Paying for college

by Sheep Farmer

High school seniors are excited about college acceptances, and their parents are worrying about how they are going to finance the next four years. DD will be attending an Expensive Private College (EPC) starting in August. Luckily, she was awarded a merit scholarship that cuts tuition in half. Both sets of grandparents have generously contributed to a 529. I plan to pay the rest out of pocket. We have talked to her about working during the school year, but I told her that she could wait until after the first semester before deciding whether or not that is something that she wants to pursue. What are others doing to finance their children’s education, especially ones that will be attending EPCs? Have any of your kids considered the ROTC route? Are you going to encourage them to work during the school year? Are you willing to pay the full fare for an EPC?

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325 thoughts on “Paying for college

  1. We’re still 8 years away from college but we’ve been saving money each month since the kids were born. It won’t be enough to fully fund an expensive private college (I’m guessing we’ll end up with between $150K to $200K per kid) without academic scholarships. My original plan was to say we’ll give you $200K and you figure out if you want to spend it all on undergrad or save some for graduate school, but my sisters and I all attended expensive private colleges and we loved our experiences so I’d probably figure something out if that’s where they wanted to go. We’re not planning to pay for private K-12 and so I think we’ll have some flexibility on college.

    I didn’t work during the school year but I did during the summer and that money was to cover books, sorority dues and spending money for the year. There were no fancy spring break trips and I often worked over Christmas break as well.

  2. Ahhh, our favorite topic. What’s the over-under: 500 posts? :-)

    And congrats Sheep Farmer DD!

    We are counting on full-pay undergrad, as our kids are neither poor nor uniquely talented nor brilliant enough to merit significant aid or scholarships, although we would consider an honors program at a lower-ranked school with significant aid, just depends on the choices. I would encourage DD to go ROTC because I think it would be very good for her on a number of levels, but I don’t think she’d actually make that commitment. Both kids currently have about 2 years private in 529s, so if one decides to go public, we’re in good shape; my mom will also want to use some of my stepdad’s money, and I will have to take some for family harmony. We will cash flow the rest.

    Post-grad work is also likely for one or both. I generally subscribe to the “if you’re good enough, they’ll pay you to go, and if it’s a professional degree, you should make enough to pay back the loans (or go PSLF)” theory. That said, both our kids know that they have a pot of money, so if they choose a cheaper undergrad, that saves more for grad school.

  3. People are loath to admit it, but when you dig, there is a lot of Bank of Grandma and Grandpa funding for college students.

  4. Our approach is similar to Atlanta Mom’s. We’ve been putting money aside into 529 accounts since the kids were born. Since starting this fall we’re sending them to private school for 5th grade onwards, until some unknown point in time, those savings will be shifted to help cover current expenses. No idea if we’ll be in a position to fully fund undergrad. Most likely we’ll give them a lump sum and expect them to help out with expenses via work, loans, etc. (just like DH and I did).

  5. A caveat: Some kids shouldn’t be going to college– or going away to college– at least, right away. It’s the great middle-class reflex. And I can’t recommend going into debt for an undergraduate degree or an ehh graduate degree. If you can’t afford it, go local and stay at home to save money.

    I’m interested in the RA option for our second boy. I think he’d be good at it and it seems like a great op to save/make money. Any thoughts on that?

  6. Our youngest (3rd) will also be beginning college at a private school this fall. His scholarship pays for ~ 40% of his tuition, which is really the variable I focus on as all the other stuff (room+board, books, fees, transport to and from) is mostly a wash across schools in our case; certainly the last element is different for some e.g. Finn Jr. We, too, have been fortunate that grandparent generosity will help in addition to the 529 contributions we’ve been making (and continue to make).

    We have talked to her about working during the school year, but I told her that she could wait until after the first semester before deciding whether or not that is something that she wants to pursue.
    +1 on this.

    What are others doing to finance their children’s education, especially ones that will be attending EPCs?
    Not much. Between the grandparent $, the 529 we have, and cash flow I expect we’ll manage.

    Have any of your kids considered the ROTC route? No.

    Are you going to encourage them to work during the school year? Yes, absolutely, but along the parameters you mention.

    Are you willing to pay the full fare for an EPC?
    Doubtful. But this is said in retrospect. Back when (all, everyone’s) our children were still perfect in every way, but most especially academically brilliant, the answer might have been different, especially if any had gotten into the place where DW & I met. But, alas (1) none were really that academically motivated to qualify and (2) my opinion on the end-value of a really top ranked undergrad experience has changed to it really doesn’t matter for most where they go; they’ll get out of it what they put in.

  7. 5 posts in & I’m drowning in alphabet soup: PSLF? ehh? Does RA mean Resident Assistant or Research Assistant? (on the last one, I don’t think that’s a thing you can choose going in anyway–have to prove yourself first semester or year).
    I plan to encourage my kid to find a good project for a gap year before starting college. Could be longer than a year if things continue as they are now, but at the moment I have cause to hope that they won’t.

  8. Update on my niece who left home wanting to be a high school math teacher and attends Skidmore at full pay – some gparent help, but mostly from parent savings/earnings (parents are 59 and 63, with another sib one year behind the first. Mom only works part time because of sib.). She is very happy there and is showing practical sense – a prof met her in some context outside of class, corralled her for a class she didn’t plan to take (she is very polite and dutiful), and rewarded her with a lab management paid in school job next year because of her work on a project. Her mother is happy. Her father, a City University of NY product who was never on board with the private college plan, is resigned to working more years. (I have mentioned in the past how domineering my ex in law family is. At least they pony up with financial help.) Now they can focus on the younger sib, who has serious adjustment issues but may grow out of them or learn to deal over the next ten years, and is going to community college and living at home. The hurdle is she is fearful about getting her license, and she will have to drive to school.

  9. Agree with Eric, generally.

    My view is now “college is right for everyone, just not necessarily at 18yo”

    I’ve dragged you thru the saga of my oldest (freshman year was the best 3 years of his life). But now he’s on track. How did we miss the indicators that he wouldn’t open the books/do the work once he was at college? Dunno. But we did. And he seemed/talked/acted very excited about going where he was going, both the school and the city, what he was going to study, have available for fun, etc. But now at almost 23 he’s fully motivated to finish his degree and will do so, knock on wood, in about 15 months, funded from loans, employer subsidy, and a little, very little, parental assistance. The 6-year plan was not in the budget. With complete 20/20 hindsight he should have started at community college, even part time, worked 20+ hours/week, lived at home, figured out he could do the work and actually demonstrate he would do it. Then transfer to a 4yr school at some point. Maybe he’d still get his BA at the same date as now planned, but that would have been much less stressful and a much better use of money. Of course #2 has been ~dean’s list most semesters, so you never know.

    Of course, all of your kids will be like my #2, except with even better grades.

  10. Our #1 is bumping around– at the local regional university for a semester and then a semester at the community college. He was working an assortment of PT jobs– and starts a “real” FT job next week. He’s into photography, so he’s picked up some gigs and may return to the comm. college to get more training there. We’ll see. In any case, he clearly wasn’t ready to go away. But if I wasn’t a prof with an open view of things, we would have likely sent him off somewhere for an expensive year of something between ehh and disaster.

    Our #2, we could have parachuted into IU-Bloomington as a freshman– in high school– and he would have figured it out. We like to say that if all of our kids were like #1, we’d be dead by now. If they were all like #2, we’d think we were some kind of awesome as parents. So glad/thankful for both of them– and all four of our boys.

