Is Expensive an Expensive College Worth It??? (jFF)

Updated on October 19, 2012
L.O. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
33 answers

My friend has an extremely bright boy about to graduate from high school. He has decided he wants to go to a small liberal arts college in a differnt state. The school costs $51,000 a year. The parents have saved money for this and are OK with the cost.

In my opinion, the purpose of college is to get a degree that will allow you to get a job.. A good job with a decent salary. I know that I would not be paying that high tuition to get a degree that my child could get at a different school for a lot less money. Hus and I have discussed that our kids will probably go to an in-state college where teh tuitiion is currently abotu $20,000 a year.. which seems liek quite a bargain.

What do you think mommas??

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answers from Dallas on

My husband went to a super expensive, exclusive university. (He had some scholarship, thank goodness.) He graduated with honors, then proceeded to get a job that had nothing to do with his degree, or chosen field. He has been very successful in this field, and built a good career. He's been there for over 5 years and counting. And, you know...they recently told him they only hired him for that fancy school and degree. (Because, he had no experience in that field.)

I hope someone will tell the boy, that liberal arts degrees are consistently on of the most useless degrees to have. (seriously, it's been proven.) Unless he wants to be a teacher, they pretty much go unused and jobs aren't that fond of them. Education can look really great, in any case.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

it depends on the kid. my boys were as different as 2 kids could be. they went to catholic school through 8th grade. when it was time for highschool the oldest went to a military college prep there were less than 500 students total at the school. he went on to a small college (carthage) in Wisconsin. spent $40K plus a year to go there. got his degree in actuarial math and got a job that pays $60k a year immediately after graduating. second son chose the public high school and then public state college which had 30K kids. he got his degree in computer engineering and got a great job before he even graduated.

it is all about the kid and the fit. my oldest son did not want huge school he was able to shine in the smaller setting. the younger one would have been nuts the first semester in the smaller location. you can get a great education at a small community school for less money. but the point is you get what you give. so the kids will get as good an education as they work for while they are there.

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answers from Indianapolis on

It depends. If they have the money and he wants to go to that school then fine. For me my daughter will be going in state unless she gets a scholarship somewhere.

I just hope the school he's going too has programs that he can major in where he can support himself later. Liberal Arts degrees aren't in demand right now. Good luck to him.

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answers from Albany on

Depends on a thousand different things. I currently have two boys in 'expensive private colleges'. However, they both have very substantial academic scholarships, and government grants.

Both were offered free rides at our very good state university system. However, I don't believe it would've been a good fit for either one, and for different reasons.

So for US, it's totally worth it. For YOU it may not be. For your friend it MAY be, like every other parenting decision, it's a personal choice. What you feels works for your kids works for your kids. What your friend thinks works for her kid works for her kid, you know?

Even MY 3 kids, within my own family, have very different needs. Getting the second one where he needed to be was very different from the first one.

The third one is aiming even higher than the other two and is hell bent on ivy league med school. She does her part, we'll do ours. We're not 'giving' her anything she doesn't need.

I should also mention that all three of my kids will graduate with some debt. Not the WHOLE debt, but they ARE aware they are financially responsible (to some degree) for their own education. So they are both working and paying as they go to keep their own debt down at the end.

I think it's very important it's their perception they are WHERE THEY WANT TO BE. So as they don't wake up 3 weeks into their first semester hating life and wondering "Whose idea was this anyway, I KNEW I wouldn't like it here".

All that said, would I pay 200k for a child's LIBERAL ARTS degree, probably not.


And, yeah, I agree with whoever said what's JFF about THIS?!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

NYMetromom, you wrote:

"The only rule of thumb is to not major in Fine Arts, English, Women's Studies or some other BS kind of subject if employment is the goal."

While I like the rest of your post, I disagree with the above. I majored in Fine Art (BFA degree), and it is not a "BS" subject. I've been gainfully employed as a graphic designer for 30+ years. What would have been foolish for me would have been majoring in Business, Math, or some other field for which I have no interest or affinity. If an art grad is talented and practical they can make a decent living in this field.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Personally, there is some value to the "expensive" school because it can pay professors more, demand more of them in terms of publishing and research requirements and by default progress the learning of their students in a chosen field.
I went to an in-state public university for undergrad and I was floored how much I was not taught, was not offered and was not expected of me in my field. If you can't properly teach a subject, don't offer a major in that discipline, but they did.
I currently am completing my master's at a private, expensive, college and I am amazed at what this university provides their undergrads. It is incredible - not just gizmos and whistles, but incredible professors, great on-the-job experience, competitions, professional speaker series, etc.

