This post is by staff writer Bobbi Burger Brunoehler.
According to The College Board, the average cost of a college education is rising 6% a year. That means two years of community college and two years of private college, which currently costs $72,100, will cost $205,700 in 18 years (2029). Four years of private college is significantly more – $124,700 enrolling this year and $355,900 in 2029!
This figure does not include room, board or materials. Yikes!
With higher education becoming more and more expensive, it is more important than ever that your child find their passion prior to going to college instead of “figuring it out” while accumulating massive debt. Or perhaps your child’s passion is one that does not require a college degree.
Helping your child find their passion is a balancing of their native talents, their personality, and their purposes.
We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of the 2-year-old concert pianist and the 4-year-old drum player, but how about the 37-year-old mobile phone salesman who has an amazing operatic voice. (Paul Potts). Or the class clown that made a deal with his teacher to “behave” if she gave him 15 minutes of performance time at the end of the day. (Jim Carrey). By not interfering with the natural inclinations of your child, you can allow them to explore the areas that they are natural good at and interested in. Why not? There is hardly anything that makes one feel more self-confident than competence.
Is your child outgoing or are they overly shy? It would be painful for the shy child to be a door to door salesman or internet video host, but the outgoing child might flourish in such an environment. How about the impatient child? They wouldn’t do well in a job that required a lot of patience – like working with the elderly. A detail oriented person might enjoy working in a costume shop where they painstakingly sew on thousands of individual gems so that Glinda the Good Witch’s costume sparkles under the stage lights. On the other hand, someone with tons of energy that loves moving all the time would consider this job a cruel form of torture. You get the idea.
People have different purposes. Some people want to have tons of money and buy expensive things. Some people find their pleasure in helping people. Others just want to spend time in the great outdoors. Still others will want to invent something new that will change the world. Purposes are formed very early in life. Ask any mom about what their child wanted to do at the age of 5 and you will find out that (unless that purpose was squashed) those desires still hold true in their 30 year old “child.”
Putting it all together
Now comes the tricky part. How to align these three things? Well, it’s a trial and error situation. As a parent (or as an adult trying to return to their passion), it is a matter of being observant and allowing educational discovery to take place. Allowing books to be perused in bookstores, libraries, and yard sales. Taking advantage of the tons of free online education and being an advocate for your child so they can explore what interests them before the bills stack up. If your child isn’t doing well in an institutional school setting, then consider homeschooling.
The fast growing concept of Zero Tuition College and self-taught education are a wonderful and frugal way to pursue learning and possible careers at any age on a very limited budget. Open Culture has a free online course from Stanford University following the various issues of the 2012 election as well as free movies, a list of intelligent YouTube channels and free language lessons.
If you work with your child to discover their passion early on, you stand to save hundreds of thousands of dollars! How do you plan to pay for college?
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