Husband Doesn't Believe in College

Updated on October 16, 2010
N.S. asks from Buffalo Grove, IL
47 answers

I just found out that my husband doesn't think going to college is necessary, and doesn't plan on encouraging it for his daughter. I think college or some type of trade school or training is ESSENTIAL. I really do believe that going away to school is a good step for a lot of kids to help gain their independence.

I went to a 4-year college, graduated with honors, and did 10 years in my chosen field. I was on my own right out of college and remained so ever since.

My hubby had a child and had to get married right out of high school. He didn't have a chance to go to college. He did go for a semester once and decided he didn't like it. He lived at home for 6 years after getting married and only a few years ago studied for a certificate and is now working in his field and he owns his own business.

Having gone away to school I can honestly say from experience that it gave me a good intermediate step to being on my own. Even though my hubby's business is successful and I'm so proud of him, I made more than he does now at my first job right out of college. By the end of my 10 years I was making double what he makes.

My hubby thinks that colleges are a waste of money, that they don't teach you anything, and you could learn the same things by reading books on your own. He points out the many people who are successful who didn't even graduate high school. HE hated school, and also he hated the one semester of college.

I believe that you don't HAVE to have college to be successful, but those people who were able to "make it" without it are exceptional and not the norm.

It's true that the new career I'm doing doesn't require a college degree, but I would not know what I know about life had I not went to college AND worked in the business world for 10 years. Even in my new career, I still apply MANY of the things I learned in college. I'm also happy that I was independent for so many years, and even though I now depend on my husband for a lot of our income, I still have the knowledge that I could do it on my own if I wanted to.

I feel it's my duty as the homeschool teacher to guide my SD down the right path. Whatever she decides to do will determine what kind of training she needs, and that could mean college.

However, she's not my child so ultimately the decision isn't mine.

Any suggestions on what to do???

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone who weighed in! I think it's a great idea to expose my SD to all sorts of ideas, including college. I think I will arrange a trip to my Alma Mater with her and my hubby so they can both see a little bit of my past. I'm sure touring the school will be fun and seeing the dorm rooms.

Right now my SD wants to be an actress and a singer (common goals for girls her age) but we'll see what she wants when she gets older. She's never acted before nor sang. My husband thinks that acting school and colleges for the arts are dumb, but I would venture a guess that actors have to have some sort of a resume, just like other fields, before they get picked to audition. I would also bet that putting some kind of acting school on the resume would be important.

I would never trade my college years in for anything. Not only was it a lot of fun but I learned a lot as well. Sure it's not for everyone, but I think my SD deserves to know that it's an experience worth having for some people. Then she can decide for herself. I hope when that time comes my hubby will grant me the space to at least let her know ALL her options!

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answers from Tulsa on

i am 40 and never went to college and am struggling bad in todays economy. I wish now I had gone and am trying to go back and get a degree at 40. my other half never went to college either. now in all fairness not all kids are college material such as my son but he is going to go to votech and get his hvac liscense. which still makes good money college or votech or mcdonalds is the choice in todays economy

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answers from Chicago on

I graduated college at 41 because no one strongly guided me in that direction when I was younger. I agree with you that it is ESSENTIAL and have wished on many occasions someone had taken the initiative to push me in the right direction at 18. Good luck.

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answers from Orlando on

It should be her choice. He should support whatever she wants to be. What if she wants to be a doctor, she can't work her way up the ladder for that... In the meantime at least open a savings account to have some money saved if she does want to go.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Here are some facts:

"A college master's degree is worth $1.3 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau."

"In 1999, average annual earnings ranged from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates and $99,300 for the holders of professional degrees (medical doctors, dentists, veterinarians and lawyers)."

"Overall the households and demographics featuring the highest educational attainment in the United States are also among those with the highest household income and wealth."

Share these and more facts with your daughter. Ultimately, the decision is hers to make. She can go to college with or without her father's help if she is motivated enough.

I am the first in my extended family to go to college. I am now finishing a PhD. I had very little financial help from my family (while my siblings were having babies when they were 18 and 19 and getting thousands of dollars in support from my parents), and have had a successful career.

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answers from Chicago on

Ultimately, it's not a decision either one of you get to make for the girl. It's her own choice. She has lots of options (2 years community college, 2 years at traditional college, trade school, etc). It doesn't have to be the traditional 4 year route.

If I were you, I would encourage having higher education. Talk about your experience at college, your friend's experiences. Let her know she has options and the choice is hers.

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answers from Alexandria on

I understand not believing in Santa anymore. But doesn't believe in college?? Good ones do exist, for a reason!! :*)

My family is a perfect example. My brother, started in a voc-tech in high school. By the time he was 18 he was skilled as a diesel mechanic and had a well-paying respectable job. He worked that job for several years, built a good reputation for what he did, and finally went out on his own and has his own company as a diesel mechanic.

I went to college. In seven years I received three degrees. The entire 7-years I worked hard at school full-time and worked 2-3 jobs at at time to make it work. However, now I have a stable career that I will be at until I retire.

Here are the differences:
I work 8-5, weekends off, paid holidays, sick time, 4 weeks vacation time, excellent health and retirement benefits. I am certain I will retire comfortably at 50 (if I want to).

He works looooong inconsistent hours, regularly working 12-16 hour days, has irregular days off, vacation only when he takes it. His work takes a toll on his body. He will work as long as he has to work.

Both of us have respectable careers and do well for our families. The difference is he has to work a lot harder than I do to achieve the same outcome, and makes more sacrifices to do it.

