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Don't Send Your Kids To College
but some of you will, anyway, so here's a plan
I’ve gotten some email this week from parents freaking out as they watch campuses host pro-Hamas rallies in which universities allow Jewish students to be harassed and threatened, and in which students hold rallies to praise terrorism (like chanting “they’ve got tanks, we’ve got hang gliders,” using “we” to make it crystal clear they identify with actual rapist murderers).
This is a re-publication of something I wrote in 2022 that explains why college should be avoided but, if you insist on sending your kids, gives you a plan for how to help them make it out as something other than a brainwashed Communist zombie.
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Yes. It Is That Bad.
In the last few years, I have gotten at least 200 emails from loving parents who are crushed because their kids went to college and decided that their parents were oppressors whose politics (usually not conservative—usually normal, non-leftist-wacko Democrats) made them toxic. After a lot of fighting during the four years of school, their adult children now refuse relationships with them.
In addition, parents whose kids are approaching college age have been emailing me to request advice for several years now. They read my tweets, back when I was active on Twitter—my Twitter account still exists and I read the news there without ever tweeting, but I was once addicted to it—about how intense the Woke brainwashing efforts were, and how hard it was not to give in to it. They emailed me because they were desperate to know how to help their kid not fall for it.
Parents are right to be worried. I had a based therapist helping me, or I would have absolutely, 100%, there is no doubt in my mind, fallen for all of it. That should be a humiliating admission, but it isn’t.
Maoist re-education camps are in fact quite good at achieving their objectives.
I have written about how hard it is—even for me—not to slip into the reductionist thinking that today’s universities inculcate, how the first notion that jumps to mind when a man is rude, or even just awkward, is always an idea put there by a professor. And here are some thoughts about why the marginalization narrative is so easy for colleges to brainwash kids into. It is profoundly tempting: it sets up a scenario for everyone except heterosexual white guys such that if they fail, it’s not their fault, but if they succeed, they’re a superhero. It took a great therapist challenging these notions regularly—like asking me if I really think men conspire with each other to keep women who share their interests as far away as possible—to help me question these narratives and not fall totally under their sway. Even so, the brainwashing did damage and I still have to work to root these ideas out.
If your kid is anything other than a heterosexual white male, they are at extreme risk, both of falling into this narrative and a victim mindset. If they are a heterosexual male, they’re in danger of deciding that being an oppressor hurts, so…maybe they’re not heterosexual, or male, after all?
What follows is the advice I give the parents who write me. Caveat: I know something about escaping college with only mild-to-moderate levels of brainwashing. I don’t know a damn thing about healthy families, certainly not about healthy parent-child relationships, and am not implying that I do.
Does Your Kid Actually Need College?
This is the first question to answer. In my opinion, there are many better options than college, especially if you have saved up and have a college fund to use as capital for a new adventure. Coding boot camps. Starting a business. Starting three businesses. Internships in an industry. Taking one or two targeted, specific classes at the local community college—for the knowledge, not the progression towards a credential. If your kid doesn’t know exactly and precisely what they want to do, and if that objective doesn’t absolutely require a university degree, don’t send them to college.
The only conditions under which I would send a kid of mine to college are these:
The kid has a deep interest in something for which college is a necessity.
The kid has already proven that they have the brains and work ethic to achieve the goal of entering that field.
The kid and I have a solid relationship, one that can handle their being told “no” and “I’ll bend on a lot of things, but not this” without it descending into drama and threats of disowning.
The kid has mathematical savvy sufficient to understand that student loans are an albatross, and they are appropriately scared of a lifetime of being in debt bondage. Some resources below on how to help them get there. This matters a lot, because if they decide to cut you off and survive by borrowing extra to live on, your most powerful tool is suddenly not much help.
The kid is going to college to achieve a specific career objective, not to find himself or herself, to “have a college experience” or other such relics of what college was in the past.
The Biggest Tool A College Parent Has
The best leverage you will have, as a college parent, is money.
If your child is going to college for something that really requires it, this is going to be a STEM field—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. These fields are, in any school worth its salt, rigorous and intense, with heavy homework loads. If your kid isn’t planning, going into it, to be much too busy studying to also hold down a job, then either they’re not taking it seriously enough or the school isn’t good enough and you should re-think this entirely.
There is no reason to send a kid to study anything else. Period. The humanities are a pit of Woke-religion propaganda and nothing more. If your kid is artistically talented and wants to become a musician, writer, artist, actor, etc., do not even consider college. Take the money you’d be spending on college and use it to set them up to get better and learn more. Pay the director of your local metropolitan orchestra to let your kid follow them around and ask questions. Find the most successful published author within a two-hour drive and buy your kid some one-on-one editing. A year’s dorm fees will buy an awful lot of plane tickets to theatre auditions, and if your kid gets a part, two months in an AirBnB is still going to be cheaper than one semester’s tuition. Your kid has real talent for drawing or painting and is thinking of a degree in studio art? Rent them a studio, fill it up with professional grade supplies, and use the college money to help them set up a website and start a business doing custom portraits.
If you must send them to college? Then my suggestion is basically this: you become your kid’s employer for a part-time job. That job is to be in regular contact with you or people of your choosing, via material you provide, to help them have as many light-bulb moments as possible. I am a lot more screwed up than almost anyone whose parents care enough to be reading this, so your kid may not need the sheer quantity of light bulb moments that I did—but they need as many as you can possibly facilitate.
Start by reading this book, especially if your kid is already showing signs of vulnerability to Woke crap in their middle or high school.