So, based on my experience, you get what you pay for:) I am ok with whatever my kiddos choose to do. Right now we are saving with a $40K a semester budget in mind. Prices are only going to go up.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You don't base value on tuition. You base value on the reputation of the school for the degree you are going to get.

There was no way I could drive to UMSL, work and take care of my kids but UMSL, state college, had the highest accreditation for their business school in St Louis. Next is St Louis University where I did go, and then Washington University. UMSL was 17,000 a year, SLU 32,000, Wash U 40,000. Go figure! :)

The other two "Universities" that offered business degrees were Fontbonn and Webster. Both cheaper than SLU, more than UMSL and the degree is worthless because they aren't even remotely accredited.

So I guess I am saying there is no easy way to figure out value, sorry. At least in Missouri our state schools are more accredited than the private schools. I don't think that carries across the country. Then again in some cases it is harder to get into the state schools than their private counterparts.
TF's answer made me think of something funny yet telling. We had an adjunct professor teaching grad finance lecturing us on how much better he was than us because he got his MBA from Harvard. He went on about how without a degree from Harvard we could never expect to be a CEO of any major corporation blah blah blah. He couldn't understand why all the students were laughing while he was going on about how great he is. Dude!! You are an adjunct professor at St Louis University!!! Adjunct!! We won't even take you as a full staff member!!! Oh yeah!! Real impressed with what your degree has done for you!

So the moral of this story is apparently idiots can get MBAs from Harvard, they just cost a bit more than the MBA from SLU. :p

Oh yeah, tons of respect for this professor, "Why do you get here at six when the class doesn't start till seven?" "Because if I have another beer with dinner I will fall asleep in your class." Yeah I found two beers were the perfect number to make it through his class with my sanity in tact.

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answers from Washington DC on


I would rather my child study at a college they WANT and in a field they WANT so they can be successful - as the successful person may not make a ton of money - but they will ENJOY their chosen career.

And that liberal arts college that he wants to go to? It might be his "ticket" to his career field - where they offer things that others MIGHT NOT. You NEVER know.

What will you do when these shoes are on YOUR feet? your child comes to you EXCITED about this education they can will lead to a promising career...are you going to say NO?

What do I think? I think if my kid is excited about a certain university and it will help them achieve their goals? I'm behind it. I'm supporting it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

It all depends on the student and the course of study...

My oldest was never the straight A student, and didn't get the scholarships and such to go to college. She is, however, very bright and determined.

She paid her way through college with loans, grants, and working. We did help where we could by keeping her on our insurance and paying her car insurance.

She worked her tail off, got a double major in Genetics and Biochemistry, and then started looking at graduate school.... She sent apps to 5 schools to work on her PhD (skipped the Master's.... really pretty common in the science fields, apparently), and was accepted at 4 of them, and given tuition vouchers and a stipend....

She just defended her PhD thesis 10 days ago at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD...... that was quite an experience, seeing our "baby" (it doesn't matter how old she is... she will still be our baby!) talking about things I sure didn't understand!

Anyway...... much of it depends on the fit of the college, the student, and the course of study...... My SIL had a full ride scholarship to a local private (but VERY good) college, and got kicked out... he couldn't manage to get himself up in the morning, and missed his classes, and pretty much flunked out.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it depends a lot upon what the child intends to do in life. There are some fields (corporate law, academic medicine, some others) where where you went to school matters a lot. Now, many small colleges are not truly prestigious in a national or global way. Going to small liberal college X that no one outside your state has ever heard of is unlikely to open doors down the road. Going to a prestigious, well known liberal arts school with long standing ties to well known graduate programs may be different. And going to Harvard will never close a door in your life. I don't want my son to get a good job with a decent salary. I want him to get the career that he has always wanted. And if that means he wants to get a biology PhD at Harvard or a law degree at Stanford, going to some schools for undergraduate will make that quite a bit easier. Also depending upon your field, the students and professors you meet at school may remain valuable contacts (and friends) for life.

