Did you happen to see this article in the Times Union recently? I’m sure lots of folks feel gratified by their decision to reside in one of the successful suburban districts which are considered to be the best in the region. Me? I’m left with more questions than answers by the conclusions drawn and I want more information.
- How many of the students attending those schools immediately after graduating high school, complete their programs in either two or four years?
- How many of the students attending 4 year schools graduate from that same institution in 4 years?
- What is the median household income in each of those school districts?
- How about the average educational attainment in those same households?
I may be in the minority here, but I’m not overly concerned with whether my children go to college immediately after high school. And I’m not talking about the trendy “gap” year either. If higher education is the logical step on a path leading to a long-term career, what I’m curious to know is this: how many 18 year-olds truly know what they want to do professionally for the rest of their lives?
On a recent evening, the teenaged Lilly boys and I had an interesting conversation about college – getting in, being successful, and paying for it. In my mind, college isn’t a prolonging of the carefree days of high school with the added benefit of being away from home and playing beer pong. It’s a serious and expensive investment. Why take that on when you’re 18 unless you are either
a. incredibly motivated or
b. able to take advantage of an opportunity to attend a school with a substantial scholarship?
My route to college, and ultimately a Master’s Degree, was not direct. After leaving high school in my senior year, I worked full-time and supported myself. At the age of 21, I tentatively dipped my toes into higher education by taking a couple of night classes at the local high school in the village where I lived. The following year, I moved to Albany and began studying full-time.
Do I regret not taking a more traditional path to college? Not at all. If I were to do it all over again, the only thing I would change would be to have taken even more time to have traveled. I wish I had taken my hospitality skills on the road and spent some time waitressing in resort areas where I could have made bank while experiencing new sights. For me, the important thing about having a college degree isn’t about when you start earning it, it’s more about when you finish it. What do you think?