To A Parent

John Holt to a parent, from Growing Without Schooling 2.

I’m not going to try to talk you into taking your children out of school. If they insist on going, let them go. But let’s keep the facts straight. It is possible to do interesting and useful work in the world, even be “successful,” without a college degree. It is hard, but then it is hard to do those things even with a college degree. Most of the people now getting college degrees are going to be doing work that is not very interesting, and that people used to do without college degrees. Also people can get into graduate school without going to college. One friend of mine got into a leading American theological seminary, another into the leading Canadian law school, with only a year of undergraduate college. The former is the minister of a big church, the latter perhaps the outstanding student in her class. Other people I know or know of have gone to college without going to high school. In short, even if you get off the school road, you can get back on whenever you want, and you will probably be ahead of the people who stayed on it all along.

If kids want to go to college so they can enjoy the social life, go to football games, join sororities/fraternities, etc. OK, if their parents can afford it. But let’s not kid ourselves that anyone learns anything very important in those places. As far as securing their future goes, they might be a lot better off to get an external degree and put in the bank the money they would have spent on college tuition.