ETA: The most recent research shows that a college education more than pays for itself financially in both lifetime earnings and happiness (however the researchers assessed that).Over their earning lifetimes, college graduates earn substantially more (even taking into account both the cost of tuition and the additional 4 years without income) than non-graduates This was true ACROSS emplyment fields including blue collar ones and the education did not have to relate to the field entered. So I wish people would simply stop bashing the liberal arts education.

Also - a liberal arts education teaches kids to think, reason and examine their beliefs, relationships with others and to become true members of civil society. I do not believe one can possibly overestimate the value of this type of education.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If your children work their butts off all through school academically ,extra activities, and volunteering... And you come to realize, this child is pretty exceptional..and they decide that the perfect college for that child is a school, not in your state and is a small college , you will be trying to figure out a way to make it happen.You will want what is best for your child.

Most of us, can only dream of our children having this opportunity. We all dream of the very best for our children's futures.

Our daughter at the age of 3 wanted to know how school worked. I explained elementary school, middle school and high school. Then I told her, if you make really good grades you will get to go to college! You get to live at the school! She said, "I want to go where it snows."

I was stunned. I had never even seen real snow.. So I told her.. That sounds like a good plan. Those schools are really expensive and mommy and dad do not have a lot of money, so you will need to work really hard and make good grades so you can get scholarships and grants. to help pay for those colleges.

She did it. Applied to 9 top tier colleges and was accepted to all of them with Scholarships and grants.. We had not even visited the colleges, and so she laid them out and based first on how much would be awarded and granted to her.. we began visiting the colleges.

I was a little worried.. We had visited some amazing campus's but nothing was just right.. when we did find the perfect match, it was a small liberal Arts college,, Our daughter literally glowed there She lit up, she looked like she belonged there. She was very involved on campus and had her own little world up there.

Graduated with honors 2 degrees, before she even graduated she was offered 2 jobs.. She had not even applied!.. She is now working and continues to be offered jobs.. Again has not even had time to update her resume since her Junior year in college..

Her classmates are now all of the country and around the world. Working or in graduate, Medical or Law schools.. Great networks.. to call on..

This is what was best for her. No way could we afford 250,000.... but she worked her butt off all of those years. She deserved to be rewarded for her continued dedication to her education. She knew that the Large public Universities were not for her. She knew that staying in state, would not allow her to learn to be independent..

She has found that when people ask her where she attended college down here.. they are very impressed that she went so far away, and then when they find out she graduated as a double major at this college,, they are pretty blown away.. I think mainly because they are wondering how did L. A and MR. L. A.. end up parenting such a great student.. (hee, hee).

You will understand when your own children are amazing and getting ready to graduate..

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It depends on the child. My 17 yr old just applied for Early Decision at Duke. It will run us about $60,000 a year if she gets accepted. Her alternate schools are USC, Tulane, Elon, SMU, Stanford to name a few. It is the QUALITY of education she is looking for.

We have saved since before she was born in order to get her out of college debt free when the time comes. We feel it is our obligation as parents and we will do that. Some say blah to that but she is very keen on the costs and value of college.

I realize $20,000 is a bargin if you are looking to go for bargin rates colleges.

Our daughter has higher expectations and wants to go to a well accredited school that is recognized all over and respected. If she does not get into Duke for undergraduate, she ill go to Duke for her MBA. Her plans now are to go to Harvard for an MBA if she gets into Duke.

There are many factors that are pro to going to a great school. I know from ex corporate marketing, the grads from Duke, Harvard, Stanford, USC, and places such as that made a substantial more money than those who went to lessor known schools but were good employees.

We will not limit our daughter and her goals. We will support her and stand by her. We are different than many in that we are highly driven and motivated. We started a company in the worst possible time of the economy and our entrepreneur attitudes and drive has been very successful. We don't look at how much something costs, per say, we look at the value we get from spending.

Now many kids have gone to community colleges and turned out just fine, I am not saying they don't, but we are not the type to squash goals and dreams because something can be cheaper. We are talking education here... not materialistic spending. Education is priority around here. It can make a lifestyle difference for the college graduate's lifetime.

Just my two cents!

