One of the things I do, along with my colleagues here at Horace Mann Elementary, is to always speak to kids as though going to college was an eventuality. Not "if you go to college," but "when you go to college." That is why I have always had issues with Kobe Bryant. Years ago, when he broke through in the NBA as a superstar, my assertion to ten-year-olds that they needed college to assure their success in life fell flat. Here was a seventeen-year-old kid who announced back in 1996 "This has been my goal about since I was in ninth grade," he said. "I remember coming home and telling my dad, 'I don't feel like going to college. I want to go right to the NBA.'" And thus began my regular and enduring discussion with the youth that passed through my door about the relative importance of a college education. I made inroads with some by talking to fifth graders about proportions: the number of kids playing basketball in Oakland versus the one kid in Philadelphia who had the requisite skills and backing to get him into the NBA. There were a number of others who simply shrugged and assumed that they would be the next one. Then along came LeBron James decided to drop out and become a spokesperson for Nike. Why would you ever want to go to college when you could have a shoe named after you?
Fast forward a few more years, and now I don't have Nike or the NBA to blame. Now it's Formula Capital's James Altucher who will happily share with you his theory on why sending your kids to college is a bad idea. The skyrocketing costs of tuition and other expenses makes it a risky investment. Avoid the risk and take on one of his suggested alternatives: Start a business. Work for a charity. Travel the world. Create art. Master a sport. Master a game. Write a book. Make people laugh.
Yes, I did notice that the list includes sports. And that landed me right at the end of the list. I had to laugh.