When people asked me what I was going to do after high school I replied with the usual, "I'm going to such and such university to major in this and minor in that." I hated saying it though. Hated it. None of it was what I wanted. I despised the notion of it. Eventually I got the courage to at least say "I'm taking a year off from school" to which everyone replied, "If you take a year off you won't go at all!" I just laughed a little and shrugged or said something like, "We'll see". I knew I was never going. But I couldn't just say it.
Dear Anyone Who Ever Said That To Me,
I was lying to you because I was scared of you.
I was scared because I knew what they would have thought if I had outright just said, "I want to be a wife and a mom. No degree out there sounds appealing". I was passionate about motherhood, yes, even at age 18. I always have been! But when you tell that to an adult they look at you like when your four year old self said you wanted to be president one day. They pat you on the head, chuckle, and condescendingly say, "Alrighty then... Whateeeever you say, Hannah." Ummm no. "Wifehood" and motherhood are actual realistic dreams in life for the average girl. I don't need a degree for that. I do need some money for that though so...why would I put myself into debt to hurry through school and then drag my husband into my debt so that we can live paycheck to paycheck when we do end up getting married and having kids? That made no sense to Tom and I. (And before you're all, "WHAT WILL YOU DO IF HE DIES OR CAN'T WORK?" Have you heard of life insurance? Have you heard of being debt free and having a generous emergency fund? Because we have and we do.)
But truthfully, when I was about to graduate high school I was terrified of people's remarks if I had told the truth. So I lied because I was afraid of getting backed into a corner.
I was scared of the raised eyebrows. I was scared of the, "But HOW will you make a sufficient income?!" I was scared of the, "What will you DO then?!" I was terrified of the looks people give to those who forego college - like we have 5 heads. Like we're less valuable or less worthy of things because we find our calling in other places. Nope! We are human beings. We find our passions in the more creative aspects of life sometimes. It isn't laziness that prompts us to "throw away the opportunity" of higher education. No. It's simply that it is not our passion. It is not what we are called to do. If you're a nurse and you love it, what would you think if someone said, "Aren't you going to be a lawyer?" You'd think, "Um no? That's not what I want to do with my life. That's why I'm a nurse." Everyone you told about that encounter would think that other person was crazy right? Or lets say you've opened your own bakery and someone you know comes into your shop. They say, "Hey! Why aren't you down at the veterinary clinic?" You'd turn around, look for someone behind you, point to yourself and say, "Are...you talking to me? The bakery owner?" "Yeah! Why didn't you become a veterinarian?" "Because I wanted to open my own bakery...which I'm here doing presently...as you can see..." It wouldn't make sense. So let's stop assuming every graduate has to go to college when clearly they're doing other things.
And do you know how many people I know currently who are not using their degree because they completely regret their major or even going to school at all? I know people who have their Master's Degree who are working at gas stations part time because they hate their major. They never really liked it to begin with. And guess where they are because they were too scared to tell people they didn't want to go to college. Because they let people shuffle them through the rigmarole of endless applications, essays, college visits, and the ever-imposing raised eyebrow of their Great Aunt Mae who got 700 Master's degrees and accepts nothing less from anyone else.
That's right. They're ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS in debt.
More or (a little) less.
Can I also just point out that there is a student loan debt crisis in America today? According to Market Watch the current student loan debt totals
1.2 TRILLION DOLLARS in the U.S. alone.
Now. Let's get something straight. If you're a parent and you're reading this you may be experiencing something red and steam-like coming out of your ears.
"I hope MY teenager NEVER reads this. It's a load of crap! My Johnny will get his Bachelor's of Science NO BUTS ABOUT IT." Well good for Johnny. I'd love to see him do it! I'm not against college. But HE needs to be the one passionate about that. HE needs to be the decider.
But then again, here are a few things that need to be considered before shewing your kids off to today's universities, even if they think they want to go.
