Totebaggy values

by L

How many totebaggy values can we spot in this article? How many not-so-totebaggy values? Go!

How one family is sending 13 kids to college, living debt free — and still plans to retire early

Advertisements

404 thoughts on “Totebaggy values

  1. In 1789, George Washington wrote to Marquis de Lafayette, the French military officer who fought for the American Revolution: “Nothing but harmony, honesty, industry and frugality are necessary to make us a great and happy people.”

    And slaves, George, don’t forget the slaves.

  2. They have no debt — never have, besides mortgages.

    Years later, they enlarged the kitchen, using two zero-percent finance offers good for 12 months.

    Do they offer 0% HELOCs?

  3. “Do they offer 0% HELOCs”

    I took this to mean that they used Lowes or Home Depot. Those places usually give the 12 months 0% interest deals.

  4. George Washington had large amounts of debt like a lot of land-rich/cash-poor Virginia planters, and he was in no way frugal as he was very into keeping up appearances and fitting in with Virginia high society. Maybe he thought the nation should be frugal, but he certainly wasn’t personally. And yes – RMS – expensive slaves as well.

  5. I just cannot stand people like these! They wouldn’t have survived without all the handouts! And producing 13 children!!!

  6. They live in Bowie, which isn’t something that typical Totebaggers are keen to do. Bowie is an older suburb of Washington, DC in Prince George’s County, MD. It was one of the early post-WWII Levitt-built suburbs. For reasons I don’t fully understand, Prince George’s County has a disproportionately high percentage of African-American residents. I think that, for a few decades, this did not apply to Bowie specifically, but I believe that, too, has changed over the past 20 years.

    Like many places, the county has its issues with crime, particularly in the areas that border the southeastern part of DC, but much of the county, and particularly that area, is comfortable and pleasant suburbia for a large population of professional African-American (and other) families.

    Still, Totebaggers are going to say “School ratings!!! We need Montgomery County, or Fairfax!” (That’s assuming they don’t want to live in NW DC “for the diversity.”)

    This is typical of the early housing stock:
    http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Bowie-MD/pmf,pf_pt/house_type/37406618_zpid/30552_rid/4-_beds/globalrelevanceex_sort/39.143375,-76.225892,38.812426,-77.292939_rect/9_zm/

    There are plenty of newer, larger McMansions, but for $300k, that’s a nice house, and that’s doable for a GS-11 father with a SAH wife, or whatever middle-class combination you like.

    If I were to speculate, this is where I would be investing in real estate.

  7. Rob’s income never topped $50,000 until he was 40

    this isn’t a bragging point, especially with so many kids

  8. Thanks for the socioeconomic snapshot of Bowie, Milo. That’s the kind of thing I have no idea about, though I can tell you similar stuff about Colorado and California.

    And I agree, they got a LOT of handouts. And that’s fine. It’s part of that particular culture/family.

  9. “They wouldn’t have survived without all the handouts!”

    I don’t know. They work, pay their taxes, and are not on any sort of welfare. They are educating their children to work and contribute to society. It seem that the handouts that this family receives are much less than typical Totebaggers get from parents/grandparents contributing to 529s, helping to pay for mortgage, wedding, college, private school, inheritance, etc.

  10. Dell – I love how they say in the article that they never had any debt, but in the next breath they got 2 Suburbans and a giant van FOR FREE from relatives.

  11. @Milo – Makes sense & gives perspective. Relatives live not far from there, but they are over the border into Anne Arundel which I gather makes a big difference somehow from a Totebag perspective. I know the real estate is more expensive given the Bowie listing example. I still think that they are concerned about schools & wanting to make a move sometime soon – probably to one of the areas you mentioned.

    I just get so irritated with the stance the article takes like this is all something new because people are making money blogging about it.

  12. I thought it was a really nice story. And their kids all seem responsible and self reliant which seems to be the goal of raising kids.

  13. “I love how they say in the article…”

    One thing to be aware of in articles like this is sometimes what the reporter chooses to focus on (debt, frugality) is not necessarily what the subjects were stressing. It seems like the reporter is eager to highlight some sort of financial brilliance and frugality as a lesson for all readers, and the family is just saying “this is how it’s worked out for us,” and they’re not hiding the gifts from parents or the community.

  14. Several things bother me about touting this family as a role model:
    1. Yes, they are debt-free, but partly because all these free things show up – new shoes, a bike, a couch, $500 gift card – and other people who are helping them with free labor.
    2. Yes, by homeschooling they do not need to worry about the school district they live in, but that assumes a parent who has the ability to do so at least at the quality of the public school system.
    3. Yes, when you are homeschooled, you (the kid) have more time to do things like have a job and your school schedule can be modified around your work schedule unlike kids in more traditional settings.
    4. Note that it discusses all the help they receive, but not that they are reciprocating.

    We know a family (single mom and 1 kid) who expects that someone will always help them to ensure their choices are sustainable – food stamps, clothing/gas vouchers, etc. They know of every single organization in the area that provides aid and how to obtain it. I’m not saying the family in the article is exactly the same way, but it somewhat sounds like it.

    As we have discussed here before – frugality, to an extent, is a value we tend to hold in common. However, splurging on things is also enjoyable.

  15. Both of my parents lived in households with grandparents, assorted relatives and five siblings each. They had no desire to live with so many people. The first thing they did was get an education and earn enough money to set up their own house and have fewer kids than their parents did.

  16. These articles used to appear every so often in mags like Family CIrcle when I was growing up. It always turned out there was some fakery going on. One story I remember was about a lady who did lots of couponing, and claimed to be feeding her many kids for close to free. When she published her meal plan, it turned out she was starving the kids. People wrote in after doing a calorie analysis saying she should be reported to protective services.

  17. “are not on any sort of welfare”

    Looks like they lean on their church and “youth groups” for a lot. Wonder if they take advantage of free lunch/breakfast programs and the like. I don’t think the article gives a complete picture and it depends on how you define welfare.

    Looks like they have been blessed with good health. Their lifestyle is too close to the edge for my taste. I also don’t get pleasure out of being frugal for the sake of it the same way they seem to.

  18. The “hand outs” some of you are so indignant about are things you would never consider using yourself or for your kids (old cars, etc.). The family is making many material and experience sacrifices to raise their family and it sounds like they’re doing a good job.

  19. And why is the one kid taking out $90,000 in loans for a PhD in physical therapy? What do you do with a PhD in physical therapy anyway? I know audiologists have to get the doctorate but I hadn’t heard of a PT with a doctorate before. If he wants to do research, he should be in a research oriented program that funds him with an RA, not taking out loans

  20. Actually, just yesterday DW’s aunt took my kids shopping to buy them some back-to-school outfits.

    In the interest of full disclosure, in the future, I should probably qualify any statements I make about personal finance with a note about such handouts.

  21. Mooshi – my sister is a PT. This is part of the trend of degree inflation – what used to required a BS now requires a Masters, and so on. I wasn’t surprised that he was getting a PhD, although many PTs make do with a Masters.

  22. The “handouts” appear to be voluntary from the viewpoint of both the giver and recipient. So what’s the problem?

  23. The handouts make me wonder though – what are these people doing that gets them the freebies? Why do people see them as a charity case?

  24. MM – to be a licensed physical therapist one needs a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. There are some 3+3 programs, but most a re 4yrs for the bachelors and then 3 for the DPT. It’s not a PhD.

    Two things: yes indeed they have paid their taxes, but Rhett also is right. If gross income was in the $60-90k range while all the kids were at home, their legally owed (federal) amount was probably zero. They might have been eligible for some credits (EITC…I don’t know the max allowable income for a family of 15).

  25. MM – DPT is a highly sought after degree and a very quick path to a solid career (DPT I know is ~5 years out of his DPT pgm making $150-200k). Most physical therapists have a DPT. DPT is a doctor of physical therapy and I assume that is what they meant in the article. My grad school has a highly rated DPT program in this and every year the grads are all employed before or after graduation. Most need loans to complete, but some are able to get TA positions.

    Considering the article did not explicitly state PhD in Physical Rehabilitation Science, I’m leaning towards Doctor of Physical Therapy. http://pt.umaryland.edu/default.asp

  26. So, to answer the question, I’d say what’s Totebaggy about them is the intense family focus on child development, with a conscious and purposeful allocation of their resources to that end, along with the ability and self-discipline to successfully defer or forego material gratification in order to achieve their chosen lifestyle.

    What’s non-Totebaggy are the obvious demographic factors like family size, plus the expectation that the kids will contribute significantly to their own post-secondary educations and be financially self-sufficient thereafter.

  27. Oh, I see why the doctorate. From the APTA site

    “Physical Therapist Degree
    Professional (entry-level) physical therapist education programs in the United States only offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree to all new students who enroll. The Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) and Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) degrees are no longer offered to any new students in the United States. To practice as a physical therapist in the US, you must earn a physical therapist degree from a CAPTE- accredited physical therapist education program and pass a state licensure exam.”

    Oooooh, what a scam.

  28. “what are these people doing that gets them the freebies? Why do people see them as a charity case?”

    Isn’t it obvious? They have 13 kids!!

    Hell, I only have three, and people are always giving us old clothes and toys.

  29. We often think of welfare as being a government program (at local/state/federal levels). However, there are often a lot of community resources through churches and other non-profits that can be accessed. If you are using these on an ongoing basis, year in and year out, then how different is that than welfare? You are in fact subsidizing your family for the long term.

    The “handouts” Houston was talking about are, to me anyway, more short-term or jump start handouts vs. long-term subsidies.

  30. Jinx Fred! :)

    I’m happy for them if they get it done and their kids are well adjusted. But to say that they are frugal is stretching it. They receive donations from friends, families, and strangers. That’s all well and good for them, but do they pay it forward? What lessons are they teaching their children about generosity?

    They probably are teaching their kids all this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they fix up what they cant’ use and donate it out to someone who can.

  31. I am having trouble reconciling the DPT thing with the guys I see working at PT facilities, who all seem to be 20-something gym rats. I am assuming that those guys then are not licensed physical therapists? What are they? When does one encounter a licensed physical therapist?

  32. Milo – I wonder how much the kids contribute to the household… at the very beginning they mention dad’s salary and include mowing lawns and other odds and ends jobs. Wouldn’t be surprised if the kids got the lawn mowing and odds and ends jobs..

  33. Fred +1 – have a few friends/family members who are PT’s, and they have a DPT. I thought that was the standard degree. It doesn’t seem that odd to me – it’s like any other professional degree. Yes, the salary potential is not as great as other career paths that require a professional degree, but there is a lot of growth in the field.

    I don’t really think that the fact that they get hand me downs from relatives make them un-frugal. I assume there is some sort of mutual benefit or they’d have to find other ways to make things work. Personally, I find the idea that the mom could effectively homeschool 13 kids of 13 different ages/abilities/grade levels is much more suspicious.

  34. They’re lucky that they don’t have to commute to DC because it is a pain to get from Bowie to DC. There is always traffic on 50, and the alternate routes are not great. There used to be a large development in Bowie that was built by the same family that created Levittown in Long island. The family that created this development…I think it was called Bel Air??? didn’t allow sales to African Americans until there was a protest. The community is more diverse now and includes people from all different backgrounds, but this might be one reason why Bowie didn’t reflect the overall population of PG county.

    I think this family isn’t harming anyone, and they seem to be happy. I would rather know a family like this one vs. a bunch of whiners that complain that they never have enough.

  35. I liked the article. I would love to have more kids, but not 13. I think they’re making good choices for their situation re:community college first and attending where you can get the most scholarships. As a personality trait, I am extremely uncomfortable accepting help that I will be unlikely to be able to reciprocate, so there is no way I could accept all their remodeling assistance.

    One of my high school best friends was one of 12 kids, and her (3 BR) house was the most fun place to be. Vacations were camping trips, and even as adults it’s the same time, same place every year, and whoever can make comes with their families. Even though I wouldn’t choose the trade-offs this family made, I don’t feel critical of how they’ve gone about it. I don’t get a holier-than-thou vibe from them.

  36. “Personally, I find the idea that the mom could effectively homeschool 13 kids of 13 different ages/abilities/grade levels is much more suspicious.”

    Well, basically they are depending on her free labor. If she were working as a teacher, she would be contributing what? Glassdoor claims that a middle school teacher in Bowie averages 54K. That might not be enough to offset the value she is adding to the household by working for free.

  37. @MM – well there are PT’s and Physical Therapy Assistants, for one thing. I don’t know why you are confused. Everyone you see at a doctor’s office is not a doctor either. And why couldn’t a 20-something “gym rat” have a DPT? It is a field that a lot of former athletes go into. Why the disparaging of PT’s? If you ever need a knee replacement, you’ll see the value I guess. And you’ll want them to have post-undergraduate schooling with specialized knowledge of anatomy and physiology.

  38. “it is a pain to get from Bowie to DC”

    It’s a pain to get a lot of places, but that’s where a huge percentage of that area’s residents go for work. You can say there’s always traffic on 50, but there’s also always traffic on 66, and 270, and 29, and 95. Here, have a listen “on the eights”:

    http://wtop.com/listen-live/

    They can also do the Metro from New Carrollton or Landover.

  39. We hung out a lot with a Mormon family with 10 kids when I was growing up. The dad was a scientist though, and made pretty good money. They didn’t live any kind of special frugal lifestyle like this family does, but they weren’t ostentatious either. I don’t think Mormons have the ability to be ostentatious :-)

  40. “Well, basically they are depending on her free labor. If she were working as a teacher, she would be contributing what? Glassdoor claims that a middle school teacher in Bowie averages 54K. That might not be enough to offset the value she is adding to the household by working for free.”

    I’m not saying that she should be working – she’d have plenty to do without also being her kids’ teacher. But I have my doubts that she is doing a better job than Bowie Public Schools would be trying to homeschool 13 kids across their entire ES/MS/HS career while also taking care of 13 kids of all different ages. But it seems the kids are turning out fine, so I guess it is working.

  41. Next year, she’ll follow in oldest sister Alex’s footsteps, pursuing her master’s degree in social work at another school, which could take one or two years. A Maryland program will pay most of her tuition, and in exchange, she’ll work for a child-welfare agency for two or three years after she graduates.

    This could almost be a separate topic, but if you’re not hell-bent on HYPS for your kid, looking into the little local programs seems like a good idea. Around here (at least for awhile, don’t know if it’s still true), if you graduated from an Arapahoe County high school with a 3.0 or higher, you could go to Arapahoe Community College for free. Then you could transfer somewhere else and effectively only pay for the last two years of college. I see a lot of local programs like that.

  42. I’m surprised by the comments surrounding the “handouts”. Isn’t that what family and community are supposed to do for each other? Milo’s right, I get handouts too (passed down clothes from friends) and I pass them down when we’re done with them. So they’re fulfilling the totebag value of being good to the earth. We’ve also given older cars to our parents when we no longer had use for them. Jeesh!

  43. I am not disparaging physical therapists. I have used them before to good effect. I was just suprised, because most of the ones I see appear to be around 22. Probably they are assistants then. I used to hang out with a lot of physical therapy majors when I was in college, but back then, they all were planning to work as soon as they finished – they didn’t seem to need to go to grad school then. They did learn a lot of anatomy and physiology in their 4 year bachelors program

  44. Atlanta – It’s the spin around them. I’m a bit skeptical of someone pitched as being super frugal (independent, doing it on their own, etc.) when really they’re getting handouts.

    I have no problem with their getting handouts, I just don’t think they’re all that frugal or awesome or have discovered some new way.

  45. So, I took a look at some of the programs. What it looks like to me is that what used to be a 4 year undergrad degree has been converted into a 4 year professional degree. These programs are not PhD programs in the traditional sense, but are more like the 6 year pharmacy degree. In fact, a lot of these programs are actually 6 year programs that combine undergrad and grad.
    http://springfield.edu/academic-programs/physical-therapy/undergraduate-physical-therapy-program

    The question to me, though, is why are these programs called “doctor”, which traditionally implies a research degree, rather than “masters” which to me is the standard professional degree. For example, a PhD in finance is a very different animal from an MBA in finance. Maybe it is an allied health thing?

  46. I’m happy that these guys have found a lifestyle that works for them and allows them to live their values. They have clearly made significant material tradeoffs to live their faith. More power to them. I also would not be surprised to learn that they belong to a church community that values sharing with those who have less, and that as their financial circumstances are more secure they will be more on the giving than receiving end in a “circle of life” way.

    What would bother me would be proclaiming these guys as “if I can do it, everyone can” or “I did it on my own” poster children. Because many people don’t live in communities or have families that provide cars, labor, wood stoves, new clothes for the kids, etc. And many people make different choices in life because they either don’t have that safety net or don’t want to hope that others will fill in the gaps for them. But I don’t see these guys doing that — I haven’t read his blog, but at least in the article, they seem to appreciate the support they have gotten from others that has allowed them to meet their needs and provide a few wants, and they seem to focus on how this is working *for them*. So, good for them.

    I guess it is true that no matter what you do, it’ll be wrong. These guys get criticized for taking outside help the Republican way (from friends, family, and church) — some of the comments are pretty gratuitously offensive. When I first mentioned on another blog that my mom was on food stamps for a few years, she/I got a lot of criticism for taking outside help the Democratic way (e.g., she should have worked and saved and not leeched off my taxes). But the reality is that each of us, at some point in our lives, is going to need help to get through some tough patches, and it would be good to have a little empathy for that, instead of searching for evidence of “poor choices” that we can criticize to convince ourselves that it would never happen to us. And if you do somehow manage to get through life without relying on any help from any person or government, the only appropriate response is to thank your lucky stars and be generous to those who aren’t that lucky.

  47. Atl – I agree with Kerri on this one. The article is spinning the family as super frugal, but in reality a lot of big ticket items necessary for their life have been gifted to them. Communities are supposed to help each other out – but it’s called altruism or generosity, not frugality.

    MM – did you catch the age of the kid getting the DPT? He’ll be finishing when he’s 21-23 years old. If you know this is your goal in life, you may be able to shorten your track by taking college classes in high school (like these kids probably did) or double up in college.

    I just can’t imagine parenting that many children. Or being a child in that family.