I believe that there are plenty of trades that make a good living at what they do without going to college. But there are a lot of people in the field, it's hard to get the experience and it is hard to get the job that pays the bills. I believe in work smarter not harder. If that is what your sd wants then she needs to go to college!

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answers from Atlanta on

Tell your husband that just because SOME are successful with no college, most are not. If he wants her working for minimum wage the rest of her life, then he's on the right track. Does he also want her living there with you the rest of her life or into her 20s or 30s? What if she gets pregnant and then there's a baby to support on her minimum wage job? Doesn't sound too pretty, does it? These days a college diploma is about like a high school diploma used to be. Actually if you REALLY want to get ahead and you're getting close to college age, you need to plan on graduate school as well or some type of intensive technical training to learn a trade that is in demand and will remain so in the future.

Sorry -but he needs to wake up and get into the real world! Quite honestly he sounds like a cheapskate who is looking to avoid paying for her possible college experience. Remind him she can get loans! I cannot imagine any worthwhile parent discouraging their child from going to college in this day and age.

****Here's a great link I found on CNN -it lists the top 10 least stressful jobs, 10 most booming jobs, 20 top paying jobs, etc. -they ALL require college degrees!

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answers from Austin on

Your husband can believe whatever he wants. That does not mean you, his daughter or anyone else has to follow his beliefs.

Would your husband go to a doctor without a degree? How about a dentist?

Does he drive a car? An engineer designed it.Does he have a bank accout? A business major runs the bank and accountants are there to make sure everything is running well.

Was he taught by a teacher? Was there a Principal? How did he learn to read and write?

Does he live in an building? An architect and an engineer were involved.

We want these people to be in charge because they have spent years learning how and why things work. They took the tests and passed to be licensed.

How does he know what his daughter will want to study? What harm could it do for her to take the years to complete higher education if she wants? Why would he object to supporting her in any way that would improve HER life? Does he not feel she deserves even better than what he had?

My husband and I did not complete our college learning, because we wanted to get married. Once we were married we could not afford to go back to college. My husbnad really regrets this. He would have had so many more opportunities and money earning capability had he finished his degree.. there was so much more to learn in his field.

Our daughter on the other hand has ALWAYS talked about college.. At the age of 3 she began saying she "wanted to go to college where it snowed".. And that is exactly what she is doing now.

She worked her butt off in school, She was student beyond our comprehension.. She loves college. She loves learning, she cannot get enough of it. Sure she could have skipped college and gone straight to work, but she wanted more than that. She wanted a foundation of how to think and learn on the highest level. She sees the world very differently than most people. She needed to be around others that also do not see limits but see possibilities and can have the tools to reach those goals.

And FYI.. her college is not making any money off of our daughter.. she is on full scholarship for everything.. The endowmemt is what has allowed this. We are very fortunate that our daughter was devoted to her studies, because literally, it is now paying off for her.

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answers from Chicago on

My parents told me that I didn't need college to get a good job. Let me tell you that I struggled and struggled in my early twenties because I could not make enough money to cover my expenses - and I didn't even have a car payment. It was strictly rent, utilities, insurance, and food. I was in a lot of debt, and my parents ended up having to bail me out - the cost would have equated to a years worth of college.
Now I'm a mom, and I stay at home. I have had many moments of wishing I could go back to work because staying at home can get overwhelming. The fact is, I can't get a job that pays more than daycare costs.
I know that people *CAN* get great jobs without going to school - it is *possible* - but it requires a lot more hard work, having a thicker skin than most, and I honestly think you have to have the gift of natural bs. I hate the idea of setting our kids up to fail.

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answers from Houston on

College only works if you do well in college - treat it like a job, study hard and make the most of your investment. My parents were not college grads, we grew up modest but happy, but they always wanted more for me. I went to college, then law school and worked very hard at both and graduated top of my class. I spent $125k on my education in student loans but paid those off in 10 years. My husband is a college grad as well. We live within the same modest means we grew up with so we have saved a substantial amount of money, and one of us is always the stay-at-home parent (currently its him). Because of our college degrees, and our earnings we have the flexibility of always being there for our children - even if we both stopped working we could survive on our savings for 10 years or more. We are living the dream - none of this would be possible without our college degrees.

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answers from New York on

Dear N.S.,
I'm going to tell you from my perspective. When I was young I didn't want to go to college, I did a business school instead. That was almost 25 years ago. For the last 16 years of my life I've been working at a University. For the last 5 of those 16 years I've been working in the College of Business and Public Administration within the University. I will tell you and your husband and Dawn like I tell my children. Years ago, if you didn't go to college it was not a big deal as long as you learned to do a trade or something to survive. If you apply for any jobs, your life experience was just as good as a college degree; and in my case I've been able to succeed without the college degree. Now, is that the same for now? Absolutely not! We encourage our students to do internships and co-ops, because when they leave college they will then have the degree and the life experience in the field of their major. Can you make it without the college degree? But of course you can! But let's just say that if you go for a job interview and there is someone that has the life experience and you have both, guess who will get the job? You! Because you have both. Going to college is a great life experience although is not meant for everyone; in which case you can go to a trade school, a travel school, culinary school, fashion school, etc. But education is essential in the growth of each person.
If your husband is going to count on all those that made it without a college degree, ask him to search for all of those that didn't make it too!
He'll be surprised. All you can do is give her your opinion and support her as much as you can. He won't make the decision, her mother won't make the decision, or yours, SHE is the one to make the decision! and if she has good counsel, we all hope and pray that she'll make the right decision, the one that is right for herself and personality.

