If you want to participate in a profession of some kind, college is a required. Few people are going to allow you to teach, practice law, build bridges or prescribe medications without college credentials of some kind. Before it comes to working on all those college courses, why do we select one college over another?
An interesting conversation recently is what caused me to consider this question. A family decided on a college list of six colleges. Three of them were good fit schools in similar geographic areas that, in the grand scheme of things, were moderately expensive to attend. The other three are household names in every part of the country with the minimum tuition in excess of a quarter million dollars over a four year period.
Curious about how this list was generated, I was told that the preference was to remain in state and conserve money to pursue a professional degree. The soon-to-be high school grad had performed remarkably well in school and on college entrance exams. When I told the family that their elite colleges did not offer merit aid like the other schools would, they said that if somehow they hit the jackpot (the jackpot was gaining acceptance at an Ivy institution) that they would then worry about affording the tuition.
Having advised, counseled and even forcibly shoved students toward a particular institution at one time or another; I still cannot quite understand why a family would sink a million dollars into an education chasing a brand name school. It would be better to invest that million dollars in stocks and bonds over the next eight years for that child and let them go to work after high school. About the time he turns 58 years old, that million would have had 32 years to grow. He would be able to live like a king practically anywhere in the world with that nest egg. But, that’s the way my mind works when considering college planning.
The words of wisdom I give to every client that criticizes differing opinions are, “we were not all raised in the same house”. I will help this family pursue all six of the colleges on their list with all the information and insight at my disposal. Whether they choose the local state school or plop down a quarter million at an elite school, I will be just as happy because I was able to help the family get what they wanted.