A recent study shows that I am not alone. Over 70% of people surveyed believe that children should help pay for at least some of college. I absolutely agree.
My parents paid for the bulk of my college education, but I still had student loans and student jobs on campus, working in the kitchen and the library. That experience of working in college taught me that college wasn’t free, not just in terms of parents groaning about its high costs (mine never did that) but in real dollars and cents, it made what I was studying all the more valuable because I had a financial stake in it and it also made me realize that I didn’t have all the time in the world to get my school work done, that it had to be done on a pretty tight schedule. Because I had a job to report to. And it wasn’t a job to pay for pizza and partying, it was a job to pay for my tuition.
I want my children to feel invested in their education. I want them to know that it matters, and I can’t imagine a better way than to make sure that they contribute to it, that they literally work for it.
I believe that kids have to work for what they have. I’d written earlier that I would not bestow wealth on my children, that I’d want them to make their own way in the world, and I definitely see paying for their education as a step in that direction.
But there’s another reason that I want them to chip in. I’ve met many wildly successful people in my life, and by a large margin, most of them worked throughout college to pay for their education. And although at the time I’m sure some of them wished they had more time to devote to their studies instead of reporting the dining hall for potato peeling duty, in my opinion it shaped them in just the right way. I can’t believe that it’s a coincidence. I can’t believe that there is merit to working, no matter how menial, over joining a fraternity.
I am certain that there are exceptions. There must be people whose college careers were compromised by the crippling burden of finances. And there are those whose parents paid for everything who appreciated their good fortune and thrived in college, not taking it for granted. And I fully recognize that all parents must do what they feel is right for their children, taking all the factors into account.
What about you? Do you expect to pay for your children’s education entirely? Or will you expect them to chip in?