  48. Doctors look pretty young to me too these days, but that has to do with me, not them. ;)

    From the article:

    As for the givers: Sam’s sister, Joan Salvagno, who is 11 years older than Sam in a family of nine, said her sister’s family “needed the car more than we did. … You don’t really think of them as gifts. … We’ve gotten more than we’ve given.”

    I think accepting an old car or hand me down clothes from a family member who says that they’ve “gotten more than we’ve given” is a completely different thing from a #dumpstertunic.

  49. Thinking about this further, my skepticism may come from my upbringing. My grandparents were super frugal, 5 kids, one job, WWII generation, inlaws lived with them. No way on earth would they have accepted the handouts this family has (e.g. home renovation work). They did not accept charity. Period. Some things (clothing) they may have accepted from family so as to not be wasteful, but from strangers, never.

    So for me what this family is doing is no big deal.

  50. Their lives seem terrible to me. Just terrible. But awesome if they are happy. I couldn’t care less if people give them free stuff. No one is compelled to do so.

    One of my kids goes to a PT. She has a PhD in PT. Super professional. Not like a gym rat at all. Bills insurance and gets reimbursed. $160/session (50 mins). She doesn’t go by “doctor” although I guess she could. Just uses her first name.

  51. Atlanta – It’s the spin around them. I’m a bit skeptical of someone pitched as being super frugal (independent, doing it on their own, etc.) when really they’re getting handouts.

    agreed, great that they have help from family and the community, but most couldn’t replicate this

  52. On the debate about whether they’re “frugal,” I think some of you are innocently missing the forest for the trees here. The article wasn’t, but it could have easily been written to contrast another Post feature that we discussed a while back which profiled a family of only four who could barely make ends meet on roughly the same income living in Culpeper, which is probably similar to Bowie in COL:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/happy-days-no-more-middle-class-families-squeezed-as-expenses-soar-wages-stall/2014/04/26/f4a857f0-7a47-11e3-b1c5-739e63e9c9a7_story.html?hpid=z3

    No way on earth would they have accepted the handouts this family has (e.g. home renovation work). They did not accept charity. Period.

    What’s all that talk you hear about old-fashioned country barn raisings if not a bunch of free home renovation charity work from the community?

  53. on homeschooling 13 kids, the ones in elementary school would need the most guidance, a lot of the older ones would be self lead I would bet, maybe an online component as well?

  54. Ok, I thought Kerri was Kate, but now I am seeing that I got mixed up being gone for a few days. I get it now.

    BTW – had a lovely long weekend in Denver. Thanks for the tips on Coors Field, DD – we sat in a lower section on the 1st base side, but high enough up (> Row 30), to have shade from the overhang. The Cubs got crushed, but it was great fun & a beautiful ballpark. Loved checking out the party area up top & seeing the purple mile-high seats.

    We had some great food & beer and checked out the city a bit. The Art Museum was bigger and nicer than I anticipated. The free walking tour from the Capitol building was worth 2 hours and a tip. The Mint was closed for inventory, but we visited the gift shop & took our photo. The A train from the airport was great – I heard groans from some of the locals, but we had no trouble at all, and the train is so new & clean compared to our local transit!

  55. “Grandma seems pretty generous, taking the daughter out to buy lots of clothes.”

    “Yes, they are debt-free, but partly because all these free things show up – new shoes, a bike, a couch, $500 gift card – and other people who are helping them with free labor.”

    To repeat my earlier point, before we get indignant about the “handouts” this family receive, we should look at the “handouts” that we’ve received or that we give to our kids. I gave our kids bikes away when our kids outgrew them. I gave away gently used clothes and books. We have given family members small monetary gifts –$1,000 to help with unexpected expenses. DH and I helped my sister move. My parents give my kids money for college.

    I say more power to this family. I’ve given and received more handouts (monetary value) than they seem to have.

  56. I admire this family (although you KNOW that Mama is thinking ‘get me off this trampoline asap’ – no one who has birthed 13 kids is out there jumping). They made some lifestyle choices and they’re living them. Is their lifestyle for me? Definitely not. But what some of you see as handouts I just see as community support.

  57. It isn’t that they are getting gifts. We all get gifts. It is that they are being held up as this paragon of frugal virtue that we should all be emulating.

    I listened to a WNYC interview the other day with someone who I think is a far more interesting example of getting out of poverty. She had written a memoir about her scramble out of a difficult childhood in a high crime neighborhood and periodic periods of homelessness. But what she wanted to talk about in her interview was that she is NOT an example that can be emulated. She wanted to talk about all the barriers, and the many people who didn’t have the exquisite bits of luck she had, and who could never climb out. As she said several times “They were just as smart and hardworking as me and I could have ended up the same”.

  58. It is that they are being held up as this paragon of frugal virtue that we should all be emulating.

    But then wouldn’t that be a criticism of the reporter, not the family?

  59. Lark – probably true, although the family agreed to be profiled. I think any family with 13 kids is clickbait for reporters.

    Milo – grandparents weren’t farmers, so no barn but I understand your point. I don’t know what my grandparents would have thought of community endeavors like that if they were to be the recipient. Maybe if they felt they could pay if forward, helping raise others’ barns, it would be OK? No idea.

  60. Nobody needs to produce 13 children!! What rubs me wrong about this family is mostly the 13 children, the fact that they apparently did not put much effort into improving their lot and seem to have been counting on others and their own kids for everything from labor to build house, to pity donations, and family charity. Not to mention the burden on other tax payers, through various tax breaks and government aid.
    To be fair, I don’t know if they are putting themselves forth as virtuous like the article seems to.

  61. Dell, it is clear they are religious, and many religious folks do not believe in birth control.

    It isn’t as bad, in my mind, as the various Christian, Mormon, and Jewish sects that have lots of kids and then rely on food stamps and welfare as a way of life.

  62. “things you would never consider using yourself or for your kids (old cars, etc.)”

    A lot of folks here have discussed buying/shopping for used cars. That’s why we keep hearing Rhett (and me, to a lesser extent) reminding us that the old saw about used cars always being a better value isn’t necessarily true these days.

  63. Houston – Not to be argumentative as to an extent I agree with you. I think a certain amount of “handouts” is part of our culture in a “use resources wisely” manner for things that are still usable by another person, just not us. Examples, clothing, a bike that has been outgrown, sports equipment no longer used, furniture, etc. I think the “use resources wisely” is very totebaggy. Think about the convos about saving baby clothes, etc.

    Another part of our culture, is to help out those “in need”, often this is focused on short-term needs as the result of catastrophic events – the family recently displaced by a fire or the flooding vicitms in Louisiana.

    But, when the need for “handouts” becomes the way you “finance” a large portion of your lifestyle, year in and year out, I bristle. I realize that some people find themselves in those situations, but others have made choices that include needing “handouts” long-term to make things meet.

  64. “What’s non-Totebaggy are the obvious demographic factors like family size, plus the expectation that the kids will contribute significantly to their own post-secondary educations and be financially self-sufficient thereafter.”

    I agree the family size is non-Totebaggy, but IMO the expectation of kids being self-sufficient after post-secondary educations in not non-Totebaggy.

    IMO, the family size stands out the most as being non-Totebaggy. That colors all of their lifestyle decisions, but the basis for many of those decisions, e.g., living within their means, delaying gratification, are consistent with Totebag values.

  65. “Really? Why?”

    I think for non-Malthusians, it’s generally considered healthy for a society to have a self-sustaining birth rate (around 2.1). Currently we’re below that.

    That’s why I don’t understand the knee-jerk hatred for large families.

  66. 12:36 was me.

    “Hell, I only have three, and people are always giving us old clothes and toys.”

    One reason SIL with two boys was happy when DS was born was that gave her something to do with her boys’ stuff as they outgrew them. We gladly accepted their hand-me-downs.

    Aren’t there a lot of us here who’ve saved stuff waiting for relatives to be able to use them?

  67. That’s why I don’t understand the knee-jerk hatred for large families.

    I have no problem with large families as long as they can support them, same for small families

    “I agree the family size is non-Totebaggy, but IMO the expectation of kids being self-sufficient after post-secondary educations in not non-Totebaggy.”

    agreed

  68. Well, I am going to stand up for gluttony. And like Dell, earlier, I’m not entirely sure I like this family.

    I won’t skimp on Junior period. If he needs a special school, he needs a special school. If I could get a scholarship, I gladly would. The only thing I am qualified to home school (I’m a lawyer, not an educator and I don’t know too many educators who could effectively teach 13 kids all their subjects at all levels) is our cat, and I do a damn poor job of that.

    I’ll be the first to confess that I didn’t plan for any of this. And I certainly watch the budget (with some amusement). When I need to spend money, I do. I’m lucky enough to do that, but I also worked pretty hard for that and never got crazy about my savings.

    I think I need to take a “Be nice” pill today.

    And for you folks in Denver, I call my back yard “Coors Field” too.

  69. It says in the article that they are devoutly Catholic, so the 13 kids is probably part of that. I’m sorry, I’m just not seeing where any of this is cause for outrage because they are doing it with no help whatsoever. I don’t think they’re pretending they are MMM, I think that they are saying this is how we are making having 13 kids work financially. They paid off their mortgage and they seem to be raising nice and resourceful children. Everyone gets hand outs to an extent and maybe once their kids are grown up, they’ll be the ones donating a car to a fellow Catholic family with a lot of kids.

  70. Milo, you are thinking too local. There are enough people globally! Also, would not want little Duggars populating half the planet in a few years!

    I have nothing against needing help, and not judging them for it, it’s the why they need so much help is what I don’t like.

  71. well, whatever the family situation, most of us make it work somehow without going bankrupt and without the children being illiterate , whether we homeschool, public or private, 1 kid or 13

  72. “I think for non-Malthusians, it’s generally considered healthy for a society to have a self-sustaining birth rate (around 2.1). Currently we’re below that.”

    Yet our population still keeps growing.

    A lot of the problems in the world are due to, or exacerbated by, population growth. E.g., global warming, species extinction or endangerment due to habitat loss, overfishing.

  73. “the expectation of kids being self-sufficient after post-secondary educations in not non-Totebaggy.”

    You sure? That means no expectations that parents will be buying a new car “so it has all the latest safety features,” or paying a security deposit and supplementing rent for “somewhere safe,” they won’t be financing a year of living expenses during an unpaid internship to “get their foot in the door,” or paying $50k for a wedding, or helping with a down payment in order to get in to the school district where parents “value education,” or helping out with private school “for the tax-free transfer.” They won’t be renting the huge house at the beach for vacations or giving the kids expensive camps as a present.

    That’s what I mean.

  74. “called “doctor”, which traditionally implies a research degree”

    Aren’t there a lot of “doctor” degrees that don’t require research? I’m thinking OD, JD, MD, DMD, DDS, DC, PharmD among others.

    Are there any non-PhD doctorates that require research?

  75. Wow, I’m trying to imagine what the birth rate might be if people only had as many (or any) kids as they could raise to UMC Totebag standards. Aren’t we below replacement as is?

    I understand the criticism about the “handouts” vs. “example of frugality,” but also keep in mind they’re raising a lot of future taxpayers, and the homeschooling is saying the school district something like 15k per kid per year.

  76. My primary objection is that there is very little bandwidth left to deal with unforeseen circumstances if you have 13 kids. If mom had a complicated pregnancy or one of the kids became severely ill, I assume one of the older kids would be drafted into the role of parent including meal prep, home schooling, discipline, etc. That seems a lot to ask when you’ve made the choice to be in that position.

  77. “That means no expectations that parents will be buying a new car “so it has all the latest safety features,””

    That was for my HS kids who are inexperienced drivers.

    While we might help our kids with some of the other stuff, depending on circumstances, we still expect them to be self-sufficient. E.g., we’d expect them to pay for their own housing, but we might help them move into something better than they’d get on their own.

    I like how my parents raised me, and at this point plan to follow the same model. After college, kids are on their own; DW’s and my financial priority then will be taking care of ourselves to make sure we aren’t a financial burden on our kids. Once kids have established themselves as self-sufficient adults, we may help out, e.g., as above.

  78. My mom is one of a bunch of kids (double digit). And she essentially raised some of the younger kids (in poverty). It is interesting that she harbors zero ill will about it. She didn’t go to college because she needed to work to provide $ for the younger kids. She will say that she really wished that she would have gone to college after the little kids were 18+, but never in a way that suggests she blames her parents for it at all. I think families who are this large often operate in a different way than Totebag families.

  79. Austin: I get where you’re coming from, but I bristle at the shade being thrown at a family that is doing so much right.

  80. Almost Finn +1 – Not so sure we’d help get something better than they could get on their own, but definitely available to back up emergencies – place to live if house burns down – or help out with unforseeable events before they can build up a cushion.

  81. @Atlanta – I agree with you. They seem like they are actively involved in helping the community/church as well through passing things on or paying it forward in some manner. They didn’t strike me a moochers – especially since the sister said that they’ve helped her more than she’s helped them. I got the feeling that people helped them renovate their house and gave them bikes because they genuinely like them/want to help them. I can’t find fault with that.

    I have some general issues with homeschooling in general, but that’s a separate part of the story. At least she’s certified & brings in outside tutors I guess.

  82. Also, would not want little Duggars populating half the planet in a few years!

    What do you mean by this, Dell?

  83. I think it is hard to be frugal and generous at the same time. Of course, generosity doesn’t have to involve money – you can cook a casserole for the family that is going through a rough patch, take their kids for the afternoon, etc. However, you have to have some excess capacity (or a lot of teenagers) to make that work. A friend is doing a bunch of work for a family member right now (delivering forms to doctors’ offices, running errands, doing dishes), as they struggle through a very difficult diagnosis. She can do this because she can take vacation, she has no children, and has enough money to buy plane tickets, etc.

    I am not setting out to criticize this family – I don’t know nearly enough about them to comment. However, I am seeing the pattern in the few families I know who are very frugal.

  84. Just did some quick Duggar math… if all 19 kids have 10 kids (or the 19 average 10 kids a pop), JB would have 190 grandchildren…

    People magazine would have a field day.

    OT – Jessa (I think) is preggo with #2 due in Feb. Her first is 9 months old. I thought having 2 under 2 would be tough… she’s gonna get 2 under 15 months…

  85. Rhode, one of my BFFs had 2 within 15 months, her next one a couple years later and the 4th one is much younger

  86. Rhett – an acquaintance recently purchased a house that was definitely expanded over its lifetime. The number of different roof lines is right up your alley… in the front, it looks like two peak roofs sitting next to each other (to create a mountain effect?, or an M), and then roof line is completely different in the back.

  87. Ada, save the discussion of that site, please; it’s in the bullpen already for an upcoming post.

    Milo, if being a Totebagger requires that level of intergenerational support then I’m evidently not a Totebagger because neither set of parents did that for us and my husband and I weren’t planning to do that for our kids.

  88. I can’t either, I remember at one point she said she didn’t like to leave the house, once I had just the one baby, I understood what she meant

  89. If folks would rather discuss the McMansion site now, I guess CoC could cancel the pending post.

  90. level of intergenerational support then I’m evidently not a Totebagger because neither set of parents did that for us and my husband and I weren’t planning to do that for our kids.

    I’m curious what you expect to happen to your kids when they graduate, if they go school on the continent? I had a more or less full time job senior year so I had a paycheck and a substantial amount of savings so I was able to come up with first, last and security. I was also able to buy a new car 2 or so month before I graduated so I could go on interviews. I don’t expect most totebag kids will be at a school easy enough that they’ll have time for a part time job let alone a full time job.

    I’m curious what Fred and Scarlett’s kids did. I can only assume some transitional assistance?

  91. Wine – imagine with 13?!?! I would never leave. It would be a battle of bags and shoes and things and dear lord it would take all day!

    Maybe they have buddies like the Duggars do…

    I’m not looking forward to leaving the house with 2. I’ve managed one with an ever-ready diaper bag.

  92. Rhett – I moved back home. I couldn’t afford to stay in FL because I didn’t have enough in savings to cover those things (I did have the car though…). I had no financial assistance from my parents (other than the roof and car insurance as I was still on their policy), and I paid a couple hundred to my mom to cover food and increased utilities. Once I got my first job, I started transitioning a lot of those bills to my name.

  93. Rhett, you didn’t ask me and this was 10+ years ago but I worked a co-op my last year PT until summer and then FT that summer and 1st semester of grad school. it paid all of my bills including my rent and tuition. I had a used car. the following year I got my first “real” job while doing the MBA, bought a house (no down pymt) and got married,. not typical I know

  94. what Rhode described is how I imagine most graduates make it work

    The other thing they would do is get a room in a share house. In most cases you don’t need first, last and security.

  95. Rhode, what will the age difference be? 2 or 3 years?

    Mine are about 3 years apart. There was a cute window when DS was just big enough to push DD in the stroller. That helped keep both of them entertained while out and about.

  96. Rhett, my parents did lend me a security deposit and first month’s rent, which I eventually repaid. (No car starting out.) And actually, looking at Milo’s list again, they did pay for my wedding, although it was way, way less than $50K. Less than $10K, even. So you’re right, I was overstating it.

    I would be prepared to make a loan for security deposit / first month’s rent, but would expect that the young adult in question would pay going forward out of his/her own earnings. Of course, I’m not in that situation yet, so I’m looking back at my own young adulthood more than forward at my kids’.

  97. HM – they’re just common examples. They’re not requirements for TB membership.

    My nephew and niece are 15 months apart, on purpose. My brother described it like being in prison, but in a few years, age proximity makes it easier.

    The new Duggar show is lame. There’s nothing remotely interesting about a couple of women with one kid each. And I have no idea why Jill and Derrick are still acting as “missionaries” in “Central America,” or why they won’t just say El Salvador. My DVR only recorded about 10 minutes of the most recent episode (it *is* the new X1 ‘smart’ DVR, after all) and Jill was talking about how she almost never leaves the house now, at least partly because crime is a big issue there, and a “gringo” baby like her DS is a prime target for kidnapping and ransom.

    It’s time for them to go back to AR and beg for Derrick’s accounting job back at Walmart.

  98. The other thing they would do is get a room in a share house.

    Yeah, that’s what I did up through graduating from law school.

