Our relentless and seductive consumer culture has convinced us that college is a product, something with pretty packaging and a list of features a mile long that we can’t live without. As parents, we’re desperate to get the best product we can for our kids. We’ll go into debt, work an extra ten more years before retiring, do whatever it takes to make it happen, so we can give our children every opportunity to succeed in this hyper-competitive, global economy.
But I’ve discovered we’ve got it all wrong.
It’s like we didn’t get the memo that the world isn’t flat; that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth; that having leeches suck our blood won’t cure much of anything. Turns out, it is possible to run a four-minute mile. You can put a man on the moon. A phone can take a picture, or play music, or give us driving directions in an Australian accent.
Our beliefs and assumptions about college need to be rebooted. So much has changed since we went to school. It’s time to step back and reframe this thing in a way that allows us to take control of our finances and our kid’s futures.
College is a project, not a product.
It is fine dining, not a trip through the drive-thru. Much like an exceptional five-course meal, it takes considerable preparation and the right ingredients, an investment of time and money before sitting down to break bread and share conversation. It requires us to pay attention to details and timing, and approach the entire endeavor with a sincere desire to create a memorable experience.
Conventional wisdom tell us to accept the recommendations of magazines and school counselors; sources that are not picking up the check. They’re telling us to select #3 off the backlit menu board, only to experience heartburn and disappointment that the marketing hype and pretty pictures didn’t deliver the experience we expected.
Once we reframe “college” by breaking it down into manageable parts and assigning responsibility where it truly belongs, we will discover it’s more enjoyable, less stressful, and delivers a much better outcome for all involved.