  11. Why do people hide info about the Bank of Grandma/Grandpa? I wish someone rich liked me enough to pay for my kids’ college expenses. I would build a shrine to that person. We just put $ in 529s for the kids. Hopefully it will mostly cover everything. If not, plan is to cash flow or pull from other investments.

  12. We plan to have our mortgage paid off before our oldest goes to college. We are paying for private school now. Between the paid off mortgage and private school payments, we should be able to cash flow an expensive college. My dad supposedly will provide some money too, but I haven’t asked for details and don’t want to depend on it. We might not be able to cash flow 8 years (2 kids) for EPC, but we should be able to cash flow at least 5 years of costs in today’s dollars. I’m not opposed to taking out some loans either.

    I don’t think college costs will continue to rise at the rates they have been over the last several years. I think college costs are a bubble. If they continue to rise, then we will evaluate our options at that time.

    There are so many variables to consider. I have no idea if my first grade will want to go to a SLAC like we did. I want my kids to find the right fit for them, which may be a lower cost state school. I don’t think there is as much pressure where we live to attend HSS here as there is in other places. There are certain schools we would not pay for such as full cost for some of the private schools in state that aren’t very academic or don’t have a strong alumni network.

  13. My favorite topic! : )

    Congrats to Sheep’s DD!

    We plan to fund the kids’ college educations with a combination of 529s and cash flow. DH made DS1 do a 4 year college budget, and it was like pulling teeth but a very, very good exercise.

    We told the kids that we would pay for EPC, but DS is going to a state university.

  14. One thing for people to be aware of is the skyrocketing cost of room, board, and fees. Tuition is no longer the largest part of the bill for state universities.

  15. Meme, no school busses?

    EC, my nephew was a research assistant for most of his undergrad chem degree at a small private liberal arts college (no grads).

    Fred, his first three years of college may’ve been the best of his life (thus far), but iirc, they were some of the most stressful of your life. I appreciate your openness, letting all of us follow along with the tribulations. If you had stuck around home longer, as you suggest he shoud’ve done, do you think he would’ve developed the drive/maturity he has now? How can that be encouraged without giving the message that the kid is a failure/too weak to move ahead?

  16. We did a state pre-paid tuition plan for each DD, which if DD goes to a public state university it pays all tuition and fees. We just made the window for each DD in this program. If DD choose any other school, it pays something and this summer is when we can get a good estimate of what the “payout” will be for any other school.

    DD#1 is unsure of where she wants to go. Her school counselor informed her last week she has been nominated for the RPI medal award from her school. If that is her final choice the medal award cuts tuition only in about half. The rep we met at a career fair indicated that their MIGHT be a bit more merit aid.

    In general DD#1 knows that we put aside the pre-paid plan for tuition and fees. We know room, board, books etc. are still on the table. But, given the “normal” expenditure for her private HS, we shouldn’t see much monthy difference for those expenses.

    Bank of Grandparents – Yes my parents put away a chunck on money for each child that is now theirs. We told DD#1 that anthing above and beyond our pre-paid plan for tuition/fees was her responsibiity. She can use some/all of the Grandparent $$, apply for more scholarships, find employment or take out loans. We are HIGHLY discouraging loans and given her frugality with money, I can’t see her taking out a loan.

    She finally got down to getting her WPI Frontiers app done and was getting excited about going. We got the acceptance today. However, yesterday she got the internship acceptance that stated she can only miss 3 days. So, Frontiers will have to be declined. In the big picture, the intership and some real world experience is likely better for her. She is also going to a local university computer science 1 week residential camp that was a competitive application process, but is free.

  17. “Tuition is no longer the largest part of the bill for state universities.”

    Houston, absolutely right. Our governor got a $0 tuition provision for state colleges passed earlier this month (initially for all students whose families make <$100k/yr, rising to $125k). When you get into the details it's mostly a 'sleeves-out-of-his-vest' deal since a lot of kids whose families make <$85k/yr now already qualify for big grants. But anyway, as soon as the deal passed, the critics were out saying this was a lousy deal because room+board+books cost 2x the tuition, so the plan is not really enabling much. But a kid is not REQUIRED to go away for college. Living at home still works. Some critics also loathe the residency provision…for each year a kid takes the money/deal, s/he has to stay in the state otherwise the grant turns into a loan, though apparently at 0%. I support that idea. You are not REQUIRED to take the money; it's there for you, here are the terms.

  18. “We like to say that if all of our kids were like #1, we’d be dead by now. If they were all like #2, we’d think we were some kind of awesome as parents.”

    Eric, what are you doing raising my kids? Let’s just say I don’t worry about school selection as much with DS as I do with DD; he is the sidewalk weed who will bloom wherever he lands.

    @SM: PSLF = Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

    “Why do people hide info about the Bank of Grandma/Grandpa?”

    @Kate, I think it is largely this: “My dad supposedly will provide some money too, but I haven’t asked for details and don’t want to depend on it.”

    I always heard my mom and stepdad wanted to help, but I had no idea what that meant and how much they were talking about, so I didn’t want to count those chickens. Only since my stepdad died has my mom started sending me copies of the 529 statements, and I still don’t know how much is in the trust (but that’s for all the grandkids and what I want to save for my niece and nephew anyway). My FIL has also made noise about helping, but until I see an actual plan with actual numbers, I’m not going to count on anything. Things change, plans change, and he has other grandkids with greater need anyway.

  19. “If he had stuck around home longer, as you suggest he should’ve done, do you think he would’ve developed the drive/maturity he has now? How can that be encouraged without giving the message that the kid is a failure/too weak to move ahead?”

    Exactly. I don’t know. On both.

    Yeah, it was a bitch while in the middle of it. Now is much better, not yet what I’d say is good. When he got his AA, that was a relief, once less thing to focus on. Knock down the next one and we’ll be good. I know it’s his fight to fight, but I still use gray matter thinking about it. But much less than ~2 years ago.

  20. We are generally opposed to loans for undergrad, and have put a much more serious focus on retirement savings given that DH’s company has laid off/pushed to retirement huge swaths of his colleagues in the last two years. Wanting to stay employed and getting to choose to stay employed are less closely tied than we would like. Our first is about to graduate, having gone off to several schools, but finishing living at home. My second will start this year, and we are still finalizing his plans. It will be someplace within a couple of hours of home. I agree with all of Fred and Eric’s points. I do value the experience of going off to a dream school, but won’t encourage my kids to go into debt to do it.

    When DD was living away, we were paying out if current earnings and some from the college fund. We had saved less for her because we sent her to private school for high school, but that was a good use of funds for us. While she’s living at home, we are just funding out of cash flow. For DS, it will be some current cash flow and some college fund. We have some grandparent contribution, but it is enough to fund one full year living on campus at a state school, but not to cover the incremental cost for EPC over state school for four years.

    Houston -thanks for the restaurant tips!

  21. Kate – If you are in fact going to qualify for some FAFSA only need based aid, you usually hide from college funding sourcing the fact that there is grandparent money coming in. As long as it does not get reported on any tax form and the grandparents don’t pay it directly to the college, you can manage it. Gparents often give 10K a year or more out of pocket in tax efficient ways. Usual advice for grandparent 529s is pay it only for senior year, when it doesn’t hit the fafsa.

