DD Wanting to Go to a Pricey Private University, Teach a Few Years, Then Be SAHM

Updated on February 21, 2012
M.S. asks from Plano, TX
43 answers

My DD is a HS jr and is researching colleges. She only wants to consider private universities that are on the rung just below the top Ivy league schools. She is smart and conscientious, but is not in the top 25% of her class (at Plano East) and her practice SATs are around the 50% percentile, so the schools she's looking at may be a bit of a reach. She has an "attitude" about public universities and will also not consider anything in-state as she desperately wants out of Texas. She wants to major in Early Childhood or Elementary Education, teach for a few years, and then be a stay-at-home mom. I know that majors change and life ambitions and situations change, however, she has always yearned to work with young children--and to become a stay-at-home mom. She's 16 going on 30. I worry that choosing a pricey private university at the top range of what she could possibly get in, is likely to saddle her with so much student loan debt that it could make it difficult to realize her dream of being a stay-at-home mom later. I do encourage her to reach high and she is welcome to apply to any school she likes, and we can always see what they offer for a financial aid package, and in the end it is her decision. We've also talked about having "reach" schools, "comfortable" schools and "safe" schools in her application pool. But I really worry about about her getting herself in too deep financially with this insistence upon the finest private university that will accept her. She feels like any school with an acceptance rate of about 50% or greater is just not selective enough, and she wants very small class sizes.

FWIW, we won't do the FASFA til next year and have 2 other teens who will be entering college after her. We have good income but no assets and very high medical expenses, and no help from other family members. I have a PhD and my husband has an MS, so we are both very pro-education and appreciate the finest universities, but I also think you need to weigh the costs of the education against the likely income potential so that your student loans don't weigh you don't and don't stop you from being the stay-at-home mom of your dreams, if that's what your dream is. Of course, she says she'll find a rich guy to marry at the private university; problem solved (although that's not why she wants to go to a private university). Yeah, life's like that! Advice? I've tried pointing out some of the finest state universities, and we have stacks of books on colleges (e.g. US News and World Report). She's never had a job because she takes a lot of AP and honors classes and then does summer school (and just turned 16 a few months ago), so she doesn't have much for her own college savings. I have about $1000 saved for her, but most of my money has been wiped out by medical expenses and not being able to work as much.

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So What Happened?

FYI she's in one of the top 100 high schools in the nation; it has an IB program (which she's not in). At any normal high school, she'd probably be in the top 5-10% of her class. She gets mostly A's and a few B's, and takes mostly honors and AP classes. However, the IB classes are worth more GPA points than regular, honors or AP classes, so the IB students who do well are always at the top of the class, even above those who earn all A's in non-IB classes. IB means International Baccalaureate.

Featured Answers

☆.H.

answers from San Francisco on

Speaking of statistics, have you discussed with her that approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce? What is her plan if that happens?

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L.M.

answers from Dover on

Tell her that she is free to apply anywhere she likes but you require he to at least apply to a few public schools as well (in or out of TX). Tell her that as the student debt will be hers so is the decision but she needs options.

I do agree with you, if she doesn't plan on utilizing her degree long term, the pricey colleges makes no sense.

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J.B.

answers from Atlanta on

Tell her what you're planning to spend on her college and let her know she can go anywhere she's accepted (with the stats you gave, she most likely won't get into many or any of the private colleges she wants) -as long as she finds a way to pay for the difference. Student loans, scholarships, grants -whatever. You may want to mention that she probably shouldn't spend a ton on college if she doesn't have any more ambition than just finding a rich guy to support her. There are also few guarantees of that!

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J.S.

answers from Jacksonville on

Let her know that my husband has accrued 175,000 in student loans. That means a payment of 1600 a month for the next 30 years.

An Ivy - Private school's tuition is around 35,000 to 40,000 a year. We'll go low and say 35,000 that still 140,000 in debt, if she completes it on schedule. If she wants a Masters it will take another two years of education.

The average beginning teacher will only make around 35,000 a year. So let's do the math. Guess around 800 to 1,000 dollars a month in school payments.

So her take home pay each month will be around 2,500 hundred a month once her taxes and insurance has been taken out. So she is looking at her student loan taking between 1/4 to nearly 1/2 her pay...for thirty years.

Doesn't sound like too good of a plan. As for marrying a rich guy, Hello! She will be there on student loans...how many others do you think will be there on student loans as well? Probably most. You might want to explain to her that life is not like the Twilight movies, or any romantic comedy movie, really. :)

This is the reality. My husband could not afford to keep his business going so we had to shut the doors and move across the country, taking us away from all of our friends and family, to a job that would pay the bills. Not at all where we wanted to be. If he ever looses that job we are in deep trouble.

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K.N.

answers from Boston on

Good luck, mama. My 4th (& youngest) daughter is a high school senior & has just received her 2nd acceptance letter this week. I feel your pain! A few things I'd suggest:

1.) Try to work WITH her, rather than against her -- even if it's just her perception. If she sees this as an adversarial situation she will (if she's anything like my 4 daughters) dig in her heels & feel compelled to prove you wrong. Then, there's no listening going on.

2.) How about if she can apply anywhere she wants AND she needs to visit and apply to a couple of schools that you prefer as well. It would be ideal if you could both agree on them but, having been down this road a few times, that might be unlikely at this point. Take her preferences into consideration when you choose the schools you want her to apply to and tell her where your choices fit her criteria.

3.) Have the financing conversation. Tell her exactly how much you can afford to spend on her education each year, exactly how much (if any) you're willing to take out in loans yourself. Make sure she understands that anything above this number is hers -- including books, living on expenses, etc. Then, LET IT GO.

4.) Sometimes, you don't have to be the bad guy. Let the admissions and financial aid offices of various schools play that role. As long as she applies to a couple of schools that you think will work, it'll be OK. If she applies, you're the good guy; if the admissions office turns her down or the financial aid office doesn't come through, you're STILL the good guy! IF she gets in AND the finances work, you STILL get to be the good guy!

5.) Help her research other funding avenues. Have either of you looked at collegeboard. com? This company is the SAT & AP exam company but their site offers so much more -- including ways to find & compare different schools and information on financing. Also check out www.fastweb.com. If it looks like you're helping her find the answer rather than just wanting her to see things your way, she may be more receptive to what you have to say.