  99. I would be prepared to make a loan for security deposit / first month’s rent,

    Would you insist on a loan or would you just make it a graduation/congrats on the new job gift?

  100. @Rhett –

    Around here, it seems like most of our entry level new grads move back home for 6mos to a year until they have enough $$ to move out. They often stay on their parents insurance for awhile too – especially if there are younger siblings and the parents would be paying the “family” rate anyway. They ALL seem to be on their parents cellphone plans and borrowing their cable logins to watch shows online. Makes sense if you are in the burbs of a big city with lots of jobs.

    This is also what every single one of DH’s siblings did. Most of them did not have jobs at graduation & spent some time back in their old HS/summer jobs until they found something in their field.

    As for me, I was a FT paid intern the summer before my senior year. I continued to work there PT through my final semester (graduated in 3.5 years). Company paid for me to move to a new state, and I started work days after graduation. I moved with an old family car that my parents gave me for graduation (it was probably worth < $2000 in today's money), and I moved in with a new coworker who had a 2BR apartment with an empty bedroom. This was preferable to living alone in a dumpy studio, which was the other option. Most of my savings went to buying adult stuff like work clothing (internship had been very casual working in a mfg plant setting), trading up the college hand me down futon for a real mattress, and a dresser from IKEA.

  101. Finn – 2 years – potentially to the day.

    Milo – Well Jessa will have a baby to liven things up! and Jinger is dating a football player or something.

  102. Rhett, if it was in the context of a graduation gift, sure, could be, but then that would be the gift. My parents gave me a Tumi garment bag and carry-on for law school graduation so that I could look more professional when doing work travel.

    Of course, as I said before, this is speculative since my kids aren’t even in college yet. I’m not trying to make a point about being frugal, just saying that this is the level of parental help that’s my set-point.

  103. I am an Irish twin and the oldest is ~2 years older then the next one. My mom at 70+ yo is able to keep up with my kids better than I or my husband can. Some people just really like the chaos and craziness.

  104. Hm, after library school I moved back home until I got a job a month later. Then I shared a place with my sister (a place my parents owned, and charged minimal rent for.)

    DSS went straight from undergrad to grad. I don’t remember his needing any rent help, but I could be blanking on it or they could have gotten it from his wife’s family. Then when he got his first job out of grad school the company paid for relocation.

    They are self-sufficient AND we (and my DIL’s parents) give big help and presents. Why not? They can have a better standard of living that way.

  105. company paid for relocation.

    Is that common? A friend’s kid went to Bowdin and got a job on Wall Street. I had assumed some parental help with suits, interview travel, first last etc. But, would that level of entry level job come with relocation assistance?

  106. I think my parents cosigned for my apartment when I got my first job. I had $ for the deposit from my summer job. I floated one of my brothers for a while when his student loans got messed up. I was working and figured that he would be good for it. I am going to help my kids to the extent that we can. It sucked not to have much money in college or law school.

  107. Is that common?

    I dunno. He’s a physics PhD now working in industry in Boston.

  108. If my mom had seen that flop-house I was staying in with another girl before we both found “real” places the summer I worked in London, she would probably have spontaneously and uncharacteristically offered to pay for a nicer hotel, no repayment required! But she didn’t know ^_^. And you know, paying 5 pounds each per night really stretched our available funds!

  109. Paying something toward relocation expenses was standard for law firms, and probably still is for the ones hiring from farther away than the local area.

  110. I’m curious what Fred and Scarlett’s kids did. I can only assume some transitional assistance?

    You’re talking about our oldest, now 22. He still drives the small SUV we bought for him midway thru his senior year of HS. He’s happy with it. He’s still on our family insurance policy and we pay all of that. He pays for gas and maintenance. When he moved into his studio apartment a few months back, I fronted the security deposit and he’s now paid that back to me…it was really a cash-flow thing (albeit one of those things many people cannot swing, so they’re prevented from moving…maybe forever) until he got his share of the deposit from the place he was moving out of. When we were first discussing his move to a new place (and the alternative would be moving back in with us….more on that below) he thought he’d need a subsidy to make ends meet. But that was before he knew about his higher than expected rate of pay and that he’s also working ~20% more hours at least thru the summer, so his self-generated financial situation is much better than expected. In fact, last week, he said to me that we should think about reducing the subsidy as he really wants to be more independent of us. Last, he’s on our cell plan, too and also on the health insurance I get from work since he doesn’t get that benefit yet from his employer and my insurance is so much better than what he’d get thru the marketplace. His savings account has grown a lot even after paying me back for greasing the skids re security deposit and he’s contributing 5% of gross (to get the full employer match) into his Roth 401k.

    Moving back with us & the subsidy…we all (DS DW & I) all agree it’s better he’s living elsewhere. Simply for collective sanity. I try to be very understanding about his academic situation and truly take a forward looking approach to things. Translation…he seems to have gotten his academic life in order, is making progress, and is balancing work, school, the rest of life ok, so if he were sitting around “doing nothing” I don’t have to worry/comment about it. And probably 95% of the time he and I would be fine. DW, not so much. So the three of us would probably be living in hell if we were all under the same roof. In that vein, the subsidy we pay, not that much anyway and it will go down, is a bargain to keep at least 2/3rds of us from fighting about it all the time.

    If I billed him for his share of car insurance, cell phone, health insurance and cut the subsidy to $0, he could swing it economically…just less would go into the savings acct every week. And like I said, he wants to be more independent, so I’m sure some of those subsidies will be eliminated in the near future. He and I have already set up a call for tonight to talk about a variety of financial things.

  111. We will pay for college and first car. We will pay for part of a wedding and hope to contribute to our grandchildrens’ education. I received similar handouts from my parents and they made my life so much easier. More than happy to give the same to my kids.

  112. I don’t know how common paying for relocation is for entry level jobs, but it was definitely common where I worked. We recruited nationally for the entry-level training programs in all areas. Moved lots of people to new locations for their first assignment, and all moves were taken care of. It wasn’t one of those deals where the company gives you a small moving allowance – it was all set up by the relocation service complete with a house hunting visit (or maybe even 2, I don’t remember). The house-hunting visit is where I met the coworker that I ended up moving in with – it was common for the employees already there to welcome the new recruits to town when they visited. I was there the weekend of a Holiday party.

    From what I hear, they still handle it the same way today.

  113. In general, I expect to pay some after college launch costs, but it is not an endless flow of cash from the Bank of Mom. I think whether and how much you help depends on a lot of factors including whether the child is just having a cash flow issue before the first couple of pay checks roll in or whether the child wants you to subsidize their lifestyle that they can’t afford. I am more apt to fund the first one and say tough luck to the second.

  114. “whether the child is just having a cash flow issue before the first couple of pay checks roll in or whether the child wants you to subsidize their lifestyle”

    agree completely. that’s why that actual cash subsidy has a very limited future…I think he’s actually been able to bank it meaning that he doesn’t really need it. It’s only been three months and I’m not going to ask him for the $$ back, but I am going to discuss eliminating it now that he’s doing ok.

    “especially if there are younger siblings and the parents would be paying the “family” rate anyway.” (health insurance)

    my monthly premium is $54.00 for medical + dental and what he typically uses is covered 100% anyway, so there’s limited sense in billing him his $10.80 since I’d pay $54 even if he’s off the plan.

  115. relo – I got company paid relo when I completed grad school and started my job across the country. DW (girlfriend then) and I drove so got a nice company-paid vacation out of the deal, staying and eating in much nicer places than we could have afforded if it were all on our money.

  116. but it is not an endless flow of cash from the Bank of Mom.

    I’m curious about that. I know a bunch of people with various streams of “family money” income. Some are simple like Milo’s $70k. Some is grandpa and grandma giving each of the grand kids $14k each a year as part of their estate planning. And, of course, two with a good old fashioned trust fund. Only one of them seems the worse for it.

    So, is it better to let the kids do and have more when they are starting out or is it better to let them have it when they’re 60 and you pass at 85?

    For me, it seems you’ll get more bang for the buck helping them at 25 than at 65.

  117. Here is what I have offered my kids, which is the same thing my parents did for us, although neither has bitten yet (I keep telling them their 22 year old selves will be pissed at their much younger selves if they don’t take me up on it).

    Any $$ they put in a savings account, I will match. However, they can’t take any $$ out until they complete their first year of college. Then they can use that $$ for anything they want – travel, security deposit on an apartment, etc. If they started now, they could easily both have around $10k by then.

    I took advantage of this from a very young age, and had a good nest egg for when I was starting out on my own after college.

    Regrettably, the latest Minecraft skin is so much more appealing. But that’s okay too – it’s their $$ to spend as they see fit.

  118. “Paying something toward relocation expenses was standard”

    When I graduated, it was also common for engineers, although I don’t know if that’s the case now. My employer right after college provided a couple weeks in a hotel, a stipend (IIRC, half a month salary) that was sufficient for rental deposit, and a rental car for a month. They also offered to pay mileage for me to drive my car, but their relocation assistance did not cover shipping a car.

  119. Rhett – the $70k was a one-time inheritance. I think that is what you meant, but I wish it were an ongoing stream.

  120. “I drove so got a nice company-paid vacation out of the deal, staying and eating in much nicer places than we could have afforded if it were all on our money.”

    Yeah, I was offered that too, which of course was pretty silly.

  121. “my monthly premium is $54.00 for medical + dental and what he typically uses is covered 100% anyway, so there’s limited sense in billing him his $10.80 since I’d pay $54 even if he’s off the plan.”

    Right. I was kind of surprised to hear a lot of our not-even-so-new grads talk about being on their parents’ insurance. But they said their parents pay the same for their plan regardless of whether or not they are on it since it’s either employee or employee + family. So why not stay with that plan until they are 26. I know the 26 age change is fairly recent. When I graduated, I got kicked off my parents plan at the end of the month in which I graduated since I was no longer a FT student. If I hadn’t gotten a job with immediate benefits, I would have had to pay for COBRA, find a private plan, or go without.

    I don’t know what we will do for DS and when. It is really going to depend on how things are going for all of us.

  122. Depends…I work in the public sector; none pay any relocation costs. The “best” deal was some time off, off the books to look for a place to live, get utilities set up, etc. That was back when you had to do it in person.

    Rhett – What you are talking about is more intentional estate planning on the parent/ grandparent’s part. My parents left some money for my kids for college, though the way they left it to them it is not earmarked. This is recent and all the details haven’t shaken out, so they don’t know it yet.

    More to the point, I think the big difference is in the intent/attitude. For example, child A says “Mom, I found an apartment in my budget, but can’t quite swing the deposits, can you help out? I can pay you back in the next few months” vs. child B (friend’s nephew did this) that says “Mom, I just can’t drive a Toyota, I just have to have a BMW. And, no I can’t get a used one, it MUST be new. I really need you to buy me one, so I am having the dealer email you the paperwork.”

    Response from me to child A is yes and likely wouldn’t ask for it back unless I needed it myself. Child B’s request would not even be entertained.

  123. My parents paid for tuition, room & board, and books for me and my sibs, and expected us to use our own earnings to cover everything else. That wasn’t a problem for us, as we all got full-time jobs during summers (and some other breaks; I think my brother always worked during Xmas breaks, as that was a very busy time for his employer who was glad to have an experienced temp just for the break).

    But while DS has been working, albeit much less than I did, all of his earnings have been going into his Roth IRA, so the only money he has available to spend is the allowance we give him, and gifts.

    In college, I would probably rather him take another class than get a PT job, if his school charges a flat rate for tuition regardless of how many credits he takes. And we would probably expect him to apply at least part of his summer earnings to living expenses during the school years.

    After funding his Roth and paying living expenses, I don’t think he’d have much, if any, money left. So that makes it likely that we will provide some financial help, since I don’t want him to touch his Roth IRA at that point.

    The same logic will probably apply to DD, who’s already started looking for a job, at an earlier age than DS did.

    But OTOH, I want my kids to go through the life phase of scrimping to get by, albeit knowing that we are always there if really needed.

  124. DS just called me to reschedule our call since he wants to go to a networking thing. Anyway, I told him about the subsidy going away since he’s been able to bank it for the last 3 months and he was completely cool with it! So there you go.

  125. Child B’s request would not even be entertained.

    What if you had a lot of extra money? Are you just going to have them buy it when they inherit at 60?

  126. but I wish it were an ongoing stream.

    Right, but I know people who have had that happen ever few years as various relatives pass away. It’s not a steady stream but it sure does help.

  127. “is it better to let the kids do and have more when they are starting out or is it better to let them have it when they’re 60 and you pass at 85?”

    My mom and step dad inherited serious money when they were 77 & 86 from a long time family friend whose spouse had died many years ago and they had no kids. My folks were/are still able to get around/travel so they’ve been able to take advantage of the newfound largesse for some of the nicer things in life, but my mom did joke about how much better it would have been to have the money when they were younger. She’s living that thought with my sister and me in that she’s passing along annual gifts at about the legal limit with no strings attached.

    “OTOH, I want my kids to go through the life phase of scrimping to get by, albeit knowing that we are always there if really needed.”

    This is a valuable lesson to learn. And I think we’ve passed it along to my kids because they know when they come to us with an idea that seems to need funding we automatically say “make us a proposal, and put it in writing.” Some things get funded 100%, some less, some not at all. Any many times the proposal never happens after they rethink the whole thing.

  128. I want my kids to go through the life phase of scrimping to get by,

    Wouldn’t the point of an engineering degree be a high starting salary such that you’d never have to scrimp?

  129. I graduated into a terrible recession. I stayed in MA, living for free with my then-boyfriend, looking for a job. I had a little bit of money from a summer job and I used that for food. After 3 months of looking, I gave up and accepted an offer from a grad school (TA- stipend + tuition ).
    In grad school I was able to save a little money and buy a car. I then had an instructor position for a year during which I saved even more. When I graduated and took my first job, that covered initial rent and deposit in NYC. I sold my car, which was also helpful in getting started.

  130. I wouldn’t entertain child B’a request and would likely provide less for being such an entitled kid. But if a child of mine was looking for a car or a house and couldn’t swing it and I could, I would offer up $ so long as I thought said child was productive and not entitled.

  131. Well, scrimping is a relative term. Perhaps more to the point is learning to live below one’s means, e.g., maxing out 401k and IRA contributions and still living on what’s left without aid from parents while building a rainy day fund.

    So yeah, engineering scrimping might not be the same as elementary education scrimping.

  132. Actually for DS, the point of an engineering degree would be to be able to more rapidly save for grad school than with some other degree.

  133. Late to the party today. I have no issues with that family. They will get lots of help from their equally devout family and church community because conservative Catholics who walk the walk and have very large families are considered worthy of support in the same way as missionaries in the evangelical churches. I am still surprised they are not taking advantage of free Catholic school tuition, but some of my large family homeschooling acquaintances simply feel it is easier to school everyone at home rather than cart the kids all over the place. And most large families get a lot of indirect support from the taxpaying public, even if they don’t get formal “welfare.”

    I don’t think it is reasonable for anyone to characterize as-not-doing-it-oneself “handouts” weekly babysitting by grandparents or new school sneakers purchased on an outing with auntie, much less the giant boxes that arrive on the doorstep with multiple times handed down clothes that are beginning to lose their shape and original bright colors, or slightly cracked plastic toys, or hand me down bikes or 90s era children’s books. It is too bad that many of us, who have so much socially, materially and educationally, don’t have families or neighbors or religious communities that care for one another in these simple ways.

  134. My DH, who graduated with an engineering degree, lived at home for 4 years to save money for grad school. And then he didn’t really need it because he also had an assistantship. He also consulted while he was in grad school, so he always seemed relatively wealthy to me back when we were both in school. Eventually we used that money towards our house, but that was many years later.

  135. “What if you had a lot of extra money? Are you just going to have them buy it when they inherit at 60?”

    I’d consider giving some of it away. Perhaps provide some funds to a charity I support, perhaps underwrite someone trying to commercialize a cool invention, perhaps buy some political influence.

    Actually, I’m curious about how the buying political influence works. Do I go to John Q. Candidate and tell him I’ve got $2k I’d like to give his campaign if that’ll open his door to me? Or do I give his campaign the money first, and then ask for his audience? Or do I just send him a bunch of emails about what issues I think he should support/oppose and also give the $2k to his campaign?

  136. Rhett – I don’t mean this in an argumentative way because I have mixed feelings on it myself, but do you see any value in Child B having to work for the BMW, save for it for several years, maybe sacrifice some other luxuries to pay for it? Is there value in wanting something for a period of time before you can have it, or is it always better just to get it if the resources are plentiful? Is all that just bunk that middle-class people tell ourselves?

  137. I think there is value when there is a price.
    I think people value things they have to pay for.
    So, IMO, if I diligently set aside $x per month to save up enough for a big enough downpayment on that (car) so I can afford the monthly payments, I will value that car more than if I knew I could just access the trust account anytime I want. That just engenders entitlement.
    Perhaps I mixing up my celebrities, but ref Paris Hilton.

  138. Finn, local lobbying 101, you give to the campaign first, but show up at the fundraiser and mention (like one sentence summary) that you’d like to get together some time to talk about [issue]. Then call the ‘official’ office to ask for an appointment — if the person isn’t an incumbent then you’ll have to wait on that one. When you come in to meet, don’t forget to bring something for the staff — box of manapua / pork hash, coco puffs, the usual suspects. For an individual with a pet issue whose support is more along the lines of sign waving with a small donation, homemade cookies can be very effective. The staff is going to have a hard time blowing off someone who’s brought in homemade cookies.

  139. The first car that I bought by myself was a stripped down Honda Civic. I loved that car. Much more so than the expensive car that I currently drive. For me at least, part of the satisfaction comes from planning/working for it.

  140. Milo,

    I think the BMW might be a bad example as it so irrationally offends totebag sensibilities. But, how about if they got a chance to do a semester abroad at the Univerity of Bologne where they would study and also work on a European Space Agency computer science project. Would you kick in a few grand so they could take the train to Rome, maybe a long weekend in Dubrovnik, ski, have a few memorable dinners? Or, would tell them to wait and do a Viking River Cruise when they’re 80?

