More education is automatically seen as a good thing, but this is a scam, a hoax, a con trick.
If education was free then the argument would be more convincing, but with the spiraling costs of even a first degree it really is time to think again.
Do your son’s teachers just assume he is going to college?
Has the school discussed other options such as self-employment?
Has your daughter been shown how to find a job?
What entrepreneurial skills has high school taught your teenager?
The College Con Trick
I have seen education as a teacher, as a parent and as an entrepreneur. Parents are persuaded towards college or university for their offspring from an early age. Our children are immersed in the education system for more than ten years; every day they are indoctrinated into the belief that more education makes you a better person.
What Use Is College?
A Bachelor’s degree is next to useless except as a step towards a Master’s: Employers are besieged by job applicants with irrelevant first degrees. All that a B.A. or a B.Sc. does is to show you have spent three years studying, drinking and having fun. Anything less than a first class degree simply demonstrates that you were out of your depth on the course.
Why Do Teens Want to Go to College?
Nobody wants to make a sudden break with what they have known for ten or twelve years. Filling in a college or university application is a NON-decision for most; it is the easy option, a cop-out
Young people are persuaded by their teachers, universities and the media that they need a degree to get on in life. They have had full-body immersion in education since infancy and know no other world. There is also a lot of peer pressure of course, “everybody” goes to college and it is a rare 16 or 18 year old who will do something totally different from her friends.
Why Do Teachers Push Students towards Higher Education?
A teacher’s job depends on how many students the school can attract. That depends on how parents perceive the school, which, in turn depends on exam results and how many students go on to college or university. Teachers cannot give unbiased advice to their students if their own jobs depend on persuading those same students to carry on with their education.
Most teachers are actually convinced that their students will benefit from further immersion in the education system. It is all they have ever known themselves and it worked for them. Teaching is that rare career that you can pursue with just a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field.
Why Do Colleges Want More Students?
Colleges and universities are businesses. Their income depends on how many students they can attract so they are hardly independent sources of wisdom and advice.
Colleges run courses that students want, rather than courses that will lead to a highly-paid job. This is why Sociology, Media Studies and Anthropology courses are popular, and why there are so many graduate students with qualifications in these subjects on unemployment benefits or working in call centres.
Thirty years ago higher education was designed for the most able students; nowadays it has been dumbed down for the large number of young people who have no choice. I have personally employed graduates who have no idea about written grammar and zero understanding of what a deadline means. These are the real-world skills I need: I have no need for an in depth understanding of how gorillas interact with humans in Namibia.
Why Does Society Want Students to Continue their Education?
Governments want to keep young people off the unemployment register and they will do everything they can to persuade parents and their teenagers to fork out the cash for a university or higher degree course to save the government and taxpayers making social security payments to people who have no job.
Parents naturally want to do the best for their children and traditionally this has been seen as staying in the education system as long as possible.
This is no longer the best option.
Higher education is only suited to three groups of people:
- Students who are training for medicine, veterinary science or law
- Very academic students who will go on to achieve at least a Master’s degree
- Adults who know what they want to do with their lives and need further qualifications
What are the Alternatives?
There are both traditional and modern alternatives to college and university.
Learning a trade through an apprenticeship is still a great training for a career. We needed plumbers one hundred years ago, we still need plumbers today; we will always need plumbers. The same can be said about electricians and carpenters.
Trainees are even paid; not much, but it is infinitely better than college students who have to borrow money for the privilege of attending classes.
Entrepreneurship skills can be learnt, but schools do not teach them, so it is up to parents. Many young people have ideas that can be developed into a business; tee-shirt printing, selling sweets (candies), dog walking, computer networking and giving tuition to other students are examples I came across when I was teaching.
The Internet means that even a high school student can earn money online. Anyone can set up a website, though the financial side has to be organised through an adult. The website can earn money through ads or by selling products; the products can be anything from printed mugs to designer watches.
What Can a Parent Do?
We have to put aside the bias towards education that we have been indoctrinated with for 30 or 40 years and see the world as it will be in 20 years’ time. We need to teach our children the real-world skills they will need to become entrepreneurs.