6.) Be flexible and patient. Daughter #4 started the college search process by stating she was only going to look at California schools because that was as far as she could get away from home; she wound up applying mostly to schools within a 4 hour drive -- and 2 that are within an hour. No CA schools made the final cut. Daughter #3 insisted that she wouldn't go to school in state (and Massachusetts has 1 or 2 decent private schools *grin*, as well as reputable state schools). Now finishing her sophomore year, she's kicking herself for not applying locally & re-thinking about where she's going to finish up. They change -- and so do you.

7.) Insist she finish her education with at least a bachelor's degree. Leave everything else open to negotiation. My sister chose a profession based on the ease of working & having a family. Years later, she's still the only one of us who DIDN'T marry or have kids. It's nice to have a plan, but one never knows...

Is the college counselor at her school any help? Now's the time to ask them! The seniors should have all their applications & recommendations done so the college counselor may have a little time to start working with the juniors. Ask for a meeting with you, your daughter and the counselor to beging the process. Again, you don't have to do this all yourself -- including setting realistic expectations.

She'll find a way. As long as you're clear about where you stand AND stick to that, things will work out. Be supportive and be firm.

Hug...

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K.M.

answers from Kansas City on

I am what your daughter wants to be...I majored in Elem Education, taught for a few years, got my Master's in School Counseling and now I'm a 33 year old SAHM. I am very satisfied with all of my decisions--including the decision to go to public universities. I got accepted into a couple of private schools (including Boston College and University of Miami), but I knew I did not want loans. I stayed in-state (FL) and attended the university with the best elementary education program in the state. I did not want loans for two reasons: my earning potential was low and my husband (boyfriend at the time) was not taking out loans (he went to West Point) and I didn't want to bring debt into the marriage. Since I went to a very affordable university, I was able to do my student teaching in London (my university has a campus there). BEST EXPERIENCE EVER. I then earned my Master's degree at another state university--and was able to do it without loans.

Tell your daughter to look at the programs--not necessarily the school. A really great school may have a weak elementary education/early childhood program. Also, if she wants to live in TX after graduation, it might be easier to obtain a teaching certificate in the state she got her degree. I am a military spouse and states have all different requirements. I got my degree in FL, but then had to obtain teaching certificates in LA and OK--different tests, etc.

Have her talk to someone who had a lot of student loans--maybe someone that's been out of school for 5-6 years and is still paying them back. Loans aren't horrible, but the less the better!

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M.L.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I know you're venting, mostly, but let's just play around. These are just thoughts off the top of my head, and you can laugh at them if you wish. I haven't read the other answers.

Don't tear your hair out. Sixteen can be pretty young. Most kids that age don't know yet how to think past what they *want* to do. Even those teens who are earning money all the time are still learning how to think, and the ones who think they have all their ducks in a row... don't.

Forget the big loans for the moment. Treat the loans as a pipe dream. You and your husband are taking care of your whole family, and medical expenses eat up most of your savings. This is something the girl needs to realize, and she's old enough to think about it.

If your daughter really wants to go to an expensive school, what is she willing to do to pay her own way? Skip summer school and get a job so she can start banking more funds? Summer school - as good as it is - will not pay her bills. Does she have any financial responsibilities right now? It's time she did, even though they may be small ones. Being responsible for clothes, car insurance, and other high school expenses, on top of saving for college, is a *wonderful* school of experience.

If your daughter *can* be accepted to an near-Ivy League school, what is she willing to put in every year to help herself? Is she willing to do college on an eight-year or ten-year plan, taking a couple of classes per term while she works, or alternating work and school terms? Saddling oneself with long-term debt is not something to *count* on doing - or to count on someone else doing for them.

If your daughter's long-range goal is to be a homemaker and SAHM (and good for her), she will want to marry a man who not only can support the whole family, but also will be the kind of husband she'll want to make a home for. She doesn't realize it yet, but a high-priced university may not necessarily be the best place to find that sort of man - or the best place to become the sort of woman she really wants to be. Encourage her to talk with her school counselors, her church pastor, and other adults outside the family who can help her begin thinking through this.

Don't say, "This is impossible; stop thinking this way." Just ask her lots of questions. Ask out of curiosity, not to squash her dream - you know what I mean. A lot of it has to do with the tone of voice. Ask her questions to get her thinking a little more deeply. Ask about life, not about college.

Before there were student loans - yes, I'm that old - there was "Well, my grandparents will surely put me through college because they'll be unhappy if I don't go at all," and "Maybe somebody will leave me lots of money in a will" and other such imaginative college-funding schemes. Now kids are taught to fancy that their loving, education-minded parents will surely saddle themselves and their children with years of debt. A more realistic thing for your daughter to do, if she's serious about getting a college degree, is to investigate (herself - don't do it for her) not only public colleges but also small private colleges that don't have such price tags. Sometimes the best option is the most unlikely, and needs seeking out. Investigating is free (mostly). She can investigate everything without committing herself to anything.

She'll have to do that work herself, though; don't do it for her. Just ask her to think about fulfilling her best dreams by herself, without depending on somebody else's something-per-cent-interest, non-negotiable loans to do it for her.

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C.S.

answers from Miami on

First of all, she may not get into the schools she is considering because of her grades/test scores.

Second, if she plans to teach, then she should really consider what state she plans to teach in and then go to school in that state! Texas is still hiring teachers. I am in Ft. Lauderdale and our school system let go over 2,000 teachers (our county system - not the state!) last year because of budget cuts. It is not a good time to look for a teaching job in FL! Many other states are in the same situation. Because teaching license requirements vary by state, it is very tough to get a degree in one state and then move - usually will require an additional license.

You are completely right that she needs to consider potential income versus student loans. The FAFSA student loan calculator actually now tells you what sort of annual income you will need based upon your loan amounts. @ $30K per year for 4 years - $120K in loans, she would need a job making $166K to be able to pay back. I don't know too many teaching positions paying that!

Tell her to play with this website: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml

Also, the whole SAHM thing - I didn't find my husband until I was 35!!! That meant I worked for 14 years past college before getting married. Then my dream husband ended up with a chronic disease (well, he was born with it) so I have to work to maintain health insurance for my family. We do have children - but she needs to get real. You don't dictate when you meet Mr. Right, you don't dictate being a SAHM.

