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The point of college?

post #1 of 133
Thread Starter 

I am really wondering how others feel about this. What is the point of college? I always thought it was to help in a future career. But if you are going to major in something that will not lead to employment, that it might be a waste of money. I used to think it would be nice to go to college and just major in what a person is really interested in, even if it is social history of the American Colonial period. But in reality, if you spend a lot of money on college, it should probably be a major that you can move toward a job in. But I also heard on a financial show the other day, that any major is better than no college or delaying college. That many careers are not major specific so in many cases, it does not really matter what you major in, you just need that degree.

 

I am asking because my two older children say they want to major in computer science (my son) and music (my daughter). I worry because my daughter says she does not want to teach, but loves music so she wants to major in it. If she says she does not want to teach or work with children in any way (she said that too) what can she possibly do with a degree and music? I am picturing us spending a bunch of money on college and/or her having a bunch of student loans, only to have her move back home and work a minimum wage job to try to pay back those loans. 

 

So, I am really interested in opinions and ideas and personal experiences. Thanks!

post #2 of 133
I am one of the people who thought like you do. Unless i can find a major that would allow me to work in my chosen field, why bother? So I didnt Im now in my mid-30s w an under 2yo and if my DH were to leave me tomorrow i could not support us where we live. Even a $12/hr receptionist job here wants a Bachelors.

My DH kinda slid into his field after the army, almost 20 yrs ago. And now is facing the fact that he has very few choices despite 18 yrs experience. When i got pg we started looking for a job closer to home for him. I sent out dozens of resumes each week. Literally. In 6 mos of looking he got 3 calls for interviews. Everyone wants a degree. They dont really care in what (obviously some fields do care about major, but many don't). But the simple lack of that piece of paper really inhibited the job search, most companies wouldnt even look at his resume. It came down to a "choice" of stay where he was miserable or take the 1 offer he got even though it wasn't a very good offer. And now he's back in school working towards his degree because otherwise he's never going to be able to leave this job.

Of course, the degree issue does not apply to trades w an apprenticeship/on the job, but its becoming more and more of an issue everywhere else. Particularly in the current job climate where employers can be extremely selective because the applicant pool is so huge.

I know i have to go back to school and get my degree even though i dread it. The simple fact is that id be better off doing it now than waiting until i need it. Since my DH is 8 yrs older, odds are that i'll need it someday.
post #3 of 133
Thread Starter 

Do you think I should just not worry about it and if music is her passion, tell her to go for it? Or try to get her to look at other possibilities? It seems like, for music, she has played for years and people always tell her how great she is at it. But when it comes to science and math, which she is also great at, people just do not say anything positive. I have seen people tell her that is geeky. Blow it off. Or upon hearing she got a 97 and 99 in high school biology, that she is just bragging. These are relatives saying this The same relatives who will congratulate her and tell her how brilliant she is when she plays her instrument. In music, she has community music programs to be in and private lessons. But in science, well, it is very scarce what is available.

 

I have thought of sending her to a science camp this summer, so she can just have fun with that, but she only wants to go to music camp. It seems a shame to spend the money on science camp when what she really wants is music. But on the other hand, it also feels like people and society in general where we live just is not geared toward encouraging the maths and the sciences so she has not experienced it at all really.

post #4 of 133
Just having ANY bachelor's degree (no matter what the major) can be a huge huge help in the job market. Unfortunately now many jobs want a Master's as well... which just really annoys me... but anyway...

I would ask your DD to research what kinds of things she'd be able to do with a music degree. (Ask your son as well, although I think it's safe to say he'd have lots of opportunities with a computer science degree, can't hurt for them both to be aware of their options!) Also would make sense for each of them to do the reverse -- look up their top 3 career choices and find out what kind of education is required for those options. I don't need ANY degrees for the job I'm in now, even though it's a professional job and many of us DO have degrees.

But another point I want to make is that just because they start out majoring in X, doesn't mean they'll leave with a degree in X. I started out as an engineering major, was fascinated by the psychology course I took to fulfill my gen. ed requirements... and then even more interested by an elective I took in electronic design (web design/multimedia). I ended up with bachelor's in both psych and electronic design and nearly enough English courses for a third major. I only finished one semester of engineering! And I don't think my story is all that unusual. I think college can provide a well-rounded education (if you take it seriously, that is!) and expose you to areas of study you might otherwise not consider...

