TL;DR – Even if he doesn’t go to university.
My wife and I plan to have kids. So we’ve been talking about what sort of parents we would be. Would we be tiger parents? Would we send them to enrichment classes? Would we expect them to have learnt the multiplication table before entering a primary school? Would we be okay if they aren’t able to make it to university?
Then one night, I had an epiphany.
Close to midnight one night, my mother decided to change the light bulbs of a lamp at home. I don’t know how she did it, but it tripped the power at home, burning out the entire circuit breaker box. So my parents had to call an electrician. My dad went online, Google-ed and found one. He called the electrician and was quoted $750 to fix things and an extra $40 for transport. At that moment, with the whole house in darkness, and the fridge without power, they were in no position to bargain, so my dad agreed.
The electrician came within 15 minutes. Half an hour later, he was done. The parts he used couldn’t have cost more than $300. So, within an hour, he made about $490. And he was at another flat before my parents, doing something similar. So one night, in about 2 hours, he made close to $1000. If every week he has one night like that, that means he’ll make close to $4000 a month, just by working 2 hours a week. And this electrician can also do plumbing works. So I’m sure he gets more work than that.
I’m sure the electrician doesn’t just sit around waiting for people to call him when they meet with such emergencies. He probably also does plumbing and electrical works for renovation works too. Put together, I think this electrician-cum-plumber must be doing quite well.
And I don’t think it’s just that one electrician/plumber who is doing quite alright. Or to be honest, much better than just alright.
So I told my wife, next time our kids, if they choose to be an electrician or plumber and not go to university, I will fully support.
But I would then strongly encourage my kid to learn how to set up a professionally-looking website and be able to optimise it for search engines. That will help him/her get more business. And I would also strongly encourage my kid to keep on learning and upgrading himself. Keep abreast with technological advancements, find out what new tools, materials, or techniques there are that can increase his/her productivity or set him/her apart from the competition.
And if my kid can do that, I would be very happy even if he/she doesn’t go to university. Because my kid would still be doing something valuable. And I strongly believe that is, in its own way, a different form of success. I do think that academic success isn’t the only way.
Beyond that, we need to respect different professions. As much as we need civil servants, bankers, lawyers, doctors, researchers and entrepreneurs, we also need people who are great at maintaining our systems, keeping our pipes flowing, our circuit breakers working properly and safely, wires laid out well.