It sounds like she needs to not do summer school but get a job or two so that she can learn the value of money. I took AP and Honors classes but worked at Winn-Dixie (grocery store) as a cashier on weekends and school breaks from the time I was 16 to earn money to help pay for college. Sorry DD, time to join the real world!!

C.

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K.B.

answers from Tulsa on

She can WANT anything. You under no circumstances should be getting student loans. The good news is that they have tightened up the loan program. She probally won't be able to afford the private schools anyways so it will work out. If she refuses to apply and ends up not being able to go, she needs to work fulltime.
I majored in Elementary Education planning to work always. I burned out and quit before having babies. It took 10 years to pay off the debt.

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T.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Tell your daughter scholorship or junior college. I would elect for junior college because she seems to have an unrealistic goal, of bagging a rich husband at an ivy league school....(been watching too many movies)???

She's just a junior in high school now, the two years in an affordable junior college would allow her to improve her GPA and mature in her thinking and understanding how the real world works.

In the meantime, insist that she get a part time job.....even if it is just a day or two a week. Your child needs a serious reality check....it does not seem she understands or cares about the health issues in your family. Could it be that you and dad have been protecting your kids from the family finances and priorities?

Blessings.....

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R.J.

answers from Seattle on

Well.. if she's planning on "double" majoring in ECE and MRS... then it might light a fire under her tail to pull up her grades and start doing some 'well rounded applicant' extras.

At one time in my life I turned my nose up at the idea of an "MRS degree"... but quite frankly, moving in and out of sooooo many social circles... there are lovely, kind hearted, amazing men in every social strata. As long as a person isn't gold digging... it makes sense that if she wants to be a stay at home mom that she look rather realistically at what sort of career paths allow for that type of thing (extremely poor, and well off or better, or military are where one finds the majority of stay at home parents). If she can pull her grades up... a better school WILL be both a more 'target rich environment' as well as lay the foundation for certain social strata... if she positions herself right. Granted... murphey's law says she'll fall in love with a farm boy from a couple hours outside of Dallas, 2,000 miles from home, and they click at first because they remind each other of home!

I would definitely encourage her. Her aspirations will undoubtedly alter somewhat... but this gives her a good place to start working towards.

Ahem. And to start applying for scholarships as well. ((In general expect to get about 10% of those you write for. If she can write for 100 scholarships a year for the next couple years, she may well end up with a full ride to the school of her choosing. I had several proactive friends in highschool who did just that... and I've funded the majority of my later gotten education similarly.))

Although... 100k in student loans, spread out over 30 years is less than $300 a month. $277, actually. ((I'm not counting interest, because the larger the debt, the longer one has to pay it off... which makes interest about equal inflation))

Coming out of a failed marriage (11 years) I really do WISH I'd thought about what I wanted in a HUSBAND AND FATHER rather than "interesting boy to date".

Just my 2 cents... but it sounds like with clear goals she can really start doing some research and work towards those goals. Which is a pretty empowering thing.

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M.J.

answers from Sacramento on

I took honors and AP classes and still had a job. She really needs to get a sense of what the real world is like and that would be a good start.

I also imagined I'd meet Mr. Right in college, work a few years and then start a family. It didn't work out that way at all. I seemed to attract loser fraternity guys in college and graduated much more committed to my career than getting married. I didn't meet my husband until I was 29 and started a family in my 30s.

If she's really interested in teaching, at least for those "ideal" two years, she needs to realize that the best programs are through public universities. I have a number of friends in the teaching profession and they all chose public universities for that reason. She really needs to research teaching more to figure out the right university.

At the same time, she also needs to understand the reality of the teaching field right now. So many districts have laid off, it's not an easy field to break into today. She's going to have to be very career-driven and willing to relocate to be successful.

I think if you can get her focused on teaching, rather than the public vs. private aspect, she's more likely to realize the best steps.

Good luck!

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Oh dear - she needs a major reality check, eh? We jokingly nicknamed my mother "the dream crusher" because she was REALLY good at giving reality checks.

Here's the thing that needs to be said plainly to her...without being in the top 25% of her class with with average SAT scores, she's an average student. Assuming that you're middle class, and Caucasian, she's statistically like the majority of students applying to schools (while, middle class, female, in the middle 50% academically) and unlikely to get offered substantial merit scholarships, if she gets into these selective schools at all. So that means relatively little shaved off the price tag, and lots of student loans. She's a great candidate for a state school, and many public schools have GREAT education programs. In my state, one of the best teaching programs is at a $5K per year small, local state university and is regarded as highly as the education program at my university, which is now $55K per year. Crazy, right?

I would sit down with her and run the numbers. Use on-line loan calculators to figure out the likely monthly payments for the size of loans she would need to take. Then have her pick an area that she would like to live in and have her research teacher salaries and major living expenses. Just show her the math in black and white and let her draw her own conclusions.

Then...use spring vacations (we have them in February and April up here) to go and actually tour schools. Make a deal that some of the have to be public. There are many small public colleges and universities that are small and have that small, intimate, liberal arts college feel and many have excellent teaching programs. Hopefully she'll see the light. In a field like education, where there is no prestige and little money to be made, it makes no sense at all to shell out tons of money on undergrad education, especially where if she switches to elementary education instead of ECE, she'll eventually need to go back to school to earn her master's degree within a few years to maintain her license (at least that's how it works in my state). She should also clearly understand the salary and benefits differences between working in ECE (where many teachers I know with degrees work for $8-12 per hour with no benefits) and elementary ed, where the starting salaries are more like $30-$40K per year plus benefits.

Sounds like you've got your work cut out for you...I'm sure I'll be having similar conversations with my two oldest in another couple of years!

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N.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Tell your daughter that it's fine to make plans and have the perfect dream of your future but along with your regular plans you need to make contingency plans, because no matter how perfectly you lay your life out in a neat little row in your mind, extenuating circumstances will bluster in and knock your plans akimbo.

Let her shoot for the expensive schools with the tight acceptance percentiles. When she doesn't get in because she won't look at her grades with any perspective, at least she'll have a fallback plan instead of spiraling into a depression and living on your couch for the next year until she can figure out what to do next.