Can your little 17 year old Johnny handle the drugs and the smoking and weed and the heroine and the drinking and the sex and the abortions and the who knows what else he'll be exposed to and pressured into? And by "handle" I mean "reject". I didn't even go to college but I did hang out with college kids on campus. I was exposed to that. Thankfully I had the mind to dismiss it and avoid it. But man was it tempting. I did see some of my "friends" get tangled up in all of it though and it's pretty sad where they've ended up. I realize that sheltering your kids from every single evil in the world is harmful to them because they won't know how to handle it when they finally do encounter it. However, throwing them into the steaming pot at 17 or 18 with $80,000 isn't exactly a healthy transition into the "real world" either. Not for most of today's teenagers anyway. Last week your daughter melted the soap dispenser in your bathroom from leaving her flat iron on all night because she got distracted by the One Direction song on the radio. And this week? You're handing her tens of thousands of dollars, sending her out the door and essentially saying, "Good luck!" Your kids need to be mature enough. Their age does not earn them a college experience. Their maturity level might though!
Anyway, that was a big reason I chose not to go. I think I could have handled it but I didn't want to have to. Why should my higher education threaten my very safety, my state of mind, my soul.
In my religion - in the Traditional Catholic Church - leading yourself into the occasion of sin is a sin in and of itself. So for me? That was a huge occasion of sin and a huge deterrent. (Cue the rolling of eyes. I can take it. I gave birth unmedicated. Try me.) Not all college campuses are like what I described above. Not all college kids will see what I saw. And no, I'm not saying that if you go to college you're a SINNER DESTINED TO BURN IN HELL. (I'm reading your minds - another thing the Traditional Catholic Church looks down upon. ; )
But what I'm saying is that you should at least take into consideration the atmosphere of the college before going there or sending your kids there. Making the choice of where to go isn't just about how prestigious the university is or if they have the program you want to be in. Be smart, parents and potential students. Just be smart.
"For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?"
- Matthew 16:26 (Douay Rheims Bible)
And I know not all of you are on board with this part of my post (maybe not any of it). But, as a Catholic, something happened to me when I had my first baby - my Charlotte. Catholics believe that you have to merit heaven with faith AND good works. It's not just enough to believe in God to be saved. So, with that, when I had Charlotte the importance of morality everywhere in life hit me like a ton of bricks. I know not all of you reading this have kids so you won't really understand this feeling until you do (and hopefully you do realize it one day) but something inside me just kind of snapped when I had her. I am responsible for this little girl's soul. And now? Two little girls' souls. I need to be the best example I can be for them and that really made me evaluate my life. I was holding onto a lot of my "favorite" sins, my "favorite" weaknesses, my "favorite" downfalls. Now I'm really starting to be extremely straightforward with myself and with my faith. I want to do my absolute best in this life so that I can spend the next life with my loved ones and with Christ.
No, I'm not perfect by any means at all. I still have weaknesses and downfalls and "favorite" sins that I fall back into. But in my mind I can at least recognize that sometimes what I do isn't right and I ask forgiveness from God for it whereas a few years ago I wouldn't have thought twice about it.
Does any of that make sense? I think everyone hits that point in their life where they start to take morality more seriously and I just so happened to hit that point at the tender age of 20 instead of like...30 or 40 like a lot of people. Maybe that's why all my college age friends will hate me for this article. #sorrynotsorry?
2. The Cost
I'm speaking literally here. Like I said above, student loan debt in 1.2 trillion dollars in North America alone. It is possible to pay out of pocket (like my husband and I did for his education) but no one tells kids that these days! They think unspeakable amounts of debt is "normal". No no no no no no no. It's not. You can pay for your college with cash. We did it. It took a little longer but guess what - we have no payments. None. We save every penny we earn (obviously apart from the everyday expenses of life). But we owe no one a cent.
(Helpful Tip: Go to community college for 2 years. Transfer your credits to a bigger, more specialized college in your state, and voila! Your degree from a big name university just cost you tens of thousands of dollars less than it would have going to that specialized school for all four years.)
When you're drowning in debt what can go wrong does go wrong. Your car breaks down and you crawl to mom and dad to lend you a few hundred so you can go buy another one and owe even more in monthly payments to a dealership. So there's your student loans, paying mom and dad back, AND you new monthly car payments. Tell me where there is room for one single other thing to go wrong in your life? No where. Oops! Your rent just went up. Uh oh! Your new car just got totaled because you were texting + driving and hit someone's Porche. Your fault. You pay. Your insurance also goes up. Woops.
"But don't you worry, Johnny, we are just so proud of you for having this education! My goodness we wouldn't want you to be like the Smith family or Jones family who are debt-free and have saved up a handsome down payment on their dream home! NEVER! What a horrifying thought. How do they sleep at night..."