    As for public acknowledgement, most UMC types like to believe that they have arrived at their exalted state by their own hard work, smarts, modest life choices and shrewd financial planning. Good fortune in their “choice” of progenitors undercuts that self or public image. One of the nice things about this site is that we can talk about almost everything without having to pretend, at least not as much as IRL.

  22. @Kate, I think it is largely this: “My dad supposedly will provide some money too, but I haven’t asked for details and don’t want to depend on it.”

    I was actually thinking of friends whose kids are already in school or have graduated. People want to make it look as though they can finance two kids at elite private colleges without breaking a sweat, but when conversation gets down to brass tacks, turns out the grandparents are paying half, or whatever.

  23. our kids are neither poor nor uniquely talented nor brilliant enough to merit significant aid or scholarships,

    Let me remind you if SIL’s stepson who has received multiple scholarship offers despite being a below-average student.

  24. We have been aggressively saving for the last ten years, with the goal to pay for five years at instate land grant college. Around here, it take five years to get through. We would have/will figure a way to pay for Stanford if any child gets in, the other HSS i’m not so sure about.

    We are estranged from one side of the family, and while there may be an inheritance from the other side, I’m not counting on it.

    DD is finishing her first year at college. The first semester was rough, the second much better. She changed majors, joined a club sport (she is an endorphine junky and needs a substantial amount of serious exercise), and kind of figured out college. Loves her school. She has a job lined up for the summer, and is planning on taking some summer classes while at home.

  25. DS is inclined towards engineering. Here most kids go to state schools. If DS gets into one of the big tech schools we will be happy. DH came from a very humble family background and couldn’t afford any private college options in the home country. He has done very well work wise so there is his thinking of, it’s not where you go to school but how you navigate the work world. He’d have to be convinced that EPC is worth the money. That said, we have our kids in religious private school right now, DH is convinced it is worth the money.
    DD is different. She has the potential to do well and then it would be a decision on whether to pay for the big brand name college.

  26. How did we miss the indicators that he wouldn’t open the books/do the work once he was at college? Dunno.

    Was he doing all his work in high school without supervision?

  27. If DS doesn’t want to go away to college, the state university system has a city campus he can attend. There is also a strong community college campus. I know most kids don’t want to consider that option but like Fred has experienced, I know kids around here who have gone off and then come back home, so it is good to keep the close to home options in mind.

  28. And this is too funny – DD has been doing research and writing about the various college campuses in our state as part of social studies. I can see her being the tour guide.

  29. BTW, college applications were a total bitch in our house. DS did not want to do them and somehow thought that things would take care of themselves. Lots of drama.

  30. Rhett, once a child gets into his/her upper years of high school, how much supervision should that kid need from a parent? Full time? Part time? Occasional?

    I tend towards full time, but then I have a special needs kid. My heart and more intelligent part of my mind tells me occasional or not at all.

  31. Congratulations and good luck to Sheep Farmer’s DD and to all the kids here! It’s good to hear about the various paths, some straightforward and some roundabout, our kids are taking. I know it’s challenging when our kids struggle, whether in pre-k or in college, and hindsight is always 20/20.

  32. Rhett,
    All is a strong term, so I’m gonna say no. Did he do all his homework? No. Did he shortcut some of the assigned reading in English? Guarantee it. Were his grades good enough? Sure, in that he was in the lowest and middle (of 3) levels of academic honors >50% of the time. Could they have been better? You bet. He played the ergs of effort game. If only he had done so, even moderately well in college he would have gotten let’s say an overall 2.2 and been out in 4 years. Would I have been happy with a 2.2? No. But overjoyed compared with semesters 2-6 all being well below that.

  33. MBT — Is your oldest looking for a job or does she have other plans for after graduation?

  34. Buses and colllege – I think it depends. My college had a shuttle bus service (extra cost) to off campus students. The key was to live in housing on the route, which for the close-in routes was more expensive by about 10%. The bus service only ran its route and didn’t stop at any grocery store or bank or target-type store. However, if you learned all the routes you could manage to take one route, get off about 1/4 mile from a grocery store/strip mall, then take that route back to campus and then get on your own route to get home. This WAS NOT convenient, but is what you did without a car. Most people either had a car or had a roommate or friend with one.

    Bank of Grandparents, based on friends with older kids, also seems to either get filtered through parents or pays for something that doesn’t go through the school, like car insurance, phone plan, charge your books on this credit card type thing.

  35. I have as a goal (but Mr WCE is not a financial planner so not sure to what he shares my goal) to have the kids attend a state school with no or very modest loans. If they don’t seem to be college material by junior/senior year in high school, we’ll probably encourage vocational training at the community college combined with a local apprenticeship in the trades. I’m pretty sure all 3 boys will be able to graduate from a state school with modest effort.

    Given that we’re deciding to stay here if we can, my employment opportunities are very limited and we have no grandparent financial help, so I concur with Eric about the choices that are prudent for families with middle class income and 4 children. Most people here go to a state school and/or community college (less than a dozen of 200 graduates go to another college, with BYU the #1 choice?) so our kids will probably walk that well-trodden path. My colleagues’ kids mostly go to the local state school and go on to careers in their desired fields. The application process takes an hour or two and I expect I can harangue them thru it even if they aren’t highly motivated.

    They will have the freedom to fail and the knowledge that they can conform to the requirements of their school/employer or they can live under a bridge. Hopefully that is sufficiently motivating.

  36. We are not focused on saving for college right now, particularly with this year’s tax burden. We have 529s set up for the kids but not much is in them yet. We have always been fully funding retirement. In 5 years or so we will take a closer look at things. I would love for the bank of grandparents to fund some school – my parents paid for school and it was really great not to have any loans.

    My boss’s oldest is still in the “struggle” phase that Fred’s oldest went through. He was on academic probation and then dropped out of his school (across the country) and is now living at home. However, I don’t think my boss and his wife are requiring him to pay rent or get a job, etc. He went to an elite private HS so may have just burned out on academic work by the time he got to college.

    Almost no one at my school had a car – only a few of the super rich kids (many of them international).

  37. WCE – I know we have told you this before, but judging by what you say about your kids, I think most of us would encourage you to aim higher for them. Think Finn Jr. level. ;)

  38. L, if my kids are bright and motivated, I will definitely encourage the prestigious choices for graduate school. That’s the route the bright children of my colleagues take.

  39. My colleagues kid is going to the city campus of state school. He missed the application deadline for the state flagship for Math/Science/Business because he was sure he really wanted to go to a lower ranked campus. If he had sent in his application on time his scores were decent enough to get him in but now he is waitlisted. My colleague is handling the twists and turns publicly as well as he can but I know some days he wants to turn the lightbulb on in his son’s head.

  40. I am too busy adding up the number of schools I won’t pay for.
    Baylor
    Duke
    UC Berkley
    Brown

    Pretty soon we’ll have a nice narrow list of just Ga Tech and UGA

  41. My niece will be living at home and attending a suburban community college campus about 6 miles away. She does need to drive herself. If she refuses to learn to drive or manages to flunk the test over and over again or passes and then has numerous fender benders or stops the car after someone cuts her off halfway to school with an anxiety attack, then she won’t be able to go to college next year. She has multiple avenues to use the driving issue to derail the plan and also to control the lives of all around her. She is currently in a high school program in which she takes most of her classes in a regular setting, but can opt to skip any class any day and do the work in a supervised study area for her program.