I will add that our daughter is very involved as a partner in our family business (raw materials). Experience with our company will only help her in the future. Even if she choose not to be in our business, or any business at all.... she understands the importance of how a business is financially run, the forecasting of sales and profits which in turn will help her personally when she is managing her own funds. She is currently in a business class at school where they have to make an online business work. Her idea was chosen, she is CEO, they have a CFO and marketing person and at the end of the semester, this group plans to take this business idea to a holding company to be reviewed to see if they want to purchase it. Entrepreneurship is awesome!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I did not go to a large state school, but I did teach at one for many years. I could not have been a student there -- I would have hated it and likely dropped out of school and not gone on to get my PhD. The school has to be a fit and not only offer the desired degree, but be well regarded in the field for the degree. You might be able to get the same degree at a less expensive college, but in some fields, the department matters for the future.

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answers from New York on

I don't think the education necessarily is always better and I know lots of very successful people with "lesser name" college degrees. But as a friend said, certain colleges at least get you the interview. In my dept at work, we only interview from certain schools. We know we could be missing some equally bright or brighter students from state or "cheaper" schools but realistically, we only are going to spend so much time interviewing people so we focus on a few top (and mostly expensive) schools. So that's one argument to pay for the best possible college name. Some state schools though are very well ranked. Same time, if a child plans to go into a career that isn't that high paying and debt will be incurrred for a "fancy" degree, I don't see the point. My SIL was a teacher and graduated from an ivy league school with tons of debt. It took YEARS and YEARS to pay it off and then she stayed home with her kids. Her experience was priceless in a way and she'll always have that degree but same time, once she wanted to get back to work, she couldn't even get a job at all despite that degree. Guess it was too old to matter. So lots of factors go into the decision vs a blanket statement can be made, IMO. I went to a smallish, expensive private college and loved it so much I want my children to have that choice. So we will pay for it if they want. But we have that flexibility. I don't think people should mortgage their house to do it.

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answers from New York on

It depends on the kid.

I was an impossible kid. Sensitive, artsy, problem child. Took self ridiculously seriously. Did great at a small, very academic liberal arts college. Not sure if I would've had the maturity and equanimity to handle a big state school with a big frat/sorority scene.

And, yeah. Am more than a tad embarrassed now at how self-important, immature, and all-round expensive I was.

But there are kids who'll do a whole, whole lot better at a smaller school. And small schools do give scholarships. I got one. And there are kids who get into Ivy League universities and feel like they can't turn the offer down. That would be my husband, among others.

And, last thing, I don't necessarily agree with you that the whole purpose of college is to get a good job with a decent salary. If that's what your kid wants, great. But for plenty of kids, college isn't the last stop on the education train. They're pre-med, pre-law, pre-PhD.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I went to a pricey private college for my B.S. Very exclusive, very competitive, and very expensive. But the "prestige factor" opened some doors when looking for a job. (Plus I did very well if I do say so myself). Then while working full time, I decided to try some graduate level courses at the local state university. I kid you not -- the state university's idea of graduate level courses were the SAME as my undergraduate courses. One of the books we used for a grad level course was the same one that I had for an undergraduate course on the same topic! I really didn't learn anything new! The facilities and resources at the state university were really pathetic and crappy compared to what I had been accustomed to at the private univ.

I think for the high-tech fields like math, science and engineering, it can pay to go to the higher priced, competitive schools. For the liberal arts type majors, it probably doesn't make much of a difference.

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answers from El Paso on

Well, while I personally would never pay $51k/year out of pocket for college, if I had gotten the scholarship money for it, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

More expensive generally (admittedly, not always) translates into several things:
Smaller school, therefore smaller student to teacher ratio, therefore more personal relationships with professors early on. I NEVER had a TA or GA teaching a class at the school I went to, and the largest class I ever sat in was MAYBE 40 students.
Generally a more academically driven student populous. Who's going to pay $50k a year just to drink/fail out?
Ability to branch out from your major a little easier. With a smaller school, it can be easier to get into classes that aren't related to your major or minor but that you're still interested in since there aren't as many people who HAVE to take them.

All in all, yes, I think $50k/year is a lot, but if the parents are willing, then the kid is lucky. I loved my school, and going to that smaller school away from home allowed me to branch out more than a lot of the kids I went to high school with ever did.

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answers from Seattle on

TOTALLY depends on what said child wants to do with their lives, and the schools themselves.