And I'll just say it - No, college should not be "free". Mostly because it's not actually free at all. Tax payers would pay for it. They'd be paying for sweet little Sally to flunk all of her classes because she desperately doesn't want to be there but her parents are making her because it's free. Good plan! I love when my tax dollars go to waste. Don't you? Where is the incentive to do well? Where is the motivation? When college hopefuls are paying cash out of pocket for something as pricey as college you bet your bottom dollar they'd be dang sure this is what they want to do with their lives and that this is what they want to spend $80,000 on. When Uncle Sam hands them a $100,000 check that they don't even look at it they're going to follow the crowds. They don't feel like they're spending anything! They just go to school every day! WHAT debt?
"...and the borrower is servant to him that lendeth."
- Proverbs 22:7 (Douay Rheims Bible)
It's no secret that today's college professors are overwhelmingly liberal. Of course, this is America where you can believe whatever you like so long as you don't harm others! But the problem here is that they're imposing their own liberal beliefs on the students and their grades. I knew a girl with the same name as me once. She told me that she was frequently told to leave the auditorium by a certain professor who, when she mentioned anything about her pro-life beliefs in a debate or discussion with the class, would yell at her, call her stupid, call her sheltered, and reduce her to tears. Even when completing homework assigned to her class with promptness and intelligence she always had lower grades than her classmates. The professor made no apologies that her conservatism affected her grades. And this is not an isolated incident. But what are we conservatives supposed to do? Let ourselves be bullied into silence? But what can we do? Liberal professors outnumber conservative ones 5 to 1 these days according to The Daily Signal. And like I said, I don't care if you're Athiest as long as you treat your students fairly and don't disrespect their faith and morals. But clearly the liberal professors these days pay no mind to balanced, fair academics. No sir.
Obviously it only pertains to certain classes. If you're taking a class learning Chinese you won't be talking about politics or morals most likely. But when you take a Literature class and your professor is telling the easily swayed students around you that St. Thomas Aquinas was a bigoted idiot and that no one should ever pay him attention - there's a problem. (And yes, that actually happened.) Do you see what I mean? I know that in the private high school I graduated from we were thoroughly prepared for the liberalism of the college classroom. We expected it. And, in my opinion, we learned a lot to counter it. I'm really proud of my friends who have had the courage to stand up in the middle of the auditorium filled the students to challenge their professor on something he decided to warp for his own enjoyment. (I'm talking to you, Diana! Props, girl!)
4. It's Just Plain Not For Everyone
Like I said above. Some people are called to trade schools or to be a stay-at-home mom or to nannying or to whatever else! It's just plain not for everyone. And that's perfectly okay.
But, anyway, please don't take this article personally. Please don't think I'm attacking people who choose to go to college. My own husband went to college, mentors at a college, and works for a college and I really like him! ; )
What I am saying in a nutshell though is this - deciding to go to college is a very careful choice to make. Let me say that again - it's a choice. and each individual need not take it lightly. I was totally on board with going because "that's what everyone else did". I had no need to but I was going to go because that's "just what you do" after high school. But no, that's not what everyone does.
And to those who look down on people who go to trade school or who immediately start work after high school instead of college - I'm not going to sugar coat this - you should be ashamed of yourselves. College may have been for you but it may very well not be for the 10 people standing around you. It may be that 3 out of your 5 children are mature enough to handle the morality issues so often waved in the faces of college kids. It may be that none of your kids should go through that. It may be that they do online classes. It may be that they go to college on campus for 8 years. It may be that they do no classes. It may be that they go to a two year school. OR - like in my case - it may be that they found the person they want to spend the rest of their life and start a family right away without going at all. That doesn't make me a "failure".
I'm not a lazy person. If I were truly lazy I would NOT be a wife and mom. My house is a mess because I work too hard at motherhood sometimes. If you look down on me for raising kids to be decent citizens of this great country then you have your own problems I guess. This is how I choose to live my life. If my kids are mature enough and have a real passion for a particular field then you bet they can pay cash and go to college. Good for them!
Life isn't about life. Life is about the "after life".
I've learned that in the last 2 years as a mom. Choose your soul first and you'll always win. I love you all. Don't hate me. : )
My name is Hannah and I'm a lucky wife to Tom, and mama bear to two sweet girls - Charlotte & Rosalie. Coffee, lipstick, sunshine, and dresses are some of my favorite things! I love to blog about God, motherhood, "wifeyhood", food, health and much more.
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