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College Will Be Optional for My Children

by Anton Lex 5 months ago in student
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Let’s reconsider higher education.

College Will Be Optional for My Children
Photo by HyoSun Rosy Ko on Unsplash

Anxious parents in New York City are fighting over coveted kindergarten spots.

They want to do everything in their power to make sure their children can compete in the modern economy. This is especially true for middle-class families with familiar high-earning career paths, such as law, technology, and finance.

The battle repeats every year. It does not matter whether the schools in question are public or private.

The rat race is unsustainable.

I have been through the process. It is not pretty.

Children should not be under so much stress. Once you gain admission to a prestigious middle school, you will be thinking about the dreaded entrance exam to an equally prestigious high school. The intimidating college admissions process is just around the corner.

There are so many things that a high school student must do under the current system. There are so many exams. There is the SAT. There are also AP exams and state-specific exams required for graduation.

Students also must pursue extracurricular activities. They cannot just do their homework every day. That is the bare minimum. It is not a good marketing strategy for college applications.

Students must join clubs and organizations.

They must hold leadership positions.

They can also excel at a sport and do community service.

The constant desire to look good on a college application is ridiculous.

Students (and everyone else for that matter) are not getting enough sleep. It is not healthy. The whole system is a pressure cooker ready to implode.

The job market is changing.

After all that effort, you will get a piece of paper that symbolizes your readiness to join the workforce. Yet, the value of this piece of paper has decreased over time. Millions of other people have a college degree as well. It is simple economics. Supply and demand. There is a glut of college degrees in the job market.

Above all, employers value work experience. Your degree might help you get your first job. However, it becomes less relevant once you are a few years out of college. What matters then will be your ability to schmooze with others and navigate office politics.

Our children’s education should be more hands-on. They should do more projects and explore career paths at an earlier age. This aligns with what employers look for: experience.

You can’t get those years back.

Becoming a college graduate takes time. It takes four years typically to get an undergraduate degree and many more years to get a Ph.D.

Some people have this way of thinking.

“I will be 22 in four years anyway. I might as well be 22 with a college degree.”

Sure, that may be true. But you can also do something else with those four years. Time will always be an opportunity cost.

In the end, it depends on what you want to study.

If you want to pursue medicine, then go to college. The world needs good doctors. Medical students need access to world-class facilities and knowledgeable mentors.

However, it is a different story if you want to study business.

Instead of going to college, business students should try to start a few businesses. They will most likely fail. Most startups fail. Yet, the lessons that they will learn will be invaluable. The financial cost of these lessons will be analogous to the cost of college.

I think this is a better way to learn about business than to sit in a generic lecture hall class with 300 other students.

Money has an immense opportunity cost.

I think it is safe to say that college tuition will continue to increase. Why do universities charge so much? Because they can. They can get away with it.

If students don’t have the cash on hand, then they can apply for student loans. It’s easy. Colleges don’t care how students get the money to pay tuition. If the bills are paid, then they are happy.

My children will have access to a fund for higher education. They can use it to pay for college. They can also use it to fund their passion projects.

Many career paths simply require persistent action.

Aspiring singers don’t need a degree. They simply need to start singing. The same action-oriented mindset applies to filmmakers, salespeople, and many other professions.

Technology is changing the game.

The internet is disrupting the education system. Students can learn at their own pace. They can pause a video and go back if they get confused. They have free access to distinguished faculty from all over the world.

I firmly believe anyone can get a college education by watching free online videos and reading articles.

Students can watch pre-recorded lectures from Harvard and MIT. They can also learn from everyday YouTubers who are passionate about their niche.

The stigma is going away.

Historically, there has been a stigma associated with people who didn’t go to college. Other people judge them. I am glad the conversation is changing for the better.

It is happening on the corporate level.

Companies are hiring workers from non-traditional backgrounds. Just look at the number of people who have been able to become software engineers by going to coding boot camps instead of obtaining a computer science degree.

It is also happening on the individual level.

A lot of people who did go to college develop feelings of regret years later. Now, they have student loans to worry about. Making these payments every month delays life milestones, such as homeownership and marriage. Thus, people completely understand if someone doesn’t want to go to college. They would do the same if they had access to a time machine.


Society has overprescribed college to solve everyone’s economic problems. As a parent, I will not contribute to this prescription. I will encourage my children to finish high school. The next chapter of their life is up to them. I will support whatever decision they make.


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Anton Lex

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