ETA: I also met my DH at college, so I consider it a VERY worthwhile investment winky.gif
post #5 of 133

For me, there was no point so I didn't go.  I knew what I wanted and college would have gotten in the way of that, rather than helped.

 

I do not consider "the college experience" a necessary social experience for a necessary and happy life.  Apparently many people do, as their objections to me forgoing it and not making it mandatory for my children were primarily social.  Weird. 

 

Dh will make sure our children get some kind of post-highschool education.  That is an unquestioned mandate in our house.  But it will probably look very different than what most people think of when they think "college".  Hopefully in 10 or so years as they get to that age, the opportunities for alternative and distance learning will be much greater.

post #6 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

Just having ANY bachelor's degree (no matter what the major) can be a huge huge help in the job market. Unfortunately now many jobs want a Master's as well.
 


This, for sure.  I was in Human Resources for several years, and even for entry-level administrative positions, a bachelor's degree was usually required, or at least preferred.

 

It shows longevity and commitment.  It's not nearly as hard to get into college as it is to graduate from college.

 

In this job market, where even those with advanced degrees are having trouble finding jobs, a degree is not a waste.

 

I have a very good friend who majored in music and minored in computer science.  He has worked in IT since he graduated 15 years ago, and is an IT director.  

 

I know many people who ended up working in a different field than what their degrees are in.  That's not uncommon at all. 

post #7 of 133

Yeah, i had to go back and finish my degree when i found myself single with children - and underemployed.  I had plenty of credits in Sociology - so i figured i could finish that major quickly.  Thats literally how i decided what my major should be!  But it got me a decent paying job as an Admin Asst ...nothing to do with sociology....  Also she really doesnt have to nail down her major the first day of college - she has two years i beleive - and in that time she may find something marketable that also interests her.  Its always worth it to get the degree....i had one professor say "it proves that you can jump through a certain set of hoops" 


 

post #8 of 133
Thread Starter 

With the PSATs in the fall, they have to put down, I think, a selection of colleges to send their scores to. I know they can add more later (for an extra cost) so I wanted the to at least think about colleges and maybe places they might want to look at closer. They have gotten a lot of college materials in the mail this year. My son has a very reasonable college with a variety of majors available. My daughter only wants to apply to Julliard. She is very smart and makes good grades, but Julliard is a hard one to get in to. Plus, if she goes there and decides later she does not want to major in music, she will sort of be out of luck.

post #9 of 133

I do think she needs to look at her goals. What she is eventually interested in doing and how much earning potential she will have and what sort of lifestyle she will be happy with, it will all change in the next couple of years but I do think it is important to be realistic. She definitely needs a degree of some sort and I would for sure encourage applying to more colleges than one, she can always refuse them if she is accepted. This is coming from someone who has been working on a Ba for 6 years and has been to 3 colleges. I was brought up that studying for something practical is very important since 2 of my grandparents have PHd's in extremely useless topics and found it quite useless.

post #10 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post
My daughter only wants to apply to Julliard. She is very smart and makes good grades, but Julliard is a hard one to get in to. Plus, if she goes there and decides later she does not want to major in music, she will sort of be out of luck.


When she only wanted to major in music, I was on her side. I think that pursuing our passions is always a good thing, and almost everyone I know changed majors in college, so I wouldn't be overly concerned about a kid starting out with a major that sounds unemployable.

 

I was also going to suggest figuring out ways to keep the cost down -- living at home, doing the first 2 years at community college, applying for scholarships etc. There are ways for kids to get through with a semi-reasonable expense if their parents are super supportive and they live in a mid-size city.

 

However, she looses me at Julliard. With that one, I think she sounds like she's just being difficult. It's great that she wants to apply, and I'd be getting her a nice thick book of scholarships to apply for. I don't know that I would pay for more than what in-state tuition cost.

 

When you add her whole list together -- only music, NO teaching, only Julliard, it seems a little out of touch with reality and like she really doesn't want to work.

 

post #11 of 133

What it sounds like is she doesn't want to go to college but she feels like she has no choice.  So she's going to make it as hard as possible to force her to go.

 

Honestly, I would just back off.  Not having a college degree is not a death sentence.  And she can go back later.  It sounds like she needs to find out what real life is like instead.  Maybe tell her you will assist with living expenses for 6 months in lieu of college but she has to go out and be a grown up on her own after that?

post #12 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post





This, for sure.  I was in Human Resources for several years, and even for entry-level administrative positions, a bachelor's degree was usually required, or at least preferred.