  141. @ Rhett – this might be comparable. Our oldest has the opportunity to do a class trip to a cool place this year. About 20 – 30 kids will probably go, out of a class of 80ish. The cost to us is $1000ish. We told him he could go if he kicked in some $$ towards it (we didn’t set a number, but it would have been something attainable but noticeable.). He said he didn’t want to spend even $20 of his own on it, so he would pass. We were fine with that – if not important enough to him to put some skin in the game, no point in us paying it either.

    I think I would feel the same about the college student.

  142. Rhett –

    Kids are different, even in the same family, and they are psychologically able to accept parental largesse in different ways and to different degrees. All of mine grew up with scarcity, so they don’t have an innate sense of entitlement. Still, one bristles at the thought that any draw on the bank of Mom (as opposed to funds for an immediate unforeseen need or birthday checks) is to be approved based on worthiness of the proposal. I have some strategies to make it easier for her to accept a gift, but it takes unnecessary work IMO. I don’t intend to send x thou a year to each child just so that he/she can get an advanced degree or work less or drive a fancier car/live in a bigger house or have another baby. When they are 60, they might appreciate a windfall so that they can have some mad money for themselves after launching their children and providing the base level for their own retirement.

  143. “is it better to let the kids do and have more when they are starting out or is it better to let them have it when they’re 60 and you pass at 85?”

    My grandfather always said he would rather see everyone enjoying his money while he was alive than inherit it when he died.

  144. So Milo, yes, they can take a cruise at 70 on the inheritance. If they want to bum around after a semester abroad (and the upcharge for that was expensive enough – only the two youngest even had the option), they can do it as my kids did – work odd jobs, hitchhike, etc.

  145. “is it better to let the kids do and have more when they are starting out or is it better to let them have it when they’re 60 and you pass at 85?”

    Of course part you never know what’s going to happen and what you might need it for.

  146. “The staff is going to have a hard time blowing off someone who’s brought in homemade cookies.”

    Even if it’s made with cookie dough from Costco?

  147. Meme,

    If you do it when you’re young you’ll have a lifetime of memories. If you wait till you’re 70 the memories may last only until the dementia sets in. It seems like you get more bang for your buck at 20.

  148. Rhett, you’re talking about a college student, right? Are you assuming they’re not getting any kind of spending allowance from parents in normal circumstances? Because even if the student is at the home campus in the U.S. there are the ski trips a bunch of friends are planning to take to someone’s parents’ condo and chip in on gas money and food, or the extra-curric’s fall tour to another city for which several hundred dollars will be assessed, or the spring fling for which there’s the cost of tickets, a meal out, maybe formal wear to purchase or rent.

  149. “Would you kick in a few grand so they could take the train to Rome, maybe a long weekend in Dubrovnik, ski, have a few memorable dinners?”

    Maybe there’s something in between?

    A few “memorable ” dinners? I still think about how DW and I were nearly engaged before I ever saw a waiter go through the ceremony of corking a bottle of wine (and that was with her parents.) And I was still very happy with a lot of good memories. (I sound like the biographies that my Dad chuckles, including Ruth Chris–or whatever her name is–who say “we never knew we were poor.”)

    Sophomore year of high school, my English teacher thought it would be cool to put together a group of kids to go on a two-week trip to Italy. It was $1300. I asked my parents haphazardly when she sent home the materials, and without a lot of thought, they said OK.

    If they had said I needed to pay half, or even a third, I’d probably decline like Lark’s DS. But these things are never set in stone.

  150. Finn, the point is that when the constituent drops by to ask how things are coming along and whether there’s a bill draft yet, staff is picturing the little washi-covered tin they’ve been hitting up for a mid-afternoon boost over the past week. Not so much whether the cookies were in fact gourmet-quality.

  151. Are you assuming they’re not getting any kind of spending allowance from parents in normal circumstances?

    That’s another question. If you want them to take summer classes and the classes are too “rigorous” to allow for a part time job and you don’t qualify for work study, how much is the allowance per month? $500, $1000, more? Did they get a lot of merit aid and the college fund is wildly overfunded?

    I assume some would say grad school or down payment on a house? But, the down payment money means a nicer house than they would otherwise be able to afford.

  152. “For me, it seems you’ll get more bang for the buck helping them at 25 than at 65.”

    I don’t disagree, although I’d be more likely to help at, say, 30, after the kid had shown himself/herself to be responsible.

    I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

  153. I will add that if DSS had dropped out of school and was living in the basement, smoking dope and playing video games, he would not be getting any major gifts. Nor would he if he acted entitled. He’s worked hard and is always appropriately grateful for whatever we give him.

  154. “If you want them to take summer classes and the classes are too “rigorous” to allow for a part time job and you don’t qualify for work study, how much is the allowance per month?”

    This is our approach. DS does not work for money over the summer–he took an AP class and worked at an unpaid internship. We provide an allowance. We will likely provide an allowance for the first semester or first year of college, as we want DS to focus on the weed-out engineering classes and get acclimated to college.

    As to the college allowance amount–I have no idea. How do other parents of college aged kids approach this?

  155. Houston, there’s a discussion of exactly that over at CC, which had me wondering if I should provide an allowance when DS leaves for college, and if so, how much?

    As mentioned earlier, I had no such allowance, but OTOH DS has, at my urging, been putting his earnings into a Roth IRA. That’s fine while he’s still at home and we pay for all his basic needs, and many things well beyond that. But when he goes to college, just paying for tuition, books, fees, room, and board won’t cover everything (especially if he has a 14 meal/week plan like I did). We won’t pay the other expenses piecemeal, so covering his basic needs would involve some sort of additional cash flow, as would anything beyond the basic needs.

    Perhaps we’ll retroactively do what others here have mentioned, matching his Roth IRA contributions. That would give him experience in living within his means with some control over the income as well as expenditure half of what I hope will be an inequality favoring income over expenditure.

  156. Houston, BTW, some numbers thrown out on CC were in the $400 to $600 range, per month, but there also was a lot of variation in what it included. Some kids live off campus, and that allowance covered things like food and utilities, while there were others living on campus with meal plans who were getting that much, which seems high to me in that case.

  157. which seems high to me in that case.

    Of the kids getting an allowance when I was in school 20 years ago, the lowest amount was $900/month. That’s $1500 in today’s money.

  158. Meme – where can I find free Catholic school tuition? I’ll move there tomorrow. I’ve attended 11 years of Catholic school and DH 4. We both had tuition. Reduced yes because we were members of the parish but not free. My own parish offers reduced tuition for members.

  159. Rhode,

    A quick googling says many parishes base tuition on income/family size. As such, a guy making 50k with 13 kids isn’t going to pay anything.

  160. “That’s $1500 in today’s money.”

    And is not out of line if, for example, it covers housing.

  161. Finn,

    That was just spending money. Keep in mind that In My Day™, most kids worked in high school during the school year and summers and winter break in college regardless of family income. Not working was the realm of the very affluent and/or extraordinaryly totebaggy.

    Obviously, things are much different today.

  162. Finn: Good advice. We, too, will pay for room, board, books, and fees, so $400 per month sounds about right. We pay $100 per month in allowance right now, and DS has saved 100% of this, so he will have extra funds at his disposal for any additional expenses such as travel.

  163. My parents funded grad school in the U.S. I paid them back when I was comfortable a few years later. They did not fund a wedding or down payment on a house. My cousins got lavish weddings paid for instead of higher education. In my world family and friends have always helped each other and that has taken the form of hand me downs of various kinds as well as a temporary place to stay especially for younger people starting out.
    The most I have seen anyone being supported by their parents is a friend who over the years took courses in jewelry making overseas, tried to sell her pieces but didn’t really make a go of it, now she is a full time student again and all her expenses at this stage of life are being covered by the parents. It is doubtful if she will ever work at a job that pays more than the minimum so her parents will have to leave behind enough. Another sibling of hers is also in the same boat, so the parents have two kids out of four that they are still supporting.

  164. Rhett, are you saying that the kids who got an allowance were the few who didn’t work? Such a high allowance might make sense if limited to the very affluent, although for them it might be low.

    My day was similar to yours; pretty much everybody got a summer job, and most kids had part-time jobs.

  165. “[$1500] was just spending money.”

    Oh get the fu(k out of here. No way am I paying that in addition to room and board and tuition! That’s more than I spend on myself in a month. WTF are they spending it on???

  166. Rhode – Catholic school tuition is discounted for additional kids after the first and in my parish it is free for the fourth kid on. The maximum number of kids in one family, that I know of is six. They have the mini bus that Milo often describes.

  167. InMyDay, I got $70/month spending money during the school year in college, so around $210 in today money. There were kids who had less to spend, and kids who had more, but plenty who seemed to have right around the same amount judging by expenditures. During the summers I worked, and then after college even though I was still in school it was on my own dime (scholarship, loans).

  168. My current thinking is what Finn wrote earlier about college. My college/law school budget was based on how much I earned over the summer after my share of tuition was paid. So I am glad to be able to cover basic tuition/fees/room/board for my kids. Rhett, when I was in law school @25 yrs ago, my monthly budget was @$650 for everything (over half of that was rent); $900 would have been luxury! Then again my COL was probably a fair bit lower.

    25 vs 60: depends on the kid. If kid is a spendthrift, giving them the $ at 25 means they get used to a more expensive lifestyle, so they enjoy the hell out of a few years, but the money runs out faster and then it’s a big letdown for the next 40 years. 60 means years of being used to a less-expensive lifestyle; if they have learned to manage money, it’s a happy surprise that enables them to retire earlier or loosen the purse strings some; if they haven’t, well, at least they have a shot at not being destitute in retirement. OTOH, for a kid with head on shoulders, I’d be more inclined to loosen up more along the way.

    Remember, for me, money is about security. That includes leaving money behind — I hope to do so, because it gives me peace of mind that my kids will be secure without me there looking out for them. So I’d be royally pissed if one of my kids blew through my life savings with 10 years of wild living. No.

  169. They seem like a nice family and mama looks great for having 13 kiddos. I’m not sure they actually asked for any of the free stuff they received, it sounds like people just give them stuff. Growing up Catholic, I knew several large families and people in the church community helped each other out. That seems to be the case in the Lutheran community that is associated with our kids’ school as well. It’s not clear to me that they haven’t helped others with demo or paint when needed. It doesn’t say that they don’t reciprocate or pass on things that they don’t need to others. There are plenty of Totebaggers who receive help from family with childcare or other forms of support. There have been lots of discussions on here about giving or getting hand-me-downs. These kids seem to be champs at finding ways to pay for their education. Isn’t that a common conversation topic here? And what is the acceptable number of children?

  170. WTF are they spending it on???

    Clothes, trips, clubs, dinner, etc. Think of SouthFlMom’s SL500 driving to high school son in college.

    Not to mention that In My Day ™, you had guys landscaping for $12-14/hr 40 hours a week for 16 weeks. That’s $1,000/month spread over the whole year in today’s money.

  171. If they want to spend the summer landscaping, then by all means, I fully support them blowing whatever $ they earn if they so choose. But someone else’s money? Nope!

  172. $100/week is fairly generous.

    I agree, if the kid doesn’t want to work. If they want to work and you forbid it, then it seems less generous.

  173. Yeah, we’re not in SoFlMom’s league. But right now, my eldest claims to want to attend my alma mater, so that would be cheap.

  174. I wouldn’t forbid my kids from working ever. I would condition parental support for tuition and room and board on maintaining a fairly high gpa.

  175. “plenty of Totebaggers who receive help from family with childcare”

    Yes, this is one area in which, assuming I have the health to do so, I would definitely want to help out my kids.

  176. I wouldn’t forbid my kids from working ever.

    Wouldn’t forbid is a long way from encourage.

  177. “eldest claims to want to attend my alma mater, so that would be cheap.”

    OTOH, your alma mater has one of the lowest acceptance rates around.

    I believe many of us have alma maters which would be difficult for us to get into if we had to apply now.

  178. “money is about security.”

    ITA. Having had the financial wherewithal to weather a job loss and a period of unemployment as a relatively minor blip really drove this home for me, and was a big payoff for years of frugality and living well below our means.

  179. we give our college kids $100/month for whatever. this is above tuition books room board necessary clothing. the $100 plus their savings from employment, summer full time and during school part time, their call on that, is for the partying.

  180. I am not spending $60k/year (or whatever crazy amount it will be) for suboptimal performance because child wants to earn $1500/mo to blow on eating out and traveling! If he/she can earn that without school performance suffering, great. If not, he/she can choose to meet our requirements or lose the support.

  181. My mother insisted that I work part time while in college. I lived at home and so did my friends. At least I had spending money – I could do what I wanted with it. One year I partied, my grades were not great that year. My parents were just not into looking at the details of our lives the way they had in K-12. It was understood that I had to complete my degree, get a job and get off the parental payroll.

  182. “I am not spending $60k/year (or whatever crazy amount it will be) for suboptimal performance because child wants to earn $1500/mo to blow on eating out and traveling! ”

    If the kid takes a load of 5 classes/semester, that’s $6k/class. If the kid has enough time for a PT job, I’d prefer that time be spent taking a $6k class for a marginal cost that might be a couple $100 (for books).

    This is the math DS and I discussed recently: In My Day ™, it took about 5 classes/semester over 8 semesters to graduate, 40 classes total. If you have time to take an extra class, that means 42 classes in 7 semesters, At probably ~$80k per year by his senior year, that’s $40k savings by graduating a semester early, probably more than could be made with 7 semesters of part-time work, not to mention an earlier start on a job with the anticipated higher salary due to the college degree.

    The only kind of PT work I’d want my kids taking if I’m spending that much on their college is something that will also advance their education, e.g., being a research assistant doing work that is a real learning opportunity, as opposed to near-minimum wage jobs in the cafeteria.

  183. Finn & Kate,

    My senior year, I was working almost full time and making an inflation adjusted $75k*. Did my GPA suffer? A little. Has it ever mattered? No. There seems to be a hyper focus on pure academic achievement here with not nearly enough weight on entrepenualism and self promotion and taking advantage of the opportunities life provides.

    Indeed, there even seems to be an antipathy toward any kind of risk taking or entrepreneurialism.

    * looking online it seems that a talented freelance iOS app developer charges $135/hr. Is Finn’s son smart enough to do that? Certainty! But he wants him working as a lab assistant?

  184. Rhett, I hadn’t considered that level of work. A menial PT job cleaning up after dinner in the dining hall, no. A job that will pay more than $6k/year for PT hours would definitely be worth considering, especially if it could open up more opportunities.

  185. If any of my kids want to work because they think it will be a good experience/more beneficial than studying/etc, we can have a discussion about it. But if the purpose is to make money to blow on food and entertainment because the $250/mo or whatever doesn’t let them live a desired lifestyle, they are welcome to do so on their own dime.

  186. In my day and in my kids day scholarship kids were expected to work as part of their grants, and at some schools they were required to work dining hall or dorm crew. No way to pass as full pay kids. My kids worked at Peets Coffee, Jamba Juice, as AP clerks, waiting tables, coding, library desk, professional DJ. They also had paid internships or in research labs. They covered their own personal expenses.

  187. I think working in college is a good thing. My college job (financial position) gave me something interesting to put on my sparse resume, and allowed me to learn a few skills. I do agree that you have to pick your job carefully and manage your time.

  188. The reduced tuition based on income and family size makes sense. As does charging less per subsequent child. But they would have to pay something. Not all 13 are in k-8 or 12 at the same time. And the older kids eventually wouldn’t count as dependents.

    The financial model that this describes requires a large endowment. Those are few and far between in many Catholic schools currently. On the they are losing enrollment particularly the people who can pay full freight.

    Either way it’s a way to save money for a large family. I’m not surprised this family didn’t do that. It’s still cheaper for mom to homeschool.

  189. “there even seems to be an antipathy toward any kind of risk taking or entrepreneurialism”

    Risk taking and entrepreneurialism in the opposite of being a totebagger. We are trained to be smart, diligent, and prudent. Taking risks–real risks–is deeply uncomfortable for us. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but in a factual way. I consider myself part of this class and I hate risk. It makes me a very bad entrepreneur.

    I mentor a few college kids. I regularly talk them out of starting companies and push them towards real jobs…with salaries and benefits. Jobs that will help them pay their student debts and allow them to save for the future.

  190. We’ve had discussions in the past about how almost any job can be a learning experience. I can understand why you might not want your child to work if you’ve invested a lot of $ in private K-12 to get into a top college. I can even understand why you wouldn’t want your kid “wasting” time at a menial job, but there is another side to these jobs.

    I think that the jobs that I had on campus were not a waste of time. I was a cashier, stacked summer boxes, and served ice cream. I learned how to balance my classes, study, clubs, activities, sports and everything else with a part time job. I learned how to work with all sorts of people from many different backgrounds. I was required to work as part of work study/financial aid package. My entry level menial position as a freshman turned into a management role, and I eventually became the CFO for one of the largest student run corporations.

    I often get asked by people that are browsing through my linked in connections for an introduction to someone that I worked with during college in these entry level jobs. The reason is that these same people that I met and created life long relationships with are now running publishing houses, pharmaceutical companies, producing movies and TV shows, etc. I am just trying to emphasize that there is so much learning that takes place outside of a classroom in college, and you never know where you will meet people that will open doors for you.

  191. The employment opportunities in college during the school year depend on where your school is. Mine was is a fairly small town…when the students were gone the population dropped by about 40%. Most of the “better” part-time jobs that didn’t require a degree were taken by professors/faculty/staff spouses. That left college kids and high school kids with the waitress, grocery store, on campus student type jobs.

    I had a part-time student job in the library. In my department, there was one job-shared job that one-half was held by the mayor’s wife. When he was no longer mayor and they retired to be closer to their kids, her half was up for grabs and I got that job. It was much better as it had benefits (including pension contribution) and vacation/holiday pay. The student job was purely hourly. Any time you asked off, it you couldn’t make up those hours, you got paid less.

    Several of the schools in our area are going to flat rate tuition – pay for 12 hours, but take as many or as few as you want to. If my child could do 15/semester and get out sooner, I’d rather that than the minimum wage or slightly higher part-time job. If my child is trading off another semester or two for good work experience then that is a different story.

