College Shouldn’t Be A Free Ride For Kids

February 10, 2014
by Michelle Perry Higgins

Start Shopping for Long-Term-Care Insurance at 45Should parents insist that their kids work in college to help pay for their education?

I apologize in advance if I come across as harsh, but I am quite passionate on this topic.  It is my strong belief that college should not be a free ride for children. Regardless of the parents’ financial ability to fund their child’s education, their kids should be required to contribute to some degree.  Part of the job of being a parent is to raise a responsible adult. Within that role is the parent’s duty to teach their children the value of a dollar and the sacrifice it takes financially to achieve anything in life that is worthwhile. This includes getting an education.

There are two clear ways I believe that you can financially empower your child during their college years:

1) Have them obtain a job or internship.
2) Find ways for them to give back to the community or others.

Understand that I am not advocating a demanding work schedule for college students. I have mentored young women over the years and my message to them is very clear:  I don’t expect them to work 20 or more hours per week unless the financial need is clearly there.  First and foremost, I want their focus to be on getting an education. However, I believe they should have a weekly commitment that requires them to remove the sweats and head off to a job, internship or community service.

We all know that many of these junior positions will not be fun and some may entail a great deal of grunt work. The good news is that this young adult will learn responsibility. They gain real-world understanding of the importance of punctuality, proper work attire, workplace etiquette and, most importantly, just how hard it is to earn a dollar.  There is no doubt that balancing college studies alongside an outside job requires discipline, planning and perhaps a gentle nudge from mom and dad.  However, the rewards are enormous in the long run: appreciation for the cost of their education, real-life work experience, potential career opportunities from internships, and becoming seasoned at how to balance work and life.