 

It shows longevity and commitment. 

 


Thank you for explaining some of the thinking. This isn't even remotely true (lots of people without degrees will stick with a company for a long time, and be committed to their jobs, and lots of people with degrees job hop a lot), but at least now I have a handle on where some of the bizarre requirements for degrees come from. I've been wondering for a long time.

 

 

OP: I guess you need to figure out what you want your daughter to get out of college. If she's getting what you think she should get, you pay for it. If she's not, she pays for it. Thats' probably how I'd work it, if I were going to be paying for any of my children's post-secondary education at all, which i'm not.

 

post #13 of 133
Well I do think applying to only one college could majorly backfire on her... What's her plan if she's not accepted???

I also wouldn't spend more money on my kid's college than I thought was reasonable. So, if I could afford it, I'd help them pay for state college, but if they wanted to go somewhere more expensive, I would only give them the same amount as state tuition... Easy to say when I only have a 2yo though! lol.gif

Also, it's been a while, but I thought the PSAT's were more of a practice round? As in, I don't think they *need* to send their scores anywhere, I don't remember colleges requiring anything but SAT (or ACT) scores, and if they've never taken that kind of test, it might even be better NOT to send the scores because they have no clue how they'll perform on it... so I'd not put any colleges on the 'send scores' thing and buy you all another year or so to think things through & figure it all out. (But, I'm sure things could have changed or I'm misunderstanding, so don't take my word on that!)
post #14 of 133

I just wanted to add with a cousin who recently graduated from Julliard (well over a year go but semi-recent)...

Julliard is NOT the kind of school where you just apply and that is that. Unless you are a prodigy in some way the odds of being accepted are slim. For my cousin she was specifically asked to attend and she accepted. They can be really picky and my cousin said you basically either know someone who knows someone, they ask you or you apply. The odds of anyone getting in just by applying is pretty slim, they only take a very small number of straight applicants each year. If your DD is good at music that is nice but that probably doesn't translate into talented enough to attend Julliard...Don't want to be mean that is just the way it is...

post #15 of 133

There are lots of reasons that people elect to go to college.  Personally, I attended a liberal arts college, and that's kind of the philosophy of education that I believe in.  I think that a diploma is one thing, and the information and experience another matter.  I've worked in an academic setting (a University, then a College, now a Tech School) and have observed lots of paths that people take to get to positions that they enjoy. 

I've known lots of people who have general degrees, or humanities degrees, and while it's not that same degree that a vocational or technical school could provide-- with a specific career goal in mind, a degree in music can really lead to a fulfilling career.  My best friend from childhood works at Converse, which is a small liberal arts music-oriented school.  She went there and got a bachelor's in music and stayed there to get a master's.  She is pretty happy with her career.  At the time, though, it wasn't as though she could tell people:  hey.. i'm going to school to get a music degree so i can have _____ as a career.  Lots of people who work with nonprofits and things like that get experience in that liberal arts setting, do internships, find other paths to a satisfying job.  I wouldn't discourage it, not in the least. 

post #16 of 133


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

 So, if I could afford it, I'd help them pay for state college, but if they wanted to go somewhere more expensive, I would only give them the same amount as state tuition... Easy to say when I only have a 2yo though! lol.gif
 


That's kind of how my DH and I feel, and our kids are teens.

It's shaking up a little different since we really know our kids current preferences and strengths and weakness.

 

One child is currently dreaming of culinary school, which cost more than a state college, but is only a year. It's also all about her dream job, so we are 100% supportive and will pay (if that stays her plan). We like that she is focused on what she actually wants to do for full time to earn a living.

 

The other child wants to study the sciences, may be go to grad school. Her ultimate goal is to work in research. She's quirky -- both gifted and with special needs. We really like the idea of a state university, and one of the very best one's in the country is 20 minutes from our house, but she might do much, much better at a smaller school with more hand holding. She goes to a small, private school right now. We'll have to play it by ear. On one hand, since she would like to be in school for a very long time, we want to keep costs reasonable. At the same time, doing our part to make sure she's successful is more important than money. She's only 14, and I plan to encourage her to apply for a wide variety of scholarships, essay contests, etc. Her deal is a little different because she's a little different. Raising a 2E kid is complicated.

 

So, while I agree with you in principle, the details (at our house anyway) are a little more complicated.