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answers from Springfield on

You are correct, college is very important. It is getting to the point where a college degree is the new HS diploma - in otherwords, a prerequisite for employment. Beyond that, college is a place that broadens horizens, teaches many life skills and, as you mentioned, is a stepping stone.

There are many successful people now, who did not go to college. Most of the people I know who didn't go would give anything for a do-over for many reasons - earning potential, getting their foot in the door and pride. I have two very powerful people whom I consider close friends who are very ashamed to admit they didn't go to college. I personally think the person is the proof in the pudding... I'm sure there are many successful people who still don't care about college, however, that is no reason for a child not to go. Times have changed.

I also feel we should always encourage our children to take those leaps and do the very most they can. If we set the bar low, what do we hope to get? If we set the bar high and encourage their success, we will only be proud of their achievements in the end.

There are varying degrees of what people find successful. Personally, M-F off by 5 is how I define success. I feel terrible for my friends who are stuck in retail. What kind of life is it to keep you away from your family dinners and weekend activities?

Lots of people didn't like school. I didn't like math, but I sure don't tell my child that! :-) I hope you can convince your husband th reserve judgement on college and just encourge her to be the best she can be. His negativity will be a bad influence regardless of what she chooses to do.

Good luck!! You are awesome to care so much!!

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answers from Dallas on

It is sad to hear that your husband and Dawn feel this way. I think they may feel this way because they didn't have supportive, influential parents who believe in setting goals, achieving goals and making something better for yourself. A 16 yr old, pregnant, is unlikely to see the importance.

At our house, college is not an option. It is a part of life. Our daughter is 15 and we are alaready making college visits, she is planning to study abroad and in process of finding the best location. A lot of this is attitude and how you are raised.

Husband and I both went to college. Husband was a star golfer at his college and has awards hanging on the walls and in the all sports museum. Our daughter is extremely proud of her dad (as am I) and takes pride in his accomplishments. He went to Duke for post graduate degrees and she can wait for her college visit to Duke in the Spring.

Ultimately, you husband cannot tell your SD that she can't go. He can choose not to support her and pay for it which is wrong in my book as a parent because I believe it is a parental obligation to provide the best for your children so when they leave the nest they have solid tools to use for their own life.

You can talk about college and encourage her. You can get through college out of debt if you play your cards right with scholarships, grants, etc. I went on academic scholarship, worked 3 jobs while I was there and still LOVED my college experience. I would encourage her to explore opportunities.

Ultimately the choice is hers. Hopefully as her teacher, you have helped her WANT the experience. Support her, talk about your experiences in college. It is a wonderful experience and logically thinking.... she is more likely to have a better paying career, be successful and not be effected by the economy when it is shabby.

Bless you for caring.

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answers from Birmingham on

I disagree with your husband. Especially in this day and time most employers won't even look at your resume unless you have a college degree.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Las Vegas on

Just keep talking to your step daughter about college, careers and other exotic adventures. Everytime you watch a movie or something on t.v. -- any chance you get really -- talk to her about a career that is being depicted and what type of academic and work experience that she needs in order to land such a job. A good example of this would be watching a movie like The Devil Wears Prada and talking to her about what it takes to become a journalist or in the fashion industry.

I'm not sure if you can change your husband's perspective on this but, even if you don't, your step daughter won't be the first young adult to attend college without her parents full support. Unfortunately, it just makes it that much harder. Maybe, given enough time, and with a lot more real world experience under his belt, your husband might soften his position on the issue of higher education.

Wishing you the best of luck.

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answers from Chicago on

Wow, 44 answers so far!
To preface,I am a college graduate and worked for 10 years in my degreed field, my husband has his Masters', so we are a school-educated family. That being said, when I was working and needed to hire people (started being a SAHM last year), I would only look at resumes for individuals that had some sort of college degrees (Associates or Bachelors) or else a TON of experience. So, something that a 24 or 25 year-old with a degree would be qualified for, I would look for someone with at least 5-10 years of experience if they didn't have a degree. That's like double the work of just getting the degree! I know that walking out of school, I had a lot more in my brain of HOW to analyze data, what to look for, how to go about developing strategies. This stuff is not naturally engrained in most normal people. It must be taught. Can you learn it on the job? Probably. But who's going to give you a job where you can actually learn it if you don't have the expertise already? In this day and age, employers are looking for expertise, experience, and education. They don't want to waste their time training employees in areas where the employees could have gotten educated in college.

In the end, it is entirely up to your SD as to whether or not she goes to college. You are absolutely within your bounds to let her know how important you think getting a college education is. Keep in mind that most of the non-trade jobs require some sort of a college degree (police officer, lawyer, doctor, most business aside from secretary, engineer, astronaut, fireman, teacher, President--I think that covers a lot of the typical jobs that kids want to be when they grow up). You can talk to her about what she wants to be when she grows up and then talk about what it would take to get there. Your husband could try to do that same from his perspective. Could she be a successful businesswoman without a degree? Sure. But she'll most likely have to work twice as long to get there as someone with a college-level education.

Good luck to all three of you in working through these differences!

