By Beacon Staff

There comes a time in almost every family when the oldest child is getting ready to graduate from high school and college is looming on the horizon and Mom and Dad had better been saving money for a long time. Is college worth it? I don’t know but my goal was to get my three kids through college while I was on the road making and showing ski movies.

My high school graduation was 60 days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and 10 months before I reached the draft age of 18. It was very different in those days. Most people went to college if they needed a license to practice their chosen profession. Now it is thought young people must go to college to get their proper start, though it’s too bad that the draft doesn’t still exist, as after a couple years of strong discipline, college would have so much more value to them and they wouldn’t waste their parents’ money as so many of them do. I guess many people go to college so they can wear a white shirt and a necktie to work instead of a work shirt.

There are thousands of professions out there today that don’t require college. When kids get into high school many parents start pushing them to make a choice about what they would like to do. I personally think it is wrong to have kids make those decisions so early. They will get out of college owing a lot of money and would those four years be better spent doing something they really wanted to do? Do you want your kids to achieve big bank balance first and live a good life second, or should it be the other way around?

In some ways I was lucky because I did not have a choice. The Navy played a big part in my growing up. And my mother, wanting me to be socially acceptable, said, “you are going to go to college whether you like it or not.” My high school grades where barely good enough to allow me to graduate. I did not have the slightest idea what I would do if and when college was over.

After I registered for the draft at 18 and enlisted in the Navy and then got called to active duty, school was a lot more important to me. I had to do well so I did not get kicked out of the officers training program. Was it a good deal for me to go to college? In my case it was almost $200 a semester and that was for as many as 16 units. (General wages in 1943 were about 25 cents an hour.) But I would never have survived as long as I did if I hadn’t had the discipline and real-life experiences of the Navy.

My recommendation in today’s world is still the same. If you are going into a job that requires a state license then you have to have the degree, but learn enough about life to know for sure that is what you’ll be good at and it will fulfill you. If you have not yet decided what you want to do for a living when you grow up, spend the same four years traveling and learning to be an adult.

The world is definitely a different place than when your parents went off to college. It is your life and as long as you can support your life in an honest manner it is time to start making life-changing decisions such as college and which one you will go to when you are ready. Up to you. Are you choosing it because of the potential income, the girls, the boys, the parties, or the proximity to the beach or where you would rather be living?

My three kids chose professions before they chose a college. Two of them are movie photographers, and the other is a very good sales and marketing guy. All professions they learned in college but all three would have benefitted greatly by having to face reality much earlier in life.

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