Dear Son, You Don’t Have To Go to College

Dear Son,

I know the questions are coming in fast and furious about what your major is going to be, where you want to go to college, and what you want to be when you grow up.

I remember these questions all too well- when I was a senior, it was just assumed that everyone would go to college- it’s just what you did after high school.

There are these unwritten rules and expectations; as 18-year-olds, there weren’t many of us who thought we could argue with that so, we packed up and left to pursue a Bachelor of Something, even if we had no clue about what we wanted to do, even if we weren’t ready, even if we had to borrow loads of money to do it.

Why I want my teen to know that he doesn't have to go to college

Which means many of us racked up student loans that we are still paying for in our 40s.  A lot of us changed our majors a few times, some dropped out and never went back, and others dropped out to return a few years down the road when they’d gained some clarity about what they wanted to do.

I’m telling you this because I want you to know you don’t have to go away to college a few months after you graduate if that’s not how you see your life playing out. Some young adults are ready at that age, and know exactly what they want to do with their life, and well, some just don’t, and there’s no shame in that.

I think a college education is wonderful, important, and I’m thankful for mine because of the opportunities it’s given me—it was the right choice for me. But I am well aware that path isn’t for everyone and I’m not going to push it on you just because it worked out for me.

You might want to work and save while really taking the time to think about what you want to do in the future.

Maybe traveling a bit before you settle on a place to put down roots is your dream. That might very well be the gateway to figuring out what you want to major in, or what you want to be when you grow up.

Whatever you want to do, wherever you want to go, your father and I will support you and take it seriously. Our only goal for you is to be happy. Our wish for you is that you can make a living doing something that you love. Too many people go to college, take on a lot of debt, and get a job they hate in order to pay for it.

The next thing they know, they find themselves buying a new car, a home, and having children because society tells you it’s what you are supposed to do. I know too many people who are miserable with their careers. And it all started because they had to get a certain career in order to pay off debt for loans they took out to further their education, and ended up majoring in something they didn’t love because they just weren’t sure.

We are talking about the rest of your life here. It’s okay to take your time and make sure you are sure.

I don’t want you or your brother and sister to have that kind of pressure so, take your time, really think about what kind of life you want to live. Ask yourself what you could do to earn a living that you are passionate about, then take those steps, and do the work it takes to get there– this might come in 2 years of school, 4 years of school, or 8 years of school.

But I know there’s a chance it might not involve college at all — and that’s okay. There are so many options out there, and if you hate the thought of diving into more schooling after you graduate, and need time to gain an appreciation for education, then take the time.

Your father and I will encourage you to go to college, but we won’t push you. You will never feel rejected in this house for not going to college if aren’t ready. It’s your choice, not ours.

I just wanted to tell you, you don’t have to go. You can go in a year, in 5 years, or 15 years, or never. It doesn’t matter to us, we will love and support you regardless.




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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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