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm also a homeschooler, and i do see his point. as an autodidact myself i think i'm a good example of how much you can learn outside of the proscribed boundaries of academia.
but both my boys are in college.
he's right, college isn't necessary. neither my husband nor i went, and we have a good, happy life. but many doors are closed to both of us because we don't have that degree. end of the world? no. but more opportunities are always a good thing.
i would encourage her to attend community college (i love community colleges, and yay for obama, whatever one thinks of him, for supporting them) and she can decide there if she thinks it's worth pursuing, or is more like her dad. no point in going to college if you hate it and waste the experience.
i hope she listens to you.

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answers from Detroit on

Maybe college is not important if you want to own your own business. However, it does help to take some business courses and accounting classes to be able to run the business properly if you are good at those things.
However, he does not know what your daughter might want to become in her life. Maybe she wants to be a Doctor, Teacher, Dentist or dietician. All of these things require a college degree or an advanced degree. Sounds like he needs to have higher expectations for his child. Not meaning to sound harsh.
I had the same type of conversation with my husband awhile back and my inlaws reacted to it like I was trying to put my husband down (saying that he had done fine for himself) My husband does have an advanced degree and is working in his field. However, I was just merely stating that most parents always want more for there children no matter how sucessful the parent is preceived to be. I think it's just a natural instinct of a parent that you want your child to go further than you did no matter prosperous others feel that you are.

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answers from Detroit on

Eventually in order to survive in today's world, you need an education. The good old days where you just finished high school and could go to the factory to work are gone. Your SD may take her dad's advice when she graduates and not go to school, but somewhere down the road unless she is in the small minority who actually is lucky enough to hit the lottery, she will realize that she needs an education to survive. I tell my 15 year old that she needs to go to college, pay her dues while she is young so that she can earn her money and end up employable while she still is young enough. Your hubby needs to change his attitude. This isn't the 1960's or 1970's anymore.

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answers from Rockford on

I was listening to a radio program about a simular subject! They were actually talking about the recession and what it does to the job market and economy. One thing they point out is that in effect most jobs that didn't used to require a degree will require one. The reasoning behind that was given, pointed back to the 80's when unemployment was high, jobs that used to not require a highschool degree started requiring them because of a flooded job market and people with more education were taking the jobs. When the recession ended employers didn't go back to hiring highschool dropouts, they kept the grads. The same is happening now. Jobs that used to only require a highschool diploma now require a degree, not so much because the job itself is harder, but there are more highly educated people taking the jobs, and employers are not going to revert back. (The examples given were jobs such as administration and secretarial work)
Not just that, my husband and I have spoken many times about the way the work world has changed. His grandfather raised 10 children (yes 10) working in a factory. His grandmother stayed home with all the kids. With the pay of a factory worker now, you could raise a family but it would be a true struggle with a single income. Neither of my parents went to college until my mother decided to get a nursing degree two years ago. We were never without and never needed anything and had most of what we wanted, but we made it a point to live modestly. My husband went to college and got his PhD, thus we tend to be a pro college family.
It might be a better angle to talk to your husband about, not so much the education side of it, but the employment options that are now and going to be available for highschool grads who have no farther degrees. Maybe he would feel differently if he talked to his daughter (not sure how old or close to college age she is) and found out what she wanted to do with her life. Perhaps he could see that a degree would be essential for her to be happy.

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answers from Dallas on

This is something my sister and I disagree on completely! But we have some really good discussions about it also! I think it comes from our different experiences though. She took some college classes in high school and graduated from college in 3 years with a degree in technical writing. She did that for about 10 years and decided to go back to school to become a lawyer- she graduated and passed the bar about 5 years ago and is currently working as a contract attorney.
I went to college for a semester- with really no idea what I wanted to study. I took some fun classes because I had signed up too late to take any of the classes I needed. I was also in a long distance relationship with my future husband. Well, the semester was all I could take being apart from him, so I moved and we got married about 6 months later. I never went back to school. He went for a year, but has since worked his way up and is now management in a retail company. His years of experience are invaluable to his career(which he loves) and going back to school right now just for the degree would not help him in anyway.
I am a stay at home mom, but I do get asked constantly if I will be going back to school when my last is in kindergarten. I have no reason to go back to school- don't get me wrong, I love to learn! I read constantly- and not just fiction books! :) I love helping my kids figure out their homework and I do all the finances in our house, so I have a pretty good head for numbers. We would eventually like to open up our own store and if I need to take a couple business classes for that I will. But I think my husband's experience will help a lot more with making our business successful then would a 2 or 4 year degree.
That being said, I will support my kids if they want to go to college and get a degree or study in a field that requires more learning. And by support, I mean cheering them on and some financial help- I want my kids to apply for scholarships and work their way through college(preferably in the field they are studying so they will get the experience that way).
I don't' think everyone needs to go to college, especially if you don't end up using your education. To me, I feel that real life experience is more valuable in most fields(although I do want a doctor that graduated from medical school- just one that has had about 5-10 years of practice since then!)
Plus their are other ways to become independent without going off to college. I worked 3 summer jobs away from home at different national parks. It was a blast! and I had to learn to take care of myself- it was a great learning experience!
But if your step daughter wants to go into a field which would require a college education(like a doctor, lawyer or teacher)- talk to her about it and sit down and talk to your husband about it. But if she is planning on being a writer or photographer- getting her in with a newspaper as a part time job while she is in high school will help open doors for her future and will help to train her in her chosen field.
Good luck!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Perhaps you could try to tell your SD what you have told us. How much you enjoyed college, how it helped you attain your goals fast and well. Make it sound a positive experience and also one which will allow her to treat herself when she is older with all those things she sees in magazines and on the TV now.

