on my children's college fund...

>> Thursday, April 30, 2009

I started my junior year of academy at the age of 15. Since my family had only just returned from the mission field and wasn't exactly flush with cash for luxuries like boarding school, I got the education of helping to find my own sponsors.

Oh yes, and the education of working 25-30 hours each week on campus while taking the normal academic load 6 classes. It taught me to juggle my time skillfully, to synthesize the most important aspects in each class assignment, and to move quickly from one project to the next without sacrificing performance.

In college, both Marius and I had to find ways to pay for our own education. No college trust fund was forthcoming. No indulgences on daddy's credit card while squeaking by on the lowest academic output allowed.

Actually, we despised those kids. It was hard not to, when we were working 3 jobs and carrying 16 credits every semester, and they would hardly make it to class on time!

In addition, neither of us wanted to take loans if possible. So we were driven by sheer circumstances to learn how to manage our cash flow, allocate time resources, and maintain high enough grades to keep earning the scholarships we'd applied for - while still getting enough sleep and social interaction to qualify as "human".

Somewhere in there, we got what society calls an "education". By that, society means that we graduated with academic honors and were given a piece of paper awarding us a 4-year degree in something, while camera flashes whited out our goofy grins at the relief of it all.

But if you ask me, that piece of paper represents the smallest portion of the schooling we received. For us? The sweat we invested in making it happen - that was the real education. The truest and most valuable lessons were gained in the agony of finding a way to survive and reach the finish line.

This is why I don't believe in short-term educational institutions (unless they are attended in addition to a four-year university programme). Just about anybody can hack it for 6 weeks, or 3 months, or even 6 or 9 months. True grit, responsibility, and maturity is built over a few years.

This is also why we don't ever plan to pay for our kids' college. And no, that doesn't mean that we think college is optional. They're going. They just have to find a way to pay for it themselves. If Marius is still a pastor in 18 years, then they'll be getting a nice tuition subsidy from the church, and that'll be our contribution. But we want our kids to learn the values of work, money-management and perseverance.

The struggle IS the education.

4 comments:

Anonymous,  April 30, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

Great post Sarah. Couldn't agree more! Raini

rodlie Ortiz May 1, 2009 at 6:38 PM  

Hey Sarah. Though we all were blessed with the opportunity to attend 4 year colleges and beyond, not all have that opportunity in life. Some people, whether out of financial lack, or a life circumstance cannot go to four year colleges, and have to do 6-9 month certifications. I have a church member that just finished a medical billing program that took close to a year, and put up with a lot of hard work and drama to finish it in the midst of having a family. So I'm not quite so sure that she'd agree with your inference that "grit, responsibility, and maturity" are only built through four year colleges.

Because I have a Masters I don't think it makes me more mature or better than her. I just had some opportunities and privileges that she never had.

Anyhoo...just my two cents! ;)

SKA May 5, 2009 at 5:24 AM  

Good point, Rodlie. I think I should maybe clarify here that I wasn't even remotely thinking of trade schools or shorter vocational certifications.

I was speaking of the evangelistic microwave schools where kids in their teens or barely older decide to skip college in favor of going somewhere quick and easy, and then expect people to support them by donations for their "sacrifice of bible work" or whatever. Then they expect to be treated like full-blown pastors when they are really just inexperienced kids who managed to sit still in a classroom for 6 or 12 weeks.

By no means did I intend to come off arrogant or elitist concerning those who have hard-earned and legitimate educations and who worked for them! I deeply admire anyone who is willing to work hard for their education.

Thanks for bringing up the other side, so I could balance the post out a bit!

Jennifer,  May 5, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

Hey there....just wanted to respond to this post...I really think that hard work can be taught in other ways than just making your child pay for his/her education. I was taught to work hard and the value of a dollar from very early on, much younger than college age. Even though my education was paid for by my parents I still knew that it came with sacrifice and respected them for that. I never ever thought that it was just "given" to me or that I didn't have to work hard from my education because it was paid for. I worked very hard and worked during college to contribute as much as I could. I am so grateful to my parents and will forever respect them for the sacrifices they made to provide me an education. When my children are older and if I'm financially able I plan to pay for them to receive a Christian education. I feel like that is my duty as a parent.

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