Should you send a Catholic kid to college?

Readability

Should you send a Catholic kid to college?

I joined my local stu­dent parish my fresh­man year of col­lege, and I spent most of the next four years vol­un­teer­ing as an usher. I wasn’t a par­tic­u­larly hard-​core Catholic, but my belief sys­tem had served me well enough that I didn’t see a rea­son to change it. Luck­ily for me, I fell in with a decent crowd and man­aged to make it to Mass every Sun­day, and while I had plenty of philo­soph­i­cal debates on a lib­eral cam­pus, it only served to make my faith stronger.

I now get asked if I’m sav­ing every last penny for my kids to go to col­lege, and when I reply “No,” peo­ple some­times act like I’m clin­i­cally insane. But truth be told, I don’t see how a $200K degree helps in most cases.

First, look at what CEOs have. A nice roundup can be found here. Yes, there is a Har­vard and Prince­ton degree, but there are plenty of cheaper degrees, mainly at tech­ni­cal schools in Michi­gan. So to get on top and run a com­pany, it’s pretty easy to see you don’t need an expen­sive education.

Sec­ond, try­ing to get into the absolute best school means you might strug­gle too much. As demon­strated here, you’re bet­ter off in a school where you’re in the top half of stu­dent entrance exam­i­na­tions than at one where you are the small fry in a school of large fish. I’ve expe­ri­enced this before. I applied for a sum­mer job at one of our physics labs, and while the pro­fes­sor was happy to have me, I real­ized quickly that the work was very much over my head. I declined the job and worked at an IT job for another firm, where the work was chal­leng­ing but not so over­whelm­ing. I def­i­nitely absorbed more infor­ma­tion from that job than I ever could hope from the other.

Last, and prob­a­bly a big piece, is that the mod­ern col­lege cam­pus is an abysmal teacher. Unless you’re at a Catholic col­lege, you won’t be chal­lenged to grow in your faith. Say what you will, but reli­gious faith builds a bet­ter soci­ety over­all, and most col­leges do a good job of tear­ing that down.

But col­leges teach job skills! Well, sort of. Hard skills are def­i­nitely there, but the soft skills of being able to pro­mote a team envi­ron­ment are not. You might get hired because of a degree, but you won’t stay hired if you kept the matu­rity of a 19 year old. Too often, this is exactly the case. Col­leges, far from prepar­ing young peo­ple to build a career, are instead becom­ing money pits that boomerang peo­ple back into their parent’s basements.

I saw this play out on my cam­pus. My peers would reg­u­larly skip class, not fin­ish home­work, and even not show up for midterm exams. Only when they neared the class drop date did their abysmal midterm grades kick them into high gear, but for many it was too late. I dis­tinctly remem­ber a sopho­more engi­neer­ing class where it started with stand­ing room only and fin­ished with seats in between every stu­dent. Time man­age­ment was a joke to most, although I man­aged to do well while bal­anc­ing a 30 hour a week job.

So while I’m sav­ing some money for my kids to go to col­lege (or trade school, or what­ever they want), I’m not break­ing the bank. I am focus­ing on their mid­dle school edu­ca­tion while also try­ing to build them into decent human beings that can shake hands, smile, and in gen­eral be pleas­ant to work with. Given the poor state of many work­ers today, I’m think­ing this is a far bet­ter path to pursue.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

Did you donate to Da Tech Guy? He’s gotta put bread on the table, ya know…

I joined my local student parish my freshman year of college, and I spent most of the next four years volunteering as an usher. I wasn’t a particularly hard-core Catholic, but my belief system had served me well enough that I didn’t see a reason to change it. Luckily for me, I fell in with a decent crowd and managed to make it to Mass every Sunday, and while I had plenty of philosophical debates on a liberal campus, it only served to make my faith stronger.

I now get asked if I’m saving every last penny for my kids to go to college, and when I reply “No,” people sometimes act like I’m clinically insane. But truth be told, I don’t see how a $200K degree helps in most cases.

First, look at what CEOs have. A nice roundup can be found here. Yes, there is a Harvard and Princeton degree, but there are plenty of cheaper degrees, mainly at technical schools in Michigan. So to get on top and run a company, it’s pretty easy to see you don’t need an expensive education.

Second, trying to get into the absolute best school means you might struggle too much. As demonstrated here, you’re better off in a school where you’re in the top half of student entrance examinations than at one where you are the small fry in a school of large fish. I’ve experienced this before. I applied for a summer job at one of our physics labs, and while the professor was happy to have me, I realized quickly that the work was very much over my head. I declined the job and worked at an IT job for another firm, where the work was challenging but not so overwhelming. I definitely absorbed more information from that job than I ever could hope from the other.

Last, and probably a big piece, is that the modern college campus is an abysmal teacher. Unless you’re at a Catholic college, you won’t be challenged to grow in your faith. Say what you will, but religious faith builds a better society overall, and most colleges do a good job of tearing that down.

But colleges teach job skills! Well, sort of. Hard skills are definitely there, but the soft skills of being able to promote a team environment are not. You might get hired because of a degree, but you won’t stay hired if you kept the maturity of a 19 year old. Too often, this is exactly the case. Colleges, far from preparing young people to build a career, are instead becoming money pits that boomerang people back into their parent’s basements.

I saw this play out on my campus. My peers would regularly skip class, not finish homework, and even not show up for midterm exams. Only when they neared the class drop date did their abysmal midterm grades kick them into high gear, but for many it was too late. I distinctly remember a sophomore engineering class where it started with standing room only and finished with seats in between every student. Time management was a joke to most, although I managed to do well while balancing a 30 hour a week job.

So while I’m saving some money for my kids to go to college (or trade school, or whatever they want), I’m not breaking the bank. I am focusing on their middle school education while also trying to build them into decent human beings that can shake hands, smile, and in general be pleasant to work with. Given the poor state of many workers today, I’m thinking this is a far better path to pursue.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Did you donate to Da Tech Guy? He’s gotta put bread on the table, ya know…