Ask the grumpies: If not money, how to get your kids to care about college?

First Gen American asks:

Is there another way for college kids to have some skin in the game without going into loads of debt?

I mean, college is about their lives and their choices and their opportunities and outcomes.  It is 100% their skin in the game.  Even if you’re paying for it monetarily.

What they learn and the skills they receive are going to shape their lives and make them better able to have whatever future they envision for themselves.  The future is rapidly changing and not cutting off too many avenues (ex. being able to write, being able to understand our multi-cultured society, etc.) will help them adapt to or even shape the future world they will be living in.

Maybe encourage them to go on the applying to colleges subreddit?  It’s full of kids who care a lot about academics who are saying a lot of the same things that we told DC1 (you need extra curriculars!), which has given us a bit of a “you were right all along” glow.

[Editor’s note:  Wow!  This week really has been all about colleges!]


12 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: If not money, how to get your kids to care about college?”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    I suppose it’s a little like asking my fat self why I am not making more good choices about diet and exercise right now. The motivation has to come from within somehow.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Money incentives for exercise work in the short term but wear off.

      I was very good at eating right for PCOS when I was trying to get pregnant/pregnant but I just don’t care enough when nobody’s life is at stake.

      Re: exercise. I cannot say enough good things about co-pilot (not sponsored, but if you want to support Wheezy Waiter you can use his link). I have gotten so much stronger and have more endurance. Weight hasn’t dropped but I have a lot more muscle.

  2. Maya Says:

    Thanks for that subreddit tip!

  3. Sarah S. Says:

    I always get confused by this question because I had no “skin in the game” and felt a huge sense of responsibility given how much my parents were paying for my college education. They paid for full tuition at a liberal arts college and I knew that they were sending an amount that would purchase a car nicer than the ones either of them drove every semester. Of course I was going to work hard and take advantage of that opportunity!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh that’s a good point!

    • Leah Says:

      Yup, I felt the same! I knew my parents were working hard to support me. My mom took on extra hours at work to pay my tuition with no debt. I was super appreciative and still am. Having no loans really let me explore and try stuff out. The whole “skin in the game” argument irks me. It’s my life; of course I have skin in the game! I worked hard at public high school too even though I didn’t have to pay tuition.

      • EB Says:

        Yes. My parents didn’t pay a lot because it was 1964 (you could literally pay a year’s tuition with a good summer construction job, too). But there were 3 more kids not much younger than I was, and there was very much a feeling of family solidarity on the whole college thing.

  4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    To offer another perspective on the “skin in the game” phrasing – many of us naturally feel some level of responsibility when someone is going to great lengths to support us. Or even just for the support even if it’s not a huge sacrifice.

    I’m related to people for whom that is 0% true. When they get support, they take and take and take some more. Some of that may be obliviousness, some of it isn’t. Their goals in life are short term at best, and catastrophic for those around them at worst. They take no real responsibility for themselves. Things going wrong is someone else’s fault, things going right is due to their brilliance. The upshot is that they don’t actually view themselves as having skin in the game for their own life.

    I think (and this is only from my lived experience POV, this is not an attempt to speak for everyone in these roles) for people who are responsible for younger folks, whether as caretakers, parents, or surrogate parents, it can be hard to remember that you can’t force someone to care about their own life, in the way you expect or encourage, if they’re not inclined to. Outside of issues like illness or poverty that might prevent them from acting differently, of course.

    A dear friend always pipes up “safety third!” when they’re embarking on an adventure. It makes me laugh and also shiver because we have very different approaches to life. It doesn’t make her wrong or have less skin in the game but as a parent, I can see where I would interpret that very differently coming from my child because I’m responsible for them until I’m not. That transition from “responsible” to “not” will be hard to navigate.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not really sure for what kind of people taking loans out for school would work. People who care about the future or their parents etc will already be working hard and people who don’t won’t care about the loans!

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        That was mostly my conclusion, too. Though, now that I think about it, I do remember some folks in the PF space who took some loans and they said that it helped them stay focused in a way they wouldn’t have been without having loans would but I wonder how much of that is something like confirmation bias. Maybe they would have been responsible anyway. The same way I wonder if I would have been this successful in my career path and earnings if I didn’t have the almost unbearable external pressures that I had to make a lot of money to pay for two households. Maybe I would have! Maybe I would have done even better if I had more choices. Who knows.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I’m thinking they don’t know the counterfactual. None of us do, really.

  5. Michael N Nitabach Says:

    Sorry, just saw this. What made me care about college was realizing that the alternative was to get a full-time job. This also made me care enough to start attending class my sophomore year when I was placed on academic probation & nearly thrown out after my freshman grades… 😹 😹 😹

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: