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The Game of Life – A Game for College Dropouts

Photo by John-Morgan for Flickr (CC Licensed)

“I’m never going to college,” Magoo said.  “It costs too much and you make more money without it.”

Last week Laylee and Magoo discovered Life – the board game.  They love it with a great love because they get to drive little plastic cars and play with large sums of fake money and I thought it would be fun because they’d learn so much about the way the world works.  But the main thing they’ve learned so far is that college is not good for anything but accruing pointless debt.

I am not a fan of this.

From what they can tell, everyone who chooses not to go to college becomes a professional athlete, a highly paid entertainer, or a police officer and in The Game of Life a police officer gets $10,000 in his own bank account every time someone speeds.  These are the good jobs.

In The Game of Life, accountants make almost nothing but it’s okay because if you simply choose not to go to college, you can put the “accountant” card back in the deck because it has that little line that says “degree required.”  Phew!  Good thing Magoo didn’t get one of those or he’d be stuck as an accountant forever.  WITH $100,000 in student loans.  Narrow escape.

Now I know that going to college is not a one-way ticket to fame, fortune and endless bliss but I also don’t want my kids to grow up thinking it’s a waste of time.  For this reason, I have decided to use other tools from my parenting bag of tricks to help raise them.  I may have to resort to actually speaking to them directly or modeling good behavior since I can’t rely on board games to teach them everything they need to learn or at the very least I can’t count on a single board game.

We’ll need to play Settlers of Cataan with the expansion packs to learn how to fend off pirates, build cities, and sabotage our friends.  Monopoly will be useful when teaching about real estate speculation.  And I think Candyland is a really good way to teach kids about the randomness of life, how interminably long our time on earth can seem, and about how some people are made out of peanuts, while others like to skate on ice cream.

All kidding aside, I have friends who do really well financially with no college education and some who struggle to make ends meet after completing one or more degree programs.  However, the average college graduate makes substantially more than the average high school graduate.  Some friends who were doing really well financially with no college education have found themselves in trouble when businesses failed and they were no longer self-employed and had no degree to fall back on.

So I’ll keep talking to my kids, attempting to indoctrinate them with a love of education.  The last game we played, I convinced Laylee that she actually won because she had the most kids, the coolest house, the fewest possessions to weigh her down, and the funnest time going to college and broadening her horizons, even though it didn’t work out well for her financially.  I majored in Documentary Film and English, hardly degrees that will make me wild piles of money, but I wouldn’t trade my education for anything.  The most important things I learned during those five years cannot be quantified.

And we’ll keep playing Life, because it’s fun, although my kids may find that it becomes a little less fun now that it’s accompanied by a massive lecture on education and the economy.  I cannot help myself.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.