Ex1 Career Path) K12 public general Ed teacher v. Highschool lit teacher at private school. Business degree for own & op their own bakery, or business degree to work for a Forbes 500. Accounting degree to be a CPA or Accounting degree to work for World Bank. History degree to teach at the highschool, college, university, or Ivy League school? Biology degree for premed or biology degree for genetics? Engineering degree to work with the city planners, or to work for NASA.

EX2 Schools). Michigan is a state school. It's also (arguably) the best medschool in North America. (There are lots of other examples where state schools have more 'clout' than an Ivy League school with a weaker (or nonexistent program... Although its USUALLY in reverse). GRADSCHOOLS often feed out of particular schools. One needs contacts. To get into X gradschool, one may need to avoid Y undergrad, and aim for A, B, or C undergrad degree

EX3). Networking. Who you know, in many fields, is FAR more important than anything else. There may be 1000 individuals as qualified... The one whose roommate when to school with the boss, current employee, etc. has their foot in the door. MANY (if not most/all) fields are like this. Whether its music industry, mechanical engineering, high finance, NASCAR, etc. Knowing the right people is half the battle.


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answers from Boston on

My husband and I currently have one child. If he decides to go to college, it will be the college of his choice. If it is out-of-state, but is the BEST for his major and field, and is excited for the opportunities offered, we would do our best to support him. We've started a Savings fund for him when I was pregnant. Hopefully once he reaches that age he will have more then enough for the college of his chosing. He wants to be an artist, while I know that he is only 8 and this might change, I know very well what schools are good in the Arts. I lived about 25 minutes from Ringling growing up. I know how much I would need to save.

Also, don't dismiss it just yet. Scholarships, grants, etc help. My brother had a full ride to University of Florida, and a grant for his Ph.d. program at G.W. University in D.C.

Even with a Ph.d. it took him a year to find employment.

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answers from Boston on

Depends on the child and what he or she plans on doing afterward. It's inaccurate to say that a degree from X school is the same as a degree from Y school. Some schools count more than others, and having that elite school on your resume can make the difference between getting hired or not and how far one advances. There are also alumni connections for internships and job placement to consider - some of those elite private schools have strong alumni networks, which can make a big difference in job placement, but those kinds of "ins" are really only needed in very competitive fields.

All that said, one has to begin with the end in mind and students and parents are wise to look at higher education in terms of career placement. Most of us don't have $200K lying around to finance our children's whimsy and intellectual curiosity. There has to be the end goal of lucrative employment on the other side (and/or an advanced degree if that's what the student's career requires). I think that if one of my kids was definitely going to pursue law or medicine or a career that requires a master's degree, I would push more strongly to contain the costs of the undergrad degree knowing that the student would be borrowing heavily for the advanced degree.

At the end of the day, my kids will not be going to $50K per year schools unless they get substantial scholarships - one or two of the 4 are probably capable of shooting that high, one will be a good candidate for a low-cost state college and I haven't figured out a trajectory for my youngest yet. But if parents have planned well and have that kind of money to spend, more power to them (and more financial aid for the rest of us!).

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi Lisa-

I think that a college needs to be a 'good fit' for the student. I have one son 'graduated' from a state school...a daughter graduating in december from a different in state school...and 2 kiddos in yet other state schools.

Each college selected was mainly because of what 'majors' they offered. The tuition between the state colleges/universities was negligible.

I am the 'product' of NY State schools. My (now ex) was the 'product' of a VERY expensive private top ten school. I proof read (and made MANY corrections) most of his papers during his schooling.

Any hoo...I would 'pit' MY state college/university educational experience against MOST any private (read $$$$) setting ...IMO...I got a better education at a fraction of the cost.

But...other folks make decisions/choices based on their own experiences and desires...

I mostly concern myself with 'my' kiddos...

Best Luck!

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answers from Charlotte on

Lisa, I understand exactly what you are saying. My folks couldn't afford to send me to college. I'm VERY lucky that my number one choice was an in-state school and I got enough grants and loans to take most of the financial burden off of them. However, I had the personality to thrive at a large institution. Not all kids do.

I really do believe that the student and school need to be a good fit. If they aren't, kids can be miserable and not do well. They can also flunk out and there's all that money down the drain.

There are SO many small schools for good students that don't cost $50 grand. There are schools in the low 40's and even some in the 30's. If someone has a religious kid (though I'm not sure a Catholic family would be interested), there's a school called Grove City in Ohio that is VERY affordable at around $20,000. And they have kids with high SAT's and ACT's too. There are even small schools that have kids work for their tuition.