  42. I know it’s his fight to fight, but I still use gray matter thinking about it

    That is so hard, especially when they aren’t doing it and you can’t decide if you want to hug the kid or scream. All the college money in the world wouldn’t matter if they aren’t ready to use it well. That’s the getting-ready-for-college conversation that interests me. Looking back two years to when I had surgery and was doped up on narcotic painkillers for days (I “only took them when I really needed them”, which turned out to be most of the time for maybe a week), he got us both cereal for breakfast, rode his bike to and from school, got his own dinner (microwave dinners or more cereal/waffles), got to bed and up himself, did his homework and kept his schoolwork organized so well his teachers had no clue I’d been MIA. So I know he could do it theoretically do it, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have some block now. He’s killin’ me, Smalls!

    Meme–do’oh. Sorry!

  43. She is currently in a high school program in which she takes most of her classes in a regular setting, but can opt to skip any class any day and do the work in a supervised study area for her program.
    I’m salivating. What is this, and how does one set it up? My main reason for wanting my kid to take AP classes is that doing all the assignments in a classroom with 19 other kids is much, much harder for him than learning the material. In an AP class, he’ll at least have test results that prove he’s learned it.

  44. I think level of supervision of high school homework and how they do in college is not fully correllated. In high school, mostly, if homework is assigned it is graded and is used to pull up test/quiz grades. In college, at least in the dark ages when I went, homework was assigned, but it was for your benefit and never turned in or graded. If a student doesn’t think it is important because it isn’t graded or puts it off because it isn’t due, it is going to affect their grade.

    My DD#1 as a junior has one class where homework in assigned, but never turned in or graded. The grade is made up of 60% exams and 40% labs (it is a science class). It is an AP class and the teacher said, it is very clear who is keeping up with the homework and who is not. There are 12 kids in the class apparently 3 are not passing this semester. I also have a friend whose DD is taking a dual credit course (history) that only has exams and a “research” paper each quarter that is graded. The DD is really struggling with the grade because she has always relied on the homework grade to pull up the overall average.

  45. Rhett, once a child gets into his/her upper years of high school, how much supervision should that kid need from a parent?

    My impression of the consensus is that an intense amount of supervision is typical.

  46. Meme, sounds like on-line community college might be a good backup plan.
    Or paying for a ride every day. How does the cost of that compare to purchase and maintenance of a vehicle?If it’s a $10 ride, then $20/day*5days/week*50 weeks/year+$5k/year, and she’ll almost certainly need to go fewer days than that.

  47. I think level of supervision of high school homework and how they do in college is not fully correllated.

    I’m thinking more of screen time limits, bedtimes and curfews, homework supervision, managed schedules, transport to activities, etc. at 16/17.

  48. No, I think a job would be the back up plan. She can’t just sit at home and poke around on the computer, even for credit, and she can walk to public transit to get to a job. And her father who has never really been on board with the treatment of her difficulties as 90% mental illness would put his foot down. He expects his kids to grow up and leave eventually. He is prepared to work full time in a corporate job until she ages out of his health insurance (that would be to age 72). As has been said, picking which college and how to fund it occupies a lot of mental energy for totebaggers, but there are worse situations to be in.

  49. S&M – I don’t know whether they would go for Uber as an alternative. It’s not about the money, but about passing a maturity and self responsibility hurdle. They sort of look at the driving in the same way one in the spring one enrolls the not yet toilet trained child who will turn 3 in August in a preschool class for September.

  50. As for the $ question, we saved a ton and told the kids they can use it as they see fit. So if they take a long time or go somewhere pricey and use it all up, I don’t really care – they’re the ones who’ll suffer the consequence of having nothing left in the fund at a certain point.

    There are many reasons I wanted to do it this way, none of which involved my ever imagining that one of them might flail through the process in starts and fits and take a painfully long time to get it done. But now, I see the unintended wisdom in my plan – since I see it as their money, if anyone were to say, flail and stop and start, I wouldn’t feel the kid was wasting my money. That would leave me a lot more able to counsel with objectivity and without resentment or anger. “How can I help you figure out how to manage your resources?” is a lot more fun (for parent and kid) than “How the hell could you squander my hard earned dollars like this?”

    As for seeing signs in HS, if you’ve got a bright, engaged kid who does well enough on his/her own to get into college and wants to go, then I sure don’t know what signs were hiding in the background.

    But whatever the signs were, the kid missed them too, and if you’ve got a nice kid who respects and cares about his parents, the whole missed signs/what should I have done differently anguish will keep him up far more nights than it does his parents. We have the luxury of knowing our kids and knowing they’ll sort themselves out at some point – the kids themselves aren’t always so sure, and especially not after they’ve flailed big time. I wouldn’t want to trade places with a kid like that. And not having any financial skin in the game leaves me free to feel nothing but compassion for a kid in that position.

  51. My DD was cut a fair amount of slack in high school. Adults like her, so in some classes if she missed assignments or got behind, she was allowed to submit them anyway, despite the official policy. She knew which teachers would allow that and scheduled accordingly. She did not have the self-discipline or organizational skills to excel in college. It didn’t kill her, but caused a lot of anxiety, and contributed to the I’m just going to move home after her second year (among other things). With DS we are completely hands off unless he has a specific request, like this morning’s request for trig help tonight. He is much better at keeping up with everything without reminders or abuse of teacher generosity (that I’m aware of).

    Saac, I don’t consider the living at home to go to college to be a failure, but maybe because a fair number of colleagues’ kids have been doing it for years. Some kids have no desire to live in a dorm, or are more introverted and don’t want to share a house with a group. Whatever works is fine with me.

    CoC, she is starting to job hunt, but is taking 18 hours this semester so has not put much time into it yet. I think it dawned on her this week that she should probably start to prioritize that.

  52. AustinMom said ” In college, at lthieast in the dark ages when I went, homework was assigned, but it was for your benefit and turned in or graded.”

    I think that may still be true at R1’s in fields like math, because no one has the time for grading. But it is not true in CS, and wasn’t true even when I was an undergrad. And in paper-writing courses, there are endless graded revisions, over in media they do tons of graded projects, and in professional majors like education and nursing, there are lots of graded quizzes, projects, and even worksheets.

    When I was an undergrad, we usually had programming assignments due every week or two which were graded. As a grad student, I TA’ed for a while for the giant intro to programming course at that large engineering school. Students were divided into 25-person “discussion sections”, each led by a TA. They had to write a program every week and we TA’s graded them.

  53. “Rhett, once a child gets into his/her upper years of high school, how much supervision should that kid need from a parent?

    My impression of the consensus is that an intense amount of supervision is typical”

    I think this is kind of sad.

  54. I’m thinking more of screen time limits, bedtimes and curfews, homework supervision, managed schedules, transport to activities, etc. at 16/17.

    A friend of mine whose parent I admire greatly would say zero for kids 17 and up (junior senior years), with the exception of enforcing household manners/norms. In other words, she has no limit on her kids on screen time, but that doesn’t mean you can bring your phone to the table.

    Her other exception is also curfew, but it’s pretty generous. Her kids pick their time depending on what they’re doing, but then they actually have to be home by that point.

    I hope to have a similar approach, but I have often said you have to be the parent your child needs, not the parent you always want to be.

