Day: September 20, 2016

Why (Not) Spend a Fortune on College


Eldest is becoming a great young musician (he plays low brass). And I get to listen to live classical music in my home all the time!

Last year, he kicked butt and received the highest state honor for his performance of “Introduction and Dance” by Barat. It’s a beautiful melody; do hear it in its entirety below (not a recording of Eldest).  My favorite part starts around 2:15.  And maybe also around 3:13.


This year, I get to  listen to him practice “Bluebells of Scottland” by Prior.



Which brings me to colleges…

Eldest is doing great at school, and has grown into an ambitious and very disciplined young man. He will take the ACT a little early but hasn’t decided on a major (likely biology — gasp!). He is certain about his minor/second major, which is music.

We cannot afford to send him to a school that will cost ~$60k per year with room and board. Please don’t come to tell me that private colleges end up subsidizing so much that it’s virtually free! I have done the calculations and we make too much for significant subsidies, and I am strongly opposed to taking loans if we can help it. YMMV, but I really don’t think that going into debt is prudent when you can go to a state flagship R1 that your parents can actually afford and where you can have any major you can imagine.

I still don’t understand why it is important to go to an expensive private school for undergrad, especially when the kid will likely go to grad school. I have asked many people IRL and no one has given me an answer that makes sense to me (other than that for disadvantaged students going to an Ivy really makes a difference, but this is not relevant to my kid). Many people talk about the nebulous “fit.” What is it that a high-achieving kid, who is quite socially apt and doesn’t require hand-holding to do his work, would get for $60k per year that he would not get at an R1 where he where he pays in-state tuition?

I feel like we are supposed to all be striving to go to pricey private schools, but I can neither understand why nor can I shake it off as irrelevant. My rational brain wants to call bullshit; the school I work at is a great school, a wide variety of majors, and he can graduate without debt. But my irrational brain says that, being an immigrant, I do not understand the importance of private-school education and that my kid is thus destined to be a hick.

What say you, blogosphere?