LETTER TO THE EDITOR: College is worth it

Aug 13, 2012

Terrific advice for the kid who lacks the funds to continue his education. I’ll wager it caught the eye of many parents who find themselves thinking of that alleged obligation to pay for their children’s college. Can it be “take a year to earn some money”?

I have no idea when society dreamed up said commitment but how often don’t we hear or read Financial Advisors advice to parents in their financial planning to be sure to include college education for their children, a parental commitment all too many persons have been lead to believe is an offspring entitlement. But with that headline, I wondered, could this writer himself be questioning the extent of parental obligation in their children’s formal education! Perhaps his intent was to raise a couple dad type questions: “For what reason does my kid want to go to college? How strong is the kid’s feeling toward acquiring that college degree?” The writer might even be suggesting the high school grad consider working a year at some job, not only to help pay for college, but also acquire a little more needed maturity.

That’s what I saw in the heading.

Up through high school, despite my limited resources, as well as a zero expectancy of financial aid from my parents (we were just coming out of a serious depression), I never for a minute thought college wasn’t in my future. I was motivated, and willing to work for a college degree, and following graduation went hunting for a job. My reason for working was to add to that which I had saved for college. The BS degree in Civil Engineering I ultimately earned was definitely worth the fifteen months of manual labor I spent in a factory following my high school graduation.

I started to read the article with no little interest. After a few sentences, I found that my reason for delaying college education was quite different than that suggested by your community columnist. Mine, definitely was of necessity. Your writer addresses the situation of the high school grads who want to go to college, but are not sure of the career to pursue. Rather than enrolling immediately after graduation, the writer thinks it best they take a year or two off, and find how people of other locales live and think, tour foreign counties and put off attending college for a time doing things that thrill and leave them with everlasting memories. Supposedly such experiences will help them find themselves and able to select a career. But there’s really no assurance of that.

Sounds great! But something is missing from the writer’s suggestion. Where does the money come from for the year’s fun? Furthermore, from where will it come later for college? Does the kid following the suggestion have sufficient savings of his own? How much is expected from Dad? Will college costs necessitate a student loan? If the kid doesn’t have money, and parents are unwilling to underwrite his fun, college education might well be just a dream, regardless of his ultimate career choice, unless he demonstrates a willingness to actually work for it.

— Cornell D. Beukema, Spring Lake
 

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