    By the way, I really yelled at one of my kids yesterday, and I am just feeling terrible about it today. Ugh. Yelling hangover.

  55. The comment about whether it’s a “failure” to live at home and go to college ties into the recent conversation about kids from rural schools. I didn’t have the option to live at home and go to college, so to me, the possibility of living at home (no room/board expense) is a privilege that allows flexibility. Kids from rural areas have to figure out the $ for room/board as well as tuition/books.

  56. Here’s a question for you. One of my friends had a relative die quite young (early 40s). Relative had done very well professionally and left his money to his nieces and nephews. Friend’s three daughters were among the nieces. Each daughter got about $500K. Daughters were not required to use the money for college; parents still paid for elite privates colleges and daughters got to keep and invest their nest eggs.

    Is that what you would have done? I guarantee you that my own parents would have said, “How nice that you can afford a private college now! Do give us a call now and then.”

  57. Meme, that’s what I expected–it isn’t about practicality or being able to take care of her needs, but about conforming to their ideal of how she should run her life. Good luck with that!

  58. Is that what you would have done?

    If you already have plenty of money, why not? Would it be better to keep for the parents to keep the money so the kids could get an extra $2 million when they are in their 60s and the last surviving parent finally kicks?

  59. RMS – a similar thing happened to the girl DH dated before me. Some great aunt that no one knew had money left her $1 million but at that point she was a senior and her dad was an oncologist so they had loads of money anyway. The parents just invested it for her and I think after college she may have enjoyed living in apartments that were probably above her pay grade but she probably would have done that anyway. She did offer to pay for DH’s law school if they could get married but DH declined and then he broke up with her shortly after.

  60. With DS, I make sure he’s awake in the morning if I have to give him a ride to school. I was very involved in college applications (because he needed the constant pushing), but that’s it. I don’t manage screen time, activities, food or homework.

  61. Saac, I don’t consider the living at home to go to college to be a failure,
    Neither do I

  62. “‘I’m thinking more of screen time limits, bedtimes and curfews, homework supervision, managed schedules, transport to activities, etc. at 16/17.’

    A friend of mine whose parent I admire greatly would say zero for kids 17 and up (junior senior years), with the exception of enforcing household manners/norms. In other words, she has no limit on her kids on screen time, but that doesn’t mean you can bring your phone to the table.”

    I follow the “selfish mom” approach, which is basically “you can have a lot of freedom to do things that don’t bother or inconvenience me.” Wander around with your friends or go to the pizza parlor after school? Knock yourself out. Stay out until 1 when I can’t stay up past 11? Oh, hell no, unless it’s Prom or something. Spend the morning watching Criminal Minds before school? Whatever. Sit at the dinner table texting? Give me the damn phone. Etc.

    And, as I’ve said before, homework is on her, unless/until she specifically asks for help or the grades drop below the acceptable level. This year, knock on wood, she has managed only 1 or 2 Bs, so only one minor swoop-and-poop so far (2 missing tuba playing tests — yes, she pulled a B in her biggest gut course, where you literally get an A just for showing up and doing the work. Ugh).

  63. So we are starting the college process, and the spread between DS’s grades and his test scores is causing a lot of angst. At school after school, he is at the bottom of the GPA skew and the tippy top of the SAT skew. To make things worse, he wants a CS program inside a college of engineering, which rules out about a gazillion schools. And he needs to stay relatively local – we have decided that he shouldn’t be more than about 3 hours away. So we have been told that he should apply to a LOT of schools and that we should perhaps use a college search counselor. I have always pooh-poohed the idea of spending money on someone to give advice on colleges when I work in academia, dang it! and can look at Naviance and read US News rankings as well as the next person. But now I am starting to wonder because the process looks so messy. We went to visit NJIT last week, and he really fell in love with it. Since it was their open house, the admissions folks were there so he went and spoke with them, and learned that his SATs and very possible NMSF status would qualify him for a full tuition scholarship – if only he could get accepted!!! His GPA lies right at the bottom of their skew. Aargh!!

  64. DH and I both lived at home when we attended college. That was the norm for most college students. I finished school and attended what was called junior college, grades 11and 12. So, by the 10th grade though I lived at home, my parents were hands off my college classes/schedules etc. I had a part time job and was preparing for a professional exam. I also partied with my friends Saturday nights and had to take qualifying exams for the professional course early Sunday morning. I didn’t get the best grades in college but knew well enough which pieces to focus so that no doors would be shut to me.

  65. It is 20 min walk on both ends of sporadic light rail service. Yes, for a highly motivated self reliant individual who did not also have to coordinate a job or go to therapy at another location it could be done. For her, unless mom is going to drive her everywhere (not the objective, see above) not likely.

  66. RMS, it depends on what we would be able to afford. If it it would be hard for us to pay for college, then we would have expected them to help pay. If we could easily pay for it, then I would be fine with paying and letting them keep their money.

  67. And he needs to stay relatively local – we have decided that he shouldn’t be more than about 3 hours away.

    How come?

  68. My sister lived at home for college. I don’t think she was ready to be on her own, and I doubt she would have survived college if she had gone away. Living at home, she had a lot of supervision from my parents and did well. She did go away to grad school and did fine at that point. Some kids really do need more time.

  69. I guarantee you that my own parents would have said, “How nice that you can afford a private college now! Do give us a call now and then.”

    Oh, hell yes. Followed by cracking a bottle of champagne.

    I may have moved up in the world, but not so far up that I would be happy just ignoring an extra $1M that landed in my kids’ laps.

  70. If you have a lot of $, the sensible thing is to let the kid keep the $ and you still pay for college. At least until that pesky estate tax goes away.

  71. I follow the “selfish mom” approach, which is basically “you can have a lot of freedom to do things that don’t bother or inconvenience me.” Wander around with your friends or go to the pizza parlor after school? Knock yourself out. Stay out until 1 when I can’t stay up past 11? Oh, hell no, unless it’s Prom or something. Spend the morning watching Criminal Minds before school? Whatever. Sit at the dinner table texting? Give me the damn phone. Etc.

    I totally agree. With the caveat that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing in regards to getting decent grades and helping around the house.

  72. I was just having a conversation with a couple of people and one of them mentioned his daughter got in to Georgetown so now he’s trying to figure out how to pay for it. He’s an executive director of a large assisted living facility, so I’m guessing they won’t qualify for much need-based aid.

  73. Rocky, your friend kept the reins in her hands. Telling the kids to figure out what to do with their money means they might not do what you want. Telling them that if they do xyz, as you stipulate, then you’ll pay for it and they can keep that other money would incline them to at least attempt xyz.

  74. High school juniors and seniors may look mature and independent, but most of them are not. They still need supervision and assistance, but in a much less hands-on manner, as Lark suggested. So, screen limits may disappear, but good parents will be *aware* of what the kids are doing with their screens, and will follow up as needed with advice, counsel, or consequences for misuse. Same thing with bedtimes — in the process of letting them learn how much sleep they really need, parents have to be prepared to intervene when a kid insists that four hours a night is enough. Driving requires a considerable amount of parent involvement too, and it takes many kids until their senior year before they are able to drive themselves everywhere they need to go.

    It’s the whole homework/academic area where many kids need the parents to step back a bit, IMO.

  75. pulled a B in her biggest gut course, where you literally get an A just for showing up and doing the work. Ugh
    You say that as if it were the easy part.

