On the treadmill yesterday, I was watching a #AskGaryVee Show on YouTube. Gary was interview Adam Braun, the found of MissionU. MissionU is a startup company that created a college alternative. The basic overview is that students attend a 1 year job training program free of charge. They then promise to pay back 15% of their salary for three years when they make over $50k a year. Currently MissionU has 25 students, out of 3,000 applicants, focusing on data analysis. MissionU has partnered with many high powered silicon valley companies that use data analysts regularly to mine the data they collect. Although no student is guaranteed a job upon completion the strong relationship between MissionU and silicon valley students can almost assume placement.
I had thought about this previously. The college of tomorrow will not be the college of the past. I personally lived through this transition in higher education. My parents went to college because a college degree in the 70’s and 80’s pretty much guaranteed you an upper middle class or higher life. Parents of this generation thought nothing of letting their kids take on loans to pay for school because it would pay off in spades later in life. Come the end of the first decade of the millennium there were tons of college graduated holding nothing but a loan repayment form. The economy crashed in 2007-2008 and college graduates were scrambling for job. I graduated 2008 with an MBA and had to take a retail job paying $12.50 an hour.
With the cost of higher education increasing rapidly, mainly through college campus competing on amenities rather than education, I question how I can afford a $250K education for my first child, never mind if we have a second! But as I watch what’s going on in the environment we are seeing a shift. A shift to job training rather than a fully rounded liberal arts education. Let’s give student the skill they need to be successful and fill job vacancies expected. Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe and the guys from This Old House, have a campaign running currently to get high school students interested in the trades (plumbing, electrical, construction, HVAC, etc.) They are expecting a huge shortage of tradespeople in the next 10 years or so as the babyboomers retire. Parents have pushed their kids to college so much, there has been a largest feeder program to get people trained for the trades. In the past, the trade jobs were seen as dirty handed, grunt work. Today as technology is changing everything as HVAC systems act more like mainframe computers and electrician are designing solar system to power the house. The knowledge required to be a tradesman is much greater than ever before. Learning a trade will have many transferable skills into electronics and computers if the student takes the initiative to learn.
I know I may be rambling here, but my point is higher education is changing. College doesn’t have to be for everyone. With the amount of information available online (Harvard has free full course lectures available online for the world to view) having the information is not what will predict success in the future. Everyone has access to the same facts, figures, and formulas. The key will be on what a person does with the information in a new and creative way that will determine their aptitude.
So back to parenting. What does this mean for me and my thoughts of my soon to come child. My goal as a parent has to be to help them find what they enjoy to do. Expose them to everything I possibly can. Pay attention to what their natural aptitude is towards each subject. Once we have come to an interest, together we can explore the options available. If they don’t go to college that is fine. If they want to start a business, be an artist, musician, or a scholar, it does not matter. They have to be happy and enjoy what they do. If they enjoy it they will practice it, perfect the craft. That focus and drive to be the best is what will ultimately determine their success.
That being said, yes I will still save for their education. I will more aggressively save for retirement as education can be financed, retirement can not. I may have post in the future on this topic but for now this is where I will leave it.