Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: Some basic questions about college

dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 15, 2013 

I've been asking a lot of questions lately.

That's because the oldest of my four children will be graduating from high school in the spring.

Starting next fall, I'll likely have at least one child in college for the next 10 years, and two children in college at the same time for at least six of those years.

The first question: So why did I have so many children?

Just kidding. My wife and I wanted at least three children. When we got there, it didn't seem like quite enough, and when we got to four it seemed like plenty.

That was a long time ago. Now I'm asking questions about college. If you have any children yourself, you're probably asking or have asked the same questions.

The big two for me are these:

• Why should somebody go to college?

• What is college?

In 1986, when I graduated from high school, I didn't care about these questions. I went to college because it was something that people in my family and my school did. It was not an option.

I had no idea what I wanted to do, except leave home, go to a place where it snowed occasionally, learn some new stuff, meet interesting people and maybe even figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

I didn't necessarily have to go to college to accomplish these things, and today I'm not especially keen on sending my children to college to find themselves.

In her excellent article in Time magazine entitled, "College is Dead. Long Live College!" Amanda Ripley writes that student loan debts in America are now greater than the nation's entire credit-card debt.

For the time being, Georgia students and the parents who support them are blessed to have the HOPE scholarship. But even if your child has tuition to a state university completely covered under the companion Zell Miller scholarship, you're still looking at $10,000-$12,000 a year to cover room and board, books and fees.

What the heck? Are they serving lobster in the cafeteria?

These days, the outrageously high cost of college is forcing people to decide why they're going there in the first place and exactly what courses they need to take to accomplish those goals.

If you want to acquire skills for a particular job field, you can go to technical college.

If you want to gain knowledge, you can sit down at your computer and take a free massive open online course from a highly respected university.

If you need a particular degree, you can choose from a countless number of options, starting with community college.

If you want to be President of the United States, you'd better shoot for an Ivy League school.

If you want to find yourself, you could always join the Army or the crew of an Alaskan fishing vessel.

For kids choosing to advance their education, an awful lot of them are staying at home to do it. According to Ripley, only a fifth of all freshmen actually live on campus, and nearly half of all freshmen attend community colleges.

What is college and why am I going?

When I was 18, I had no earthly idea.

But before I go into hock, my own kids will have some answers, I can guarantee you that.

Contact Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service