  76. DD attends an expensive private school with a 50% merit scholarship. Oldest DS attends an out of state public school with a small merit scholarship. In both cases, we agreed to cover the costs equal to in state tuition, and anything above that was on them. Fortunately, the costs for both kids come in close to that amount. I encouraged DS, who was a not a very serious student, to attend our local, well regarded CC. He wouldn’t even consider it but he was warned that he needed to keep his grades up . His college grades are OK, could be better. He’s made some nice friends, he plays intramural sports and one club sport for which there is some travel to other colleges, which he enjoys. It was a good move for him to go away to school, and I’m glad there is some distance between him and his HS friends.

    We do not have college savings for the kids so we’re on the pay-as-you-go plan. We’ll have four consecutive years with two kids in college at the same time. Occasionally my mother will give us a substantial check “to keep things even”. I suspect she bailed one or both of my sisters out of a financial mess and she wants to keep all of us on par. Those checks go directly to the college account.

  77. “one of them mentioned his daughter got in to Georgetown so now he’s trying to figure out how to pay for it.”

    This always amazes me. Do people *really* not think about how they will pay for an expensive private college until the acceptance letter appears?

  78. Scarlett said “High school juniors and seniors may look mature and independent, but most of them are not.”

    I totally agree with you on this one. Even college students are for the most part not mature and independent.

  79. A 20 min walk isn’t much more than a mile, ie a $5 taxi ride. But you already said it isn’t about pragmatics. It’s about control over her life.

  80. Mooshi – what does he want? Does he want to be far away or close? 3 hrs is a pretty small circle – that excludes most of MA if traffic is bad. :)

  81. Scarlett said ” Do people *really* not think about how they will pay for an expensive private college until the acceptance letter appears?”
    and
    Ginger said “DD attends an expensive private school with a 50% merit scholarship. ”

    This. This is the reason. People hope the kid will get both the acceptance and the 50% merit scholarship

  82. Do people *really* not think about how they will pay for an expensive private college until the acceptance letter appears?

    How do you think regular people live? Half of Americans have no retirement savings either.

  83. My kid wants to be close. He is a homebody even now. He likes the NYC region though he said he doesn’t want to be in Manhattan. He also takes after my sister, and while perhaps more ready than she was, is still likely to be a kid who needs to come home many weekends. And I see nothing wrong with that.
    We are going to visit Drexel in a few weeks, so Philadelphia is on the table.

  84. We have tuition exchange with Drexel so we can consider it. I need to set up a meeting with our HR to go over the tuition exchange plan because it is evidently very complicated.

  85. My other colleague is hoping silently that his DD chooses UNC over Duke. He has savings but not enough for Duke.

  86. My niece is a junior and doing college visits. They seem to be using the “see where she decides she wants to go then see how we’ll pay for it.” But they have two younger ones in expensive private school, and will soon have two in college. That approach stresses me out on her behalf.

  87. If my kid wanted to live at home while going to college to save money, I think there would only be a few options: Queens College, Brooklyn College, NJIT. I can’t think of any other affordable schools with the sort of major he wants. So even in a big city area, living at home may not be an entirely viable option depending on major. For kids in small towns, or even medium towns in some regions, it really isn’t an option at all.

  88. it takes many kids until their senior year before they are able to drive themselves everywhere they need to go.
    Ever since I found out that our new neighbors include a junior who drives herself to school every day, I’ve wanted DS to hitch a ride, with me as backup for both of them. It is finally happening, as they have finally met eachother–at that group in their HS for kids with anxiety, of all places!

    I don’t plan on riding herd on my kid’s college applications. I don’t expect him to be ready to move out to college in three years. If he gets all the applications in and is accepted to a place he likes, I’ll take that as an indication that he’s ready. It’d be a happy surprise. As I said above, I expect him to need a gap year (or more), and am trying to figure out how to not have him think of himself as a failure for that. It’s much better, imo, to take time to catch up to yourself, gather your energy, and maybe get a teeny jump on things than to stagger through for five or so years. If he simply fails to get applis in, he’ll think of himself as a failure, and we already know how miserable that makes our lives. So I really think it hinges on finding something for him to do that year that he finds interesting/cool enough not to castigate himself for doing it.

  89. Argh, I totally forgot: Pseudonym, congratulations – I am so glad your daughter has settled in and is now happy at school.

    “Scarlett said ” Do people *really* not think about how they will pay for an expensive private college until the acceptance letter appears?”
    and
    Ginger said “DD attends an expensive private school with a 50% merit scholarship. ”

    This. This is the reason. People hope the kid will get both the acceptance and the 50% merit scholarship”

    Ditto. Read any “how to pay for college” thread on MMM, and OMG people are ridiculously optimistic. “College costs are unsustainable! We’ll all be doing MOOCs for free by the time my kids are in college!” Or “there’s free money out there for the taking, you just need to look for it!” Or “I put myself through college in 1982 with a part-time minimum wage job, my kids can do the same!” And these are highly financially-conscious people, who generally pay attention to these sorts of things.

    I think if you asked a cross-section of Americans to estimate what they would actually pay to send their kids to Generic Private School, given their income and their kids’ scholarship potential, 95% of them would guess low — and probably half of those would be very significantly low (i.e., not even 50% of the actual cost).

  90. Four years passes so quickly, one other colleague’s DD was having anxiety issues just prior to leaving for college. My colleague was stressing, afraid she wouldn’t last that first semester. She is graduating in May.

  91. My parents wanted us about 3 hrs away so we wouldn’t be home all the time, but could drive home for a weekend.

  92. we have decided that he shouldn’t be more than about 3 hours away.

    That’s west to Kansas City and south to Miami. Does the plane v. car v. train really matter?

  93. “How do you think regular people live? Half of Americans have no retirement savings either.”

    Regular people don’t usually have kids who get into Georgetown, or other selective expensive schools. It’s not a fluke. Unless she was a real late-bloomer, they must have known by the middle of elementary school that they had a kid always near the top of her class who would be able to get into a selective, expensive school AND that their incomes would be too high to qualify for much financial aid.

    Not picking on DD’s friend, really, because some of my friends have engaged in similar exercises of willful blindness. But still.

  94. Scarlett, I’m guessing your surprise comes from thinking of parents of a new Georgetown student as high-achieving people like you, not as the typical ‘murcans others are referring to. Is that correct?

  95. “My other colleague is hoping silently that his DD chooses UNC over Duke. He has savings but not enough for Duke.”

    Why doesn’t he layout for his DD the costs of both? Why isn’t she involved in the financial part of this decision? I find your colleagues approach weird but probably not uncommon.

  96. Regular people don’t usually have kids who get into Georgetown, or other selective expensive schools.

    I don’t think you have a firm grasp on how the average middle/upper middle class person lives i.e. paycheck to paycheck.

  97. “I] it takes many kids until their senior year before they are able to drive themselves everywhere they need to go. ”

    Why? I didn’t know too many kids a month past their 16th birthday who didn’t have their licenses when I was that age. Is it there are too many bad drivers on the road (see, e.g. S, FL)? Do kids not understand reality from video games? Too much ADD? Do parents not want to pay for insurance? My guess is that kids have nowhere to go.

  98. Scarlett,

    I might have mentioned before a conversation I had with some people I was working with (folks making 75k-150k) and someone mentioned 529s and college savings and the consensus was that wasn’t something “middle-class” people did. In fact someone made fun of one another co-worker behind their back by claiming he was exactly the type of person who would set up a 529.

