My son is not going to college

Toby dressed as the 'Repair Wizard' at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013

Toby dressed as the ‘Repair Wizard’ at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013

My high school senior is chomping at the bit ready to move on after 14 years of classroom education.  He’s going to high school part time and working part time at a computer store diagnosing and repairing computers.  His past resume includes volunteering at Free Geek where he learned to take apart and put together computers, then trained others to do so.   As a high school sophomore he took computer classes in C++ and other programming languages.  He’s currently studying on his own to get CompTA+ certified, and through a school class learning to write code and design his own website.  He’s been saving up his work money and when he turns 18 plans to purchase professional design software and begin his own software company on the side.

As a parent, I’m getting bombarded at all sides by society telling me my son MUST get a college degree or he’ll never get a living wage job. My son tells me “I know what I want – to work with computers and design computer software.  Why spend 4+ more years in a classroom and be thousands of dollars in debt before I do what I want?”

He’s got a point there.

He says a company should pay to train him in what else they might need because he’s a fast and motivated learner.  He also said that computer technology is growing /changing so fast that what he’d learn in a classroom would be practically obsolete by the time he got out of college, so taking courses now and building on those courses as he works makes more sense than spending his money/time on PE 101 and introduction to Lit classes.  He is studying and problem solving on his own to be on the cutting edge, and expects to be paid for his work (he feels he’s already done the internship route and proved himself).  He is calm about this.  He is focused.  I’m the one freaking out inside.  I’ve heard my whole life “Everyone needs a college education to get a good job”…yet many people in their 20’s  (as well as older adults) who have expensive university educations are looking for work that pays a living wage.

My child has his own vision.  I trust my son and support his wisdom.  And if in a few years he decides that a college education would be beneficial to him, he’ll have the money saved up, or the contacts made, to create a path where he doesn’t have debt.  That’s pretty amazing planning/thinking for a 17 year old.

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