  192. DSS tended to work for his professors during college summers. One summer he was porting a whole bunch of outdated code to some newer, better platform. The code controlled VLA telescopes, or something. I dunno. My ex-boyfriend the astronomer used to talk about VLA telescopes which is how I even vaguely knew what DSS was talking about. All summer, DH would go to work and DSS and I would hang out in the living room, with the TV on some ridiculous Comedy Central crap, while he wrote code and I argued with People Who Are Wrong On the Internet. It was a pleasant way to pass the summers.

  193. Rocky that sounds like an awesome summer.

    The best thing about school being in session again is the random hilarious texts I occasionally receive from my funny/smart-assy DD who feels the need to live-blog portions of her classes.

    We provided a monthly allowance that was to cover groceries, gas, utilities, eating out, clothes, haircuts, toiletries. Money for fun or travel came from earnings. Now that she is doing unpaid internships, I am willing to subsidize clothes and fun a little more, but she hasn’t asked yet. I am paying for her to attend a national conference for an organization she is involved in. She could take an additional class if she weren’t doing the internship, but I think the work experience is more valuable for her than an extra class would be.

  194. “The reduced tuition based on income and family size makes sense. As does charging less per subsequent child.”

    How do they make sense?

  195. If he/she can earn that without school performance suffering, great. If not, he/she can choose to meet our requirements or lose the support.

    Kate, what do you consider to be acceptable grades?

    If the kid takes a load of 5 classes/semester, that’s $6k/class. If the kid has enough time for a PT job, I’d prefer that time be spent taking a $6k class for a marginal cost that might be a couple $100 (for books).

    Have you considered burnout? If he has an extra 10 hours a week, even a menial job for $10 an hour might be more beneficial to him than another class because it gives him a break from academics and a chance to clear his head.

    Several of the schools in our area are going to flat rate tuition – pay for 12 hours, but take as many or as few as you want to.

    The flagship state U I went to 25 years ago did exactly this. There was full-time tuition for 12 hours or more, part-time tuition for 6-11 hours, or per-credit tuition for 5 or less hours. The downside of it from the totebag perspective was that if you weren’t doing well in a class, it was easy to drop it midsemester because there was no financial penalty. The cost for 16 or 13 hours was the same, so you weren’t losing money if you dropped it. Paying per credit, you have a much greater incentive to stick with it because you can’t get a refund after the first or second week.

  196. The downside of it from the totebag perspective was that if you weren’t doing well in a class,

    I know, totebag kids will never be struggling in a class.

  197. I think there’s a huge difference between private charity and “public” charity, in the sense of government money that goes to subsidize a particular lifestyle choice, like having a large family, vs. government services/supports that are largely independent of that lifestyle choice, like trash pickup, public school and clean air. A large family disproportionately benefits from public school and trash pickup but they are also disproportionately raising future citizens. I posted a few months ago about a moral system that would consider the claims of future citizens, and that concept has stuck with me.

    In terms of family size, I tell my friends with 0 and 6 that it’s the birth rate, not the standard deviation in the birth rate, that matters. (That means that 0 and 6 are both fine choices.)

    This family in this article probably gives and receives lots of private charity. I’ve received or borrowed lots of things for my pregnancy and for Baby WCE. I was amused to find myself turning to the church maternity closet I had previously donated my maternity clothes to. One of my work friends bought me several “work-appropriate” maternity tops during the local consignment store’s moving sale. My quite-sick mom had come for her last visit, and I wasn’t going shopping during the closing sale, but my friend had an hour free during her daughter’s dance class. The consignment store tops were ~$1 each and I donated them to the church maternity closet after I was done. It was a gift given in friendship more than it was charity.

    My “I’m Totebaggy” moment recently was when I told an acquaintance at church that I’d have more baby clothes for her granddaughter/expectant niece/whomever in September. (Lots of babies in their family.) Her husband replied, “Why don’t you save them for your grandkids?” and I replied, “My grandkids are 30 years away,” and he responded, “Isn’t your oldest about 10? Could be 10 years,” and I thought, “No, Lord, not that soon on grandchildren please.”

  198. Have you considered burnout? If he has an extra 10 hours a week, even a menial job for $10 an hour might be more beneficial to him than another class because it gives him a break from academics and a chance to clear his head.

    This…some of my friends definitely had academic burnout and underperformed their potential in the long haul. I had both a cafeteria and a library job. It was different for me as an international student – I couldn’t work more than 20 hrs/week and didn’t have a car so off campus jobs were off limits. The library job was good – I could study or read as long as I manned the desk. The full time library staff helped me draft my first resume, list of employers to target etc. They also offered to be references in case an employer called. They couldn’t get students to work – they were grateful I showed up and worked there for as long as I did. They were such a useful resource but most students didn’t know that. (Somehow I am inserting of RMS and her library help here).

  199. InMyDay and today (based on my kid’s experience), it seems that most campus-related jobs and certainly the best jobs were Work Study jobs that were only available to students who qualify for financial aid. I’m curious about others’ knowledge and experience about this. I don’t think many totebag kids would be eligible for these jobs.

    IME there is a big divide between adult children who have Families That Give Financial Help and those who don’t. Whether it’s in college or while getting started in career/family, having family that can help in paying for things like an international student conference or a down payment on a house can make a big difference. Most totebaggers have the goal to be Families That Help, which related to a point Milo made upthread.

  200. “My senior year, I was working almost full time and making an inflation adjusted $75k*. Did my GPA suffer? A little.”

    I’m very curious about this, and whether you consider yourself the entrepreneur/risk-taker/promoter type? As Houston wrote, this goes against totebagger type.

    Also, majors that typically require a couple of labs per week and significant study time make it harder to work 20-30 hours a week and still be able to participate in extracurricular activities. At least that’s what I’ve seen to be the case for most people.

  201. “InMyDay and today (based on my kid’s experience), it seems that most campus-related jobs and certainly the best jobs were Work Study jobs that were only available to students who qualify for financial aid. ”
    This is absolutely the experience I observed as my two kids and their peers went through college. The old “he can always get a job in the school cafeteria” is a pipe dream. DS did work his senior year for the company where he interned the summer after junior year. Our two universities had job fairs twice a year recruiting for internships and permanent jobs, and I was amazed at how many of our sons’ friends didn’t bother to go. When I suggesting it to parents, they didn’t seem to see the point in going to a job fair in October to look for employment in June. Very frustrating.

  202. InMyDay, we were paid a stipend for spending money. It was a flat $600 a month, but the school saw fit to take a big chunk of that in order for us to pay them back for uniforms, laundry and dry cleaning services, textbooks, football tickets (to games that we had to attend) and the PCs that we were issued, which were not cheap in those days. So it ended up ranging from as low as $50 a month for freshmen, to about $400 a month for seniors. Google says that the gross rate is now up to $1,006.

    At the beginning of junior year (once your commitment papers are signed), USAA and Navy Federal were eager to give everyone a combined $23k loan with payments and 1% interest deferred until after graduation. So we were all rich by that point. The local car dealerships are aware of this timeline, and it translates into a constant rumor among people that the Academy “buys you a car” after your first two years.

    DW did some kind of work in the alumni affairs office, usually soliciting donations. My brother graduated in 3.5 years, then spent a little more than a semester teaching MCAT prep through Princeton Review.

  203. I regularly talk them out of starting companies and push them towards real jobs…with salaries and benefits.

    That’s a very narrow definition of entrepreneur. To my way of thinking being a full time w-2 employee is just like running your own business – your business just has one customer, your employer. But, all the concerns are the same: am I underpricing my services , are their other customers willing to pay more, how marketable are my services, are my services more or less valuable to the maket than they were last year, if less what can be done to mitigate that, what are the chances my only customer will run into financial difficulties or otherwise no longer require my skills, etc.

  204. We didn’t give our college kids a fixed allowance. Swimmer DS had to train during the summers so his work opportunities were limited. He got more help from us but not a regular amount. His younger brothers had more summer earnings but also more expenses from music performance tours so it probably evened out. Current college DS chose a menial labor job this summer at minimum wage rather than the more lucrative campus jobs he had during past summers and now has less than $2000 for the school year. He is very frugal so it wil last a long time. $400/month is not coming from us. He has been encouraged to seek out the campus tour guide job his brother had. The student body is pretty UMC so there are almost always campus jobs available, unlike the case at my state university where NO ONE got the allowances Rhett describes and many were competing for the work study and cafeteria jobs.

  205. This discussion of whether a kid would be allowed to work while in college blows my mind. I worked 20 hours/week all through college. I had to. I was very fortunate that it was through the federal work-study program, so I was able to at least work in decent settings. Most of my years, I worked weekends in the microfiche library, which meant endless fixing of machines and making copies for people. My last year, I worked in the school of ed as a grants researcher (looking for weird programs to support students).
    Many of my friends in college were not lucky enough to get work-study, and either worked in the dining hall or at the nearby McDonalds.

    Many of my students work close to fulltime and it can be a big problem. I had one guy, who had taken a job at the airport, disappear for 3 weeks due to mandatory training. A lot of the students work in big box stores or similar and their schedules are very chaotic. If they get called in to work, they will miss class because they are afraid of losing their job. My students also often have a lot of family responsibilities. I had a student recently who needed advising time, but it was really hard to find a time because he was the main caregiver for his dad who had ALS.

  206. “In my day and in my kids day scholarship kids were expected to work as part of their grants, and at some schools they were required to work dining hall or dorm crew.”

    Yep. 7 AM housekeeping in all the dorm common areas, Saturdays and Sundays. I guess nowadays we’d call that “character-building.” On the plus side, not only was I earning all my spending money, but it kept me from staying out too late and spending it all. :-) Summer jobs were the deli and Kelly Girl (which was a big step up from $3.35 to $5/hr). I didn’t make great connections or learn valuable higher-level job skills, but I paid my expected tuition contribution and had cash for the occasional pizza and beer, and I learned the need to periodically show up even if you’re hung over and miserable because the job still needs to get done.

    I just find it hard to fret too much over the details of whether my kids should work during the school year vs. focus on school, take extra classes vs. work, work menial jobs vs. career-focused jobs, work a few hours for cash vs. pursue entreprenurial opportunities, etc. Because they will learn something valuable from whatever the choice is — or not, depends more on the kid than the choice. And no matter what, they are going to have a lot more choices than I did (and I already had a lot more choices than a lot of other people). All the rest of it is just gravy. Sometimes you don’t have to optimize every single possible choice and things turn out ok anyway.

  207. Off topic. DH and I saw Captain Fantastic last night and it reminded me of those Fruglewoods you all talk about here. I haven’t read their blog but assume they’re off the grid folks? CF is an extreme version of that — homeschooling about 6 kids with made up names, they hunt or grow all their food, the dad rails about capitalism, etc. Fun movie and worth checking out.

  208. Working in college, and being in a time consuming major, meant that I did no extracurriculars at all. I have no idea if I missed anything or not. I can’t say that making endless copies of microfiched nursing articles taught me very much, but I did get to chat with my co-workers, some of whom were entertaining.

  209. “Many of my friends in college were not lucky enough to get work-study, and either worked in the dining hall ”

    But from what I’ve seen, many if not most dining hall jobs are also work study. When Meme and others use the term “scholarship”, it sounds as if there is a financial needs component to it. AFAIK, students on pure merit scholarships are typically not required to work on campus unless it’s a particular academic-related job. But I may be wrong.

    “I did no extracurriculars at all. I have no idea if I missed anything or not”

    I definitely know that I missed opportunities by not doing extracurriculars.

  210. At my university, the dining hall was not in the work study program because it was run by an outside contractor which was for-profit. Work-study, at least in those days, was only permitted at non-profits, usually the university itself of course, but I knew work-study recipients who worked in area museums too.

  211. At my DH’s school, they had this weird dining system where meals were taken family style in the dorm dining room (the dorms were small). That meant there were always waiter jobs and even chef jobs available, and those were also not work study. He said lots of kids worked as waiters. This was a large public university. My DH actually did not work during the school year – in those days, the university was really cheap. But he worked summers in a horrendous place – a wire factory – where people where constantly getting huge gashes or even losing fingers.

  212. “I haven’t read their blog but assume they’re off the grid folks?”

    No!! That’s what kills me. They’re not. He’s a full-time IT consultant of some sort who works from home and travels. She stays home with one kid. They have a new’ish house on a big piece of land with a garden, and they call this a “homestead.” For Christ’s sake, I have a homestead by that criteria.

    We watched the Duggars last night while DW and #2 were tie-dying a bunch of generic camp and school T-shirts in the kitchen. Good news!: Josh is home from sex-addict rehab and things are returning to normal, according to his loyal (and pregnant?) wife Anna. Jessa and Ben continue to tell everyone that they’re praying on the decision of whether to adopt a child, so one of their family friends (just the mom, the dad was traveling for work) drove three hours so that Jessa and Ben could babysit just two of her three children, including her internationally adopted approx. 4 yo daughter, while she got a chance to go to the grocery store (three hours from home, and still carting her youngest child, an infant). Lord knows what Ben and Jessa were expecting would be so different about babysitting this adopted child, but there you have it. In preparation for this babysitting adventure, they decided it was time to babyproof their house, and this required a consulting visit from SIL Anna, since she’s been doing this for seven years. Among Anna’s wise recommendations were to raise the blinds on the window directly above Spurgeon’s crib so that he would not be tempted to mess with the blinds. The strangulation hazard from the cord was seemingly ignored (and I’m far from a safety nut).

    As I said before, Jill is afraid to leave the house in Central America because, according to Derrick, kidnapping, rape, and murder are a reality in Central America in a way that they are not in Arkansas, but she continues her mission work by periodically inviting a group of women over for Bible study.

    One of the older brothers is preparing to test for his commercial driver’s license, and second-eldest John David helped him practice by backing up the family’s 18-wheeler tractor trailer. John David has no time for romance right now because he’s much too busy living life.

    Michelle and Jim Bob are ever so slowly creeping back onto the screen (TLC is obviously testing the waters) because Jim Bob reasserted himself as the Supreme Grantor of Courting Privileges when he met with pro-soccer-player-turned-pastor Jeremy so that he could look intimidating while Jeremy kowtowed before him to receive Jim Bob’s blessing. I think both the family and TLC are rushing this one along because they need another wedding to restore ratings.

  213. “AFAIK, students on pure merit scholarships are typically not required to work on campus unless it’s a particular academic-related job. But I may be wrong.”

    Yeah, it was part of the financial aid process. My school committed to fill the need of every admitted student; they calculated that total “need” to include both the standard tuition/fees/room/board and adding an additional monthly COL, and then met it through a collection of scholarships, loans, and $$ earned from work-study through university jobs (e.g., assuming you worked 8-10 hrs/week at $X/hr). Whether you actually worked those jobs/hours was up to you.

    IDK how it works for kids who are full-pay but who have merit scholarships to cover part of that cost — I mean, I had both a merit scholarship and financial need, so the merit scholarship just took the place of some other form of aid.

  214. I got a work study job–there are usually a few left over after the kids with financial aid are done. Or new ones pop up. I got mine around Oct of my freshman year and kept it for all 4 years. My co-workers were awesome.

    Rhett–I’m using the standard definition of an entrepreneur–you are the founder of a startup company. What you’re talking about is having an entrepreneurial mindset. There’s no risk there, so this type of mindset is very good for Totebaggers and their kids and should be encouraged.

  215. I worked during college, starting late in the fall quarter of my freshman year. 10-12 hours/week on the loading dock of the student union, a pretty big business where I went between books, fan gear, other food/clothes/tech for a large campus. I worked because I had time, the schedule was flexible and I wanted more pocket $$.

    My first real life lesson from that job: just because finals were ending and we the students did not have academic obligations from ~Dec 10 to ~Jan 10, did not mean the campus store closed, the loading dock closed, etc. When did I think the books for the winter quarter would be arriving so they could be on the shelves when everyone cam back on ~January 4th? And who, exactly, was going to do the receiving work to be sure we got what we ordered, etc. Now the guy who ran the loading dock, and I still remember his name 40(!) years later, had been thru this all before so he knew he had several of the students who were local and more than willing to work full time for 3 weeks to get all the work done. But not before busting my chops and making me think about how to handle this. Was he really expecting me to do my 10 hrs/wk during break? Where was I supposed to live? Etc. Valuable lesson, as evidenced by me still remembering it.

    I also worked as a safety escort for the campus police to walk girls from the library to their dorm/sorority late at night. Paid little in cash, but excellent networking, if you get my drift. And as a dishwasher in one of the dorms, right next to the (probably) illegals who spoke very limited English. Since I had just gotten back from a year in Spain, I thought this was a great opportunity to keep my fluency up. And I really did learn those cafeteria guys/ladies were lower SES, yes, but they worked very hard to better themselves.

    College work IMO, is part of the overall college experience to try new things, get exposed to new things, learn some stuff that’s not in the classroom/textbook. It’s nice to make your own money and use it as you please. The comments about I’d rather have the job be career-related (e.g. doing research in one’s major field) are short-sighted. Or that working is a bad trade off for the oppty to take an additional class at zero marginal $ cost. The burnout can be real. We need well-rounded adults.

  216. Milo, my DD and I watched that last night too. On John David’s commentary that he’s too busy for courting – his hairline is creeping back on his head at such an alarming rate he really needs to make time soon. The whole thing just makes me laugh because they try to create such a sense of urgency about things like the childproofing. These young adults don’t go to school and don’t have jobs outside of doing things around the family compound. What could possibly be so urgent? So if you don’t get to it today, you get to it tomorrow. The dramatic music in the background just makes me laugh.

    The only work I did during college was tutoring. I was able to set my own schedule, it was all cash, and no taxes. My daughter works about 10 to 12 hours a week and it appears manageable. I agree with Denver that it is probably better for her to work than get burned out. I had much more of a slacker lifestyle in college then many of you seem to have had. I went out probably five nights a week, slept late a lot of days, and participated in all the things I wanted to do. My now-DH (boyfriend for part of that time) played for the school rugby club so missed class on Fridays fairly frequently to travel to matches. Both of our grades suffered somewhat, but we’re good enough in the mindsets of that time. However, I have no interest in funding that sort of lifestyle for my children. Fortunately, they are both a little more responsible than we were.

