You know my stance on saving for kid's education. Those who have read my blog or know me, understand that we are unschooling our kid. Most already know that I retired early. I guess early retirement and unschooled kid is probably not a common combination? Or may be it is just my feeling. Because, in this combination, one rarely plans to setup a corpus for kid's higher education. And yet many people ask why I haven't set aside a corpus for the kid.
Either way, many have raised the questions about what I intend to do financially if the kid wants to pursue higher education. There is of course the other question of how an unschooled kid can enroll into a college or university without formal education or certificates. I will cover that part in another post. In this, I want to share with you my raw thoughts about financial support for kid's higher education. Of course, these are just my thoughts and there is nothing right or wrong about it. Your thoughts may be different. We need diversity, otherwise it will be a dull colorless world.
Do kids really need higher education?
This is always my first question -- do kids really need university education in this day and age? Why would kids want to go to university? Is it to make friends, signal status, learn something in an expensive place that could very well be done at a lower cost? Are they seeking expertise of professors? The need for lab or other expensive equipment to further their knowledge or research? I am not sure I understand. If I was a college level student, I can see no good reason to attend college or university. That is the first part. The second part is -- what if the kid wants to go to university for whatever reason that I cannot understand. I will come to that soon. Let me understand my first question.
If all they want to do is learn, then everything is on the internet (audio, video and text format). For those rare times when they need a lab to do an experiment, they can email a few professors or companies and one of them will agree to use the lab. I know it sounds absurd. But that is how I think. If there is a will, there is a way. If you still don't believe me then watch the following TED video.
Free education is abundant, all over the internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarceNaval Ravikant
Should they go through the struggle?
Now, coming to the second part. One might ask, why make the kid go through hoops when I can very much save for their education and send them to a good university. To that, I say, the fruit of hard work is way sweeter than the fruit handed over to you. Whether one agrees to it or not is a different story. Naval Ravikant said it nicely that people don't remember all the things that came easy. They only remember the struggles and hardships. And that's the way it should be.
Your real resumé is a painful recounting of all of your struggles.Naval Ravikant
We are still thinking that the future educational system will be like our traditional one. It will be very different. Classrooms, blackboards, libraries, labs etc are not necessary to learn. Everything is on the internet today and in future, will be available in more accessible and innovative forms. They just need to search hard enough. And search they will, if they are really curious and excited about a topic instead of some one nudging or worse yet forcing them towards a direction.
It is not like in our day. I used to take two buses to reach a public library. There are tons of books for a very cheap library card. You can take 3 books at a time. While the books were old the tech wasn't all outdated. I enjoyed the time even if there was a lot of effort involved. I remember it because it was hard earned. Now a days, kids get everything with a click of button. Do we need to make it any simpler for them? Will they remember any of it as an achievement?
Should we help?
With all the help kids get these days, they are unable to cope with difficult situations. If parents handout every little thing in life they will never learn hard work and achieve something themselves. Many people think education is already tough on them and then there is the stress of peers etc. Those are all artificial ideas, and are created by us. Education is not tough at all if the kid likes it. It is us who put pressure on them and make it stressful. We have too many expectations from them. Likewise there is no real peer pressure. We compare kids so the kids then start to compare themselves with others and stress out.
If learning is fun, why should you make it even easier by giving money and sending to prestigious and hence expensive colleges and universities. Let them figure out. If they are unable to figure out at the age of 18 you have more things to worry than education and fees. They have not learned to live even at an adult age. At that moment, I know I failed as a parent. Even squirrels and birds do better.
They know when their education is over, I’m pushing them out of the nest. You want to prepare your children for launching their own lives. I tell wealthy parents that if they don’t kick their kids out of the house and put them under the stresses of the real world, they will fail to launch.Kevin O’Leary
If you are saying kids are unable to find ways to learn without going to university, it means the kid is not interested in the field. Of course I am not saying not to give them anything. Give them sufficient amount but not too much and tell them to figure out how to best use it. If you have taught them well as a parent, they should be able to do the right thing for themselves. Again what is right for you may not be right for them. So don't give directions on which way to go. Let them figure out. This may all sound a bit radical, but that is how I think. It may or may not be the right way. Any sane and reasonable person should avoid following my steps :).
The perfect amount to leave to your kids is enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.Warren Buffett