Society

Father Says Self-Reliance Is More Important Than College

| by Jonathan Wolfe

For most parents, sending a kid off to college is a moment of true pride. After all, getting a college education not only enhances an individual’s understanding of the world, but also means they’re likely to make 84% more money over their lifetime than those without a college degree.

Father David T. Fagan isn’t sold on the benefits of a college education, though. Fagan, a marketing entrepreneur and author, says he won’t be spending any money on tuition should any of his eight children decide to attend college. He thinks their time is better spent elsewhere.

“The focus is too much on a piece of paper and not enough on self-reliance,” Fagan told the Washington Post in a recent interview. “College isn't necessarily bad - it can be quite good - but it quite often needs to be customized. Kids are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many times, that money could be spent differently and more efficiently in helping people become truly self-reliant.”

Fagan said he want his kids to have a “customized education,” one that provides a balance of traditional academic learning and life experience. Fagan lives out this belief, too. He’s pulled one of his children out of school several times to take her on the road and expose her to the business world.

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“Mark Twain had a famous quote, ‘I have never let schooling interfere with my education,’” Fagan said. “And I just love that quote because it’s so true. There’s just so many things that can’t be done in the classroom. There’s so many things about the school system that are broken. That’s not news to anybody it’s just nobody’s brave enough to do something different.”

Fagan started fostering entrepreneurial development in his children before they even knew what money was.

“But it’s not so much about just money,” Fagan says. “It’s really a mindset. And I find the mindset is really about teaching kids if you want something, figure it out and then show them how to get it. So the mindset starts at a year and a half, two years old.”

If some of his children think college is the best use of their time and financial resources, Fagan won't forbid them from going. He just won’t be paying for any of it.

“You can ask any one of my kids, ‘Is your dad going to pay for college?' 'No.’” Fagan says.

“So what are you going to do? You’d better get a scholarship, you’d better get good grades. I think we’re putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. The emphasis is on 'you’ve got to go to college.' The emphasis should be on, 'You’ve got to become self-reliant. You’ve got to take care of yourself.'”

Sources: LA Times, Washington Post

Photo credit: Chris Kaiser, Flickr