If she does manage to get into one of the expensive schools with low acceptance rates, maybe she deserves to be there. But let her know, just because the boys she meets there are going there doesn't mean they have any money at all, it just means their parents had money and could afford to send them there, or scraped and borrowed to be there, just like she did. ;)

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

the way to handle this is to go ahead and let her apply for these schools. and while she is doing it ask her to research ways to pay for the schools. remind her that all student loans for school should and will be taken out by her and that she will have to pay them back. teachers saleries are not much to pay back loans with. my son went to one of those schools. he went to carthage college in wisconsin. his yearly fees including books were close to $40,000 a year. we signed for a loan the first year and he had to figure out the money for the rest of the years. He did it. He now has student loans of aproximately $800 a month for a long time. He was lucky. got a good job straight out of school but her plan of teaching a few years and then being a stay at home mom does not address how she will pay the bills. She needs to realistically look at how she plans to pay for it.

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L._.

answers from San Diego on

There is very little that you can say to kids at this age. She will have to figure these things out on her own. It could take a long while too. My 2nd daughter is holding out against all hope that she'll find a rich man to marry. She lives in an area where it's a good bet that a lot of wealthy people are living. But she keeps dating normal guys and then getting upset that they don't share her long range ambitions. Champagne taste on a beer budget.

The best thing you can do now is pray for her. Our kids need a LOT of prayer.

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

I think you need to start visiting the state schools. She'll be surprised at the quality of the education you can get and the caliber of the student. Send her on a couple of overnights -- all the colleges do something like that.
Put it all on paper - the costs, her debt, how long it will take to pay off said debt -- show her. She's 16, but she doesn't understand.
BUT, private universities are usually heavily endowed and can give scholarships to make their tuition and room and board similar or cheaper than public universities. My daughter is looking at a small private school with tuition in the 50k range. Two students we know who go there have paid $3k over the past 4 years because of scholarships and RA positions.
SO - let her look. Remind her that she is paying for her education. And then you go and do your research.
A lot of girls go looking for the Mrs. and find that they'd prefer the MS. Maybe she'll figure it out.
LBC

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K.F.

answers from Salinas on

Let me get this straight. She is not in the top 25% of her class and didn't do so well on the SATs. She has never worked and has no money saved for her education. Her plan is to borrow $100,000 (I'm guessing here but I'm sure that's in the correct range) get a degree for a profession with starting pay around $35K per year?
I find it really sad she wants to go to a private school to find a rich guy to marry, where are her values? How exactly does she plan to snare this rich guy and will it be important to her that she actually be in love with him? She does not sound like she's 16 going on 30, she sounds very immature and a bit spoiled.
Have her crunch the numbers on paying back her debt without finding the rich husband. How many years before she'll be able to pay off that loan? what standard of living will she enjoy during that time?
College is about learning and growing into real adulthood. It's about finding yourself and gaining knowledge and skills to take care of yourself in the world. I find her take on higher education sad.

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Do your budget, and tell her point blank how much you will be able to afford to give her for college tuition. A very specific dollar amount. The rest is up to her. That is her reality check. Let her apply to whatever schools she wants to apply to. The bills will be in her name. Encourage her to do the research on the available career programs at her choice of schools. At 16, everyone thinks they have all the answers and everything just falls into place perfectly. You can talk to her about the reality of loan debt vs. earning potential and how crazy it is to plan to count on finding a rich man to take care of you without any kind of contingency plan, but she has some living and experiencing to do on her own before she is going to figure it all out. Good luck!

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

Sorry but this makes me crack up. I have a 21 yr old & went thru a lot of the same things you are. My daughter is in her senior year of college, graduating this May. You should consider having my daughter talk to yours. It's amazing how much my daughters attitude has changed about school and life and things she wish she would have done differently and most importantly listened to us. She really tells us these things all the time.

Unfortunately you are just going to keep banging your head against the wall. She doesn't want to listen to you and your POV and experiences. She is a selfish no it all at the moment. You will probably just have to put your foot down about the cost of a private semi ivy league school vs her income potential. She will come around in a few years, sorry.

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

You said a lot when you said she just turned 16. That was an age with both my sks where things got very black and white and no amount of arguing with them would make them see your POV unless they wanted to see it. If you were wrong, you were wrong. It's a tough stage. (And we put kids that age on the road? Yikes! I'm glad both my sks couldn't pass the driver's test til they were older.)

My SD dragged and dragged her feet on college (and for some reason wouldn't look in 2 nearby states - I think because DH and I went to schools there) and then finally found a culinary program that interested her. She missed most deadlines for applying to other schools and I thought she'd be home next year. When she found this program, I said, "Thank God she found a direction!" And I think she'll do well, too. She's going to also go for Restaurant Management and I think that will give her a foundation for many business opportunities.

I say this: lay it out. Give her that you have x money. If she wants to go Ivy League, she needs to heavily research how she's going to pay for it because you can't. Period. My sister went to a school that was $26K a year, her choice and HER bill.

I think that right now she doesn't know what she doesn't know and unless it's your bill, I'd try not to care. If she wants to limit herself, let her do it. If she's sure she'll marry someone rich and be able to stay home, etc, then let her hold her illusion. Between now and when she's 22 wearing her cap and gown, she will experience so much. My SD wanted to go into fashion (but can't sew). My SS was positive that engineering was his thing and even went to a HS with an engineering program, but is graduating with a PoliSci degree. People change.

I agree with the poster who said that the admissions offices and her school guidance office can be the bad guys. When she's not accepted or she can't afford it, she'll have to make choices. But at no point do YOU get dragged into paying for a label you can't afford. If she doesn't go now, then disappointing as it is, she doesn't go. Figure out what's next - like get a job and pay us rent or move out. Don't let her mooch off you, either.

If she gets saddled with debt, she does. SHE does, not you. She's making major choices, yes, but they are her choices. Sometimes the hardest thing is to say, "I love you, but this isn't my debt/problem/choice." and let the chips fall. My SS called DH just last night and DH listened but didn't "fix it". SS is 22 and about to graduate. He needs to figure a few things out on his own because one day DH won't be there.

So let her look. Let her try. But don't agree to anything extra on your dime and don't let her treat you with disrespect.

