Mickey and Donald were not college roommates
posted by: gretchen
One of my sons wants to be a plumber at Disneyland when he grows up.
That’s a very specific job. Does the Happiest Place on Earth have in-house uncloggers? Probably. With thousands of mouse-earred visitors a day, the pipes and drains of the park must be tremendously strained.
Because we want to show our son we take his desire seriously, we have discussed the steps he’d take to find himself snaking out the main line in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, where they should really lay off the pineapple.
He’d need to be an apprentice, a journeyman, and finally he could be a master plumber. It would take 4 to 5 years of on-the-job training plus some classroom instruction in basic engineering and architecture. He’d need to be strong in math because often there are blueprints to read and calculations to make.
You don’t learn plumbing in one Saturday afternoon workshop at Home Depot.
A four-year college or university degree would be completely unnecessary. Last time I checked, CU specialized in a different sort of pipe.
It’s okay with me if our kids do not go to a traditional four-year state or private university. If they find a passion early in life in cooking, fashion design, firefighting, or the military we will throw our support behind their dreams. I have nothing but respect for people who thrive in these careers, so why would I care if my kids want to work in these fields?
But In my circle of friends and family, this isn’t a widely held view. To most families we know, college is a given, a necessity, a non-negotiable.
I think this narrow view has potential to be damaging.
Many of my fellow dorm dwellers wanted to be anywhere but in school. Actions scream, words whisper. They floundered, partied, skipped classes, wasted money, and ultimately faded away. Some overdosed, some attempted suicide, others flunked out. Was it was their idea to apply to the school or someone else’s? The pressure from parents, teachers, counselors, peers can be enormous.
I don’t want to be the mom who pins the school pennant over the crib. That was my life, my experience, my history. It’s not necessarily my child’s. I will not be that source of concentrated pressure. I can guide, give my opinion, but ultimately it’s my kid who will sign the college application and send it off. Not me.
Is it wise to at least have a few business classes aced? Yes, if the dream is to start a company. These classes and many others are easily found at local community colleges, often with flexible hours. It’s not critically important that business accounting be learned on a 200 year old ivy covered campus. Numbers are numbers.
Bonus: The child who wants to start his or her own business will have more money to invest in the business if there aren’t massive loans to pay off after graduation.
More than anything, I want my children to have a sense of place and purpose after they leave home. I want them to crave a life that is productive and that will support independent living. The best way to do that is to approach the future with an open mind. There isn’t only one path to success.
Someday, my son might find himself driving to work in Anaheim, California.
When he clocks in, he’ll be smiling, and not just because Goofy is standing next to him.