I wish you the best of luck, college is important for young people, they need to be given guidance and a future, not dead-end jobs.

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answers from Chicago on

I think as a homeschooling family, you can help her develop a love for learning and going above and beyond to satisfy her curiosity. Having this unique setting allows her the opportunity to know that learning can be outside the box. Maybe she can take some classes at the community college while "in high school" to see if she likes that learning environment. Maybe she could do work studies with professionals in a field of interest to gain a mentor and get direction from a great source. I would also start encouraging her right now to follow dreams no matter how big or small. I know too many teenagers that aren't going to college because they think their parents lack of funding prevents them and if your husband is against it, he may not pay for it. The great thing is that as many pointed out, the path you are on at 18 doesn't mean that is where you will be in 10, 20 or 30 years. She may not go straight to college right away but the option is always open to her. Good luck to you both.

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answers from Hartford on

Acknowledge your husband's beliefs as valid, but talk to him about having an open mind. The decision is neither yours or your husbands because she will legally be an adult when she is ready for college. That is the point you need to make to your husband. It is her choice. I have several advanced degrees, I have worked in my field for over 20 years, but it is not for everyone. I have seen many kids sent off to college because it was what their parents wanted only to be unhappy, have lousy grades, and do too much drinking. When your SD gets closer to that age, she will know what is right for her (straight to college, no college, a year or two off travelling, ...). As a homeschool teacher you are preparing her for the world - whatever that may be. Don't fret it.

Update - after reading some of the other posts, there has been much recent debate over the true earning potential of a college grad. If you take lawyers and doctors from the mix, the earning potential of a bachelors degree is only slightly higher than a high school grad. In addition, there is a huge disparity in earning potential based upon the school. So, while a degree from an Ivy league school will guarantee higher incomes, other schools do not. When you factor in the cost of tuition, some economists say that the college grad degree gains nothing. Having said that, in a down economy when there are many applicants, a degree might not get you a higher salary, but you are more likely to find employment.

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answers from Detroit on

NS---Some sort of post high school education is essential. You can get statistics from your high school guidance counselors office, but I know that college grad's earning potential is FAR greater than a hs grad's. Doesn't mean that a person can't make a living wage...or even become wealthy without one, but the chances are slim.

The next consideration is that a woman's earning potential is less than a man's. In all likelihood, she'll get married and have a partner to share the family expenses. But, divorce is also a possibility in her future. What if that happens? She will want to have the knowledge and ability to take care of herself should that ever happen. A good education is never a bad idea.

My grandparents discouraged me...and I'm guessing my father as well. I feel badly for my dad. He is gifted musically and I'm sure he would have been an excellent teacher, and I can see how his and my mother's life would have been very different had he gone to college. Again, doesn't always happen but....It's like I tell my kids when they go to school without mittens or gloves. It's better to have them and not need them rather than need them and not have them.

Good will take patience and perserverance on your part to educate your husband on the value of a college or some sort of vocational training.
Be well, D.

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answers from Amarillo on

I agree with LoveMommyhood about treating college as a job. I work at a university and tell that to many students and they look at me as if I have lost my mind. One day I will ask the students what is their purpose for attending school, is it to party or to learn? No one asks this of anyone these days. We are not entitled to anything and may young people feel that we (the world) "owe" them and we don't. I mention that four years is a short time compared to the rest of their lives to do things. Going to college/university away from home will teach you how to be an adult and time management. Many students have preconceived ideas of what they want to be and do until they arrive at the school's doors. Within the first two years many change their degree plans several times only delaying or adding on additional courses making their college career longer.

I went to a secretarial school in the late 60s and got a certificate and that was great. As I progressed in my career (including mom) times have changed. A secretarial certificate or degree is very helpful but you must continue to upgrade your skill set to be competitive with the current work force. I am attempting to get a degree in the consumer science field (if they approve the culinary arts program I will seek my degee their) and feel that it is a shame that I must get a degree stating that I can cut and onion and slice a tomato just to show someone how to prepare a meal. But this is the way of the world.

My daughter started community college but stopped due to funding (mom and dad). She has not returned due to her work schedule at a trucking company but makes over 50K a year without the degree. She would like to move to another city but will she be able to get that amount? No one knows especially in today's job market. My son did four years in the Army and got out and got his journeyman's certificate in electric. Both are successful and both have not attended college. This makes a family proud that their children are able to take care of themsevles and be productive people in society.

My conclusion would be to let your SD determine what she wants to do in life and support her decision. Let her visit college campuses, community college and vocational campuses as well. The world is vast and she is just starting out so there is time to try many avenues of success. I was always told to have a back up plan - if A didn't work, what a would B do and if not that, what would C do to help or keep your afloat?

The other S.

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answers from Boston on

even if your husband doesn't believe in it that doesn't mean that your SD will make the choice not to go. She'll be the one who decides in the end.

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answers from Houston on

I disagree with your husband in spirit BUT college DOESN'T work for everyone. I recently took a job that has nothing to do with my degree...but the 10+ years in my field brought me to the point I am today. I doubt that I would be where I am without starting down the path where I did. I know many incredibly successful (and smart) people who didn't need college and likely would have been hindered by it.

My grandfather was very extreme in his belief that women didn't need an mom wasn't even allowed to get her driver's license until she married my dad! It just drove her to make sure that I would experience everything that had been discouraged for her.

Working in manufacturing now, I can tell you there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople and that, more and more, women are accepted into traditionally male positions.

