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Parents: Don’t feel guilty about a child that doesn’t get a college degree

I will forever remember when I told my parents that I was dropping out of college to be a musician. It was one of the most miserable dinners I ever had at home. They were so disappointed. They shouldn’t have been, and you shouldn’t be if your child takes a college detour or drops out entirely.  

Many people put a great emphasis on their children getting a college degree. The pressure may start as early as middle school. The push for good grades, the push for involvement in extracurricular activities, the push for community involvement, and the push for savings to pay as much as possible upfront. I’m not a social scientist, but that can’t be good for a child who is just getting started in their understanding of their place in God’s great big world.

My wife and I understand the pressure and the feelings of disappointment. Like many, we put pressure on our children and were saddened when only one out of the four went straight through to an undergraduate degree. Of course, it was hard for us to say much as we both dropped out of our 4-year colleges and did other things before we finally earned our degrees.

Don’t despair if your child says no to college or drops out after completing some work. It’s not the end of the world or the end of their worthwhile life. God has many different plans for many different people. His plans for your child may not involve a college degree or may involve a degree later on.

I have a good friend who went through to graduate school and spent time in overseas mission work. He came back and now sets tile for income. His son is college material but is setting tile with his father. The son is doing very well and enjoying what he’s doing. Who am I to say he’s a failure without a college degree?

On the flip side, I spent 10 years singing around the world in our Christian band and then went on to finish my degree. 17 years after my bachelor’s degree, I received my MBA, and 16 years after that, I finished my doctorate. Not long before he died, my dad told me that he guessed that the Christian band thing worked out pretty well for me. It turned out to be a detour that included some unbelievable experiences. It taught me a lot about life, especially my Christian life.

Thanks for reading, and please pass this on to anyone you know who could benefit from reading it.

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