What Are the Entrepreneurial Skills They Will Need?
- Financial skills
- Time management
1) Attitude is something we can definitely help our children to acquire. As parents we can counter some of society’s bias towards higher education by actively considering other options with our sons and daughters. We can encourage them to consider a real-world job after high school or support them in self-employment. It is difficult for a teenager to do anything different from their friends, but if you can help them realise that by doing so they can be truly independent six years before their friends then you will have a good chance.
2) Networking is the biggie for any adult entrepreneur and many businesses fail because of poor networking skills. We can teach our children how important it is to give a good impression of themselves, to dress appropriately and to have self-confidence. We can demonstrate the principle of “paying it forward” ourselves by helping other people at every opportunity and developing a good reputation in our own communities. We can help them to learn that networking is really just about helping others rather than just spending hours each day on social media sites.
3) Persistence is something that we can encourage in our children from an early age. We can reward them for completing difficult tasks and we can give them age-appropriate activities that require continued effort in order to succeed. We can also set examples of course, working alongside our offspring to complete tasks that require persistence and then celebrate together when the job is done.
4) Financial skills need to be taught to all children but it is particularly important if we want to encourage them towards self-employment. We need to make our children’s allowances dependent on their doing simple jobs around the house. Advances of allowances should never be allowed and the importance of saving for special treats must be emphasised.
5) Time Management is a skill that every entrepreneur needs and one that many adults find difficult. It is something that is easiest to teach by example by always using our own time effectively. Every family activity needs to be a conscious decision; the TV should only be turned on when there is a program worth watching for example. We should be using every minute of our 24 hours each day by doing something, rather than just “passing time”. We can help our children and teens with organisation, but at the same time expect them to take increasing responsibility for managing their own schedules.
Work alongside Your Children
Children learn by example, they need guidance and help, especially if you want to go against the flow with your parenting ideas. You need to develop a culture of entrepreneurship from a very early age.
Set Up a Family Business
This can be as simple as starting a tee-shirt business on Zazzle.com. The whole family can contribute design ideas and work on marketing the tee-shirts to friends and contacts.
Start an eBay business, a drop-shipping business or sell plants you grow from seeds or cuttings. There are many business possibilities that you can start with little cash and that will use the talents of each family member
It is worth doing this even if you have a secure job because of the way it encourages everyone to pull together as a team. It shows your children the necessity of having a back-up plan.
Whatever your children ultimately do with their lives, their success will depend on their ability to communicate with the people around them. This is about much more than having social networking accounts; rather it is about networking in the broader sense, about helping people to solve problems and paying it forward all the time.
If you set an example, then your kids will see this as a normal and natural way of living. They will see the way that people hold you and your family in high regard. This could be as simple as helping out elderly neighbours with jobs around the house and garden or visiting lonely old people who need someone to talk with. It could be asking neighbours if they want any shopping while you are going anyway.
We need to move away from the isolated family model of society that has been prevalent for the last forty years and back towards connected family units that do things for each other.
Play an active role in community organisations yourself and encourage your children to participate at every opportunity; if they see that you are involved then they will see it as natural to join in themselves.
Developing Entrepreneurial Skills
We all acquire knowledge every day, knowledge that we do not even think about. We all learn from our environment and from the people we interact with. Schools and colleges have a part to play in that learning environment but only a minor part.
Most of our day is spent with family so the family is the main source of knowledge, of learning new skills and putting information together in new ways.
You have more to teach your children than you will ever realise; as you do everyday things with them you will pass on much of your own knowledge without even trying to.
This is what will make your children capable of the independent thinking they will need to become entrepreneurs themselves rather than fodder for college and university courses.
What are Your Thoughts?
Will you encourage your children to go to college?
Are you an undergraduate student who is in the wrong place?
Do you wish you had done things differently?
Should school be abolished altogether?
Please use the comment box below to contribute to the discussion. This is your chance to be heard rather than being part of the herd mentality that has pushed young people towards degrees that do not lead to jobs.