Hey Kid, It’s Okay If You Don’t Want to Go to College

There is a blueprint for success that many of us have been conditioned to believe is the only legitimate and surefire path to a glorious future and financial stability. Many of us have also been conditioned to pass that blueprint and those same beliefs and expectations on to our children. It’s college. The blueprint is… college.

The Blueprint

High school.





Financial independence.

Best life ever.

I foolishly gave zero consideration to any path towards independence other than college for my children. Let’s call this Mistake #22,347 I made moving through this parenting journey. It wasn’t the first mistake, nor will it be the last.

Statistics 101

Let’s get some stats out of the way.

The average cost of college per year in 2020 is around $27,000 per year. Over four years, we are looking at over a hundred grand in expense. About 20,000,000 students a year make college their choice. After matriculating, 43% of these college grads are underemployed in their first post graduation job. And often they are strapped with the burden of student loan debt. In fact, among those that borrow to fund their higher education experience, the average student graduates with over $35,000 of debt

This isn’t to say that I think college degrees are bad; I do not believe that at all. Indeed, I have a couple of them.  I value higher education and the experience that comes with it. But now I’ve learned that my own personal preferences may conflict with those of people that I love and sincerely want to win on their terms – even more than my own. And that my way is not the only way.

Considering the Objective Reasons

The recent past that produced mantras encouraging every child to go to college left a gap in fields requiring vocational education. So much so that many area school districts have renewed the focus on vocational programs and opened career and vocational centers to address the shortage. In some cases, students leave high school with the training and credentials required to begin working immediately after graduation.

As well, many of the jobs with the highest demand do not require a college degree.  Many of these fields offer careers with high-paying wages. The cost of vocational and technical programs is significantly less expensive than the cost of a college degree. And the time it takes to complete many of these programs is almost always significantly shorter than the time it takes to complete a college degree – allowing entry into the workforce sooner.

This kind of information is the kind we use when we are making decisions with our heads. But there are also other decisions that forced me to adjust my attitude… the ones I make with my heart.

Considering the Subjective Reasons

One. Some kids just aren’t ready to commit the effort required to complete a college degree. Desire. Maturity. Self-discipline. Motivation. Part of being a parent is knowing your child and being able to discern best courses of actions for each of your children. Every path will not be the same. And that is okay. Perhaps more consideration should be given to the individual child as opposed to preconceived ideas regarding the path to success.

Two. Some kids just aren’t ready to choose a career. It is after all, a decision that will likely have an incredible impact on their future. Shucks, I am almost 50 and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. The fact that we expect 18 year olds to know themselves and all the options for careers well enough to choose… might be a bit unreasonable for some kids. Perhaps it is wise to allow our children a little time to determine what suits them. Perhaps we allow them a lot of time.

Three. Some kids just don’t want to spend the money required to attain a degree. And then be stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Perhaps these kids are smarter than we think. 

Four. Some kids have passions that they want to pursue. And despite the pleadings of their parents, they are determined to be the next YouTube star. My favorite internet celebrity canine, Turner Budzyn, made over $600,000 doing chimken {chicken}, juice chonk {watermelon} and stinky bush {broccoli} taste tests on video last year while commanding his human sidekick, Linda, to give him – da meats. Perhaps their dreams aren’t as ridiculous as we might think.

Five. And some kids have parents who once upon a time believed that college was the only path to success. But after research… and soul searching, they realized that their long held opinions and societally imposed ideas were negatively impacting the kid and their relationship with the kid. Choosing a path other than college doesn’t have to decrease options for our kids, it just opens the door to different ones. So…


Dear Kid, 

I checked on some things. There are plenty of ways to get an education and establish the path for a successful and independent future. So… you don’t have to go to college after all.

Love you bunches,


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Joi was born and raised in San Antonio. After a brief pit stop at the University of Texas in Austin, Joi moved to Houston in 1994 and began checking boxes off her never ending to do list. During this time and in no particular order, Joi taught a little bit of everything between first and eighth grades, got married and then divorced, completed grad school, birthed a few babies – Ferris {November 1997}, Warren {December 1999} and Laylah {March 2006}, moved an old lady into her home – Granny {January 1925} started working in Human Resources, served an excessive amount of time (on boards, in booster clubs, team momming) as a crazy sports momma, and learned a lot of life lessons. Joi is known for her unabashed honesty, always present sense of humor and her #TeamTooMuch style of doing everything. On most days, you can find her caught up in her love/hate relationship with politics, feeding her Facebook addiction, or counting the number of days until her last child graduates from high school.


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