  217. “I just find it hard to fret too much over the details of whether my kids should work during the school year vs. focus on school, take extra classes vs. work, work menial jobs vs. career-focused jobs, work a few hours for cash vs. pursue entreprenurial opportunities, etc. Because they will learn something valuable from whatever the choice is — or not, depends more on the kid than the choice.”

    I agree. But I think in most cases if your kid is a slacker who prefers not to work for pay or to achieve top grades, I doubt that a parent can do much to “make” that kid care more and work harder. If I’m an affluent parent who can afford full pay for college, I would likely not enable such a kid to have an entitled, overly posh college lifestyle, but I would also not require this kid to work.

  218. Huh. I am surprised most here would be ok with their kid working enough to earn $1500/mo so that he could spend it dining out and traveling when the parents are paying for school and the grades are suffering. I worked in college (and HS) and but it was like 10-15 hrs/week and I think my parents definitely would have stepped in and made me cut back if I didn’t do well in school.

  219. “his hairline is creeping back on his head at such an alarming rate he really needs to make time soon”

    yes, that’s true. Maybe Derrick can start to tame his own exploding mane and donate it to make a toupee for his brother-in-law.

    I don’t know what John David’s deal is. He seems like the nicest one of the lot, but maybe also a little slow. The scandals that his brother caused have likely diminished his courting prospects, if for no other reason than many similarly religious families won’t be so eager to join what’s become the proverbial reality TV train wreck. After spending 18 or 20 years teaching their daughters about modesty, it’s got to be a little disconcerting to imagine one of them facing that spotlight when it’s suddenly a lot less wholesome.

  220. Finn – sorry, I went to bed early.

    Those models make sense for the Catholic Church’s teachings (and therefore how they run a business). I said in the next paragraph that the endowments needed to sustain that type of charity are quite large and most dioceses have to close their schools down because they are too expensive to run.

    The principal at my grade school routinely admitted students who couldn’t pay but wanted the education. That was part of the demise of the school – not enough full paying members to sustain the charity.

  221. I worked as seasonal hire during college. One of the jobs was at a cell phone company. What it taught me was that I was not cut out for sales.

    Back on topic, maybe the Duggars can get introduced to the family in OP. Most probably future son in law Jeremy will try to convert them and some Duggar sons can find future wives too.

    I refuse to watch Duggars and Kardashians and hope nobody else watches them either so that they can disappear from tv.

  222. I didn’t have to work during college but chose to. Though I never entertained full time (if I managed 10-15 hours a week it was a lot). I just had too many lab classes too many days of the week. I would end up with odd times off that did not jive with any work schedule on or off campus.

    I honestly don’t remember any extracurricular activities. When I wasn’t in class, I was studying, working, or hanging out with friends (like we would go for a walk around campus, see a movie, catch a campus community thing, etc). I had one day off a week from work/school and that was my time to do laundry, food shop, and make sure I was ready for the upcoming week.

    I liked my final semester – I only had 2 labs and both on Tuesdays freeing up Thursdays. I could take the late shift at my job on Wednesday nights, sleep in a bit on Thursday and then spend the rest of the day catching up with reports, homework, and maintaining experiments. I eased off a bit so that way I could job hunt and just enjoy doing nothing, since it was going to be my last time with that freedom.

  223. The road to calculus has made it appearance in the Louise household….I will have to see if I recall anything of my home country Math.

  224. I am surprised most here would be ok with their kid working enough to earn $1500/mo so that he could spend it dining out and traveling when the parents are paying for school and the grades are suffering.

    So their grades suffer, as long as they graduate what difference does it make? If they think they are getting more value out of being a freelance app developer than getting a 3.8 vs. a 3.2 GPA why should I care?

  225. I am surprised most here would be ok with their kid working enough to earn $1500/mo so that he could spend it dining out and traveling when the parents are paying for school and the grades are suffering. I worked in college (and HS) and but it was like 10-15 hrs/week and I think my parents definitely would have stepped in and made me cut back if I didn’t do well in school.

    I’m surprised that you are so opposed to your kid working at all in school even though you did and still did well in school. I don’t see how you can work that much to earn $1500 a month, but as you did, I think 10-15 hours a week is totally reasonable if they want to.

    I’m also surprised at how little “extra money” some people seem to think they’ll need. $100 a month will go awfully fast. I think of all the little things I spent money on in college – the late night pizza and snacks to have on hand, going to a movie, going to local clubs to see music, plus things like toiletries, laundry detergent, etc, getting haircuts, and so on. I just looked and season football tickets at my alma mater are $77 for students and basketball tickets are $150. Then getting a hot dog and a coke or whatever at a game. School t-shirts and sweatshirts that everyone gets.

    And I’m not surprised, but I still find it fascinating how many people here come across as thinking their kids shouldn’t be doing anything in college that is just for fun and doesn’t contribute to their future career prospects in some way. Maybe they don’t mean that, but that’s how it sounds.

  226. Milo – Thanks for the Duggar recap. I refuse to watch their shows but remain fascinated. Any news on the oldest daughter?

  227. Denver – many of the things you mentioned I did without in college. Like Mooshi, I’m a bit surprised at the tone of comments. It comes across as “those financial aid kids took all the good work study jobs”. I had work study jobs, some were not fun and outright disgusting (dishwasher in a cafeteria), some were great (office assistant, caterer). Work was not optional.

    I fear I will be completely in new territory when my kids get to college. My upbringing is so different from theirs.

  228. their kids shouldn’t be doing anything in college that is just for fun

    Or that the fun stuff or the job to earn money for he fun stuff, might result in one learning more things of more value than what is learned in class.

  229. RMS – At some point I’ll change the icon, but left it on for a transition period.

    Dell – If you need a hint – two boys, same age.

  230. I cannot imagine that working 15 hours a week would cause a totebag type kid’s grades to suffer meaningfully, unless he was trying to cram in so many credit hours that he graduated in three years to save money (so an allowance in lieu of job would be appropriate). Even a student with a heavy STEM curriculum that can take more than the usual 4 years because of sequencing all the pre reqs or labs can manage a job. My memory of college life may be a little hazy (pun intended), but there were certainly enough non studying non sleeping hours each day and night to accommodate that level of paid work.

  231. “So their grades suffer, as long as they graduate what difference does it make? If they think they are getting more value out of being a freelance app developer than getting a 3.8 vs. a 3.2 GPA why should I care?”

    In software development, it is true that no hiring manager will ever bother to look at the GPA. However, they always “tech” the candidate, throwing fairly hard CS questions at the candidate and asking the candidate to code on a whiteboard, talk about arcane data structures, and so on. I have found, over and over, that a student’s grades in their CS courses correlate pretty strongly with how they do on the tech interviews. Sadly, we have many students with C averages who just cannot get hired, even for grunt IT work. They can’t get through the interviews because they didn’t actually learn anything. They largely leave the IT field. They probably end up as baristas or something.

  232. Milo – terrific recap. I’ll likely watch w/ DD soon, though your description is thorough enough that I really don’t need too. I’m skeeved out by the fact that Josh is back and Anna is pregnant.

    Agree John David is the nicest of the lot. He seems a tad on the square side but it’s hard to imagine that would be enough to keep the girls away. DD and I have identified one girl we believe is gay – sometimes I wonder if JD’s slowness in courting is for that reason.

    On topic, I didn’t have to work during undergrad and am not inclined to make my kids do it. My savings for their college included some spending money, so it would only be about principle, and I don’t find one here (that makes me feel they need to hold down a job in addition to classes, extracurriculars and social life).

  233. You know, if the Duggars, Bates, this family and all the other superlarge families (Willis’s come to mind too) kept inter-breeding, and “allowing as many children as God gives them” or what have you, in about 100 years, they could develop their own country with millions of people. Maybe they could carve out a state’s worth of land and build a wall. They have cheap labor to do it. And then they can save the difference.

    I’m perpetually fascinated by these people… all of them. It’s probably like a train wreck… I just can’t take my eyes off of them.

    Kerri – as far as I know, the eldest daughter is a “spinster” at the ripe old age of 27 (ish) and is probably forced to live at home and raise her mother’s offspring.

  234. Risley – we were just talking about it… statistically, 2 of the kids should be gay (IIRC the stat is something like 1 in 10 people). In theory, at least 1 should be. But their religious doctrine forbids them from going forth with that lifestyle. Maybe you are right… JD might just not want to get into a relationship with someone he could never love.

  235. What about the Reserves or National Guard for part time job during college? Commitment is one weekend a month and time during the summer. From what I understand the pay is good. Not sure how many years the commitment is.
    Milo, when you were in school, did the local church members “adopt” students? Our church has a special room that the VMI freshman can hang out in on Sundays, watch tv, etc. Others like to go home with members of the church, eating meals with them, and returning to campus by the appropriate hour.

  236. One of the really nice things about the CS field is that companies don’t do unpaid internships. They generally PAY interns. That means that even poor students can do internships, and I tell them all the time that it is the single most important thing they can do to become employable. Sadly, many of them are too terrified to leave their cashier jobs – they think they won’t be able to go back to it when the internship is up.

  237. DD – I wouldn’t be against them working at all if they can handle it. What I am against is working a lot to fund a lifestyle that college age kids don’t need and their academic performance suffering because of it. Maybe it will matter what their intended plans will be. For me, grades really mattered. I saved a ton of money by not having to pay for law school because my grades were very good. Because of that, maybe I place too high a value on good grades.

  238. Mooshi,

    Even at the high end you’ll find parents who won’t let their kids do internships. My understanding is that, these days, internships are only legal if they are for credit. That being the case, some parents don’t approve of spending tuition money so their kid can work. They expect their tuition money to pay for classroom instruction.

    To quote the New York Times:

    Thus, the academic internship, in which colleges get tuition to not teach students and businesses pay little or nothing for students’ work. Tuition for for-credit internships is free money. Instead of receiving no wages, students are, in effect, receiving a negative wage. They are paying for the privilege of working.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/education/edlife/internships-for-credit-merited-or-not.html?_r=0

  239. “ Sadly, many of them are too terrified to leave their cashier jobs – they think they won’t be able to go back to it when the internship is up.”

    This is completely understandable, and it underscores why mentors and other types of support are important for poor students. If I’m mainly supporting myself and living on the edge during college, it may take a big leap of faith and an unusual appetite for risk to leave the type of stable job that’s been paying the bills. And of course it should go without saying that these students don’t have the type of families that can step in to help them out financially in ways we’ve described above.

  240. ” I had much more of a slacker lifestyle in college then many of you seem to have had.”

    Me too. Even the semester I took an overload of classes (had to get permission from the school), I found plenty of time to work PT, sleep excessively, go to as many parties as possible, and dink around in the library not studying (going from the computer lab to the magazine section to gossiping with friends to the study cubby to nap some more). No I was not an engineering major, but I would like to think that my career path still turned out ok. ;)

    InMyDay – the work study program covered all the good jobs, but if you were non-work study like me, you could work the dining hall, the janitorial crew, calling alumni for $$, or do summer work with the grounds crew. I did all of those except the grounds crew.

    Also, InMyDay – $100/month was considered a generous allowance for fun money from your parents if you were on a full meal plan and living on campus. That doesn’t include the gas card, clothing, phone bills, books, necessities, etc. That money would go 100% to “entertainment” and that would have had you living large in a small college town. We went to a lot of house parties, $1 movie nights, Domino’s delivery, cheap restaurants, etc. The thought of giving my kid even $400/month to spend on beer and “memorable dinners” is seriously laughable. $100/week? No effing way. He can get a PT job to pay for entertainment, and we’ll take him out to “memorable dinners” when we visit.

    I have been working since I was 13 years old, although never more than 15-20 hours a week during the school year. Some of my jobs were genuinely fun, some were genuinely awful, but they all earned me a little money. I feel very strongly that working some non-career type jobs is a very good way to learn some life lessons that are hard to learn in school. DH & I are already talking to DS about jobs that he might want to do in the summer when he is in HS – working for the park district, working for the ice cream shop or Italian ice shop, being a umpire for little league, etc.

  241. No, they are only legal as unpaid internships if there is credit. A paid internship is fine. Really, it is just a PT entry level job. And it is the norm in the software industry. We have students do them all the time. CVS just had a bunch, for example, in their software division.

  242. I do think it depends on what future plans are. If it is to go work at a corporate job or join a start up, it is better to do an internship or be able to network your way into a job. In my workplaces a couple of interns landed up with full time jobs after graduation. For interns the ones who were good fits with the group and corporate culture got hired. It wasn’t really the ones with the best academic record or the best work output but whether they fit and would be a happy employee.

  243. “I think in most cases if your kid is a slacker who prefers not to work for pay or to achieve top grades, I doubt that a parent can do much to “make” that kid care more and work harder.”

    Preach, sister. :-)

  244. Ivy,

    I think things may be different today. In my day, kids tended to end up at schools that matched their innate ability and temperament such that they had a decent amount of spare time. Today, at least among totebag kids, some are “parented” to such a degree that they are getting into school where they can only thrive by putting in far more hours than we ever did.

  245. Ivy: The amount of free time is correlated to major. While I had plenty of free time as an econ major, my friends in engineering or pre-med worked at least twice as hard as I did.

  246. Overall, college students spend less time studying outside of class than in previous years according to the studies I’ve seen. And yes, it does depend on major. What I’ve read is that most of the STEM majors have retained their academic rigor over the years, which means that students still have to put in time studying. Many other majors, not so much.

  247. Only tangentially related: I found one of my college housemates on LinkedIn. I have worried about her for years. She was from a terrible background. Very poor, grew up in San Jose, Mom was literally nuts (as in, got picked up by the cops and dumped in the local hospital for observation at least a few times per year), father was a drug dealer. She wanted to major in art but her drug-dealer father insisted on computer science (long story.) She dropped out, not because she was dumb, but because she was so depressed. Apparently she started working as an insurance claims adjuster in her 20s, and worked her way up through “senior business analyst” to “group health manager”. I don’t know what all that means but it sounds like it pays a middle-class salary. I’m relieved.

  248. “Today, at least among totebag kids, some are “parented” to such a degree that they are getting into school where they can only thrive by putting in far more hours than we ever did.”

    Maybe, but that’s a really small subset of kids at a small subset of schools. I don’t think college overall has changed that much.

  249. This discussion is a variant of the standard baby boomer parental navel gazing about how much to give our children. Why should they struggle as we did? But are we interfering with character development? My mom had it easier than her parents who grew up overseas, I had it easier than my mom in her immigrant family with 10 kids, my 4 kids were not financially better off as kids than I was, but in all other ways their lives were wider and freer. My grandkids inhabit some other planet, but their Mom comes from generations of prosperity and professionals.

    It is probably wrong to insist on artificial constraints such as no allowance just so that a kid should wait tables and learn how to smile when her feet hurt and how to fend off the night manager’s advances. HOWEVER, it is not necessary to subsidize for more than a few months an apartment in a desired zip code or serial unpaid endeavors. At some point the life choices have to align on the income and expense sides – leave them for a while on the health plan and the wireless plan, pay their travel expenses home, make their student loan payments, but at what age is it easier to have to deal with living on fumes – 24 or 38?

  250. “You know, if the Duggars, Bates, this family and all the other superlarge families”

    While it may appear so from the outside, the devout Catholic families do not have a ton in common with what might be called the Gothard-inspired fundamentalists like the Duggars and Bates.

    Risley – You’re right that there’s not much reason to watch it after my recap. There’s so much fake drama like MBT identified, and previews of fake drama to come after the commercials.

    Sheep Farmer – There’s a formal sponsor family program that the school administers for the purposes that you described.

  251. I don’t think college overall has changed that much.

    MM has said there is a lot more busy work these days. The days of just having to get an A on the midterm and final are over.

  252. I worked on and off campus in college with and without work study. By the end of college, I was TAing for a beginning computing skills class. Back in the dark ages, you could get university credit for learning to use WordStar and Lotus 123. In the summers I worked for a food processing plant. In grad school, I worked for the department. I learned a lot in all those places, some technical skills, but also how to be a good or bad employee and how to be a good or bad manager. The grad school department would occasionally forget to do payroll for the grad students. One abiding lesson was NEVER to treat employees who were living paycheck to paycheck like that.

    I also did a lot of extracurriculars, which were fun. Maybe good for the resume, but definitely fun.

    I anticipate my kids will work a little during college, but not the first year. There is enough to adjust to and figure out. Honestly, $100 per month? I thought I was being cheap at $100/week, but we’ll see. DD is also participating in sorority recruitment, if she gets a bid, I plan on underwriting that. I think at least half the value of college is the networking and contacts that one develops.

  253. MM has said there is a lot more busy work these days. The days of just having to get an A on the midterm and final are over.

    That would have made my life much more difficult when I was in school. I think I only made it to all the class meetings for one class for my entire undergraduate career.

  254. I see plenty of unpaid internships advertised that can be for credit, meaning the company will jump through the hoops the school wants them to, but the company does not require them to. My DD had an internship this summer, and they asked her to stay on this fall. We made the decision to not have her get course credit for it for the reasons mentioned above. I don’t want to pay tuition money in addition to the gas and tolls I’m funding for her to show up and not be paid. I do think it’s a good opportunity for her. She is learning a lot, and is making some contacts that have offered to serve as references for her. She is getting value out of it. (Her internship is for a nonprofit, which I believe has different rules. But some of the other internships she looked at were for for-profit companies).

  255. “MM has said there is a lot more busy work these days. The days of just having to get an A on the midterm and final are over.”

    I would imagine that varies quite a bit between schools and professors, as it always did.

  256. . I don’t want to pay tuition money in addition to the gas and tolls I’m funding for her to show up and not be paid.

    It’s an easy A! God you people like doing things the hard way.

    I would imagine that varies quite a bit between schools and professors, as it always did.

    MM has mentioned it’s a drive across the academy to increase the amount of busy work requirements. She, of course, can elaborate further.

