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Is University the Right Choice for Your Child?


As a parent, it is natural for you to want your child to succeed in life and do even better than you did. If you went to university, chances are you want to see your son or daughter follow in your footsteps. If you were unable to attend a post-secondary, you probably want your child to be the first in the family to go on to higher education. What is the right choice?

While those desires are admirable, they may not always be the right choice. It is true that higher education can be the key to a successful and lucrative career, but it is equally true that such an education costs more than ever. If your child is lined up for a great scholarship, the decision to attend university is an easy one. But if attending post-secondary means taking out tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loans, that decision can be murkier.

While no one is questioning the value of higher education, it is important to take a step back and assess your own family situation. There are a number of times when delaying — or even forgoing — higher education makes a lot of sense.

Is Your Child Emotionally Ready for Post-Secondary?

Going to university is a big step for any young person, but it can be a particularly difficult transition for those who are not emotionally mature enough to handle it. Some high school graduates simply are not mature enough for the freedom and responsibility of university life.

As a parent, part of your job is to look at these things realistically. If you think your son or daughter would benefit from an extra year at home, then postponing post-secondary can be a smart move. However, your child should not be idle during that time. They should be working a full-time or part-time job, or volunteering in the community.

Does Your Child Know What He or She Wants to Do?

Entering a university without a firm game plan can be particularly dangerous and expensive. Those who do not yet know what they want to do may benefit from a little time off before enrolling. This can be a chance for young people to find themselves and think about what they want to do.

Having a firm grasp of future career goals will make choosing a major easier. Those firm career goals can also reduce the amount of time it takes to get through school, and that can decrease the amount of student loan debt.

Is Your Child Really Destined for a White Collar Career?

Many parents assume that their offspring will head off to the business world. However, that world is not the right choice for everyone. Some young people are more comfortable and adept at working with their hands.

Many of those blue-collar careers pay as much or even more than the typical business career. This includes a job as a plumber, electrician, oil driller, and welder.  If your son or daughter is more comfortable in those areas, pushing them into university could be counterproductive. You might be better off pushing your child toward a trade school or training program.

University can be a great investment. Higher education is often the key to financial success. Even so, there are times when attending university is not the only — or even the best — option. Your child can still have a successful career, even if higher education is not in the cards.