Saturday, November 6, 2010

College...for everyone?

I wanted to clarify something in my last post. I am a huge proponent of higher education. I do not believe that every single person needs a bachelor's degree. I have a B.A. in philosophy, writing and drama. My husband has an associate's degree in criminal justice and is a class or two away from a second associate's in fire science and is one class from an associate's in paramedicine. He also has carpentry and construction skills, and does not need a bachelor's degree. He hated school, hated classrooms, and about gave his dad a heart attack when he announced that he was going to college. It wouldn't surprise me if my son has no interest in classrooms and college, and if so, I don't think he needs to attend.
Some people need to go to college. Some people don't. What everyone does need, whether male or female, is a way to financially support themselves. For some people that's a bachelor's degree, for others it's a paramedic certification.
What I completely and totally disagree with is this notion that I keep running into in homeschooling circles is this concept that higher education is somehow worthless. I don't disagree that a home based business is valuable, but I also know that a lot of times, being your own boss can take more time and money than working for someone else. I saw a great deal more of my father when he had a job for someone else's company than when he had his own engineering firm. I also believe he probably made more money, especially once taxes were factored in. I think this is probably true of many businesses--it's the owners that work the longest hours. This isn't what we're aiming for.

I also disagree, totally, emphatically, forever, with the concept that women only need certain domestic arts and have no need for college. I love being home with my son. I have no interest in pursuing a career this time. I am forever thankful that I have a bachelor's degree and that I did not marry until I was 27 and did not have my first child until I was 28. It's not for everyone, but it was great for me, and I am sorrowful when I learn of other women who never had the opportunity to postpone marriage and children to pursue education, travel, and other interests. I firmly believe that my son will benefit from semi-older parents with a lot of life experience. Again, this is not for every woman. But saying that staying home until marriage, learning only what is needed to run a home and do the basic homeschooling, and not working after marriage is so so dangerous. Why? Because it pigeonholes women. It is just as dangerous as saying that every person should pursue higher education. Not every person should. Not every woman should be a stay at home mom. Making a blanket statement based on generalities is never right, and no one lifestyle will ever be right for every family.

So what do I believe? That education is important. That college is often a wise decision. That some people should pursue trades and careers that don't require higher education. That my son is the greatest thing in the world, and I am thankful I am financially able to work only one or two days a week, or none if I choose. I believe that putting my son in day care is not a wise choice for my family.
I believe that every family and situation and person is different. Should my son want to go to college, I will support that wholeheartedly. Should my son want to finish formal schooling at 16 and become a carpenter, I will support that wholeheartedly, too. Should I have a daughter, I will support her efforts to be self-sufficient and able to support herself, without relying on a husband, whether that involves college or not.
No one thing is right for everyone. And I truly believe it is very dangerous to say that it is.