My college boy wanted to go to a small school - large schools held no interest for him, and I felt that he would be very unhappy at one. I truly believe that fit is SO important, and we are very lucky that he is so happy in his school. But he knew that we wouldn't be bothering with $50,000 schools that didn't offer substantial scholarships. As it turns out, the school he chose gave him enough that the cost ended up being less than what we would have paid for an in-state school.

I don't quite understand why people pay SO much for a school when there are so many schools to choose from, but they do. Anyway, a large state school isn't necessarily the only deal, Lisa. Private school cost can be affordable too.


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answers from Minneapolis on

Having attended both an expensive small, private college and then a big public university there is no question in my mind about the difference in quality. The science classes at the big university involved very little thinking for yourself. The lab classes involved observation of results but no analysis of the meaning as it related to the hypothesis. The lab quizzes were a joke, the lab assistant would give everyone the answers after 10 minutes. I was so disgusted.

The small liberal arts college taught me how to think and analyze. It gave me skills to take on new jobs and learn them quickly. I have never had trouble getting or keeping a job and have had people try to recruit me.

I feel very fortunate that my parents had the foresight to save very early for my education so that I had the choice.

Plenty of people succeed or fail in both systems and my husband is a great example of somebody who just didn't fit into the college environment at all (left after a year) but has been running his own business for 25 years and has a dedicated customer base because he is so good at his job. But for me personally, I attribute a lot of who I have become to the wonderful small college experience I was fortunate to have.

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answers from New York on

Therea are many factors in addition to the college. Is the person a go-getter? What is their major? I have twin nephews who went to Ivy League schools - very recognizable highly regarded institutions. One majored in film-making, the other in enviromental studies. They graduated 2 1/2 years ago at a cost of about $250K per kid. Both are very under-employed. both have huge debt as dose my brother an dsister inlaw. Conversely, I have two nieces who went a different route. One did community collge for the first 2 years then transfered to a local 4 yr college for her degree, the other went to a state U all 4 years. Both have good jobs in their fields and very little debt.

I've alraedy told my kids the first 2 years are community college until they decided what they want to be when they grow up - and they will be living at home. I am not going to subsidize or outright pay for them to "get the college experience" (translate party).

On the other hand, a business, economics or math degree from Harvard would probably pay for itself in less than 10 years...

My son who hates school, will probably go into a tech field such as welding, plumbing , eletrical, etc. since he's really good with that kind of stuff and has an entrepreneurial personality. He'll make way more money and own a home before his friends get out of college...

Every kid, every education, every career is different. The only rule of thumb is to not major in Fine Arts, English, Women's Studies or some other BS kind of subject if employment is the goal.

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answers from Dallas on

When I was deciding on schools I had a small university out of state all picked out and my parents were completely okay with it despite the cost. Because it had the degree program I wanted, smaller classes, more individual learning experiences. In the end the idea of living 2000 miles away from home got me and I chose an in state school with the same type program. The way I see it if there is a degree that he can get with the potential to get a job in a field he loves rather than just settles for I would be all for it. If that's what he has decided and his parents have saved the money for it then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

Now from a different perspective, by the time my kids reach college age I can only imagine what the cost of a 4 year college degree is going to be <shudder>. I am prepared to save as much as I can but I have the feeling that all we will be able to afford is an in state school but I will continue to save and as long as my kids will be happy where they are I'll try my hardest to make it happen.

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answers from New York on

Hi Lisa,
First off, I'll just mention, this is not a JFF question. You are asking a genuine parenting question. Just For Fun means silly, frivolous, like "JFF, Who are you voting for on Dancing With the Stars?" With a kid going to college next year, there's nothing fun about discussing the costs!
If the parents can afford a fancy private school, that's fine if that's how they want to spend their money. It doesn't mean that their son will have a better chance at a job or graduate school, it's not like they are paying for an Ivy League education. The choice of college should be about what school offers the best program for what the young adult is going to study, within that student's budget.
My daughter will attend a state school or a school that offers her a financial package that will equal a state school cost. We have some money saved, not enough to pay her entire tuition so she will need to get some scholarships, work during summers and probably some p/t job while she is away at school. It's not worth going into debt for an expensive school, IMO. Certainly not in my daughter's case, as she plans on going to veterinary school after ($$$$$$) and if not accepted, some other graduate level program ($$$$$$), and once she has her DVM or a Ph.D, no one will care where her BS in Biology came from, so better not to still be paying for it when she's 35.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I think it really depends on your major. I just read an article about law schools and it stated that tier 1 law school graduates get well paying jobs in their field. If you graduate from a tier 4 school you are either doing some thing other than law with your degree or doing research work that you didn't need a law degree for. If you are going to be a nurse I think going to a state school is the smart move. Why pay $120,000+ more than you have to for the same degree and the same starting salary.