Encourage your daughter to love learning and be curious. Support her in making her own decisions...and letting her take responsibility for her mistakes. It doesn't mean you can't be there to help her--I know I've needed my parents--but she will have to live through some of her own messes.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

As a college graduate I have to say I see both sides.
Unless it is a pretty specialized field, college mainly teaches about life, responsibility, etc.
If a child or person is driven and has a set pan they CAN get somewhere by determination, experience and knowledge. Unfortunately there are barriers to certain jobs which have the requirement of a degree or certification of some type and non-sheepskinned people will be eliminated from the pool immediately. Is that "right"? No But is it reality? Yes.
I don't think it's a black or white issue and it depends on a lot of things--like what your daughter wants to do, be, etc.

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answers from Philadelphia on

maybe he just don't want his baby girl to grow up so fast......

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answers from Los Angeles on

Well hopefully at 18, she is an adult and can make her own decisions.
My hubby struggles to find good jobs because he did not go to college.
It may not be essential to finding work, but it is essential for finding well paid work in a field you are interested in.

Of course there are other avenues, like apprenticeships, ultimately it will be her choice - to stop her going to college, would I'm sure be looked upon as slightly abusive,

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answers from Chicago on

Dear NS,

This is a difficult question because at the core it raises many questions about the uncertainty of our future. Will our country have more of what are typically considered "white collar" or "blue collar" jobs available when your daughter is ready to enter the work force? What kind of work setting will she want to work in? My advice is this -- get a good education. A college degree can open many doors, but it is still up to your daughter to take advantage of those opportunities. Unfortunately, in our country, the mantra that it is important to go to college has been repeated and embraced by so many that we have many colleges which, in my opinion, offer (expensive) degrees which really don't teach many people anything or prepare them for any kind of job. I went to a very prestigious university and received a liberal arts degree. While I learned the typical skills of reading, writing, and research, I was not prepared for any particular job in the work force when I graduated. The fact that I had gone to a college with a "brand name" did open many doors for me, but looking back I see now that most people I went to college with went on to obtain advanced degrees straight from college. For everyone who has a story about what to avoid, there will be a story about how someone else took that path and was a fantastic success. Your SD will need lots of guidance along the way. I would suggest that you prepare now by saving each year and pushing her early education so that she will have as many options available to her in high school as possible. More choices are always better! Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

let her decide
both of you present your cases and then let her decide when the time comes
not every person has the same path and have both sides of the coin presented is never a bad thing honestly

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answers from Jacksonville on

It sounds like it is his way of justifying his own history. My hubby was never encouraged to go, was told it was a waste of time, etc by all the extended family... but he wanted to go anyway. It was necessary to get a leg up in his chosen career (get accepted into the FAA ATC academy)... NOW, now that he is successful (maybe more than anyone else in the family) all the rest of the family has changed their tune and all wonder why no one ever encouraged THEM to go...

Yes, there are a lot of stories in the news lately about people 100's of thousands in debt in student loans, that they may never be able to pay back. But those are people who didn't think about what they were doing... just took out student loans to live and go to school with no no to their expected earning potential when they were done. You can go the first 2 years at a community/junior college (or even in some places do dual enrollment during high school for FREE) for a lot less $ for the same credits, then transfer to a 4 yr college, if that fits with her long term goals. If it doesn't, having her 2 yr AA can make a difference for her as well.

And yes.. besides work/career, there is a lot of maturing that goes on during college that can help her learn to manage her own life, that those still living at home with no real future/job prospects right then miss out on.

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answers from Honolulu on

Setup an education fund anyway, but don't make it an education fund just savings and not a 401k, be exact because the penalties apply according to how it is used.

My husband and I plan to do this (have to leave Hawaii first, been years since we did more than "withdraw"). I am in love with the idea that my children will be given a chance at an amazing high school that could almost be as great as an outstanding community college or better. I feel that there isn't any pressure to give them about being "hirable" but more so being successful at a passion they love enough that rewards them with prosperity in whatever office or non-office they choose. If they are excited to pursue many degrees, which has happened to many of us than they will be helped easiest into a university. But, if they have a passion that is holding on to them and they have been practicing for awhile, etc - something is in them to do, then I think college can wait. I am sure to have a great number of speeches about happiness having a small portion of working towards income if it is just about the money. I think a thrifty poet or artist has a real life, but so do veterinarians, etc.

Whether they want to start a business, buy a home (downpayment), take a trip around the world, or even go to college, they will get their chance, but I am pretty sure we will still be parenting the fund = it is not a free for all, it is for a great start out of the nest and into their own "time". I really do want them to be a life long learner and I am sure they will find a college to make that happen at any point they choose. We are still working out the details, but we aren't going to tell them until really late in high school. Actually I am planning on a very heavy high school education or the best for them. I do think raising great students at this point in their life is paramount or key to the rest of the years and I predict they would be able to go to college after that. It worries me to think that I could let them blow there chance to shine during these years because I secretly feel they are allowed to choose later on. I will never let that happen. I think the pressure to do well under my wing is the confidence I want to help them grow so they will soar out there in the world (on their own path). :)



answers from Scranton on

I really think it depends upon the individual. If they want to be a tradesman/woman they they need to learn a trade. Whether or not my kids go to college is not the biggest deal in the world but I do want them to be prepared for providing for themselves. You can still do an apprenticeship in this day and age and have a successful career. It is all in what you want to do and how hard you want to work.