  99. Kerri – I think she does know. As others have said kid gets into selective expensive school, you have some money but not nearly enough. You close the gap somehow with loans probably that you try to pay off fairly quickly. It can be done but the cheaper choice is easier.

  100. Our process with DD#1, 17 yr old HS junior.
    1. Bedtime – on your own unless you are oversleeping to the point of missing school. That said, last night at 7:15 pm, she said I don’t have any homework tonight I am going to bed. At 8:15 pm when I came upstairs for my checkbook, she was sound asleep!
    2. Homework/grades – I set the school portal to notify me when the overall grade falls below 90. If it does, I look at the grades, then I ask her what is going on, if I don’t already know. She missed a number of days lately with state band competitions and a Spanish field trip. When the low grade was due to missed assignments those days, I just asked if she had worked out the missed work with the teacher.
    3. Transportation – She drives, she has my parents’ old car, and I give her enough gas money to make it to/from school and the stuff I don’t want to drive her to. If she either doesn’t want to drive or cannot for some reason (like needs to be dropped where there is no parking), she will ask for a ride. So far, she hasn’t run out of gas or been in a fender bender (after 8 mo on the road) knock wood.
    4. Paperwork – Mixed, and this is where I have likely not let go enough. She is pretty good about getting forms to me if she wants to do something. Unfamiliar stuff sometimes she asks. Some things that she doesn’t quite get that it doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. Like something that had to be snail mailed the other day, she thought mailing 24 hours in advance would be enough. I went over the difference between postmarked by and received by and that if she sends it USPS across the country she needs to leave 5 days and what a business day vs. a week day means.

  101. My mother wanted me out of New England when it came time to pick a college – at least 6 hours away she said. I honestly think she was trying to get me away from my high school boyfriend but she sold it as broadening my horizons – which I’m not sure a somewhat rural area of Pennsylvania really did.:) But I loved college and I did meet a lot of kids whose families had a lot of money so that was eye opening.

  102. and it takes many kids until their senior year before they are able to drive themselves everywhere they need to go.

    What do you mean by that? 98% of kids are “ready” at 16 if by “ready” we mean ready in terms of the norms of 1984.

  103. ““Scarlett said ” Do people *really* not think about how they will pay for an expensive private college until the acceptance letter appears?”
    and
    Ginger said “DD attends an expensive private school with a 50% merit scholarship. ”

    Well my regular folk parents knew DS, DB and I were bright cookies early on but also knew college was going to be expensive. There was a lot of wishful thinking, finger crossing, part time jobs and financial aid and saving that went into all three of us into colleges. DSis – local, private, she lived at home. DBro – ultimately local, private, ROTC, home/dorm combo. Me Further away, private then state. All of us had loans (federal and private), jobs, grants/merit aid and parental loans.

    Don’t underestimate the kids of “regular folk’.

  104. PTM,

    Many states have made it more difficult for kids to get their licenses at 16. Most school have dropped driver’s ed. Many kids (like my older two) are involved in activities that keep them busy during daylight hours every school day and many weekends, and more parents are working long hours and busy themselves during those precious daylight hours.

    Those are some of the objective reasons. But one thing I noticed with all of our kids was that they much preferred being a passenger. Passengers can eat, sleep, do homework, and be on their phones. As one DS pointed out, “When people have enough money, they hire drivers.”

    They also don’t *need* to actually be in the same room with their friends in order to socialize.

    Our younger two kids would probably not have learned to drive if we had not made it non-negotiable.

  105. Kate – your “woes” about the estate tax – nice bubble you live in. Maybe I can visit someday! (said with humor, not snark)

  106. Rhett – I think it depends. My sisters and their husbands have all set up 529s even though they fall within that income range, but my BILs both have PhDs so they value higher education. My husband’s brother and his wife have three kids, make around $125K to $150K I’m guessing, and it probably hasn’t even crossed their minds to open up college savings account. They constantly talk about how tight their budget is, but then go on all of these trips and bought a $3000 dog last year. They fundamentally just do not understand things like compound interest and I honestly wonder how they function as unaware as they are financially, but I think they are like most people. They will be those people who will think about how they will pay for college when the acceptances roll in.

  107. S&M, I think I said how much worse it would be for someone in a smaller town. And 3 options may sound marvelous until you realize that 2 of them are so overloaded and underfunded that there may not even be slots in his major, and the third has out of state tuition,

  108. “I don’t think you have a firm grasp on how the average middle/upper middle class person lives i.e. paycheck to paycheck.”

    No, I have a pretty good idea. That is how we lived ourselves for years.

    But when you are a college-educated professional person, and you have a baby, surely you know that the baby will be applying for college in 17 years, and that Someone will have to pay for it.

  109. But when you are a college-educated professional person, and you have a baby, surely you know that the baby will be applying for college in 17 years, and that Someone will have to pay for it.

    You know you’re going to retire at some point as well. It doesn’t mean you’re saving for it. I assume it’s like anything else – well start saving when they are out of daycare, when I go back to work, after we get the roof fixed, etc.

  110. My kid and I are both eager for him to drive. He can take over whenever the two of us need to be somewhere. I hate driving. He says that he can take driver’s ed when he’s 15.5. His school has a fleet of 6 escorts for the class.

  111. SM – I find your analysis of my niece’s parents’ motivations misguided and offensive.

    They are living with a child who has serious mental adjustment issues. They believe that it is necessary for her to take a small step to self reliance in overcoming her anxiety and learning to operate a motor vehicle at 18 years of age, and that college attendance requires some evidence of that degree of mastery. They also have years of experience in knowing that she needs a structure outside the house to continue to grow and function, so spending all day on the computer going to school is not a solution. If push comes to shove and the only way she can attend the community college and participate in various activities is Uber, then they may decide that is worth a try, but I am not sure that she could be expected to handle the anxiety level of having to make arrangements herself on the fly and a constant stream of strange cars and drivers.

    You have expressed above that you are not only amenable to, but anticipating that your son will take a year or more past the age of 18 living with you and finding his path, and you expect him to be the driving force to push for immediate college attendance and attendance away from home if he really wants it. No one is attacking you for that choice – you know him and have your considered opinion on what will smooth his way into adulthood. Her parents feel that there can be no treading water in this child’s life – she requires out of home structure to make the leap into independent adulthood. I respect their choice as well.

  112. Ugh, I am dealing with a student who has submitted a semester project that I am quite certain he did not write. I am guessing he paid someone. This kid is failing my class miserably, speaks very little English and is a graduating senior. The project is a database project. They spent the semester designing the tables and building them, and in the last step, they had to write queries and demo them to me. All semester, he never had anything even close to correct, and now suddenly at the end, he has a perfectly implemented system with correct queries. And to make it even more suspicious, he has no idea how to demo them – he doesn’t seem to understand how to use the software to run the queries. I keep asking him how he tested them if he doesn’t know how to run them, but he just looks baffled. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I hate this kind of thing because I can’t prove anything.

  113. I think part of the driving issue is the limits they put on teen drivers. In my state, only one person that is not a family member in the car. Many schools limit the students who can park on campus to seniors as parking is so limited. If they are getting where they need/want to go without driving, what it the point?

