I Refuse to Create A College Fund for my Children

I love my parents dearly. My parents gave me a lot of things throughout my years that I could never thank them for enough.  They gave me a memorable childhood.  They’ve provided me with a love of dance, a strong sense of self, the ability to love and the courage to chase my dreams. They also equipped me with a thick skin and strong morales. All things I find beneficial to a bright a future.

One thing they did not give me was a college fund. As a result, I found myself taking out loans on top of loans for a school I really couldn’t afford. And of course, I had to deal with the poor financial planning upon graduation. That meant adjusting my lifestyle tremendously to make on time payments, deal with harassing phone calls from student debt collectors, live with my parents much longer and worry about ever moving up. My parents weren’t rich by any means and still managed to provide a full life for my brother and I so I don’t fault them at all for my struggles.

Thankfully, I have since learned how to better manage money and have a great plan in place to be completely debt free in 3 years. The stress hasn’t completely gone away and I’ve still had to adjust my lifestyle but it’s great motivation for reaching my goal. I know it won’t be like this ever. It’s just what I need to do right now.

Despite the stress, struggles and sleepless nights I’ve encountered from drowning in student loan debt, I refuse to have a college fund for my unborn son. And it’s not because I have the mentality that, “I struggled so you should to.” It’s because I don’t believe in what college funds represent.

Even though I'm struggling with student loans, I won't be creating a college fund for my kids - and maybe you shouldn't either. They might do more harm than good.
Even though I’m struggling with student loans, I won’t be creating a college fund for my kids – and maybe you shouldn’t either. They might do more harm than good.

You see, I never wanted to go to college. But back in the early 2000’s when I graduated people liked to make impressionable high school students like myself believe that either you go to college or you die. And though I still knew I never wanted a college education, I ended up falling for the hype and attended college against my better judgement. That only led to lots of debt, impending depression, and stress. And it’s all because I fell for the pressure from society and chose to ignore my heart which told me not to go.

Should my son not want to go to college, I never want him to feel pressured to do so, which is why I refuse to create a college fund for him. Though done with good intentions, I don’t believe people realize how much pressure the simple idea of a college fund could put on a young mind. Those who may not excel in formal educational settings, who prefer to start a business or never had  to desire to attend college for whatever reason may feel unnecessary pressure to go just because their parents had that college fund. Think about it. A child may be unlikely to tell their parents the truth about their feelings towards college if the parents had a college fund because they wouldn’t want the parents to feel as though all their saving was pointless.

I would hate for my child to have to grapple with that kind of guilt. I have no idea what kind of personality my child will have, what his skills will be, or how he handles adversity. Starting a college fund for him would be pointless. So my husband and I have decided to forego the whole college fund idea completely.

And no, that doesn’t mean that if he does decide to go to college he’ll be screwed over financially. What it does mean is that we’ve decided to have an open mind about his potential decisions or lack thereof in regards to college by foregoing a college fund. Instead, my lucky bundle of joy will have what I like to call an adventure fund.

The way I see it, my unborn baby has the world available to him. As he is busy cooking in my uterus right now, his adventure awaits. I don’t want to make him laser focused on that adventure leading only to college by creating a college fund. I prefer he have an open mind about what awaits him. So instead, the adventure fund will allow him to do what his heart desires at the completion of high school (with my approval). He may decide to travel the world while volunteering while building relevant skills that can translate into his dream job, he may choose to get a professional certification, he may decide to start a business or he just might choose to go to college.

Whatever he may choose, it will certainly be an adventure and  that adventure fund will be waiting for him to help him financially along the way.


Sure to many people, calling it an adventure fund over a college fund is just semantics. However, I’ve learned that it’s so much more than that. Just that one word change means my son knowing that his parents will love and support him no matter what. He will know his success in this world is not necessarily tied to the most expensive piece paper to exist, but dependent on his drive, passion and ability to make things happen. He’ll have the freedom to make sound, logical and even passionate decisions about his future while maintaining an open mind and not be pressured to go in any direction. The adventure fund that awaits him will encourage my child to live on his terms whether or not it be with a college education in his pocket.

Did you have a college fund? Do you plan on starting one for your kids?

TERRIfic Quip: All learning isn’t synonymous with education.