I propose that you spend as much time as possible while your kid is in high school having them absorb this material and go through it with you. Yes, with you. You need to read it, too. You are preparing to send your child into a Maoist re-education camp—that is not hyperbole, that is my honest assessment—and you should be as committed as possible to arming yourself to help them.
Get as much of this insight into their brain as possible while they’re still in high school. Then, once they’re in college, go through it all again. You should do this primarily through conversation, but definitely require some of it in writing. Requiring your kid to write three pages pointing out how a flier from any campus bulletin board of his or her choice demonstrates four or five of the principles from Cynical Theories is going to be infinitely more helpful, powerful, educational, and protective of his or her sanity than anything else your kid can possibly do to earn spending money.
You know your kid best, but I suggest applying a couple of principles here — among them, intermittent reinforcement. The first time your kid texts you wish some version of “holy crap, I just left a class where the professor said ABC and I recognized it immediately from when we discussed XYZ,” go overboard expressing parental pride in whatever way resonates with your kid best. Or perhaps use it as an opportunity to bring up a new topic of conversation whereby you affirm their adulthood. “Your spotting that really shows me how much you’ve matured. You really do have an adult worldview now. What do you think about…”
Is that manipulative? Yes. There’s a sense in which all parenting is a little bit manipulative, but even so—I regard a child being a full-time resident in a Maoist re-education camp as an emergency, so emergency measures are called for. Manipulate them, please, for the love of all things holy.
Resources for the Anti-Brainwashing Plan
Disclosure: both Josh Slocum and James Lindsay are friends of mine, but I have no financial benefit in recommending their services and content. I’m just blessed to have some smart, based friends.
Read James Lindsay’s books. Start with Cynical Theories, which he co-authored. (There is a young readers’ version for younger kids.) Then Race Marxism, and his newest one, The Marxification of Education.
Read other important books. Heather MacDonald’s book, The Diversity Delusion, is ideal for a big-picture look at the university system. Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier, addresses the transgender insanity. Discrimination and Disparities, by Thomas Sowell, provides a conservative black man’s take on America’s racial consciousness. Each of these books will lead you to others, as will looking up podcast and other appearances by the authors.
Listen to James Lindsay’s podcasts and read his articles. Start with “The Death of the University” series, in full. Then move on to “Systemic Trauma and Harm,” “The Riddle of History,” and others from his site.
Buy your kid two hours with Josh Slocum. Josh is the host of the Disaffected Podcast, which goes into great detail about how the disordered psychology of the cluster B personality disorders are dominant cultural forces now. This is why we’re all supposed to believe flatly ridiculous, histrionic things like that everyone who doubts “Elliot” Page is and always was male wants trans people dead, that every non-white person walks around in constant terror of being murdered by a cop, that babies are arbitrarily assigned a sex at birth by bigoted doctors.
Josh normally uses his expertise to advise people on one-on-one situations with abusive personalities, but for this objective, he will apply his insight more broadly. He will pick one or two issues your kid has already run into in high school (or other circumstances you advise him on), and use that to, with luck, help your kid have a light bulb moment about the insanity behind all of these societal insanities. By the way, if your kid “clicks” with and enjoys talking with Josh, I can vouch for him as an ideal person to be an influence in the life of a young adult, and you could do a lot worse than have your kid talk to him once or twice a month throughout college.
Find other resources, particularly podcasts. Try searching for “non woke” in conjunction with topics of interest, or just “anti woke” in general. Get over your fear of the word “conservative” and listen to some of them, too. Jordan Peterson, Glenn Loury, Heterodorx (a wonderful podcast co-hosted by a transwoman and a TERF), and others come to mind, but find your own and choose episodes to assign your kid that will appeal to them. Podcasts were especially helpful to me, since I would often listen while on my way to or from classes. It created a mental “check-in, check-out” process for the hours I had to spend being told ridiculous things like the validity of the Genderbread Person or that Atticus Finch, the father from To Kill A Mockingbird, was actually a white supremacist.
How to Help Your Kid Understand the Bondage of Student Debt
Here’s a good, short video about how minimum payments work. It refers to credit cards, but the principles are the same for student loans. Student loans have lower interest rates (usually) but many, many, many more ways to prolong the debt. I get an email from my servicer every single month reminding me of all the many options I have to pay less than the minimum, or nothing at all, just by asking. I get these even though no payments at all are presently required—how much more will the pressure to use these options increase once payments resume?
You should be doing this anyway, but teach your kid about finances by opening the books on your own situation. Do the math—email me if you need help with this—to show them how much you actually pay when you go into debt. When they understand how much you will have paid for your house and your car by the time it’s paid off, and why it’s a good deal for the house, which goes up in value, but not for the car, which goes down, then the idea of cutting you off to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to eat in the cafeteria and sleep in the dorm will, with luck, be less attractive.
Financial advice guru Dave Ramsey has a documentary, “Borrowed Future,” that’s available on Amazon Prime.
The hardest part of all of this might be just re-framing college from what it once was—what it may even have been for you—into what it really is, now.
Sending a kid to college is a decision to be taken extremely seriously. If you’re going to do it, treat it like you’re sending them to war. Because you are.
Arm them as fully as you can.
About Me and My Substack: I’m a data scientist whose great love is mathematics, but I also enjoy writing. My posts are mostly cultural takes from a broadly anti-Woke perspective—yes, I’m one of those annoying classical liberals who would’ve been considered on the left until ten seconds ago. Lately I’ve regained a childhood love of reading and started publishing book reviews. My most widely useful essay may be this one, about how to resist the demon of self-termination.
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