December 4, 2015


Seeing parents and teachers pressure kids to get top marks at school and complete their schooling to highest standards to be able to enter the best university worries me.


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They believe this gives them the best opportunity in life.

It’s time to start looking at different ways for school leavers to become employed or even self-made because there are so many over qualified people without work.

When I was younger I believed (maybe brainwashed) this was the way to a brighter future. Most of my friends went down this path and yes all are doing pretty well. But they’re all working 60+ hours a week, hating their jobs, just working the system, waiting until the age of 65 to retire. Pretty boring hey?

I wasn’t one of those kids at school who was going to make it academically. I struggled from the start and I was made to feel like I wasn’t going to make it in life. That worried me a lot as a young person.

There are more and more pressures on young people these days. We need to encourage our kids to become what they want to be without a piece of paper that comes with it.

I left school when I was 15. I have now completed two apprenticeships, travelled around the world and lived in other countries. I now own my own business and a successful one at that. No uni degree, I’m totally self-made.

I hustle every day for my own living and I’m now the envy of my mates who went to uni and got those degrees that were so important.

I’m not saying for one minute that going to uni is bad because you need to if you want to be a lawyers, doctor, accountant etc. Parents need to understand that not everyone is academic. DON’T push kids to the point where they give up all hope. You might think you’re helping them in the long run but really you will be doing more harm than good.

I know my father always supported me with everything I did at school. He knew I struggled, so he always supported me in giving things a go in life: Win, lose or draw.

I now have two small kids myself and if there is any advice for parents not pressuring their kids to go to uni it’s this:

  1. Find an apprenticeship as early as possible at the legal age of leaving school. Make sure it’s something they are passionate about.
  1. Don’t be afraid if your child leaves school and just gets a job. Make sure they get a job doing something they love then later on encourage turning that job into a business for themselves.
  1. If your kids love something, it might be skating, surfing, singing, encourage them with it. If they love it, help them with it. Even while at school.
  1. Teach them about the importance of saving and investing their money wisely, even if they leave school and get a job. By the time those friends come out of uni at the age of 25 with a Hecs bill of $60k they’ll be a mile in front.
  1. Get them to read business biographies. I wish I had when I was at school feeling like a bit of a loser, getting fail after fail. Most successful entrepreneurs don’t have uni degrees, they’re self-made.
  1. Get them to travel as much as they can. Travel is the best education money can buy. No classroom or uni degree can teach you what the world will teach you.
  1. I know we all love our kids and want the best but let them go a little. Keep an eye on them but let them stuff up now and then. Let them learn the hard way, that’s life. My dad sure did!

Everyone has a path through life and, as parents, we want our kids to have the best one possible. I understand that.

But for me, I know going to uni and getting a degree is not the be all and end all.

I know they will find their own way in life in whatever they do. As parents we should guide them. If they decide on a degree… it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.

Do you have any thoughts on the above? Please share your comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Justin Fankhauser is the author of Shut Up, Get Up and Give It a Go: A Self-Made Entrepreneur’s Guide to a Kickass Life and Business – a powerful insight into overcoming the odds. He can be reached via email at justin@kickassbusinessonline.com.
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  • Not everyone should be forced to do a Uni course. Tradesmen make far more money for a lot longer time without the HECs debt.


  • Children should be encouraged to do whatever their passion is, otherwise they will be miserable having to do a job/profession that wasn’t their choice.


  • Some students are good with their hands, but not when it comes to doing “written” work. A relative of mine actually got a job as an Apprentice Mechanic a year before he finished school. He was told to go back and see them when he finished year 11. A lot who go to uni. choose careers said to have vacancies as there was currently a shortage but when they finish their degree there is no jobs – maybe lucky to get a casual one or regular part time. Some go interstate where there is vacancies. I know one lady who chose a career that the Govt. were pleading for more to study as they had a shortage of trained people. When she finished the only job she could get in that field or similar in her home state was not enough to support herself. She sent applications to places interstate and eventually got a job in Vic., some of them under contract, but each time she advances and learns more information to help the people she has contact with as she is in a medical therapy type job..


  • Uni is not the end all and be all. There are many other ways to make a living. I know of a lot of people who have not been to uni and are very successful people. There are also some uni graduates who are not doing very well as there is not that many jobs around for graduates. I would say go with your heart and pursue a path that interest you.


  • I’d be happy for my child to do whatever they feel comfortable with and are drawn to


  • Totally agree. Life takes many different paths. I believe and will encourage my kids to finish year 12, but these days the pressure to go to uni and get the grades is incredible! I want my kids to know uni isnt everything. Even after getting my degree, i worked in a completely different field so my degree was useless. And it doesnt have to be straight after yr 12 – i think life experience is hugely important. The pressure to study to get into uni isnt the be all and end all, in gact i went to school with two kids who sadly ended their lives becuase of the pressure and not getting high enough scores. When you leave school you realise theres a much bigger world out there and either way, you’ll find your way. Take pressure off kids and let them enjoy the experience.


  • yeah i think that the children should complete year 12 first. i think that will be even more important to have done full schooling, in the future. Plus it makes them a little more older and responsible to be able to handle the apprenticeship and the workforce. Four years seems like an eternity to a 15 year old. They might change their mind 6 months or so into it. i think that they are more capable of getting themselves to work when they are older and get to keep their friends as going to work will set them apart from their school friends. Basically so much better to wait in my opinion..


  • I totally agree. Why to push your child to study, if they don’t want! But my view is also, that is better if kids complete Year 12.


  • I agree with your wholeheartedly. Thank you SO much for this article!


  • I whole heartedly agree. I think my generation (40s) have high expectations for our kids to have it all, with Uni a must. As my teen works his way through secondary school, and my nieces have completed Year 12, I’m starting to change my perspective. Uni is not for everyone. There are not necessarily the jobs available for those who complete a Uni degree. And if my son is offered a job that suits his interest, right out of school, why wouldn’t he take it? My ideals are shifting dramatically, based now on the experiences of what my extended family are facing. I’m more open and relaxed about it now.


  • I totally agree !


  • Great advice to all parents out there. The only one of mine who went to university hasn’t got anywhere near as far in life as has her brothers and sister. So remember to let the children do what they have a passion for.


  • This is very true. Pressuring kids to a high degree can lead to mental illness such as depression and anxiety . It is best to know your child strengths and let them develop from there. Usually in high school is the time when they develop themselves and can tell what subjects they like/dislike. My daughter has done first year already and is very happy with her lifestyle , doing a degree she enjoys and balancing with a casual job . It is what she wants and that is what matters. As for our son , we don’t know yet …..


  • I agree with the article too. Going to University is not a measure of success. Letting them travel… I agree completely. I would love it if more kids took a gap year at the end of secondary school, before taking any decision about University.


  • I have four children and both hubby and I want them to be happy and successful in whatever they wish to do. Our measure of success is that they reach their peak and find their job, future and life meaningful, they don’t need to be millionaires but we want them to have high self worth and achieve to the best of their abilities. Whether they go to uni, tafe, apprenticeships or become self made, we just want them to do the best that they can do.

    • Well said and this echoes my sentiments perfectly. Kids do need to work to the best of their abilities.


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