we have two people doing something they love (I would assume) and making the same. And while many blue collar jobs, like construction, can be hard on your body, I think we’d all agree that welding isn’t so tough on your body.
I can hear the Negative Nancies now:
“Where is he earning $90/hour welding?”
“That’s just one example!”
Yeah, I get that. My point is, the jobs trade schools enable you to get are often thought of as “lower class” or “second rate” jobs, when in reality, it’s just a different path.
And regardless, it’s not all about money.
Your Child’s Future
I’ve talked about the question before: should your child go to college?
I don’t think college, or even trade school for that matter, is a requirement for a successful life.
We want our kids to be happy and to do what they were meant to do.
Your kids have a purpose and that doesn’t always mean going to college. Sure, sometimes that’s exactly what it means. But we need to have intentional conversations with our kids to figure out what they really want to do, not what we want them to do.
If a trade school is something your kids would excel at, encourage them to chase the dream.
When you consider how much less expensive trade schools are, generally speaking, and when considering how much more quickly they will be into the workforce, the financial upside is still looking pretty good.
Forbes published an article with the top 25 two-year trade schools to get started on your research if you think your kids would be a good fit for trade schools.
We can’t talk about trade schools without bringing Mike Rowe, the former host of Dirty Jobs, into the conversation. He’s been a huge advocate for trade schools and community colleges.
Mike says, the simple truth is, “We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to educate them for jobs that don’t exist anymore,” and he’s right.2
“My advice is don’t rule out a community college or a trade school,” Rowe says. “That’s what I did. I graduated at a community college, and it was the best thing I ever did.”
The Choice is Theirs
Whether your child wants to become a doctor, lawyer, welder, graphic designer, or any other career path, it’s up to them in the end.
I think we all want what’s best for our kids and sometimes that means letting them make a choice we don’t agree with.
Out of our five kids, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two went to college, one or two started a business, one went to trade school, and one joined the military.
As long as their decision is intentional, we will let them determine their own path.
Further Book Reading & Tools
- Large-Family Minimalism: How We Declutter 5,000 Things a Year
- 47 Things You Weren’t Taught in School (That Our Kids Need to Know)
- The Media Threat: How Much Screen Time is Too Much?
- Don’t Just Teach Your Kids to Set Goals, Teach Them to Do This
- 10 Practical Steps to Start Practical Minimalism
- How to Teach Kids the Dangers of Debt (And My Debt-Freedom Story)
- U.S. News Staff. 2019. How Much Does Physician Make? U.S. News.
- J, Cable. (2017, November 27). Mike Rowe on College. Body Shop Business.