I have two sons. One of them has basically known what he wanted to do since he was 12 years old, has never wavered since that time, and is currently in college pursuing a degree in that field of studies. My other son has multiple interests, isn’t sure what he wants to pursue or even whether he wants to attend college. Am I concerned? Actually, not at all.
I’ve become aware, especially over the past several years, how many young adults are carving out livings for themselves completely without college. Among the side effects of the economic recession colliding with the information explosion are students who are realizing that the information that has been spoon-fed for generations by tenured professors at exorbitantly expensive universities is now available for free and in multiple formats on the web.
That means that if my eclectic son decides not to get an official degree, it doesn’t mean he won’t be every bit as educated as someone who chooses a traditional education path. His path will simply be a little more crooked.
This trend toward Do-It-Yourself education, as mentioned in the New York Times article “Saying No To College” , has some rather illustrious forefathers and mothers including Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Ellen Degeneres, Coco Channel, Steve Jobs, and Rachael Ray. These type of do-it-yourselfers are spawning a new type of idol. As the article states, “Nowadays, popular culture is portraying dropouts as self-made zillionaires whose decision to spurn the ‘safe’ route (academic conformity) is akin to lighting out for the territories to strike gold.”
With the popularization of unschooling, homeschoolers seem to already have an edge on thinking outside the educational box. The emphasis within unschooling is letting the child take the lead in deciding what he or she wants to learn. For students who have spent the majority of their school-age years customizing an educational path for themselves, “unschooling college” probably feels to them like simply the next step toward following a self-directed path in life.
Aside from careers that require an outside-accredited pool of knowledge, such as law or medicine, there are very few things that a self-motivated individual cannot become an expert in with or without a college diploma. Between books, online courses, internships, networking, and good old research, pretty much anything one wants to learn can be learned outside the hallowed halls of a major educational institution.
For more information on college alternatives and D.I.Y.education, check out the following links:
The options for students who choose to look beyond just the traditional four-year college path seem to increase every day. So, instead of worrying about whether or not both my children attend college, I prefer to simply be grateful that there are multiple opportunities for anyone who is willing to work hard and lead their own path toward success.