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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Priorities

"In light of eternity, what are my priorities?"
This is the question I will be asking myself many times over the next few days as I study God's Word and try again to work on my character. At least I am learning to ask God to change me instead of trying to do it myself!

Priorities are a necessity for every mother. There are many things to do and not many hours in a day to do them. Many mothers are type-A personalities, myself included. These mommies especially need to let go of some periphery tasks, especially those done with the motive of looking good to others. I am realizing that I need to do less and simply spend more time nurturing my children and my husband. That is my job, after all. I have been thinking about others' reflections on childhood. None of my friends remember how clean their homes were or how often their mothers exercised. They remember if their mother was nurturing and kind or if she was angry and bitter. Yikes!

The book I am studying Scripture with encouraged me to think about this question while meditating on Psalm 63 (the person of God), Psalm 77 (the works of God), and the Psalm 1 (the words of God).

* * *

A priority for me is being progressively more attuned to the strengths and interests of my children so I can begin to help them learn practical skills for life. As I ponder homeschooling Jackson and Rebecca and any successive children, I want to cultivate in them a love of learning. That is the primary draw of homeschooling for this mommy. At home, we can spend time creating depth of knowledge in key areas, not simply covering a wide area of useless topics.

I had a good friend bring up in conversation the notion that colleges and universities are losing their appeal because of the astronomical costs of education. It is simply not cost-effective to get an education at a university in this economy, which is rapidly approaching socialism. Instead of making higher education cheaper for those who are driven, our government spends our money on free condoms and abortions at planned parenthood, free school lunches for kids on high welfare checks, and cheap morning-after pills from your neighborhood pharmacy. Unless one is independently wealthy, going to a 4-year university for a mediocre job does not make sense.

At least this is my take on the subject. I went to university through the generosity of my parents for the first year. I then worked two jobs and my husband worked his tail off at one full-time job to pay for the remaining years at a cheaper university, by God's grace.

So I brought up this idea at another couple's home while we were over for dinner. They are considerably older and wiser, and she is in education. The talk over swapping dreams of college for dreams of trade school or an apprenticeship did not go over well. But this woman has put over 30 years of her life into prepping young minds for college, so we changed subjects. : )

Then, we received Beau's February 2nd issue of Forbes and I read an interesting article entitled "The Great College Con: High Cost, Low Value".

The author, Kathy Kristof, discusses the illusion that many high school graduates and their parents believe: that is is wise to obtain school loans. Most people cannot afford $20-40,000 each year for school. So most will apply and receive government loans. Those loans must be paid back, with interest. So Mr. In-Debt College Student meets and marries Ms. In-Debt College Student and suddenly two young people have $120,000 in school debt to pay off, together. How romantic. That makes for a stable, low-stress marriage.

Kristof says that "the average law grad owes $100,000 in student debt..."the average borrower went $19,000 into debt for a diploma in 2004".

Here is more:
"The risks are hefty. Half of student entering college never earn a degree. Six in ten African-Americans depart without one. 'Hundreds of thousands of young people leave our higher education system unsuccessfully, burdened with large student loans that must be repaid, but without the benefit of the wage a college degree provides', warned a 2004 Education Trust study."

It is not cost-effective to pursue a law degree or an M.D. degree unless you can pay for it yourself, it seems. The article is quite long and involves many case studies, and my children just got up for the morning! But I will be educating them with goals of trade school or apprenticeship, so they can spend their time doing something that interests them and does not set them up for financial failure later in life.

3 comments:

Brandy said...

I agree with you about college (you probably already knew that). Or at least I do in theory. The one hangup in viewing it all this way is that universities have tried to set themselves up as gatekeepers for industry. So there are things that you aren't allowed to do without a degree. If a child shows interest in doing one of those things that require degrees, college might be required. And if college is required, then part of me hopes it is a good one that is free.

He he. ;)

What has happened to colleges is truly unfortunate. There was a time when they were set apart for the top 20% of students and offered a challenge to truly intellectual students. With "college for all" being pushed by everyone from the President to the man-on-the-street, that top 20% now has to reach further and higher for a challenge--into graduate degrees and postgraduate degrees. And as a mother who wants grandchildren, I hear a biological clock ticking with a decade-long plan for university.

Alas, I wander with my thoughts.

Anyhow...I did know a family once who inspired me in a best-of-both-worlds sort of way. Their son wanted to be an MD. There was no way they could afford to finance his education, but they also didn't want to see him graduate, strapped with half a million in debt. So they paid for training him at the vocational level as an EMT. He made about twice what it cost to go to college. He then went to school and lived on campus, used half his income to pay cash for school and saved the other half to use for medical school. I don't know what happened to him, if he ever made it, but I do know he was the most mature college student I'd ever met.

Jennifer said...

Wow, that is an inspiring story! It is encouraging to hear of people who think "long-term".

I feel another problem with pushing college on everyone is that many young people have no idea what they want to do for the rest of their lives, myself included. I chose Psychology because that, I felt, was my only real option. It was not until I was about 20 that I realized my passion lay in Nutrition, and that entire careers could be made out of such an interest. Now as a mommy I am free to learn as much as I want about either, which is nice. Thanks for posting.

Agreed about the possible necessity of a university degree. We are certainly not entirely opposed to the idea- I just don't want anyone of us in this family to go into major debt over something they don't love or need. But a doctor? OK! PS- you can read more about the schooling of MD's in the rest of this article. EMT seems to be the way to go!

Brandy said...

Jen,

I totally here you on the issue of choosing a major! My major was a default option. I had been a music major and had health problems that caused me to have to drop it. I had no direction, and if I had waited until age 20 to declare, I would have been a philosophy major. Perhaps there is something to this junior college notion!

Si and I were just talking the other evening about how valuable it is for children to get guidance from their parents even after they are at school. The parents can help the child determine things like majors and classes, which is priceless for personal development as well as the wallet. In college, rabbit trails come with a large dollar sign attached!

Thankfully, E. wants to be a farmer and a writer who owns lots of guns. Maybe I'll just try to beg an internship for him with one of these agrarian/philosopher types. :)

Motherhood is interesting, isn't it? We are the last of the leisure class. What I mean is, lives that are structured so as to promote learning.

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