answers from Chicago on

I went to college, then back for more schooling (Bachelor degree and a paralegal certificate) do not have a job in my field, but plan to still go back again. I do not make a lot of money, but spent a number of years raising my children and subbing. Different strokes for different folks so to speak. My husband didn't go to college, makes lots more money than I do. But he fully believes in college. Things do not always happen as anticipated (my example/his example) but college to me is a must or as you say a trade school. Once I was told pick a trade and a profession and you will never go wrong. I chose to live my way, because I had been divorced and remarried I wanted to put a great deal of energy into my children, to be as close to a stay at home as possible (that's another issue on whether that created secure human beings or not in my particular case but I still believe strongly in that, too) and therefore what I did enabled me to stay home during holidays, summers, etc. The point is, never stop learning because no one can take that away from you. My oldest son got his degree recently, most of it done on line, and my younger son has to continue in school somehow but is confused right now. I love, love education and enjoyed college. I will go back for more even if I do not make a lot of money now, the possibilities exist. I can see where your husband is coming from and when it isn't encouraged in families people don't always see the value in it. They prefer to have things instantly. My suggestion is to always point out her skills, spend time researching scholarships, etc and let her know what's available out there. You are right it is up to her to choose. You and her schools will let her know what those choices can be.



answers from Chicago on

You have a lot of responses already, I didn't get through them all.

People have already provided lots of personal situations you can use as ammunition for your case. Here's a bit of perspective someone shared with me:

"If you have a degree, then someone can't hold that against you for a job. If you don't have a degree, someone can hold that against you for a job." I think someone said when you have a degree, it opens up more opportunities for you. That's absolutely right.

If your husband's main concern with college is financial, then start with a community college. I did that, and it worked out fine for me.

If your husband's main concern is that a college degree really doesn't get you anything, that's a tougher battle. Maybe get to a place where you both say "it's her decision, and let's give her different perspectives and options".

If your husband's main concern is that college isn't for everyone, and very possibly not his daughter, then again, let her try a class at a community college to see for herself.

Good luck. I love the idea of visiting colleges or campuses. Many community colleges have events to attend, which could be a sneaky way to get her onto some campuses.

My husband did not go to college. He was in the Air Force for 4 years, and now has his own residential construction business. I did go to college, and have a bachelors degree. After we married, I was able to restructure his business and put processes in place to make his business a real business. School didn't necessarily teach me how to do all this (like getting incorporated, paying employee taxes . ), ut it gave me structure on how to learn new things after school and apply them.

Also, my husband is ADAMANT our children will go to college. He wants them to have better opportunities - he feels he's really limited.

Good luck!


answers from Cincinnati on

I personally cannot name 5 people in my life that are working in the field where they built their degree in.15-20 years ago, college was different than it is now. Jobs were easier to find, interest rates on loans were better. It's sad that most of the time, you are just left with the debt and the still unanswered question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" My sister and a number of my girlfriends didn't spent 1 day post college, working. They got married, and are now sahm's. I also have friends who did their 4 years, and are in school again to get a trade (hair stylist, medical assistant,real estate, Etc) because they couldn't get a job. I think I will urge my children to make their own choices, but will offer advise to consider a trade that they know they will enjoy. Neither I, or my husband went to college, but we did get a trade, and we make a great income that most teachers and such don't make. So for us, we will be ok with our children not wasting their time or money on something that may not mean squat in their lives. Financial stability, a loving family, and peace of mind are what matters.

If your SD has something in mind, let her go and have the experience, but try to provide the tools to prevent loads of debt. Encourage her to really think about what she wants out of life, that way she won't change majors 5 times a year.


answers from Houston on

i think letting your sd hear both sides is perfectly fine, she can make her decision based on all of the information available. But when it comes down to it

what will further education harm?



answers from Detroit on

I agree that going to college for the sake of it is a waste of time and money. If there is something that your SD wants to do that requires a degree then you should encourage her to go for it.

Colleges are businesses and they are in the business of making money - it has become the "in" thing to do whether necessary or affordable. Having a Prada purse won't make you popular, wearing $100 jeans won't make you skinny, you won't die if you never own a pair of Minolo Blahniks, you won't be destitute if you don't go to college and you won't be guaranteed a good paying job if you do.

I left school at 16 (not pregnant as someone alluded to - this is the norm in England), moved to the USA at 21 and have worked back and forth from the UK to the USA several times in the last 20 years (many times working as a temp) and I can still make more money than my husband.

You do not need to go to college to learn about a good work ethic, about using common sense and doing the right thing. If you want to be a doctor then definitely get all the education necessary.

Michigan is full of overeducated, unemployed people who do not know the first thing about being a good employee.

That being said my husband and I are attempting to save money in case our 5 year old does want to go to college - of course the first 2 years will be community college. If she does not choose the college route then we will encourage her to travel and work her way around the world which I think will give her a much better grounding to join the workforce than a degree in sociology, gardening, music etc.

Ultimately, the decision will be your SD's not yours or your husbands - just talk to her about options and encourage her, whatever her decision.

EDIT: I know many people still trying to pay off college debt who earn less than I do - these are the ones who didn't have mummy and daddy picking up the tab - and I strongly disagree with paying for a child (technically an adult) to spend the first year or two at college to "find" themselves. When parents pay for the education with no consequences all the young adult learns is that the longer they stay in college the more they can delay joining the real world and paying for themselves.

Once again... the choice ultimately, will be your daughters and your decision to make her aware of her options is the best thing you can do for her although... I am now seeing may young adults who are so confused by all the options that they cannot settle on any one thing.

