Some politicians are calling for “free college for everyone.”

I agree. However, I’m a world apart from these socialist do-gooders on just where the money would come from.

No one should have to pay for someone else’s college tuition involuntarily, which is what these politicians' socialist plan calls for. Their plan would pay for people's "free" college from taxes. The government produces nothing. Taxes come from the paychecks of working people, whether they like or not. They have little to no say in how their tax dollars are spent.

Ingrained in our minds, pounded into our brains, through years is the mantra “You have to go to college if you want to make a good living.”

Not so. One size does not fit all. There are viable choices, just as good, for getting a good education without going into what is tantamount to financial slavery. There’s a way to graduate from college free of debt without expecting half the working population to cough up more taxes for a free diploma. More on that later.

There are several alternative opportunities besides college for learning a trade or skill that pays as much or more than a college grad can expect to make. Actually, many young people end up in a profession making as high an income as that of a college grad but without the crippling loans to pay back.

There are vocational schools where they can learn “the trades” and become a highly paid carpenter, plumber, electrician, computer programmer, go into the restaurant business, etc. There are individualized courses that give you the specialized training to make a very good living, like speech therapy, massage, etc., without the decades of loan payments.

There are apprenticeship programs where you can earn as you learn and attain a "master's” in the discipline, hitting the ground running with a good salary and no loans.

An additional benefit of most of the alternatives to college learning is that they can be turned into self-employment businesses where one doesn’t have to depend forever on someone else for, or control over, employment, salary, schedules, etc.

But back to a “college” education. It is possible to go to a four-year college, earn a bachelor's degree and walk out, diploma in hand, debt-free.

The shining example of such a college is the “College of the Ozarks.”

This college has been graduating students, loan free, for over 100 years, not on the taxpayers' backs, but tuition earned by the students as they go while also learning how to run a business. Why shouldn't this be the model to work from? No freebies. Earn your way, learn how to hit the ground, after graduation, free of debt and having the skills to be independent and/or secure good employment. A valuable by-product? Pride in what you've earned and learned.

As I said, the College of the Ozarks was founded over a hundred years ago with the impetus of providing a college education for those who who couldn’t otherwise afford one.

There is no tuition for full-time students, thanks to its student work program and donations. The program requires students to work 15 hours a week at an on-campus workstation and two 40-hour work weeks during breaks. There is also a summer work program available to cover room and board costs.

The college has been dubbed “Hard Work U.” Students hit the ground running with a degree that is backed by a real education, including how to run a business and old-time work ethics — and confidence in their abilities.

So why, the question begs, haven’t more colleges like this not been established? Might it have something to do with all that money that regular colleges take in and where it goes? Young people today have systematically, and with malice and greed — aforethought — been used to make millions for the colleges and banks (and government).

Is it time for future high school grads to research alternatives for their continued education toward prospective independence — and to start their working lives without the black cloud of crippling loans hovering over their heads for decades?

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools. She now lives in Morrill.