Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Save BIG on College Costs

Have you seen the recent article on Yahoo News? Apparently nearly half of college students “show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.” WHAT?!?

Want to know another troubling finding? How about this one? “Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.” Are you kidding me?

Ok, we’ve all been told that a college education is the key to higher earnings and general success in life. Parents so firmly believe this that some seriously jeopardize their own financial well-being to pay for their kids to go to college. I have a money saving idea - DON’T! Unless your present and future (think retirement years) finances are in excellent shape (think no debt and plenty of savings) AND your kid is a super-serious, motivated student with a definite plan, let the kids pay their own way. How’s that for saving big on college costs? Are you being remiss in your duties as a parent? NO! They may defer higher education for several years but they will go when and if it actually becomes important to them.

Now before anyone gets too upset about my stance, let me give a little backstory here. I went to college in my 30s and maintained a 4.0 (with the exception of one class toward the very end) while earning a BA in Business Management. I was also a single parent and worked at least half time (usually more). What I noticed was that for many of my younger classmates, college was simply an acceptable way to extend the fun of the teen years (think supported by parents) and delay taking on adult responsibilities (think get a job and pay your own bills). This was not the case with every student, of course, but seemed a common theme.

So do yourself and your kids a huge favor. Take care of your finances so that you are comfortable during your later years and train them throughout their childhood and teen years to become self-sufficient adults. You see, it’s a win/win - if something should go wrong on either side, the other will most likely be in a position to step in and help.


  1. Yay! You know what, I agree with you. Although we have the finances in order to send our daughter to college, should she want to, I believe that what you learn practically makes a big difference. Unfortunately, in India, you need a degree to get a job. I mean, you may be a rockstar chef but if you're not backed by a hotel management degree, you'll never get hired by a hotel. Sad but true.. I topped the University in sociology and didn't use it once in my professional life, because I enjoyed talking and writing more. Finding your passion and then, turning it into a profession.. now that's education. Sorry for rambling.. You just made an important point. :-)

  2. Thanks for educating me on the necessity of a degree in India, Prerna - sometimes I forget I'm global here! Glad to hear you're able to plan ahead for your daughter's college education at such an early age - she's just two, right?

    I am just so shocked by the study findings - I see I even forgot to give the name of the study or the researchers. It sure is a sad testament to higher education here in the US. But looking at it from the opposite side, I guess that means that a little over half of the students in college here DO learn something during the first 2 years:)