Good luck - it's a minefiled out there.



answers from Las Vegas on

A university or college education was never meant to be primarily vocational. Universities exist, first and foremost, for the pursuit of knowledge. Second, universities are meant to help students learn to think critically and become better citizens. Further down on the list, and perhaps slightly less important, universities are also places where students learn specific skills that usually, but not always, help in a trade they will work in at a later time. (Example: I work in IT doing webby stuff, but my degree is in philosophy. I occasionally apply the logic I learned in philosophy to my trade.) Many people grow skeptical and bitter toward universities because they don't understand that universities are primarily places for active learning and research - not necessarily places where professors and instructors dump knowledge into your brain so that you can get a better job. Here is a mission statement from a liberal arts college in your home state:

"A liberal [arts] education at Illinois Wesleyan fosters creativity, critical thinking, effective communication, strength of character and a spirit of inquiry; it deepens the specialized knowledge of a discipline with a comprehensive world view. It affords the greatest possibilities for realizing individual potential while preparing students for democratic citizenship and life in a global society. "

If your primary intent is to send your daughter to a university so that she can learn a trade or so that she can earn a high salary, then you must weigh the cost of tuition against her potential earnings post graduation. It doesn't make sense, for example, to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on a college education if her only wish is to become a professional photographer, and she shows little interest in anything else.

I suspect, however, that you want your daughter to experience being a part of a community of active learners and engaged citizens. If this is the case, then start to explain as soon as she can understand, what a university education is, and how she can make the best of her time at a university.

Additionally, I disagree strongly with Dawn D. Non-profit colleges and universities are not businesses. Non-profit universities do not operate like businesses, and do not make profits. In fact, the full cost incurred by many state universities providing professors and classes for students (as opposed to research) is not covered by the cost of tuition (that is why state state universities are subsidized by state governments). Perhaps Dawn was thinking about for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix or trade schools like Le Cordon Bleu which have recently come under considerable criticism:

So, both you and your husband are correct. Your husband is right when he says that you can be successful and wealthy without a college degree. It is also the case that a college degree doesn't always lead to monetary wealth, and in some cases (especially if you attend a for-profit institution - read the articles above), can lead to a financial ruin. My husband and I understand fully that a university degree does not make one automatically wealthy (more commonly it makes one finanically comfortable). He has a Ph.D. and I have a bachelor's, and we are by no means even upper-middle-class because we both work for a university - hahaha! Of course, traditionally a university degree in the United States has made it possible for millions of Americans to lead a more solidly middle-class life than their parents led.

(As an aside, I like Suze Orman's advice for college savings and attendance: She also advises potential students to not spend large amounts of money on a degree which may not pay much post-graduation.)

More interesting viewpoints:



answers from Washington DC on

Do you homeschool your step daughter? Do you have custody with your husband of her? It sounds like it.
I read on your profile she is 8. This is a great time to get her involved in Girl scouts. Surround her with women who have been to college. Take her on field trips where she has to interact with those who have been to college or are going to college. Talk about it.
Say things like "When you are in college" "In college you will learn"
I was in 2nd grade and my dad said When you take calculus in high school, you'll need to know this. He taught math in HS. I eventually went to college and minored in math because my dad always said When you take caclulus/algebra/trigonometry. It was never an if or a choice, it was a Commandment.
My husband started off not wanting to prepare the children for college. He said the same things, but his take was they can go to the military. I stood up to him and said LIKE HE!!. They will have college funds. ONe of mine is in the NAvy the next one is taking the PSAT as I write this and hoping for some scholarship money out of it. We have funds set up for all four.
Set up college funds. Keep the conversations going. Encourage her to tell you what she wants to do; a vet, college, a teacher, college, the President, college.



answers from Chicago on

I mostly agree with your husband. While I do think you should attend, I don't think you have to to be successful. You learn on the job mostly (obviously excluding doctors, lawyers etc.) and college won't teach you most things I've learned at my employer. I know from experience! I disagree though in his point that he won't encourage it for his daughter. Of course it should be encouraged but I think going to college is best left up to the individual. Some people are really not meant for college.


answers from Dover on

It is true that a lot of people do make it without college; however, it is getting tougher and tougher in today's world. He hated college, you loved it. Just as some kids hate school and others love it. It is ok to have different opinions. She is not him nor is she you. Continue to encourage she explore the possibility of college and ask him to at least not discourage it. That way, she knows it is an option but can decide for herself. Make sure when the time is right, she is able to take the SATs so that does not limit her. This allows her to have options, know they exist and no one is going against what they believe.



answers from Dallas on

I went to college for about 34 hours. I was not a good student and had lots of attention problems as it really bored me. Each person knows what is right for them. If his daughter wants to go to college encourage her to do so, but you can't push someone to do something that is not right for them. I disagree with you that you HAVE to go to college to be successful! Working different jobs can teach a person as much as college if not more. Help her find a field she is interested in. See about getting a part time job in that field so that before she starts college she knows that is really what she wants to do.
In high school I took all the business classes and really enjoyed the secretary aspect of things..(I like to orgainze and love computers) I ended up starting out at a insurance company as a secretary and worked my way up to a work comp adjuster by my hard work and dedication. I made as much as the people who went to college..wait actually more because I didn't have student loans to pay off. I know way too many people who went to college and either don't work or are overqualified for any job and now are in debt and have student loans to pay off. I do agree you want to guide her down the right path but you need to make sure you are helping her with a path that she is happy with. Don't push one way over the other!

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