Oh, and my SS had a couple of choices and his wrestling coach said, "Go where the money is. If that school is offering you a scholarship, take it." The coach ultimately helped him choose so maybe a teacher will help her later.

I had about $15K in loans (even though I worked and had grants) and paid them off early. But there were a few years where I took the bus because I couldn't afford parking at the office, for example ($2 a day vs $6 per day). Your DD will have to make her own real-world choices when she gets there.

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L.C.

answers from Allentown on

Well, she's still young and not very realistic! My husband and I are both very well educated but honestly, for my daughter, it makes more sense to learn a trade than go to private university, getting into debt you can never repay, unless university is a track to a profession, academic excellence or a high paying job. You need to crunch the numbers for her. And get her working part-time at a teaching assistant job. Is she really going to get a guy to bail her out? Well, she's 16, reality hasn't hit yet... and her "husband" will be inheriting lots of debt if she follows through with this!

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J.V.

answers from Chicago on

Is there some way you can explain the long term effects of the debt she would take on?

I have my Ph.D. too. I'm glad I do, but I wish I didn't waste my 20s in school. I could have been making money, saving for retirement. I once figured out that my Ph.D cost me close to 1 million over all in terms of long-term financial consequences.

It's funny. I never thought I'd get married and be a SAHM, yet, that is exactly what I am. Maybe you could have your daughter do some information interviews with adults, to help her see that we rarely end up where we wish to end up. So you have to plan for the unexpected.

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J.W.

answers from St. Louis on

If she is taking such an immature stance towards choosing a college it doesn't sound like she is 16 going on 30.

I graduated a couple years ago from a private university. The only reason I didn't go to UMSL was location. I could not have worked full time, took care of my kids and go to a university that was on the opposite side of the city. UMSL has the best B school in the city. Better that Wash U which I think is around 45,000 a year and SLU, where I went, at 35,000 a year. UMSL is around 15,000.

Class size, my classes averaged 45 students a class. My grad classes were around 20 but the tuition for grad jumps up to 52,000 a year.

If you have good income you are screwed on the FAFSA. They don't care if you live in a mansion or a cardboard box, all they care about is income. You can have 1 kid or a 100, don't care, only who is in college.

My daughter will graduate from Xavier in a couple months. Two things to consider there, she was on almost a free ride because her test scores were in the top 10% and her GPA was a 3.8. She also graduated from high school with a year and a half under her belt doing AP classes.

I am not putting this out here to diminish your daughter, she does sound amazing. I am just hoping you can cherry pick from this and find a way to get her to realize she will be setting herself up for an epic fail if she isn't realistic.

I graduated with only 20,000 in student debt, not bad considering the tuition costs, I nailed a few scholarships too. :) beein smart is fun. :p I pay 611 a month on my student loans. That is huge when you look at the big picture. That is only 20,000! If I had taken loans for my full tuition it would have been 120,000!! I owe less on my house!

I really hope I gave you some helpful information to pass on to her. :)

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

Dreams are great but right now she won't get in Texas A&M, UT; nor Texas Tech. Why you ask? We just went through this with our son. Because of how Texas does the colleges, the quartiles, if they are not in the top 25% then their SAT or ACT scores MUST be very high. Our son graduated with a 3.0 but because of the excellent academic at his school he was not in the top 50%. His SAT and ACT scores were good but not enough to push him in at UT and A&M. Also, he did not get in at North Texas or Texas State.

A kid who graduated with a 3.0 and an ACT score of 25 couldn't get into those schools!!!!!

My husband and I told the kids that we would pay for their colleges but not out of state. IF they chose an out of state, we would pay the cost of in state and then they would have to make up the difference. Our son is going to an out of state university. However, we are paying for that because I'm an alumni and I get in state tuition! YAY!!! I never said that I would go into huge debt because little Susie has her heart set on Brown. Sorry, UT is pretty good too!!!

Again, dreams are great but she really needs a reality check. If a private school is what she wants then she needs to up the grades and the ACT/SAT significantly.

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

If she's not in the top 25%, and 50th percentile SAT's, it's unlikely she is going to get into the upper-level colleges she wants to get in to. Her expectations are unrealistic. So's the one about the rich husband. :)

Ultimately, you probably can't stop her from taking on the debt, if she is insistent on doing so. I suggest that in the meantime, you stop giving her any money, and make her get some kind of part time job so that she can start to understand the realities of money. (I've never given my kids allowance, so they were motivated to get jobs.)

My kids took honors classes as well, were/are in the top 2-5% of their class, and they had jobs by their junior years.

It sounds like you guys probably make too much money to expect much in the way of scholarships after you do the FAFSA. If you make over 80K, you are not likely to get scholarships. She could try applying for scholarships through FastWeb or Scholarship.com.

Why are you telling her to apply for any school she likes? It costs money to apply, and you could spend a couple thousand dollars applying to completely unrealistic schools. She won't get into Ivy League schools, or Stanford, for instance. I think if she's aiming too high you should tell her you will pay the application fees for 5 or 6 universities (that she is likely to be able to get into), and if she wants to apply for any others, she will have to come up with the money herself. The application costs can be pretty expensive, and she shouldn't be wasting your money applying to colleges you know she isn't going to get into.

Bottom line is you need to find every way you can to start getting her some real-life education on how expensive life is, and how hard it is to pay off debt.

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S.P.

answers from New York on

Tell her she has to apply to a few safety schools including smaller public schools "just in case." Check out the SUNY schools, and point out that she'll be near NYC.

And you can tell her this story: my son, who by the way thought he was transferring to a school in Australia when he started school, went to a good SUNY school (Geneseo). My daughter went to Tulane, which at the time was similar to what you are describing. He had a better experience, a better education and we paid out of pocket. She had little guidance, huge classes and we are all still paying student loans.

A big university with a big name is NOT interested in undergraduates (with rare exception). The big name professors do not generally teach undergraduates, they are there to publish and do research. All the good teaching and research positions are taken by graduate students (who by the way are teaching YOU.) A smaller college, even a good state one, is dedicated to teaching, not research, and in my mind is a much better value.

I went to a big public university, with a good reputation, and thought a private one would be a step up in class size, student guidance, etc. At least in my experience Tulane was very simliar to Rutgers, for a ton more money.

