career, college, credit card debt, life skills, money, motivation, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

Real World Experience Results in Focused College Education

Today, this proud mom has great news to share.  I have written previously about what happened when my oldest daughter ended her college career at 19.  The short version is that she ended up moving out on her own shortly after.  (for the longer story, click here). Well now, nearly a decade after her initial college career ended, my beautiful, feisty, and fiercely determined first-born graduated with her Master of Social Work degree!  A couple years ago, she was the only one in her immediate family without a bachelor’s degree and today she is the only one with a graduate degree.

I share our story because I hope that our experiences can be helpful to other parents who don’t know what to do when things do not go as planned. I learned a long time ago that I cannot make my kids follow the dreams that I have for them.  All I can do is plant the seeds, water them and then accept what is.

How did this happen? Well, she spent a few years out in the real world figuring out how life works.  She stayed gone long enough to earn a degree at the University of Hard Knocks, but she found out that her degree didn’t really help with a career.  When she decided to return home a few years later, she started to work her way through community college.  After the momentum started, she had an epiphany about what she wanted to do with her life.  By this time, she was 25 and had a much better idea of who she was and what she wanted.

To say that I am proud of her milestone would be an understatement, but I’m equally proud of the way she did it.   She maximized her block tuition by taking the full load which helped her to get done more quickly while saving money. She almost had to wait an extra year to graduate due to the timing of one mandatory class.   I was pleased to see her out-of-the-box thinking after she took the initiative to approach the professor and ended up with an alternative solution which allowed her to graduate on time!

If I had tried to force, manipulate or guilt her into getting a degree when she was younger, she may have done it.  But would she have chosen (and paid for) a degree that would never be used?  Might she have incurred college debt that would take decades to pay back even though the degree was not needed for the career path chosen?

If you find your family in a similar situation, don’t be discouraged.  Just because college doesn’t happen right after high school doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all.  It may be that they will end up in a career that does not require college.  If not, I say from experience, that college has no age limits.  It’ll still be there when they are ready.   And with any luck, they will be working at a company with generous tuition benefits!

For more stories about raising independent and financially savvy young adults, click here .