Paul Tough on What Boys Need to Know About College

How important is college?

That’s a fraught question for many families, particularly in an age of rapid technological change and occupational insecurity. We’ve been told that education is the key to success, but post-secondary education is priced like a luxury item, at least here in the U.S.

In his new book, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, author Paul Tough writes, “for many young Americans, [the U.S. system of higher education] functions as…an obstacle to mobility, an instrument that reinforces a rigid social hierarchy and prevents them from moving beyond the circumstances of their birth.”


And yet, many of us shy away from that reality. “We’re not being honest with ourselves and with our young people about how complex it is to get from high school to the kind of education you need to succeed,” Paul says.

In this episode, Janet, Jen & Paul discuss:
  • The intense pressure kids feel to achieve academically and go to college
  • A healthier approach to education & learning
  • The value of liberal arts studies
  • Helping boys navigate high-stakes academic decisions
  • Other post-high school options
  • Vocational education  (& why the skilled trades aren’t exactly a “no college” option)
  • The truth about welding as a career
  • Supporting boys as they figure out a career and life plan
  • Encouraging resilience, optimism & self-discipline to help boys overcome obstacles
  • Helping boys transition to college (for more, check out this previous episode)
  • Navigating socioeconomic and cultural challenges at college
  • Advocating for systemic changes to higher education
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: — Paul’s online home. Includes his speaking schedule and links to his online articles.

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us — Paul’s latest book

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity & the Hidden Power of Character — 2013 classic by Paul

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why — the follow-up book to How Children Succeed

Managing the Transition to College — On Boys episode featuring Dr. Pamela Ellis, author of What to Know Before they Go 


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