Other thoughts....
I went to a small private university. My English 101 professor also taught at Villanova University and Montgomery County Community College.

My husband is an entrepreneur that started his own business 6 years ago. He recently ask my 14 yo this rhetorical question. If I told you you had to make $1 million dollars by the time you are 30 years old and here is $200,000 cash for you to get started, how are you going to do it? He ask her if she really thought it was wise to spend the full $200,000 on a four year degree. Personally, I think the cost of colleges is outrageous and the cost/benefit is simply not there for the more expensive colleges although I do believe it is fairly important to have a degree. (FYI... I have my Master in Business Administration and I don't use it at all but at least my former employer paid for my Masters degree:)

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answers from New York on

As I'm going through the college process with my daughter, I'm learning that many private/expensive schools will actually cost about the same as a state college. Private schools offer lots of grants and scholarships to the types of students that they want to attract.

Is it worth more? That really depends on the child and what they want to study. In my daughter's situation, our state university is just not for her, it's a really bad fit.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We are planning on doing

The rules of the world are not the same as they were even 10 years ago, so you can't keep doing the same thing.

I paid for my own college - 3 three degrees and I took it seriously. I went to every class. I don't understand why students work their hardest to get the least possible out of college! Oh wait, it's because they aren't saddled with the loans, so it makes no difference to most of them. *I* worked by butt off and learned as much as I could....and have turned out quite successful. My kids will be paying for their own college. I'll pay for therapy, since THAT will be all my fault. LOL I usually could tell the difference in the students who were paying for their own college vs. the ones whose parent's paid for them.

My son is homeschooled now. He's almost 10 and in 6th grade. If we keep him at this pace, he'll graduate from HS at 16. He can also graduate with a fully accredited college degree at the same age through College Plus. He then plans to get his Masters by the time he's 18. Once he turns 18, I'll give him $15,000K to go see the world and let him decide how he spends the money and how long he makes it last. When he returns, he can start grad school (if he wants) or just use his Master's to get a great job (since he'll be 19+/- with a Master's AND has already seen the world - not a bad candidate!!!) or start his own business.

PS Jo W is right, sadly. It's NOT about what you learn (quality of the education), but the location of the credentials.

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answers from Dallas on

Depends on what they are going to school for and if it's something they can get scholarships for. There are all kinds of variables to something like that. I work for a private university and I know how hard it is for some to just pay the bill. My son is very bright and he wasn't to go to Texas A&M to be a vet. What I tell him is you keep those grades up and you keep being top in the band and get scholarships. Cause we don't have or make that kind of money. If the parents can't afford it and he doesn't get scholarships he may have a rude awakening. But there are many places you can get private scholarships for he needs to start looking NOW!!!

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answers from Chicago on

If there is a quality instate school, I'd insist they go there. We may send our kids to Europe (they are Irish Citizens), it all depends.

But since I don't have an only to spoil, no way will I be paying for over priced private schools. To get into a good graduate program or law school, you do need to attend a quality school, but there are tons of cheap state schools that can do this.

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answers from New York on

Depends on what you are studying. Push your child to get scholarships. The wise thing to do is, go to a lower priced college, possible CUNY/SUNY and transfer your senior year if you'd like a huge school name on your diploma. In the interim, save your money, apply for financial aid for that senior year.



answers from Detroit on

It depends a lot on what the goal is. Some schools have specialized programs to get a person where they want to be. And some just happen to be out of state.
Lots of students go to a community college to get their basics taken care of at a lower cost, being local, so they can work at the same time. There are online universities too.
But if you want to be an oceanographer, e.g., you wouldn't go to an agricultural oriented school, right? You'd go where that would best achieve the focus. A student can go to an in state college, but to get that specialty education they would possibly have to go out of state.

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