Is Miley Right to Skip College?

Miley Cyrus says she’s not interested in attending college anytime soon, “I’m not gonna go to college right now,” Cyrus told told Q100’s Bert Show Monday morning. “I’m a firm believer that you can go back at any age you want, because my grandma went back to college at 62 years old.” And her sister went to college too. But is Miley right to skip college? I can’t say that I blame her. How many 17-year-olds do you know are making millions and are heading to the top of their game?

Miley CyrusFrom a career advisor standpoint, I’d advise her to stick with her career too. And I’m a teacher! One of the hardest parts of my job as a professor at the community college level is seeing young (and older) students in my classroom who are trying desperately to be a college student but who just shouldn’t be. Some are dealing with so many family issues–kids and husbands or pregnancy–that fitting a full time college schedule into their lives isn’t working. And no matter how many different ways I try to help them, they just don’t see that doing minimal work and getting a minimal grade (or failing) isn’t helping them and hurts their chances at scholarships and acceptance into other colleges. They don’t see that a year or semester straightening themselves out, saving, arranging their schedule, lining up a babysitter, or getting decent transportation so they can be distraction free would benefit them so much more. And I can’t tell them not to come. If I do, they may never come back. And that’s much more frightening. (Follow

But what do Miley’s parents tell her. Go to college. Get an edcuation so you can support yourself. Live your dreams. Hello! She’s a zillionaire living their dreams and supporting their life. The truth is, (and parents shield you children’s eyes from this), college isn’t for everyone. It’s not. Not everyone can learn in a collegiate environment. Lots of my students wash out 8 weeks in because they’re not cut out to be college students. It’s hard. It takes dedication. And if your passion is to cook and open a restaurant, why are you in my classroom? Go to culinary school! Apprentice! I’ve had students who I just wanted to shake. They were forcing themselves down an education path that wasn’t working for them. Or pursuing passions they had no real interest in.

I used to want to be a doctor. I forced myself into pre-medicine and failed chemistry and spent four years recovering from my first disastrous semester in college. But my father had an eighth grade education, my mother finally earned an Associate’s degree when she was in her 40s. I was the first in my family to go from high school straight to college and earn a Masters. And that, Ms. Miley, is something I’m proud of. I want want my family and my kids to know how much an education can change a life and a family. And that’s true for a lot of my students who are first generation Americans who are not only the first high school graduate but who are the first to go to college too. (Follow

As a teacher, I’m a big believer in education. I love school. But more importantly I’m good at school. Not everyone is. And if my daughter was Miley, about the only thing I could tell her is that money doesn’t make you smarter, or better, or more respected. But education is an investment in your mind, body and spirit. It doesn’t have to be in a dorm. Or in a classroom. But it matters. And it’s valuable. It’s the one thing lawyers, family, the IRS and ex-husbands can’t take from you. 

Yes, you can make money and be successful without a degree. But there are a lot of stupid, self centered, successful people out there whose lack of education hurts them (and celebrity does not equal respected). And though my diplomas are still in tubes and my college debt is equal to one Miley Cyrus pay check, my education has benefited me, my family and my future children more than Miley Cyrus ever will.



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