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Skip The Expensive College

We are often working with clients to find the best college “fit”.  More often these days, the “fit” includes cost effective options.  High schools students (and parents) are realizing the value of graduating without debt.  However, there still are students who are holding onto the notion that they will be “set for life” if they graduate from certain well-known institutions.

A recent article, 10 Reasons to Skip the Expensive Colleges, provides some very useful tips on what you should consider before attending an expensive college (and taking out large amounts of student loans to do so).  In the article, Michelle Crouch, summarizes the book, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids- And What You Can Do About It by Claudia Dreifus and Andrew Hacker.

The first tip in the article discusses the issue of debt.  It points out that the College Board reports that the average college senior graduates with “only” $24,000 in student loan debt.  However, when you add interest and any penalties, that amount can exceed $100,000.  The point that “beginning adulthood without debt is worth far more than a designer diploma” is something to think about.  Graduates without debt can save money to buy a house, invest in retirement and just have more financial freedom.

Another interesting tip is that “research universities are no place for undergraduates”.  Because large research institutions rely on publishing to maintain their prestige, professors are often more focused that task instead of teaching.  When you visit schools, be sure to ask if the majority of the classes are taught by professors.  Do professors often rely on Teaching Assistants?  How many of the professors are adjunct?  Also, how often are professors on sabbatical in order to conduct research?  The opportunities a student has to develop relationships with college professors is an important part of their college experience.

Another interesting tip in this article is “don’t be seduced by the luxuries they show you on the tour.”  These luxuries often come with a higher tuition price tag and are often unnecessary.  For example, I recently visited a college that offered free valet parking in their residence halls.  Really?  How difficult is it to park your own car and walk to your room?

Katherine Price

Education Consultant

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