College student or globetrotter?

Traveling the world sounds like more fun. But our elder wonders who’s footing the bill?

Dear EWC:

My mom wants me to go to college right away after high school but that’s not what I want. I want to travel, I want to see different things, I want to learn about life and have fun before going to college.
I don’t want to go to college but I don’t want to upset my mom. Should I just see it as if she’s disappointed in me, that’s her loss and just go with what I want and not care about what people think?

Gran-Jan replies:

Traveling and learning about life and having fun are all great; most of us would like to do those things. But who is going to foot the bill? Do you have enough money saved up to support yourself? If you do, and you’re 18 years old, then you are an adult and can make your own decisions. But if you don’t, then we’re back to “who pays the bills, calls the shots.”

On the other hand, going to college simply because your parents want you to is probably a waste of time and money. If you aren’t ready to invest yourself in the college experience, to set some goals and work towards them, then you’ll probably not learn much and will spend your time being resentful about having to be there.

If you’re truly serious about not going to college right now, my advice would be to get yourself a job, start saving money, and get yourself into a situation where you can be an independent adult. Where you can live on your own, pay your own bills, go where you want to go and do what you want to do.

Ultimately, though, you’d be very foolish not to get a college education. As you will quickly learn, the kinds of jobs available for people who don’t have a college degree are generally low paying, uninteresting, and have little chance for advancement. Check the statistics: overall, the lifestyle of uneducated people is simply poorer and less comfortable than that of folks who have education and/or training in some field. Maybe college isn’t for you — but learning a trade, whether it’s that of a beautician or a plumber, can be your ticket to a satisfying life.

If you were my daughter, I’d advise you to put off the travel plans until the pandemic is well and truly behind us. You can fill in the time with college, or with some sort of trade school, or with working and saving your $$. By cooling your jets now, you’ll give yourself a chance to have it all later on — and you won’t have to be fighting with your mother, either!
I’m glad you wrote to us, and I hope some of what I’ve said makes sense for you. Do write back if and when you feel like it; I’d enjoy hearing from you again. Stay safe, be well, and good luck!


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