We’ve all heard rich people tell poor people money isn’t everything. It’s always someone with a great salary, some benefits, property, a 401K and enough miles on their credit card to hop a flight to a different country. My response to that as a kid was always, “Well, let me have your dough then!”

The same thing happens in education today. You’ll hear privileged folks with degrees say this to young minority kids. It gives them an excuse to not educate everyone as well as we should. It’s peculiar because it is so rare that these same folks apply this to their own children.

This is not to say that folks can’t be successful without college. I’m not saying that at all. My best friend, the guy that’s like a brother to me didn’t go to college. He took an alternate route, did 2 tours in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan, came home and built a career. He has done better than me financially, at times, with my multiple degrees. But that’s not the point. Privileged people shouldn’t be making these decisions for other people and their children.

We are required to prepare each child for college and career by the time they leave high school. If a child or family decide on a different path, then all power to them. Our job as a country, a public school system and an education community is to ensure that our young people are leaving school with the proper tools to be able to make a decision for themselves. Let them decide they don’t want college while at the same time know they are fully prepared to take on college.

Now let me be clear here. I have my own issues with college as it is a flawed system at times. I have debt and I learned the hard way that it guarantees you nothing. I’m not delusional about these things. However, what it did do was allow me to enter a market with less barriers, I learned more about the man I wanted to be and I learned how to make choices for myself. A person with a college degree still makes far more than a person with no degree on average.

Don’t let these folks out here tell you or your child they aren’t college material when they are supposed to be the very people making your child college material. Don’t let these folks lower the expectations for YOUR CHILD.  These same people are supposed to ensure that our kids are ready to hold down a career that they can grow in – not be at the whim of whatever minimum wage happens to be that year. Even with my woes, I wouldn’t trade in my experience or degrees.

I get personally offended when I see privileged people in power tell a child this foolishness. If you know me, you know I love Steve Jobs. I love Michael Jordan. LeBron James is a beast on the court. THESE ARE NOT REGULAR PEOPLE. These folks are savants, physical specimens, or in Jordan’s case, both! For every Steve Jobs that left college early and changed the world (he was obviously career ready when he did) there are hundreds thousands of folks that failed miserably.

People, go for your dreams. I’m not going to stop you. If you don’t want to go to college, that’s completely fine by me. However, it doesn’t absolve us from our obligation to ensure that you are adequately prepared for life after high school. You deserve more from us as educators. You deserve to have the proper tools at your disposal so you can make the best decision. You deserve educators that won’t hide behind this notion that college isn’t for everyone as a way to deliver a subpar education product. Demand better. Privileged folks do it all the time. You’re worth our best.


-Cole Out

Dr. Charles Cole, III​ is an educator focused on the advancement of youth of color, but more specifically Black males. This passion comes from his experiences growing up without proper support, including being homeless and attending more than ten elementary schools across the country while his parents battled addiction and incarceration. Throughout that experience, no adult, no group, no organization ever asked him how he was achieving success nor how he was surviving. Schools were not a place where students in similar predicaments were learning. This experience helped lead to the publication of his first book, ​Beyond Grit and Resilience. As founder of ​Energy Convertors​, Charles comes from the community and has shared many of the students’ experiences. Previously Charles served as a social worker, a Director for Teach for America, the Vice Chair of the California Young Democrats, Black Caucus and at a director’s level with various youth-focused nonprofits. n addition to founding Energy Convertors, Charles is a national speaker and a writer, and he can be found in Oakland and around the country working with youth on how to equip themselves appropriately to lay the groundwork for a bright future. Charles is currently a board member of ​UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital​, and co-host of the ​8 Black Hands Podcast. Charles’ life goal is to better the communities he grew up in, which include Chicago, Paducah, KY, and Oakland.    


  1. Well done, Chris. Your argument is part of the reason we are battling so hard for dual credit, and against efforts by the Higher Learning Commission to make it more difficult for high schools to offer College in the Schools/Concurrent enrollment courses. Thanks for speaking out on this.

  2. I agree. No one can determine a child’s future at birth, in primary school or middle school. It is up to the adults in their lives to encourage and guide them to greatness (covered in my book, #theworldisaclassroom : We are all Teachers ) #v4kids


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