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  1. Yes, I absolutely have a 529 for my boys. The stock market has been good to the fund, I haven’t had to put much in but it grows really fast, and I’m not going to mess with it. I never thought about telling the kids that I have a fund for them, I was just going to have them use it when ready. This is a good eye opener on the pressure that could be unknowingly put on children when parents have their own agendas 🙂

    1. You hit the nail on the head. Sometimes, a college fund is really just a hidden agenda. I love that you have something set aside for your sons and they have no idea about it.

  2. When I first read the title, I completely disagreed but I after reading I admit you make some really great points here. I enjoyed hearing your perspective on this issue. Although, I don’t have children at this time it does make me rethink what I would do.

    1. Yes, I know the title is definitely alarming but no lies were told! I personally didn’t enjoy college. Though, I was a good student it just wasn’t for me so I would hate my unborn son to feel pressured to go by having a college fund. I think society needs to have an open mind in regards to future educational pursuits.

  3. I didn’t have a college fund. And I agree, that high schools put undue stress on kids to attend college when they may not be ready. I’m taking a slightly different approach, but I still started a 529 for my kids just in case. If they want that, they will have the option to go without incurring as much debt as I did. However, I am going to encourage them to explore all potential scenarios that may be suitable for them. My daughter is 6 and already said she wants to go, so I told her we should start thinking of what it would take to go, but if she changed her mind, I would still be supportive and the money would be there for whatever she chooses to do with it. Congrats on your little bundle of joy to come. My little guy will be 1 in June. Time flies with kids:)

  4. We aren’t doing a college fund for our kids either. My husband and I did not finish college. luckily he got a very good job and undoubtedly my kids will have the same opportunity being 4th generation with this company. If they choose college or another career path that is their choice. They each have a savings account we contribute $25/month and whatever checks they get for their birthdays and Christmas (they keep the cash). So, when they are in high school or after, as long as they have been behaved they will get the money to help with costs. If they are naughty kids and get into trouble all the time my husband and I will just go on a vacation…

  5. I think setting aside money in an adventure fund for a professional certification in lieu of college makes sense, but traveling the world and volunteering?! It’s an absolutely wonderful experience and I hope your child (and mine) get to have it. But it just doesn’t set them up for achieving long-term financial stability in the way that a college degree or professional certification does. Not everyone has to go to college, but everyone does (or at least should) have to pay the bills. I am sure there are a few anecdotal examples of people getting stable employment out of volunteering abroad, but that’s not the norm. Most of the time, it’s a wonderful experience that leaves you broke. So please, please don’t let your child blow tens of thousands of dollars on something that won’t give him or her the skills needed to be gainfully employed (unless of course you have so much money that you can do both). I think one of the biggest problems is not that everyone was pressured to go to college, it was that everyone was told they could choose whatever major they found most interesting. If you go to college and get a degree in engineering or nursing, you’ll be employed. Not so much for anthropology. We don’t get to love your jobs all the time. Sometimes we do what we have to do so that we can prepare for doing what we want to do. I wish more kids were being taught that lesson instead of being told to pursue their bliss all the time. We should absolutely chase our dreams, but we should have a plan and we should accept there might be some mundane boredom on the way to the dream.

  6. As a responsible adult you need to save for retirement first and foremost. You can finance college but you can’t finance retirement. This isn’t selfish, it teaches your kids about the big picture. And I like your idea about the adventure fund. My husband told his kids that if they wanted to go to college they needed to have a plan and he would pay half ONLY when they finished. Seems fair. Only one took him up on the offer and went to vocational school.

  7. Just because you have a college fund for them, doesn’t mean they have to know about it. There is no hard in encouraging you child to continue their education. You don’t have to pressure them about it though. I did start a college fund in the event that my son wants to go. If he doesn’t, I’ll deal with it then. It’ll still be his choice, but at least if he decides to go, there will be a little help for him there. Maybe only enough to get through two years of JC, but it’s something to help him start his life and I know I would have greatly appreciated that when I was younger. I’m the opposite from you though. I wanted to go, but had no college fund to help me. Had I had the funds, I would have gone all the way. It’s really more about having the option either way than it is about pressuring them one way or the other.

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