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L.P.

answers from Tyler on

We have cut this train off at the station with our dgtr. She is also a junior and is taking her ACT right at this very moment. We have given her a reasonable amount per semester that we, as a family, are comfortable spending per semester for college. We based that amount on state universities (Texas, which isn't cheap by the way) tuition, fees, room and board). She would love to go private, but has quickly realized that is out of the question on our budget. So, she is looking at 2 out of states that recruit heavily in Texas and offer the in state tuition if you have the right GPA and high SAT/ACT scores, you also must maintain a 3.75 gpa while enrolled. In other words, SHE is driving the bus on her escape from TX plan! She is taking every single leadership and volunteer gig she can get her hands on to up her qualifications for scholarships and I have promised to research and apply for every dollar she qualifies for in return. Getting a great education is her goal. I do believe in being in the right social and educational circles will improve your chances of meeting "Mr/DR makes enough income to have a SAHM" (couldn't come up with a cuter way of putting that!). However, she should be focused on getting an education, not a marriage. I met and married my DMEITHASAHM..see above..at SFA! Good men earning money making degrees are at every university. I wish I would've taken MY education more seriously, I am happily married and wouldn't change my family for the world, but I wish I had continued and completed my degree. Instead, hubby entered Chiro school and I worked and supported us. It has been a perfect partnership for 23 years now, but I don't have the qualifications for many jobs that I am perfectly capable of doing now...so frustrating!
Good luck, you just need to hand her the keys and see if she can start the bus!

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A.B.

answers from Sarasota on

You may have already done this, but you need to tell her point-blank that if she chooses an expensive school and goes into debt, it is highly unlikely she will be able to become a SAHM one day. She and her future husband most likely just won't be able to afford it.
I know moms who *deeply* regret their choice to go to expensive private schools that led to average jobs (in which most of their coworkers went to state schools) and saddled them with so much debt that now there is just no way for them to stay home.
One of them did marry a lawyer by the way. So I had assumed she'd be quitting after she had her first. Oh no. The husband has so much debt too, from his JD....and he's only pulling in about 60-70K as a lawyer. Which is typical for this area in this economy.
I mean honestly....society is just not set up anymore for the "MRS degree." Hey, I wish it were....but it ain't.
If she *really* wants to do the SAHM thing, her best route is probably to get her Early Childhood Ed degree/credentials as cheaply as possible and then set up her own home daycare. That way she will already be set up to stay home with her own children.
Just my 2 cents. Good luck!

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C.F.

answers from Portland on

I guess I'm just confused why she wants to spend the money to go to a top tiered school just to be a stay at home mom.

I mean I am a stay at home mom, for now.
And if I was planning to continue to be a stay at home mom, I would be satisfied with the state college education that I have...

I am not going to continue to be a stay at home mom, so I am planning on going to nursing school and getting my Bachelors of Science in Biology.

I'm not trying to rude or funny, but it just seems like a fancy, special education like that would be wasted, if her ultimate goal is SAHM...

I just don't get it.
And that is what I would say to her, if it were me, my only advice, I guess, sorry :(

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J.B.

answers from Tyler on

One of my daughters graduated from an out-of-state Ivy League university with an accounting degree. She even married a guy from a well-to-do banking family. However, he stayed drunk all the time, so after 5 years the marriage ended. She now makes the bucks and she's happily married to a guy who remodels houses. Happiness doesn't come in neat packages. Also, if your daughter THINKS she wants to teach school, especially early childhood, she should get a part-time job working in a nice daycare/preschool and learn first hand how it feels to deal with all those little ones and their parents. My granddaughter had such ideas until she did that. She loved the kids, but the pay was never enough, and she was paid almost as well as a public school kindergarten teacher. She is now a sales rep. I live in a college town filled with dreamy-eyed girls who think they are going to have the perfect job, the perfect rich husband, etc., and all they are going to get at the end of the day is a big debt, and a low-paying job, and a few lucky ones might find a hard working man who loves and cherishes them. Unfortunately, too many don't end up with even that. Encourage your daughter to work now in the field she thinks she wants to study. That's the best education she could get. I meet so many with teaching degrees who are waiting tables simply because they can make more money and pay the rent. One relative taught one year and hated it. She's a bartender now. But attending a private university won't make the college experience any better, nor will it enhance her chances of a better job---unless she's majoring in engineering or maybe accounting and aiming for jobs with prestigious corporations. The best thing you can do for her is give her a dose of reality.

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M.L.

answers from Dallas on

You need to look into Dave Ramsey. Listen to his radio show with her. On Friday's people call who have gotten out of debt. The one debt everyone is always the most relieved to get rid of is school loans. They drag you down for 10 years or more... like keeping a pet around.

Dave Ramsey is very high on state school education and very low on the private universities for the "value" they return to you upon graduation and looking for a job. The rate of return on a private school education is extremely low and you are burdened with uncompromising debt. Student loans are non-bank ruptable.

Do her budget with her. See how much early childhood educators are getting... and sit down and do her budget. She will quickly see there is no room in it to repay expense student loans. Plus... she doesn't sound like she'll be coming out at the top of her class.

My neice just graduated from UT Austin Teaching undergrad program at the top of her class and she was one of the VERY few who were even offering a teaching position.... and it was for a HS English teacher in a very poor performing school. Not the sort of school your daughter is envisioning, I'm sure. UT Education program is HIGHLY thought of in the "biz" and there are a LOT of UT alumni who are doing the hiring at school districts all over.

Your daughter's perceptions just don't measure up to reality. You need to go to the school from which the hiring departments are recruiting. This isn't an engineering degree.... its teaching small children. The hiring departments are looking no further than good state school programs.

It would be excellent if you could get her into a "sit down" with someone who hires for your local school district... so they can tell her what schools they hire teachers from.

My guess is that she doesn't really care about getting a job afterwards or being able to afford to live on her own. I suspect she feels entitled to the lifestyle she grew up with... and is hoping to get that thru a husband and family who support her.

Best of luck...

She could end up back at your house at 30 with her kids in tow... if you don't stop the enabling early on... before she racks up $100,000 or more in debt.

