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Go to college, or don’t, what do I care

August 5, 2010
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Some hippie from Daily Finance who clearly needs a haircut gives us seven reasons not to send your kids to college. He's clearly one of those guys who buys a shitty netbook because it's a "better value" and fails to grasp how life is about more than making pound for pound assessments of what things are worth. Actually, his analysis reminds me of this hilarious post on Hyperbole and a Half wherein the author recalls trying to get herself as many dinky, plastic toys as possible every christmas thinking quantity would surely overcome quality. Go read and laugh.
He first states that a college degree generally pays $800,000 more over a career than just a high school degree. He then postulates how if he had put the "$200,000" he would have spent per child on college costs into some muni bonds for 50 years he'd have $850k at the end. First of all, don't send your kid to a $200k a year college. It's really not necessary. There are a number of fine public institutions, some of which are shockingly free for in state residents, as well as other options like starting at a community college. Or the obvious, "a college degree" doesn't necessarily mean a four year degree. Send you kid to the nursing program at a local community college, or to the airframe and powerplant mechanic program. I live in an especially college-dense town, so it's true options open to my neighbors might not be open to everyone, but the point is there are a lot of options out there. And if parents were actually capable of saving $200k for their kids' college to begin with, a secure retirement is probably the least of their worries. Most kids will be saddled with student loan debt their parents decided was a good idea because people like this guy only know of one "college experience" even if he's telling you not to bother.
He also suggests giving your kids money to "start five businesses" once they graduate high school. I wonder what kind of experience they'll have undergone in our fabulous public high school system to be ready to start a successful business. I wonder why some people might think colleges are good at teaching these skills.
But let's pretend he invested his kids' tuition money, and then just handed it to them when they graduated so they'd be financially better off. Has the kid learned something from that? True they can go get a job and learn from real life experience, but the addition of x dollars to their lives does not make them wiser, better, more compassionate, or more innovative people. CNNMoney also has this gallery, college degrees that don't pay. I do think money is necessary for some level of happiness. And I do think we poorly pay the pillars of our community: our police, teachers, firefighters, social workers, low level municipal employees. But given how satisfied these people are in their low paying careers I think we can understand it's not all about hte money. That it's possible to be a public school teacher and be satisfied in what you do. That you don't need to be patronized by some Wall St douchebag that you didn't choose the six digit career because you were stupid or just don't realize money is the secret answer to everything. It's a problem in our society that we don't value soft skills so much as we value turning an x dollar investment into an x*1.03 dollar investment. Anyone careful can make money from money. Not everyone is capable of raising, nurturing and supporting the next generation of our community and making our cities and homes better places and incrementally our society a better place.
One Comment leave one →
  1. August 7, 2010 2:31 am


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