Q: I have a daughter who is going to a local Jr. College. She is embarrassed because the school isn’t one of the “cooler” or “in” schools that all of her friends are going to.
The tuition is affordable for us (30 to 40 percent cheaper than the other schools). What I keep telling her is that she can complete her core courses there and save tons of money over getting the same thing from the more expensive schools. She can transfer to another school to obtain her degree.
What are your thoughts about this? I love your real estate show on Sundays.
A: Studies have found that the college you go to doesn’t determine how well you’ll do in life. It’s what colleges you were able to get into that determine how you’ll do. So, if your daughter gets into Harvard, but opts to go to a local junior college, the odds are she’ll do well later in life.
Now, let’s turn to the cost of college tuition, which is huge. If your family can’t afford to spend $10,000 to $50,000 on college expenses, your daughter can either borrow the money (which is fine, but will leave her with a huge financial burden down the road), find scholarships and grants, work her way through school, or she can do as you propose: go to a less expensive junior college for a few years, make her grades, and then transfer to a big-name institution and graduate with that name on her diploma.
I like the path you’ve chosen for her, which seems sensible and realistic. Your daughter’s embarrassment is a sign of her immaturity and lack of understanding about how the real world works. She’s worried about what her friends will think of her. If they care about things like which college she graduates from, you and I both know they’re not real friends. Real friends say things like, “Hey, it’s cool that you’ll graduate without any student loans.”
But of course, you should give your daughter the wide-range of choices that she has and discuss each of them in depth with her. Please help her understand that by taking on $50,000 to $100,000 in debt for college (not including graduate school costs), she’ll have a $700 to $1,000 per month headache to deal with after graduation. That’s after taxes, and after she pays for her rent, utilities, cell phone, car, gas and food.
If your daughter understands this and still chooses to take on debt, that’s her choice. But I think your plan is sound and, better yet, financially responsible.
Thanks for listening.