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L.F.

answers from Dallas on

I would have her sit down and put pencil to paper and really look at the total financial picture and figure out seriously the cost benefit ratio of a Tier 2 college. And also how she plans to make it happen - and marrying rich doesn't get to be included in the equation. :). I know we all want our kids to have their dreams, but unfortunately part of the college experience is growing up and making hard decisions. There was an article in the NYT last summer on this topic if you can find it. It was really good, the thrust of the article was that most of the time Tier 1colleges are not worth the financial burden. Less than 20% of there country's top CEOs went toTier 1 colleges. Good luck I hope you can find a happy medium.

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

*sigh* Just yesterday I met up with my high school BFF. We lost touch for many years and were just able to meet for lunch yesterday. I ended up with her senior year book and held on to it for many MANY years. I read the message I wrote back then, "we are finally ready for the world". Yes, that is the mentality, remember.

There is not much you can do to make her accept the dirty truth of all of your points, which are all correct. However, you can make her prove a couple of things to you.

Let's start with the top 25% of her class. Tell her to make that change. Show her the numbers. Draw a picture and show her where she is in her class and the number of students the school will accept...draw the big red circle around her seat in the class. It's okay to be a little harsh, it sounds like she needs it. I have always sketched or graphed a picture for my kids and it helps. Talking often goes out the window.

Now let's talk money. Again, show her the costs involved to go to school and show her what you have. Save your grocery & toiletry receipts for the next month and then give her some sort of college budget to live off. Ask her where the rest of the money is going to come from. If she is like my older daughter, this might be too real for her and she may resist doing this and say it is stupid, but make her because she needs to know.

Is it possible you are doing too much for her and she can't see reality? It sounds like there may be a little of that going on, which makes you a wonderful mother, but it doesn't give her any taste of reality.

By the way, the budget and finding the right college may be the right first college project for her.

Let her dream of the prince she will find in college. Maybe she will and maybe she wont. She will figure that part of life out on her own. Choose your battles...that is one I wouldn't waste a minute on.

As you assist and guide her into the right school, try to be positive and supportive. There is a fine line between allowing her to make her own decisions and letting her fall on her hind end. I say this out of pure experience. We tried to steer our daughter out of fashion design school. We were rather negative in telling her it was a hard profession to get into and it just wasn't feasible. She insisted on going and went and is now working for two major shows on the LV strip. She works for KA and Le Reve. She makes good money and is happy. By the way...we told her they would want someone experienced and she should get some experience before trying to work for a show like that.

And last, ask her to see her school counselor and get his/her assistance. Assisting with finding a college is part of what they do.

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J.T.

answers from New York on

Have you sat down and laid out a budget that she'll have to follow after college? My SIL did what your daughter is planning. She did go to an Ivy League school too and that's an experience she'll always have and that's great but boy has it impacted her financially. Now she's trying to get back into teaching after being home for years and can't even get a job! I hate to say it but all that tuition and interest expense has gotten her zero. We're fortunate enough to be able to pay for all college expenses for our daughters but if we couldn't, I would really really argue against expensive private if either of them was planning a teaching career. It's just impractical. I know I'm telling you what you already know... I do know of some super smart people who couldn't afford private so went to a specialized program at a big university. I think they had almost a small school experience bc it was the honors program. Something like that. Maybe you could look for those. Otherwise, I'd make her sit down and go through a budget... Tell her taking on those student loans may actually backfire in terms of her wanting to be a SAHM. Better chance of her surviving as a one-income family without loans to pay off. And try to get her to talk to actual teachers. I'd also try to find statistics on how many families have to be two income households now etc. I also thought I'd be a SAHM and now am the primary breadwinner. Show her divorce statistics. It's sad but you may have to try to scare her some. Show her these responses... I understand her wanting a small school though. Perhaps a small school that is below her academic abilities and therefore will offer her a scholarship may be the best path. And this summer is a good time for her to get a job.

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H.L.

answers from Houston on

Ahh, youth. When I was 16, I was going to marry a millionaire. It doesn't hurt to use a dream to get you going and even keep you focused. Life happens and plans change all the time, but you have to start with a goal. I like Annette D.'s idea of spelling it all out to her and letting her take it from there.

T.F.

answers from Dallas on

My daughter is 17 and a Jr at (Plano West) and has said she will not consider a TX school or public university. She does have good grades, mostly AP classes.

The goals my daughter has are different from your daughter's. The MRS. degree is not on the horizon for her... Her dreams are having her own business and being successful. She is very pro education as her dad and myself are. She is very business minded because she is involved with running a business (our business) and she plans to take advantage of the study abroad programs.

The #1 prospect on her likst right now is Duke. We've visited several times because hubby got his MBA there.

I strongly suggest going to college week when Plano has it again in the fall. Over 200 colleges had reps available for students to talk to this past fall. Also, when colleges are having presentations in the Dallas area go to ALL of them.. When the reps see that your name in on the list EVERY time they come to town, they realize.. "hey this kid is seriously considering us" and it can help you. Have your daughter go visit the colleges that visit the campus. I don't know about PESH but there are at least 3-4 colleges that visit Plano West each week.

As far as the financing of her college education, we are on different pages and many people completely disagree with us but we feel it is our personal obligation to get her out of college debt free and we have saved since before she was born to fund her college. We brought her in to this world, it is our job to raise her and get her out on her own so she starts debt free. She will not have the financial burden of loans due to our sacrifice and planning. And, yes, we funded our retirement as well... it is very critial just as college funding.

That said.... MANY college have great funding from alums and once you declare what major you are interested in, there are numerous monies available for scholarships.

We visited Baylor a few weeks ago and it is a great school. It is on a rise right now as well.

Our daughter's "job' is school and her love of being on the cheer squad. She does babysit often and makes some good money with the 4 families she sits for regularly ($12-$15 per hour)... she has GOOD families for babysitting.

Personally, I would not be telling my daughter "no". We are active in helping her research and visit other colleges so SHE sees what it will costs and what the expectations the college has as far as admission goes. We choose to work with her to give guidance so SHE can make a solid decision.

Good luck to you and your daughter! It is an exciting ride going through the process of college selection.

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L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Is there a chance that you can connect her with someone in his or her 20s who is living the reality of paying off college debt and has looked ahead and knows he or she will be paying for years to come? She might listen to a stone-cold reality check from someone closer to her own age and pretty recently out of college.

