Mike Rowe Details Why Parents Feel Same ‘Peer Pressure’ as Kids When it Comes to College

by Taylor Cunningham

Mike Rowe wants the parents of future generations to realize that their kids can find solid careers in blue-collar jobs, which don’t require a costly college degree.

From an early age, we’re told that a college degree is the only way to ensure that we’ll live a financially comfortable life. In the past, that wasn’t terrible advice because a degree was an affordable way to set ourselves apart from the competition. But over the decades, the price of a college education has skyrocketed.

In an interview with Plough, Mike Rowe shared that well-meaning parents are stuck in the mindset that a four-year degree is the only logical choice for their children. But he stressed that pressuring kids to attend college is setting them up for a lifetime of debt and uncertainty.

“The belief that a college degree is the best path for the most people is deeply held,” Rowe said. “And it’s reinforced every day in countless ways. Today, if a ‘good parent’ sends their kid to a ‘good school,’ and the kid winds up indebted or unhappy, the parent – subconsciously – can say, ‘Well, we did all we could.’ But did they?” Is it really wise to assume that borrowing (or lending) a hundred grand to pursue a liberal arts degree is really the best path for the most people? “

Mike Rowe Belives that College is an Unwise Choice for Most Teenagers

Nearly half of the students who go to college don’t finish their degree. But they rack up an ugly amount of debt before dropping out. So they’re automatically starting their adult lives underwater. And when they start out owing so much money, it’s hard to gain financial security.

The Dirty Jobs host said that parents seem to feel pressured to send their kids off to expensive secondary institutions. And the bullying probably feels similar to childhood peer pressure. “Their friends are watching,” he said. And parents, ” don’t want to screw their kids up.”

“And so, every year, thousands of well-intentioned, otherwise rational parents allow their kids to assume a level of debt they simply can’t afford,” he continued. “Maybe that’s why the cost of college has risen faster than the cost of energy, food, real estate, and healthcare? Maybe that’s why we’ve got $1.5 trillion in student loans? We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who aren’t going to be able to pay it back to educate them for jobs that don’t exist.”

Mike Rowe wants parents to realize that there are better options for their teenagers. Instead of going for a degree, they should enter the workforce—debt-free—and start a career as a trade worker.

“Meanwhile, we have 7.3 million open jobs, many of which require training – not a degree,” he shared. “Probably time to push back against the pressure.”