Parents in our school are often thinking about college for their children since the trend over the last 40 years has been for a greater number of students to attend college after high school. This pattern has created a more educated workforce but one that is also deeply in debt. Add to this problem of debt the fact that many people do not work in a field that makes use of their advanced degree or are in jobs that require no degree at all and it raises the question, who should go to college?

Because going to college is almost expected, parents are wondering how they will pay for college. However, before solving this, they must answer the question of who should attend college. Reasons for going to college go beyond how to pay for it. In reality, how to pay is the last question to be answered regarding college, not the first. Making the decision to get a college degree hinges on three questions captured by three words: measure, motivation, and means.

Measure refers to one’s academic performance. Has the student been successful in high school? If a person has struggled to get C’s in high school, they will likely not succeed in college. Of course, there are outliers who defy the odds, but for most the question of how they measure up academically is a crucial first question. Of the three words, measure is the most objective and easiest to answer. Almost every student who graduates from Grace Academy will succeed in college.

The second is like the first in that it is determined by the student. In fact, motivation and measure are directly linked. Some students have only average academic ability yet their internal drive enables them to excel beyond their ability. They have quality grades because they work so hard. This type of student will succeed in college because they will themselves to achieve. Their motivation is very high. Likewise, there are others who have sufficient natural ability so their high school grades are fine but they do not have the desire for more education. They will likely not make it through college even though they have the innate ability to succeed. The question of motivation is the most difficult of the three because it is impossible to know one’s own heart, to say nothing about someone else’s. A student may say they want to attend college for dubious reasons that even they themselves are unaware of. They may say they want to go because they think their parents would be disappointed if they stayed home, or because their friend is going, or because it sounds adventurous, yet none of these are good reasons for going to college. These are just a few possibilities among many weak reasons for pursuing an advanced degree. Parents need to be talking with their children from an early age about learning the joy of hard work and displaying grit when things get tough.

Once a family and student decides that the grades measure up and there is sufficient motivation, they must decide if they have the means to attend college.