You say she loves kids and has always wanted (1) to be a teacher and (2) to be a SAHM.

Have her find a part-time job or volunteer with little kids as soon as possible. She wants to study early childhood education so make sure the kids she works with are in early childhood -- preschool, elementary. This experience alone may make her rethink things or it may indeed confirm that this is exactly what she wants to do. If her experience with small children has been entirely something like working with them at church or in very limited settings where parents are nearby, then she really does need some more realistic exposure to young kids so she can truly find out if she has the patience for her chosen career or not. I know she's busy with AP and so on, but she really does need some exposure to the age range of kids she thinks she wants to spend every working day with. A LOT of people get to college with one thing firmly in mind and change their majors once they get a dose of reality through internships or work-study programs; it would be a waste for her to go to a pricey college focused on this major and then find after two years that it's not at all what she wants and she has to change to another major or even another school.

She is so focused on getting out of Texas, period, that she is not seeing that it's better to go to the right college for your needs than to go to the best college on the planet. And you are totally right to worry about her being saddled with debt -- I have friends who are in their late 40s, did not go to graduate school and STILL have college debts just from undergraduate 25 years ago (yes, we were at a pricey private university where we all had to cobble together grants, loans and work-study jobs just to make it through).

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

When I went to college, my parents told me what they could afford, encouraged me to apply for scholarships, and that the rest was up to me. there were a few loans that they took out, they paid for some, and i was responsible for the rest. I got into an Ivy league school. My dad told me that if the school wouldn't give me the aid I needed, I would have to go ROTC. I just couldn't do that. So, I went to a different school. I always wondered what would have been, but it wasn't the end of the world as some kids seem to think not getting into the right school would be. Sit her down and tell her what you can afford and what she will be responsbile for. Explain that if she wants to be a SAHM, it might be difficult if she owes tons of money. I wouldn't worry too much about what she wants to do, because that could change. Have her apply for every scholarship that she can. Every little bit helps. And definitely fill out the FAFSA.

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M.T.

answers from New York on

Most guys at college are not looking to get married and provide her with an MRS degree. Most people do not marry right out of college anymore, they wait til they are older.
Is your daughter a junior or a sophomore? If you're doing FAFSA next year, I'd guess a junior, like my daughter is. Have you actually taken her on college visits? If not, get started, now. It will be a big dose of reality, for her to hear that they accept only one in 5, in 8, in 11 students who apply, how if you're not in the top 25% you will get NO merit money and just how far her $1,000 will get her. She may not want to listen to you, but after hearing the same thing from several admissions and financial aid officers, a healthy dose of reality may sink in. If she thinks that she is going to land a husband who will pay off $150,000 of school debt, well, I'm sure you're laughing as hard as I am, but she won't be laughing when in the end, she is stuck with that debt. Good luck!

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J.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

Why does she want to go to an expensive private school? Just to find a rich husband? I seriously would try to understand that bias, first things first. I have teacher friends who have gone to Stanford, Cal, Texas A&M, San Diego State, Michigan, you name it. It runs the gamut. If anything, the teachers from the higher prestige schools are the ones who are having a harder time finding and keeping tenure-tracked jobs. I'm sure it's just coincidence, but my sense is that which school you go to doesn't carry that much weight in the teaching profession.

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M.H.

answers from Dallas on

I agree with some of the other posters...with what you describe she will probably not get accepted into those schools. She would not even be accepted into the Univ of Texas at Austin or any of the other large public schools in Texas. My niece was accepted into all the schools she applied for but she is number 4 out of about 700 students in Cedar Hill. She has friends not too far below her who didn't get accepted at UT. The public schools in Texas only have to accept students who are in the top 9% of their class. I suspect the private schools may be even harder to get into. I read recently that Princeton only accepts about 9% of its applicants.-so not good odds.

L.A.

answers from Austin on

Let her apply wherever she wants, but tell her exactly how much you will be able to pay per year.

Then also add in Flights to and from college each year.. This means fall semester, Winter break, and returning home for the summer. Books, Clothing expenses, any other events she may want to participate in.

Also let her know..
The students that have "Real" money.. go and blow and do not even worry about money. If they are in California and want to go snow skiing that weekend, they go.. They have open charge cards. If they are in NY and want to go to the city for the weekend they go.. There is no planning and saving.

Our daughter is in college up east and she has friends that fly home for the weekends to California to get their hair cut, or to go to a family birthday party, etc.. How is your daughter going to feel, when she is not included because her Classmates cannot include her?

Our daughter is in a Private college.
She applied to 9 top tier colleges and was accepted to all of them.

When she graduated from High School
She was a National Merit Scholar
She was Published 2 times (again once she was accepted)
She was a Presidential Volunteer of the year for 4 years
She graduated with an accelerated Diploma and a Fine arts Diploma

Here is the deal.
We do not have much money. We told her we do not have much money.
We told her to apply wherever she felt she was interested, but she was going to have to depend on scholarships and grants. We gave her a dollar amount.. and said, "this is all we can guarantee per year."
She was extremely fortunate to be awarded Presidential scholarships and grants at all of the colleges she was accepted to.

I also learned from other moms with children out of stated to have at least 1 college in state and close to home to be accepted to, in case.. There were a family emergency and our child would want o come home and be close by.. Or in case our daughter became ill and would need to come home to recover.. (Mono was the example used for one friend. Her daughter became ill her freshman fall semester and was too weak to return for almost a whole year). Another friends son became very ill with a serious physical problem and since he had been accepted to UT he was easily able to transfer here at home. He did not return to his original college until his junior year.

Put it in her court. Do not tiptoe around the dollar amount. Explain we can help you with $5000. per school year.. or $10,000 per school year. This will include EVERYTHING. Books, Tuition, travel expenses, housing, food, fees... Be honest and keep in mind your other children.. And then let your daughter figure it out.

She will have to make the decision. IF she is smart, she will begin looking now for scholarships. Some she can begin applying to now..

Also encourage her to start looking for a job in day cares. Especially this summer. If she cannot find a job, she could volunteer at a Church nursery or summer camp to get some experience. It will be an eye opener for her.
I actually took an early childhood development class in High school, it lasted the whole year. I then attended Texas State. They have an excellent Early Childhood Development Department.

It should open her eyes into what it really is all about..

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