  257. Rhett there was a lot of bureaucratic paperwork hoops to jump through, some timing issues with required faculty recommendations, turnover of the key person at the nonprofit etc. that would’ve made it a giant P ITA. If she had wanted to jump through all those hoops, I would’ve paid the tuition. I just viewed as a bonus that I’m not out the extra money

  258. For me, grades really mattered. I saved a ton of money by not having to pay for law school because my grades were very good. Because of that, maybe I place too high a value on good grades.

    Kate, we all see things through the filters of our own experiences.

    Also, InMyDay – $100/month was considered a generous allowance for fun money from your parents if you were on a full meal plan and living on campus. That doesn’t include the gas card, clothing, phone bills, books, necessities, etc. That money would go 100% to “entertainment” and that would have had you living large in a small college town. We went to a lot of house parties, $1 movie nights, Domino’s delivery, cheap restaurants, etc. The thought of giving my kid even $400/month to spend on beer and “memorable dinners” is seriously laughable. $100/week? No effing way. He can get a PT job to pay for entertainment, and we’ll take him out to “memorable dinners” when we visit.

    When was your day? My day was the late 80s/early 90s and $100 a month was plenty. Today, I don’t see it going very far. I agree $400 a month seems a bit excessive, though.

    And wasn’t the start of this discussion people saying they would give their kids the allowance specifically because they want their kids to study more/take extra classes instead of working?

  259. “When was your day? My day was the late 80s/early 90s and $100 a month was plenty. Today, I don’t see it going very far. I agree $400 a month seems a bit excessive, though.

    And wasn’t the start of this discussion people saying they would give their kids the allowance specifically because they want their kids to study more/take extra classes instead of working?”

    I’m only a little younger than you – college in the mid 90’s. Obviously things are more $$ than they were then, so I would think that somewhere between $100/month and $400/month is probably about right, assuming all “needs” are met outside of that. Enough for him to not to have to work just to order pizza or go to the movies, but not enough for him to live the high life without working for some of his own spending $$.

    I’m definitely not one who thinks along the lines of the second. Finn’s cost-benefit scenario with cost per credit is an interesting consideration, but not the only one. I guess if DS turns out to be some crazy genius who is working on the cure for cancer at MIT with his prof or interning on Capitol Hill instead of working – we’ll revisit. But I’m picturing him at Flagship U or somewhere else along those lines – not Top 20 elite. We’ll see I guess. He’s only 8.

  260. ” The days of just having to get an A on the midterm and final are over.”

    Big time. And it’s OUR fault. Although WE went to college under that scenario and our parents said nothing, many of our parents never went to college so they didn’t know what to expect. And also, parenting was a lot less helicoptery overall when WE were in high school, so as long as the quarterly report card was fine, OUR parents did their thing and WE did ours.

    But WE are used to getting constant feedback about our kids’ HS assignments & grades online whenever we want them, so WE figure, why not in college, too. MANY of US feel that if there are not weekly graded assignments in college our kids aren’t getting enough instruction.

    Attendance is taken; it’s not enough to just show mastery of the subject matter.

    And I think it all comes down to the “4-yr college/degree” is for everyone right out of HS mentality. No longer are trades a good alternative; and no longer is it ok to realize some people are done with formal education after HS and they really are going to be an environmental services worker at the local hospital on the night shift for the rest of their lives, making $12 (soon to be $15 in many places) an hour, plus benefits.

  261. “I think I only made it to all the class meetings for one class for my entire undergraduate career.”

    I’m not sure I accomplished that for any. :-) Possibly my senior-year Jane Austen seminar, because it was late afternoon and so I had less chance of sleeping through it.

    And in the correlation = causation mode, my lowest grades in law school were my two 8:30 MWF classes — one of whom specifically quizzed you on trivia that he only addressed in class.

  262. “So their grades suffer, as long as they graduate what difference does it make?”

    When I was in school, grades made a big difference in which companies would hire, or even just interview, you. Some of the more desirable employers rarely looked at anyone below 3.5.

    I’ve been on the other end too, and have seen a strong correlation between GPA and how much the resume gets passed around and how close a look the resumes get.

    At many employers, GPA also correlates to starting salary.

  263. I forgot to mention, new hires with high GPAs are much more likely to be identified as employees to watch for advancement potential.

  264. Finn,

    But there is more than one variable. It’s a high gpa with little or no actual experience coding and a lower gpa with excellent references and a proven track record.

  265. It’s not usually a big deal if grades suffer a little, but GPAs do matter in some cases. Some good internships, possibly critical in getting that first job, require minimum GPAs, for example.

  266. “I cannot imagine that working 15 hours a week would cause a totebag type kid’s grades to suffer meaningfully”

    I can. That’s 3 hours a night, two full sleep cycles, or enough time to study for one fairly rigorous class, or two easy classes.

  267. One of the filters often used is if an entry level candidate has the latin honorific degree (some version of cum laude) or simply says “with honors.” Whatever college you’re talking about, at a minimum you know the candidate did the work or is smart enough to get good grades. So that gets you in the door for the first conversation, where you can prove you’re the right candidate for the job.

  268. two easy classes.

    What easy class requires 7.5 hours of studying a week? An easy class in one where you can not go to class, not read the book, not sturdy and still get an A.

  269. Rhett, you obviously aren’t familiar with law then. My first big law firm only accepted resumes from top schools and only students who had 3.75 or above gpa. A 3.5 would put you out of consideration.

  270. There is probably a difference between “college major as credential” in order to become a nurse, teacher, law enforcement officer, businessperson and GPA isn’t too important and “college major as stepping stone” where the GPA you get influences your acceptance/funding for grad school/law school/med school and subsequent employment options.

    Rhett’s college degree sounds more like “college major as credential” where the Totebaggy norm is probably “college major as stepping stone.” A higher fraction of college degrees as “college major as credential” than in my parents’ day.

    Agree with Finn- lots of desirable employers hired out of the top decile or quintile of the engineering class. The pay was only slightly higher, but the work was more interesting and your colleagues were often a better personality fit.

    When I graduated from college, I felt like I had already exhausted my lifetime quota of “dealing with diverse people.” I like working with people who are mostly at least as nerdy as I am.

  271. Rhett – “easy” is a relative term.

    Dell – Rhett’s correct that if one does not have post-bacc school dreams (grad, law, med, etc), then a 3.5 is a fine GPA for most fields. But if you have post-bacc school dreams, you either need the high GPA, or wait until you have proven your salt in your chosen field and return when your resume states you are a good bet.

  272. I review plenty of new grad resumes. I kick them out if they are below 3.2 or 3.3. However, Rhett is right–experience matters. If you have direct experience, I’m willing to tolerate a lower GPA (as long as it is above my threshold). In other words, a 3.8 without experience is not better than a 3.4 with good experience.

    That said, there are jobs (consulting, I-banking, law) in which GPAs really matter and direct experience matters less. However, the firms that stick most rigorously to this (such as Dell’s firm) will only recruit at top schools. In my I-banking interviews, they also asked for the high school GPA and my SAT score.

  273. Dell – Rhett’s correct that if one does not have post-bacc school dreams (grad, law, med, etc), then a 3.5 is a fine GPA for most fields. But if you have post-bacc school dreams, you either need the high GPA, or wait until you have proven your salt in your chosen field and return when your resume states you are a good bet.resume states you are a good bet.

    I am so glad I am old. My college gpa was below 3.5,but I still got into the 2nd or 3rd ranked grad school in my field, and they offered me RA/TA positions. Is a 3.5 easier to get now or were things just easier 30 years ago?

    I mean, the 2nd or 3rd best school for my discipline in the world.

  274. ” Is a 3.5 easier to get now or were things just easier 30 years ago?”

    I’m betting the major cause is pure competition. If grad schools have a limited number of RA/TA positions and 100x the applicants, they can be as critical as they want. And I think even the 2nd or 3rd ranked schools are still seeing 20x-50x (at least) the number of spaces available. I wouldn’t doubt grad inflation plays a part, but competition would be stronger.

    Plus a high GPA can make up for lower GRE scores for some grad programs (MCAT and LSAT people can comment there because I don’t have the experience). I’m pretty sure that’s how I got in… Stepford quality GPA, internships, meh GRE (I also had Stepford quality GPA in HS, extracurricular activities with leadership roles, and meh SAT so at least I’m consistent).

    Houston – my DH would never had made it the first cut at your firm… he had less than a 3.0. But he’s been steadily working with increased responsibility in his field since graduation.

  275. I hope someone is still reading this! I was busy most of today. The reason that “busy work” has become much more pervasive is that the research indicates it works, at least in STEM fields. It isn’t called “busy work” though, but “active learning”. The idea is that you constantly engage students in class with lots of low stakes activities. For example, I have weekly quizzes and weekly in class labs. We also have several out of class programming assignments. This is in addition to two midterms and a final. I also try to punctuate lectures frequently with think-pair-share activities. One of my colleagues uses a system where she can see everyone’s screen, and has constant small programming assignments done in class. Others do poll questions every few minutes. This has become pretty common. Our administrators push us to do it because it increases retention. And we do it because it works. There has been a lot of research in physics education, and now in CS education, showing that we get better results this way.
    This was in Nature about a year ago.
    http://www.nature.com/news/why-we-are-teaching-science-wrong-and-how-to-make-it-right-1.17963

  276. Louise, Silicon Valley recruits from the entire country. There’s a lot of turnover due to cost of living-I know far more people who went there than stayed there. When I graduated, 85% of Iowa’s engineers moved out of state upon graduation, and Silicon Valley was probably one of the top 5 destinations, along with Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Texas. (sorry, Texans, I realize that’s a big “destination”.)

  277. Rhett – I didn’t mean any insult. I took a few of the classes you mentioned, but in major, my easiest class required me to give ~6 hours outside the classroom just to keep up. I also had a major where you couldn’t skip, read the book, ace the exams, and win the day. You had to show up and you had to put the time in outside class.

    Or maybe it was just me because I’m learning impaired/deficient. You can have all my fancy toilet paper if you want. I’ll pack it up and mail it.

  278. One of my colleagues over in bio was telling me about students they have with C averages, and how depressing it is. She tries to get them to switch majors, knowing full well that they have no hope of a bio career, and can’t get into allied health programs. But she said, the students just can’t face the idea and stay in the major. I see this in our C level CS majors too. I would like to convince them to switch to IT or MIS, but they just won’t consider it.

  279. In CS we tell the students to expect to work 2 to 3 hours outside of class for every credit hour. And they tell me that it is usually on the higher side. Of course, many don’t bother – and those are the ones with the C average who can’t make it through tech interviews.

    And lest you think that only prestige employers do difficult tech interviews, t’aint so. They all do it. Even the 3 person Russian hacker startup takes joy in raking candidates over the coals. There is some school of thought that one reason women leave the field is the sheer nastiness of the interviews.

  280. Shouldn’t students be getting reasonably high grades (A and Bs) by their junior year if they are in the right major for them? I started in engineering, it was not the right major for me, switched to economics, which was. Although, I still think having a field of study that is based off the concept that if prices go up people buy less of a product is just a wee bit of a scam.

  281. Cordelia, of course they should be doing well in their major if it is the right fit. But they don’t BELIEVE it. They do need to have a 2.0 overall to graduate, but often that means Cs and Ds in CS, and A’s in theology (kids here have to take a ton of theology)

  282. MM – does your college have the requirement of an overall 2.0 AND a 2.0 in the major? (however defined…maybe just the upper division classes, maybe also including the specific pre-reqs)

  283. “Shouldn’t students be getting reasonably high grades (A and Bs) by their junior year if they are in the right major for them? ”

    Sure, but A’s and B’s could potentially leave you ending up with a GPA of 3.4 or something along those lines, which spells certain doom for your future. Have fun working in the coal mines!

  284. In the article Mooshi linked to, I agree with the LiWang comment. If active learning works best/primarily for people who read the course material ahead of time to be prepared for discussion, in reality, that’s going to leave a lot of students behind, at least at State U level.

    I ended up employing two babysitters this summer (one two years younger than the other, both teens girls) and it’s been interesting to see how they figure things out, what mistakes they make, and how they show initiative. (Both are awesome.) I also have thought about the structure (write a list of chores with a chore for each boy most days, so the boys know that’s an expectation) I provide for the babysitter.

  285. Although, I still think having a field of study that is based off the concept that if prices go up people buy less of a product is just a wee bit of a scam.

    How do you mean? Elasticity of demand?

  286. When I was in SV I saw, very roughly, two levels of engineering recruiting.

    There was the nationwide recruiting that WCE mentioned; that was usually limited to schools with big national reputations, schools that had a champion somewhere in the organization, and schools whose grads had a good track record (with, obviously, a lot of overlap between these groups). At those schools, there was a lot of effort to attract the top talent and find places for them.

    Then there was the recruiting to fill specific positions, again with overlap with the nationwide recruiting, as well as looking at experienced candidates. A lot more of these positions were filled with local school grads, and not just Stanford and UCB; this is where a lot of grads from places like SJ State and Santa Clara were hired. Resumes from the national recruiting also got a look, but a lot of those guys weren’t interested in a lot of the locally recruited jobs.

    Generalizing, someone with a high GPA at SJ State was probably more likely to get hired as a production test engineer than someone with a meh GPA from someplace like Rice. IOW, GPA mattered.

  287. Rhett,

    It just seemed so easy. That and you could figure out most problem sets by taking a derivative of an equation, setting it equal to zero and solving.

  288. Sure, we may have a 2.0 in the major requirement too, but that includes some really easy courses like networking1. And realistically, that means a student with mostly C’s and B’s in the major. If the C’s are in the core programming courses, that student is likely not employable in the computing field – not because of the grade per se, but because he or she simply does not know enough to make it through the interview process. A C in a college course, honestly, means you understood very little of the material. That was true even in my day (I managed to get a C in physics, and I can tell you I understood very little)

  289. “I know far more people who went there than stayed there”

    Sorry, I can’t resist; I must ask– wouldn’t you expect that regardless of the COL? Wouldn’t the people you know who went there and left be a subset of the people you know who went there?

  290. “Although, I still think having a field of study that is based off the concept that if prices go up people buy less of a product is just a wee bit of a scam.”

    You might say that Mechanical Engineering is:
    Statics: [Big Sima] Force (net) = 0
    Dynamics: [Big Sigma] Force (net) = mass * acceleration
    Thermodyanmics: Q(dot) in = Q(dot) out
    and so on…

  291. “It just seemed so easy. That and you could figure out most problem sets by taking a derivative of an equation, setting it equal to zero and solving.”

    You may be underestimating your abilities. First-hand stories about economics courses at one school included hours upon hours of working on problem sets, and average test grades (before curving) of 30-40%. It was not easy from what I could tell.

  292. Finn, a majority of the people who went to Chicago or Minneapolis or Texas have stayed in that area. Only a minority of the people who went to the Bay Area have stayed- I can’t think of any.

    It’s hard for Rockwell Collins in the Bay Area (with its slightly higher salaries, superior weather, housing prices and traffic) to compete with Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, especially when your family is within a few hours of Cedar Rapids.

  293. “It just seemed so easy.”

    @Cordelia: What seems easy to you ain’t necessarily so to others. I still remember a 9th grade econ project where the “right” outcome seemed so obvious that I didn’t even bother to pay attention to the research — I copied over all the numbers into the boxes and then just wrote up my explanation of why the answer is X. Turns out I was the only person in the class who got the right answer — everyone else who did the project as it was supposed to be done got all wrapped up in the minutiae of the data, trying to pull out correlations from the noise and inferring causation from that.

  294. Cordelia, yes, I was about to cite Econ 120 as an example of an easy class to which Rhett referred.

    But I didn’t have any classes quite like that, or more likely it’s just me; even for Econ 120, I went to every class and did all the reading. I didn’t want to waste my parents’ money just showing up to take exams; I wanted to learn something.

    More generally, I wasn’t in college just to get a degree; I was there to learn.

    And RMS might hate me for saying this, but for me at least, there were no easy engineering classes.

  295. What seems easy to you ain’t necessarily so to others.

    I thought of that when Meme said she couldn’t imagine 15 hours mattering. I thought to myself, “Didn’t you go to college “in Boston” when you were 16?”

  296. WCE, BTW, in my example of the SJS grad vs the Rice grad, one reason the SJS grad had an advantage was because they were local, and thus assumed to be familiar with the COL and living conditions, and more likely to stay at the job longer, or at least stay with the company longer.

  297. I didn’t work during college (except co-op terms off from school) and in retrospect, I’m glad. I was heavily involved in music on top of my heavy course load, and that left me busy enough.

    I hope to be able to afford to relieve my kids from menial labor (cafeteria duty, etc.) if they are engaging in what I consider “worthwhile” activities. Working a low wage job because you have bills to pay (gas, rent, medical bills, textbooks) limits your ability to optimize long-term.

  298. And WCE, I agree about leaving SV due to high COL; a lot of former coworkers did that, with many of them moving to your neck of the woods. You may very well know at least one of them, although for her I also think that SV wasn’t that great a fit for her, other than the plethora of recreational softball opportunities, once she finished her MS.

  299. MM – I had some of those C students when I TA’d. They just *loved* the major and couldn’t see themselves elsewhere. Even though their chances of grad school were slim without significant time in the real world. And even then, they would have to do a lot more leg work to get a job than someone with a higher GPA.

    I tried to use DH and I as real world examples because he was that C+/B- student and I was the A student. It fell on deaf ears. I even had DH come in a speak about his journey.

  300. During my college years, I had one job during school terms. For a couple of years, I worked 3 hours a week as a calculus tutor (which I assume gives me big totebag points).

    I liked that job not so much because of the money and convenience, but because it made me understand calculus at a much deeper level than I did just after taking the classes.

    OK, there was one semester when I was a full-time co-op and also took a couple of classes.

    I didn’t have much time for more work hours or ECs. I took fairly heavy loads (usually 17 to 19 credits) and studied for all my classes, even the Econ classes. I did have time to party nearly every Friday and Saturday nights, usually after studying a few hours.

  301. You know, some of us got quite a few Cs in our major’s classes (hey, they were hard!) and were still successful in that field later on. And I got a 3.8 or 3.9 in grad school–grad school is easier than high school–and I’m not currently working as a barista.