 

It's odd -- my DH is an executive at an aerospace firm  and has a lot of pull when it comes to hiring people. He looks fondly on candidates who started at community college because it's his experience is that the are hard workers. The had to really push for their educations, nothing was handed to them. We also have many friend who's kids are only slightly older than ours who've gone away to college at 18 and fallen right on their faces. We aren't convinced that trotting off to a pressured program when you are 18 is the path to success or happiness. So while we really think CC is a good idea, right now it doesn't look like either of our kids will go there.

post #17 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post




Thank you for explaining some of the thinking. This isn't even remotely true (lots of people without degrees will stick with a company for a long time, and be committed to their jobs, and lots of people with degrees job hop a lot)

 


I agree, but for applicants with little or no experience, having a college degree shows a much higher level of commitment than 4 years working at the mall, for example.  Most companies would also prefer college graduates because it looks good on their reports.  If a company is about to go public, having a large percentage of their employees with degrees looks more impressive on paper than otherwise.

 

post #18 of 133
I agree with Linda on the Move and Rightkindofme. It sounds like shes making things difficult (which may be subconscious). It may be that she's just not ready. I started college at 17. I've started and stopped at least 4 times and have paid over $20K in tuition/student loans off and still dont have a degree. I just didnt have the motivation/purpose to finish. If i go back now (in my 30s), it'll be a different experience. I have a LO, and a totally different set of motivators now.
post #19 of 133

oh to the original question. The point of college?
well I wouldn't know seeing as I dropped out precisely because I didn't see the point!

I am not interested in pushing paper or working in an office type setting and I found a very good paying job at 19, 15 bucks an hour, working outside at a plant nursery. I loved it immensely. It was wonderful to be outside doing new things every single day. I learned so much. I could have gone to school and got a degree in landscape design but I didn't need it at all. There are so many jobs that don't require a college degree but the good ones are often more labor orientated, working outside doing physical stuff and for alot of people I feel like there is a stigma of being poor attached with that. Personally I love it and so does DH. He works in a skilled labor position and has a decade of experience. A college degree would mean absolutely nothing to him if he went for a similar job with someone else. 

 

Sometimes, I think there is a generational gap here as well. My generation grew up being told the only way you will succeed at all in this world is with a degree. Most of the kids I know who have their degrees now are pretty pissed off that they have a piece of paper, no awesome job to show for it and are now having to pay back student loans that will take them possibly decades to pay off. College is really not the be all end all of your life. For some people it is the only way to get where they want to go but for others (like me or my DH) we just don't need it. I can go out today and get a decent well paying job working outside without a degree. It wouldn't be a problem. 

post #20 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


 


That's kind of how my DH and I feel, and our kids are teens.

It's shaking up a little different since we really know our kids current preferences and strengths and weakness.

 

One child is currently dreaming of culinary school, which cost more than a state college, but is only a year. It's also all about her dream job, so we are 100% supportive and will pay (if that stays her plan). We like that she is focused on what she actually wants to do for full time to earn a living.

 

The other child wants to study the sciences, may be go to grad school. Her ultimate goal is to work in research. She's quirky -- both gifted and with special needs. We really like the idea of a state university, and one of the very best one's in the country is 20 minutes from our house, but she might do much, much better at a smaller school with more hand holding. She goes to a small, private school right now. We'll have to play it by ear. On one hand, since she would like to be in school for a very long time, we want to keep costs reasonable. At the same time, doing our part to make sure she's successful is more important than money. She's only 14, and I plan to encourage her to apply for a wide variety of scholarships, essay contests, etc. Her deal is a little different because she's a little different. Raising a 2E kid is complicated.

 

So, while I agree with you in principle, the details (at our house anyway) are a little more complicated.


Totally makes sense. smile.gif I feel silly even giving my opinions on this since DS is so young & who knows how his uniqueness will ultimately affect these kinds of decision? So I understand where you're coming from. I was somewhat like your DD I guess... "gifted" but with other issues (not special needs but more... mental issues/emotional issues... was on an IEP in high school and eventually they just threw up their hands and said they didn't know what to do with me... greensad.gif) I ended up skipping my senior year of high school & going to a state university. I'm not sure that was the best place for me but that was the only place that would accept me without a HS diploma. The intent was to transfer after my freshman year but that never happened. It's just as well, because somehow I got through college in one piece, and I'm glad at least that I don't have HUGE school loans like I would have if I'd gone elsewhere... OK I'm totally going off on a tangent here...
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