Misplaced Parental Obsession With College


You’ve probably seen it plastered all over the news lately- the college admissions scandal. And it seems to show no signs of slowing down, snaring celebrities such as Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin in its net.

In a nutshell, celebrities and wealthy individuals have been paying to cheat their way into prestigious colleges.

The methods to gain entry illegally were two fold. Either they would gain entry admission by pretending to be athlete (even creating fake photos and video footage).  After which the they’d then bribe coaches to take them on as so-called “student-athletes”.

The second method pertained to cheating entrance exams. In some cases, the exam moderators were bribed in return for turning a blind eye to any cheating. In other cases, genius test takers were drafted in to take the test for them or take the test concurrently and swap answer sheets.

All of the recent allegations hammer home the current obsession of parents getting their kids to attend a good college.

However, doing so is increasingly the wrong option for young adults looking to get ahead on the career ladder.

Often the subjects they offer do not present as good choices when it comes to looking for employment. In some cases, other high-paying highly-skilled labor jobs do not even require a college education.

And attending university can often leave adults graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt.

So let’s take a look at why college and this parental obsession might not be right for your child.

Modern Job Fields Have Left Colleges Behind

The fastest growing job industries in America are in the tech industries. Yet very few top colleges emphasize programs specifically designed to prepare students in these fields.  For example, these programs need to include more courses in coding, robotics, and machine learning, or other science disciplines, and fewer in the liberal arts.

The same is the case in many medical fields. This pertains to job roles in medical sciences outside of being a Doctor or a Nurse, such as medical research in the pharmaceutical industry.

Many pharmaceutical and medical research companies are having to employ candidates who come from more generic scientific degree backgrounds. Then they have to invest heavily in further training to make them fully compatible with the role.

In these instances, specialist technical schools offer a much better option than a traditional college for further education as they train the specific skills needed for the jobs in question. This gives graduates an advantage over those who, for example, have just studied a general computer science degree.

Colleges Places Too Much Emphasis On General Subjects

A lot of students (and parents) focus too much on just getting into a good school. And then they often choose subjects that are unlikely to yield good job prospects upon graduation.

Choosing a degree field such as, history, drama, English language, or any other humanities subjects may sound good when coming from a reputable college. But it means nothing when trying to gain employment with either local or national businesses.

A Parent shouldn’t be thinking “oh my daughter managed to make it into Yale to study English”.  They should be thinking, ok what job does writing essays on the English language at an Ivy League school prepare her for?

Beyond a journalist or a writer, there isn’t going to be much left on the table if neither of those roles work out.

Smaller Colleges do Not Provide Jobs

Many of the smaller colleges lie within regions or towns that offer no real job prospects after graduation in their field. There is often just no pipeline to employers from these schools.

While the name of your college might carry some weight within its state, you may find it a struggle to convey its reputation to an employer on the other side of the country who’s never even heard of it.

This is often an afterthought of parents who want to send their children to the best local college, or sometimes even worse, the college they went to.

You need to bear in mind that, just because you were able to find a job afterwards does not mean that your kids will find it as easy. This is especially the case since the job market has permanently changed after the financial crash of 2008.

College Often Leaves Students with Crippling Debt

Some of the best colleges require the highest fees, particularly if you attend school out of state. An unwanted by-product of attending a great school is that your child could rack up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans which become payable upon graduation.

Many find themselves in a situation where they take a job well below their qualification level in order to start paying the money back while they apply to more appropriate positions.

However, many stay trapped in under-employment, unable to land a job in their desired field. This is not a good place to end up in, just for the sake of saying you attended college. In many cases, a child could have attained the same job without accumulating the mountain of debt they now find themselves paying off.

Is College Right for Your Child?

If you are one of those parents who’s always dreamed of sending your kid off to college, and have already started saving for their college fund, it is worth taking a step back and thinking about whether college is a good fit for what they want to do as a career.

Depending on their age, it’s worth sitting down with them and discussing what they think they may like to study after high school. Or, whether they want to receive training for a specific role.

College is the right option for many children and parents, but it’s not for everyone. There are a multitude of well-paying and highly-skilled positions that college just doesn’t seem to cater to.

What is your view on your child’s future education? Are they dead-set on college? Have they chosen a subject or career path?

Let me know in the comments below!

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