My 12-year-old daughter has friends who say they want to go to Harvard or Yale or any number of Ivy League institutions … and I’m left thoroughly depressed, horrified even. For two reasons.
First, there’s no way 12-year-olds should even be thinking about where they want to attend college.
Young minds have better things to do – like digging up earthworms in the backyard or juggling soccer balls or reading a book in the sunshine or running a lemonade stand or watching the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
Stop with the branding and stop with sucking 12-year-olds into the orbit of the education-industrial complex. There’s more than enough time for that.
The other reason I’m nonplussed by 12-year-olds dropping elite school names like candy or car brands is the expense – for which I have no plan to pay.
Elite schools, no matter how good they are, ask nearly $50,000 a year in undergraduate tuition. Those same elite schools are notorious for under-delivering on value (and state schools with their rising costs are rapidly joining the same club).
Wall Street and white-shoe law firms beckon graduates of these elite schools through their doors, but at what cost? These are millionaire spenders.
An apprenticeship at Boeing or General Electric can turn you into a millionaire by age 50 if you play your cards right and follow the path of the millionaire saver.
My wife tells me we don’t have too much to worry about on the education front, but I’m skeptical and that’s not the point.
The point is we need some sort of plan – which we don’t have – so the next time my daughter drops the brand-name colleges, I’m stopping her dead in her tracks.
Let’s first talk about what she wants to do and how to pay for it and then we’ll get around to talking about where she wants to go. Sound fair?
A $2,000-a-year community college parlayed into an internship and eventually into a steady job at a big employer is a very competitive alternative to a $50,000 debt burden by age 23.
Yes, it’s the parents’ responsibility to come up with a college-savings strategy. But girl, go figure out what you want to do, what you like to do, what gives you meaning from sunup to sundown, or (for all I care) from sunset to sunrise.
I’m more interested in hearing my daughter tell me she wants to fly drones or ride on the back of a garbage truck. I want her to answer the questions of why a restaurant can’t get her order right, or why so many SUVs seem to have a single driver in them, or why everything we buy comes from China, or why massive wildfires seem to be scorching parts of the country.
For teens in high school, figuring out what they want to do is the most important part of the plan. That’s their contribution.
Then we’ll meet them halfway and we can sit down and come up with a financial plan with the help of an advisor.
Do we have a deal?
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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