  302. I never worked at a “regular job” in college except for after soph, jr, and sr summers, but our choir was PAID (it was a well-kept secret until you got in), so I guess I did have a job. When I did the weekday choir my jr year I got paid more (but had to get up early).

  303. “You know, some of us got quite a few Cs in our major’s classes (hey, they were hard!) and were still successful in that field later on.”

    AFAIK, all the guys I remember from college who were C students (and the C students were pretty much all guys) ended up getting engineering jobs. They tended to not be in SV, and many of them ended up with power companies and government contractors.

    The ones I ran into more than a few years after college all seemed to be doing well as engineers.

    A very good friend fell into that category. He’s had a successful career as an engineer, but he was a poor test taker who thus didn’t get good grades, although he did well in lab classes. I admired him for his perseverance and discipline in keeping his nose to the grindstone, traits which have served him well in his career.

  304. I actually could see how a job could interfere with grades. I had one term where my job was to be a chem grader for the intro chem class at the same time I was taking the hardest chem class from the dickiest prof and doing Other Hard Stuff I have since forgotten (calc II, maybe?). It was only 8-10 hrs/week, but the problem sets I had to grade were inevitably due the same day my lab reports and my own problem sets were due (duh — same prof, same schedule), so I was always up at least until 3 before my own 9 AM chem class; more than once I stayed up all night getting everything done, turned it all in, and went back to the dorm and slept through class.

    I ended up getting an ulcer that term and a B in the class. The 7 AM housekeeping was a breeze by comparison — at least it didn’t interfere with my own classwork.

  305. “Shouldn’t students be getting reasonably high grades (A and Bs) by their junior year if they are in the right major for them?”

    Grade inflation is a major factor at highly selective schools. Everyone gets A’s and B’s. An A in Real Analysis is worth a lot more than an A in Intro to Anthropology, but many employers and graduate schools are not going to spend too much time looking at the transcript. DH is known as a hard but fair grader, which is nice for him as slacker students avoid his courses if they can, so many of his students are a self-selected group.

  306. Milo, there is a huge difference between a couple of C’s in major courses, and having a 2.1 average in your major.

  307. I think grades matter more in technical jobs. I don’t think grades matter as much in sales, marketing, and general business positions (i.e. We won’t hire you if you don’t have at least XXX).

  308. I tried to post earlier, but it didn’t go through.

    I worked campus jobs as part of my financial aid package all four years. We were capped at 10 hours/week, and I think that the pay was around $7/hour. I found getting 10 hours a week in for work study was a stretch at times, but I was able to manage it and for a term I even picked up a few waitressing shifts. I was able to balance playing a sport along with studying and work/study.

    The culture on campus was work hard, play hard. Most students studied between 25-40 hour a week. We were on trimesters and took 3 classes per 10-week term. I don’t know how that translates to credit hours. I saw GPAs of alums in one of my work study jobs, and I never saw anyone who had a 4.0 GPA. Each year only about 10 students or 2% of the graduating class had over a 3.9. A few of them worked very, very hard, but most of them were naturally brilliant like the hard-core partier math/econ double major (and very few people double majored due to the requirements). I liked going to a school that didn’t have serious grade inflation. I’m still probably most proud of the C in one of the classes that I pulled. I earned that C studying 40 hours/week. I probably would have done better if the informal prerequisites would have been shared prior to me taking the class.

    I realized early on that I could get an A- attending classes and studying 25-40 hours/week, or I could kill myself to try to get all As and still get an A-. I decided to maximize my grades per unit of effort. All my friends say that undergrad was so much harder than graduate school.

  309. “there is a huge difference between a couple of C’s in major courses, and having a 2.1 average in your major.”

    Yeah, I honestly don’t even remember what it was. And nobody’s ever asked. But it was definitely not the case that “everyone got As and Bs.” In a course like Thermo 1 or 2, EE1 or 2, Strengths of Materials, etc., there were probably more Cs given than As, and a few Ds and a couple Fs. Maybe the whole mentality was different.

  310. Interesting. I found grad school about the same or harder than undergrad, but much more rewarding too.

  311. Milo, what was attrition like at your school? There were lots of C’s and below in my freshman/sophomore courses but by junior courses, the range was mostly A to C, with a B average for a course. I would have had some C’s at your school, too, I suspect.

  312. I found grad school harder than undergrad.

    I attribute that in part to going to a HSS for grad school, and the profs having much higher expectations, and in part to working full time while going to school and thus not always being able to make studying my top priority.

  313. Well, for me, grad school was a different school, of course. But in undergrad, basically in all the core engineering courses, the model was that the professor would teach a concept and there would be homework problems that incorporated it, and he (usually he) would go over the problems and the little tricks of each one. Then on the exam, there would be problems that also incorporated the concept but generally had entirely different tricks and required something of an intellectual leap to figure out. And the kids who figured it out got As, others got partial credit and got Cs. Maybe that’s truly what the test should always be: it should show a true spread of the varying levels of understanding, from regurgitate what we already went over to apply something to the next level. But either way, it’s a very different way of teaching and testing than many people have come to expect–they want to be tested on exactly what they’ve gone over in class, and that’s not the way it worked.

    I’m specifically remembering this one test in Strengths of Materials that I got back and it had a 36 written on the top. I’m thinking “Hmm, out of 50, ugh.” No, 36 out of 100. That’s it. No curve. And the prof–the kind of prof who might still give me nightmares at 4am–is going over this one problem that, yes, involved the same analysis of tensile, shear, and torsional stresses that we’d covered, but applied them in a totally different way. It was something deceptively simple, like a road sign, off center, bent post, also supporting something, blowing in the wind. Calculate all the stresses at various points. And this guy’s going over the problem and muttering and spitting at the chalkboard, breaking a bunch of chalk, and he’s basically yelling at the people who missed one of the concepts saying “…and so many of you wanted to put torsion stress up here” SMACKS the chalkboard pointing to the top of the sign on the drawing, “there’s no torsion up here!!! there’s nothing up here but a pile of bird shit!”

    So, that was that. He’s now professor emeritus, but his rate my prof page lives on:

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=77457

  314. The reason my grad program was harder was simply that the courses were more advanced. The only undergrad courses I took which were equally hard were the ones I took my senior year that were crosslisted as grad courses.

  315. “Lastly, he talks like sylvester. ”

    Yes!! Yes he does. Also what the other reviewer said about a verbal tic by which every other sentence ends in “or something like that.”

    WCE – there’s attrition from the major, but not attrition from the school. Those who drop it early can have fun and do something like econ, oceanography, history, whatever. Those who stick around and fail a bunch of courses first semester of junior year, it might be too late for a change into humanities, so they can go into the unaccredited “general engineering” major. (And you can still go to nuclear power school that way.)

  316. I remember a reaction kinetics professor like that- he returned the exams and was breaking the chalk in his exasperated sorrow over our collective stupidity.

    I’m puzzled by the comments that his classes were full of racial slurs. What did he do, identify the people doing measurements on his beams and bridges by ethnicity?

  317. “I’m puzzled by the comments that his classes were full of racial slurs. What did he do?”

    Ha! I missed that comment the first time. He was old. He would always, always say things like “it’s gonna shear if it’s only held by some crappy little bolt that was probably made by some Chinaman for a nickel!!!!”

    The racial slurs were always “Chinaman.”

    Ahh, tenure.

  318. Google tells me his Iowa State counterpart is still alive at 86. He was more sexist than racist, though.

  319. Milo, his writing is notoriously hard to follow too, especially Finnegan’s Wake.

  320. I’m reminded of one particular professor who would similarly berate individual students as they stood at the chalk board working out a problem, lamenting the magnitude of their stupidity.

    “He was more sexist than racist, though.”

    He also liked to remind us that women tend to have inferior spatial skills, which he attributed mostly to girls not playing catch with their fathers as they were growing up. (Probably at least partially true.) Spatial skills were very important in his class.

  321. If you look at the rate my prof page, one of the kids makes a reference to the “bad Joyce.” What he’s referring to is an inside joke, because his son also teaches in the department. I never had him though, but I was blessed To get the father for both the previously described EM217 as well as statistics for engineering the following year.

  322. I took one of my main undergrad theory classes from this guy
    https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=179620

    I loved him. But what one of the commenters said is true – you learn everything by going to office hours. There, he would serve you tea and talk about mathematical logic or theorem proving. In class, he had the odd quirk of not writing anything on the board, which was lethal for difficult math. I found myself frantically writing. It helped that I loved the material and he was such a sweetie.

    I did not find out how incredibly important and famous of a mathematician he was until I was in grad school.

  323. CoC, my physics prof, the one I got a C from, had come across the river from MIT. He used to regularly berate us, telling us how stupid we were compared to the MIT students. On one exam, the class average was a 10. Yes, a 10 out of 100. I was thrilled that I beat the average with a 30 (my lab grade was actually what pulled me down in that course).

  324. I wasn’t joking about the nightmares, either. Joyce did not appear in last night’s, but I was visited by my 10th grade AP European history teacher, Who also makes frequent appearances to re-berate me in front of the whole class for my oral report on Churchill, then to announce that he’s giving me a 65 on it, “consider it a gift.”

  325. “There has been a lot of research in physics education”

    DS’ physics teacher last year, who DS really liked, was on his grad school application year, applying to PhD programs in physics education.

  326. But in undergrad, basically in all the core engineering courses, the model was that the professor would teach a concept and there would be homework problems that incorporated it, and he (usually he) would go over the problems and the little tricks of each one. Then on the exam, there would be problems that also incorporated the concept but generally had entirely different tricks and required something of an intellectual leap to figure out. And the kids who figured it out got As, others got partial credit and got Cs.

    My experience in engineering was that they set the problems on the test so they were backwards from all the ones we worked on in class and homework. So you really had to understand them backwards and forwards.

  327. And these stories, friends, explain why the tenure system has to go. There has to be some accountability. Professors who beat the snot out of the students should get kicked to the curb.

  328. RMS but then grade inflation will be even worse since all students have to do to get rid of a strict professor is to berate him or her on the course evaluations. This is already a huge problem with contingent faculty who now teach about half the courses. How do you prevent that?

  329. There was one prof in grad school who thought he was God’s gift to women. He really couldn’t seem to grasp why it wasn’t ok for him to sleep with a student and be on her dissertation committee at the same time.

  330. Cordelia, that is definitely a behavior that will get even a tenured professor fired these days! There have been several recent high profile cases

  331. Mooshi, I would suggest that there be better ways of evaluating the teachers than just student reports. Administrators and faculty should review the syllabi and teaching practices of other faculty. Will this be boring and awful? Oh yeah! But as long as teacher retention is based on the student evaluation popularity contest, things will never improve.

  332. Administrators are clueless about teaching. They tend to go for the most shallow things – are you using the latest technology? Are you following the latest fad? This year. they all want us to be doing flipped classrooms, Two years ago, it was clickers. The other problem with administrators is that they want to retain as many students as possible, so they reward faculty who don’t fail too many/ Believe , I endured years of administrator review while I was tenure-tracking.

    The reality is, the trend is to hire contingent fulltimers at many universities. These people are on year to year contracts, but do get benefits and an OK salary. Many of us think that the future will be universities controlled more tightly by administrators, with mainly contingent fulltime faculty who do not control the curriculum but mainly deliver it. It will probably look a lot more like high school.

  333. Cordelia, I was catching up on posts and saw that your daughter is going through sorority recruitment. Good luck to her! I think it’s a great way to spend college years.

  334. Completely OT, but I spent more than an hour the other day stringing along a scammer with a heavy Indian accent pretending to be an IRS agent about to send the police to my house with an arrest warrant. The first time I returned the robocall, I asked lots of technical questions about statutes of limitations, notices of deficiency, specific disallowed deductions, and told the guy I knew he was a scammer. I then called back using different fake names of literary characters, with fake DOB and SS ##s, and even ended up talking to a “supervisor” who was going to walk me through a purchase of $300 in itunes gift cards before I started laughing. She was really really annoyed but it made my day. Sadly, when I tried again today, the line was no longer in service.
    This is what happens in an empty nest.

  335. Scarlett, are you sure you don’t want to visit? It’s crazy here. More seriously, have you ever considered becoming the international grad student academic advisor? One of my acqaintances married to an engineering prof is one (works part-time to have time for kids/family) and she likes it and I’m definitely considering it as a pre-social-security job. Lots of helping bright people navigate in our society, which isn’t particularly remunerative but is personally rewarding for the right person.

  336. Ha, WCE, I was just about to suggest I send Scarlett a plane ticket :)

    DH loves stringing along the telemarketers too….

  337. The IRS scammer must be sweeping the US because they call us multiple times a week. It’s a popular topic on my town Facebook page because they make so many calls.

    We’re getting ready to return to NY. I’m sort of dreading it because it means the summer is almost over, but it’s so cold and rainy here that I will appreciate some warm August temps.

  338. WCE,
    That is an interesting suggestion! We have a lot of international grad students here. I have also been visiting DS and family to help with the kids. I want a time machine to go back 20 years when I could sit on the floor to play with little ones and then get up without effort. Certainly did not fully appreciate that ability when I had it.

  339. Scarlett and Fred – any thoughts on moving to my area ? I am openly recruiting newcomers ;-). I think both of you would like it here.
    We don’t have any higher educational institutions but we have a growing student population and the institutions we have are expanding.

  340. Louise,
    I love your area. Went to grad school down the road where the universities are and would have stayed there if possible. Summers are pretty intense, so a backyard pool would be non-negotiable. Just need to get one kid to relocate there first…..

  341. Scarlett – I strung along a debt collector once who had been given the phone number of the desk at a Navy operations/control center where we only periodically worked some shifts, but I had no idea who the debtor was. The guy didn’t believe me that I didn’t know, so I figured maybe I would make it seem like I did know him. After about 20 minutes, he would have strangled me if he could.

    Also, for me, Pilates weekly Pilates works wonders for all those little muscle groups and movements that don’t otherwise get worked. You should try it if you’re not already.

  342. “Administrators are clueless about teaching. They tend to go for the most shallow things – are you using the latest technology? Are you following the latest fad?”

    Maybe that explains the guy who got fired for not doing the whatevers in his syllabus in the level of detail demanded — how can the administration check the box to declare he is teaching well if he doesn’t lay out the boxes for them?

    @Scarlett, you just made my morning. Thank you.

  343. Scarlett – you know we have elite swim clubs and are into fitness and sports. These are always looking for coaches and volunteers at the community level :-)I would say we are balanced and not too crazy.

  344. And Scarlett – another big selling point, there are very nice young ladies here….

  345. Louise,
    Starting the retirement location conversation. Where you are is probably about as far south as we’d want to go. As to higher ed – there are 8 colleges within 20 miles of you per College Board.

  346. Fred – what I meant was none of the higher educational institutions are as well known as Totebaggers are used to.

  347. Yeah, well, my opinion on that topic is pretty well known. Nuthin’ wrong with Davidson. And for lacrosse players Limestone State, yes, a bit farther away, is pretty good.

  348. Fred, if you’re just throwing darts at a map, Tennessee is becoming a popular retirement destination, too. Knoxville or Nashville areas, particularly. And you get nice weather with four seasons, the mountains, some lakes and rivers, and no state income tax.

  349. Milo,
    Yeah, that’s the stage we’re in. Probably want to stay closer to the eastern seaboard than Tennessee though the no state income tax thing is very attractive. That said, we have spent a lot of time in AZ, different parts, and there’s a family house pretty much up for grabs north of Scottsdale that we could easily settle in if we want to. Good thing we have 7-10 years for this conversation.

  350. Milo, you’re not the first to mention Pilates. It is more appealing than Silver Sneakers.

  351. No, no. This is why you have two homes. So that you don’t have to deal with the dead of winter up north OR southern summers. Plus, winter in the middle-south isn’t that great either. It’s cold & grey, but not cold enough to snow very often. But when it does – the whole town goes crazy. Tennessee and Charlotte are lovely in October and April. Neither are that great in January or July.

  352. “This is why you have two homes. So that you don’t have to deal with the dead of winter up north OR southern summers”

    Two houses…or one boat.

  353. Wait – seasons are weather dependent? I thought it was Football Season, Holiday Season, February, Spring, and Boat Season. No?

  354. If we were to have two homes, #1 could be in the southwest, but I’m pretty sure #2 would be someplace other than where we’re living now, though I guess we could get a place on one of the nearby lakes around here if we wanted.

  355. The thought of two houses makes my head hurt. I have enough problems keeping on top of one house. Maybe two apartments or condos…

  356. We have 4 weather patterns here: Ungodly hot (summer), awesomely nice (spring and fall), and fleece weather (only a fleece and jeans is required–winter).

  357. Milo,

    Is the oft quoted 10% of the purchase price for maintenance, fuel, slip fees, etc. accurate?

  358. I thought of Milo and his navigating aspirations when I was on the Erie Canal a few days ago. Along with our tour boat, a boat that looked similar to the one in the link was moving through the locks with us. What looked like grandparents, two daughters, and one toddler grandson were on board. Their boat was labeled Florida, and our tour guide speculated they were traveling down the canal to Albany, down the Hudson, and then on to Florida. It looked like fun, a little work as they tied and then untied as the water levels in the locks changed.

  359. I like the weather here. The few months of heat don’t bother me. It is still hot by northern standards but it is gradually moving towards our fall like weather – less humidity. And winters are mild.

  360. That seems a little steep, Rhett. That boat is fairly new. If you drive slowly, if you’re slow traveling (Florida for the winter…), if you’re economical about where you stay…

    Also, the smaller 44 would do just fine, too, and it’s about half the purchase price. Slip fees are assessed by the foot.

    Annapolis Powerboat show is Oct 13-16.

  361. Holy bleep, Milo, I want that boat!

    Did you notice the sales guy’s name is Tucker? :-)

  362. “Maybe two apartments or condos…”

    Oh well, yeah. That’s what I was thinking. With a doorman/on-site maintenance for each.

  363. Nah — I get totally claustrophobic looking at those pics. The other one seemed open and large enough to live in. Maybe it’s just the pics, but my skin kind of crawls at the thought of that as a full-time home.

Comments are closed.