Dear J.T. & Dale: My son is a senior in high school. He announced that he doesn’t want to go to college. Instead, he asked us to give him the money we set aside for college so he can start a business. He has ZERO business experience. We told him he’d have to get a job and start the business as a side hustle but that if he can make it profitable and build a business plan, then we’d consider it. We thought that would convince him to go to college — but he agreed. Ugh. We really want him to get a college degree. Can you give us some advice? — Marie
J.T.: Many people now question whether a college degree is even required. Many large companies are finally starting to waive their degree requirements. According to the National Ad Council, there are 70 million STARs working in the U.S. — that’s Skilled Through Alternative Routes. Why not let your son pursue this for a year and let him see whether it might make sense to go to college for business? Or, perhaps find a certificate or apprenticeship that will help him achieve his goals. Times are changing. He could end up saving you a lot of money on college!
DALE: J.T.’s last sentence makes me smile, knowing that she has both of her daughters in college. And J.T. is right about a degree not being required. I don’t see any way to convince an entrepreneurial teenager that a degree is critical, not when they have Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah, Steven Spielberg, and a long list of other non-degreed high-achievers to toss into any debate. All that said, I’m with you on being a believer in a college education. Perhaps you can get friends or relatives to chat with your son and reminisce about how the college years were the best times of their lives. Your son needs to know that the drudgery of high school has little relationship to the joys of college — the friendships, the adventures, the social life, the love of learning. He’d pass that up for what? An appearance on “Shark Tank”? There’s money and then there’s the richness of a life well-lived. College shouldn’t be about a better job; it should be about a better life. Perhaps you can find a way to amend your agreement and include his enrolling in college and taking a few courses while working on his business. And not those dreary online courses; no, get him on campus where he can experience the magic of convergent intellectual and social awakening.
Dear J.T. & Dale: There’s been a lot of “closed door” meetings in our company lately. Things clearly aren’t good. Everyone’s assuming layoffs are coming. Is it better to find a new job before you get the ax or to wait and see if you survive? — Kendrick
DALE: We are headed back into a job market that requires employees to be nimble, and that means it’s more important than ever to embrace ABL — that’s the mindset Always Be Looking. So, no waiting … ever. You should always be improving your skill set and keeping your network growing. It also means that you should work to get yourself assigned to critical internal projects, both to increase your learning and to make yourself among the least likely to be, as the Brits say, “made redundant.”
J.T.: My first question is, can you go to management and inquire if layoffs are being considered? They may not be able to tell you the truth, but their reaction will give you clues. I would start looking for a job, but not just any job — a better one. One that you would leave this job for even if there wasn’t a risk of layoffs. That way, should you get a new position you can tell them that it’s too good of an opportunity to pass up, as opposed to saying you left out of fear of job security. And if layoffs occur, you’ll at least have your job search in gear.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.