A few more thought’s on the Why College? post.

Everyone who posted had some very interesting and valid points and I’d just like to expound on two of them right now.  The SAHM paradox and the Bachelors is Equal to a High School Degree paradox.   For the sake of ease and for the sake of my brain seeing as it’s after 12 a.m. I’m just going to list a few points I find interesting, contradictory, etc. and see where this conversation takes us.  For tonight, because it could prove to be an interesting debate on the subject I’ll start with just one.

The SAHM Paradox

There are many women, and quite a few men, who know before they graduate high school that a family will be their main priority and that a Stay at Home lifestyle calls to them.  Congrats!  You’ve picked one of the most difficult and rewarding careers out there (right up with teaching I’d say).  The luck few are then often in two categories – the college grad and the non-college grad.

  • Some pros and cons about the non-college grad SAHM/P – (not an all-encompassing list, and nothing here is universally true)
  • No student loans!
  • Able to start their families earlier
  • Possible limited earning potential if an emergency happened and they found it necessary to return to the workforce.
  • A world that increasingly looks down on those without a college education as unintelligent
  • Possible limited access to different cultures, viewpoints, etc.
  • Able to purse other forms service, education or experience while waiting for their families to start
  • Some pros and cons about the college educated SAHM/P –
  • Well educated in the eyes of their society
  • Often seen as “wasting” said education
  • College education could give them career opportunities after children are grown if desired
  • Have access to certain types of experiences that normally occur during the college years
  • Student Loans to pay back without the benefit an income to finance it.
  • If SAHM/P received a free education – was it the best use of the scholarship?

I knew a girl once who only wanted to be a SAHM, but was on a full ride scholarship to a college as she waited for her boyfriend to propose and get married.  She hated school, but it was something to do (her words) and since the education was free she felt justified as she wasn’t using her parents money or her husbands in the future.  My only argument was that there were plenty of other kids at that school who could have benefited from a full ride with the intention on fully using that education for it’s (arguably) intended purpose.

I happen to know women (I’ll focus on them for now since they are the majority in this subject), who are on both sides of the spectrum.  Women who want to be SAHM who have no or little formal education past High School to those who have Master’s Degrees and I know there is no validation to say one is actually smarter than the other.  A person can learn with out a formal education by reading voraciously, attending seminars or continuing ed. classes or even just wisely choosing their television programs and applaud those who had the courage to stand up to society and say “I don’t need this” and because of the price tag associated with a Bachelors degree or even an A.A. it can show great responsibility for a young woman or man to realize what good, if any, a degree would do for them.

I have to admit I am torn, but can think of a lovely example from an unexpected source, a Mormon friend of mine.  I asked her once why so many Mormon girls went to college and that many of us outside of Utah assumed it was just for husband hunting.  While we both conceded that the later was probably true to an extent (the same it can be for Southern Baptists, Catholics, any religious group centered around marriage and the family or anyone brought up in a culture were the marriage, husband, children route was the most sought after and acceptable).  However, Mormon girls were encouraged to seek higher education and become devoted mothers, in fact that in her “culture” it was very common for woman to receive their degrees, focus on their families for a certain number of years and then to return to the workforce of some kind to use their educations once their familial duties had been seen to.  In fact, she added, women as central figures to the family’s home life, were encouraged to be educated so as to be able to help and be good role models for their children, though if a woman wished to go right into family duties after high school she was rarely censured.

While I don’t support or dispute the religious ideas behind her ideas, this conversation was always one that stood out to me.  I can respect a certain idea within it all.  Encourage education, with the idea that it could or should be used one day, or that the higher educational experience helps round out the individual.  But don’t chastise those who don’t wish to apply that education directly or immediately.  I suppose one of the true questions is “Can an education, if desired and attained, be truly wasted?”

In my heart of hearts, I’d say “No! Of course not!”, but the practical side of me starts counting the pennies that could go into something that will not bring in an income or (if one is lucky to have full-ride scholarship like the girl I knew) if that money would be better spent on another.  It’s a tricky question to answer.

I would love to hear more pros/cons, personal experiences or anecdotes.