    Here, driving school is 2 hours a day, for three weeks, then you have to schedule 7 drive times with them. We won’t use the same school again, because when I inquired before signing DD#1 up, she could get 1 drive a week was the average. When it was 8 weeks later and time for her drives, they fessed up that they were so booked it was 1 drive every 6 weeks. In the end, she had her license just before starting her Junior year. That will be the soonest her sister with a summer birthday can drive as well.

  114. My kid is 17 and shows no interest in driving. I pointed out to him that the school is running drivers ed this summer, but so far he hasn’t even looked at the class schedules. We don’t even shuttle him around much – he mainly walks or bikes to where he wants to go

  115. Kerri – I am hoping for the estate tax NOT to be repealed. The exemption is now $11M for a couple – that is plenty high!!

  116. “You know you’re going to retire at some point as well. It doesn’t mean you’re saving for it.”

    Sure. But when you’re, say, 30, retirement is a LOOOOONG way away, and there are a lot of options such as working longer or moving in with amenable adult children or eating cat food. 17 years is a blip.

  117. Scarlett re driving. ITA.

    IIRC I took drivers ed (classroom) during the summer after my sophomore year in the morning for a few weeks and I took driver training (behind the wheel) in the afternoons for maybe the 2nd half of the drivers ed class. So over maybe a month I got both done, and I think the cost was included in the tax-funded education I got. Completion of neither was required to get my permit, which I got the day I turned 15.5; then I got my license on the day I turned 16. No car of my own as a reward, but as far as the great state of California was concerned, I was completely qualified to drive anywhere, anytime.

  118. lot of options such as working longer or moving in with amenable adult children or eating cat food.

    And you and the kid can take out loans, you can cash flow it, HELOC, etc. It will all work out.

  119. I agree with Rhett. The delay with saving plus life happening. My colleague with the graduating DD had job loss, then had to take on a contract position, then had a divorce, Great Recession – again lost job, credit score got dinged because of joint debt with ex-husband. Her relatives consigned her DD’s loan. My colleague now has a good job, divorce behind her, DD graduating – things have turned around.

  120. “But when you are a college-educated professional person, and you have a baby, surely you know that the baby will be applying for college in 17 years, and that Someone will have to pay for it.”

    Junior’s college expenses (at least in Florida) are fully paid for, including dorms and books and activity fees and everything else, as far as I can tell. I am college educated and arguably professional. I would suspect that Junior will not be applying to any college at any time.

    I guess I am too grouchy to be here today. Sorry. Really, I am. But on some days, I think that many of us think that is our birthright to have high-achieving kids. Not everybody does.

    (Scarlett, I used your quote. You know I adore you, I hope. Please do not hate me.)

  121. Mooshi, I don’t have an assignment quite like that, but I wonder if there are some creative ways to structure your rubric. For example, you might insist on minimum requirements to pass the assignment– a threshold on grammatical mistakes, ability to do the demo, etc. (Or you could put [more] weight on a rough draft and/or a presentation.)

  122. Meme, no intent to offend. Sorry if I did. I’m simply trying to point out that there are many ways to meet the stated goal of self-reliance, and many ways to overcome anxiety. You may not realize it, but if their child is capable of going out of the home to participate in things, they are ahead of others. One thing that I see repeated in all the reading I do is that forcing an issue that the kid is ready on is likely to fail at best. Recall that I did not suggest online education–that was someone else’s idea. I also haven’t said anything about Uber, including not disagreeing when you brought it up. I don’t support Uber in general, for many reasons, and certainly wouldn’t recommend it to someone dealing with anxiety issues. I would genuinely appreciate a response to my first question on this topic. If you’d prefer to email saacnmama at hotmail, please do.

  123. It will all work out.

    I figure that’s how most people thing about pretty much everything.

  124. That’s west to Kansas City and south to Miami. Does the plane v. car v. train really matter?

    I would think so. First, there is the cost of flying. Second, a three-hour flight is probably 6 hours total time factoring the time to get to the airport, being at the airport at least an hour early, time to get back from the airport after landing. And with the nature of airfares, it becomes much harder to spontaneously come home for a weekend.

    Not picking on DD’s friend, really, because some of my friends have engaged in similar exercises of willful blindness. But still.

    His other daughter is at Harvard, so I’m sure he was kidding a bit and has been planning for this.

    So even in a big city area, living at home may not be an entirely viable option depending on major.

    And being in a major metro area can make it harder in some ways because of a lengthy commute.

  125. Kerri – purely hypothetical! This will never be a scenario in our lives. I am more concerned about filial responsibility laws than a relative leaving my kids $1m.

  126. being at the airport at least an hour early

    Chuckle, I’m still in bed an hour before the flight leaves.

    How is he getting home if he’s a three hour drive away? Are you going to drive 3 hours and then turn around and drive 3 hours home only to do it again Sunday night?

  127. Kate – me too! I worry a little bit about filial responsibility laws in regards to my in-laws, but “it will all work out” or it won’t work out I guess. Thankfully in-laws had a pension. Between the pension and SS, they have more than enough to live comfortably. I’m pretty sure they have no other cash savings though and don’t really have an emergency fund.

  128. Eric, the rubric is highly structuored, and they have multiple stages. The issue is that he has failed every stage up to the last one, and suddenly he appears with a perfect database and queries, yet he can’t explain them or demo them (doesn;t understand how to use the database client, which we have been using all semester).

    An analog would be a paper assignment with 3 graded drafts before the final version, and a student who submitted 3 gibbberish sentences for each draft, and then a perfect paper for the final version, but could not explain the reasoning in the paper. Most professors would suspect the involvement of an outside paper writing service in that situation, especially if the student was only producing gibberish on the midterm exams too.

  129. For us the 3 hr drive would get us to where the colleges are on the other side of the state. The Tech colleges would be a 3/4 hr drive. Even the city campus is a 40 minute drive.

  130. Saac – I missed that specific query. She goes to school in a top three school district in MA. They have something like 10 different on site high school support programs between the two high schools. Hers is for kids without learning disabilities but with serious adjustment issues. It is basically a safe space program. She takes most of her classes with general population, but there may still be one or two within the program – senior year is a bit different than the earlier years. But she can always just go to the counselor supervised area if the day isn’t going well. I think the program is a few classrooms in one wing with its own door and a rest/cool down area These kids only get to be in it after being close to failing truancy/grade advancement tests by missing so much school because of anxiety or acting out and being sent home all the time. Now they can graduate and also get more and more experience handling normal classroom situations. So the ability for her to get in her car and have control over getting home if the day is not going well seems to be very important to the success of the college experience.

  131. Mooshi – It sounds like you have prima facie evidence of a purchased project, but your administrative policies say you can only give him zeroes on all of the other assignments including the demo, must assume the big project is his work, and he ends up with a squeak by passing grade, and you can’t even put an actual red flag on his record or even warn your colleagues to keep him out of the next course in the sequence. Pick your battles to fight.

  132. PTM, I agree with your comment re:thinking it’s a birthright. I did not realize I even held those sorts of expectations until I found myself mildly disappointed that my kids weren’t NMSF. This is particularly ridiculous because I watched my kids struggle with their respective learning issues for their entire school careers. There was nothing that should have led me to expect that, other than that is how my college was paid for, so I guess in my head, that’s sort of just how things work. We did have back up plans in mind for DD if she decided not to finish.

  133. PTM – I’m a bit off myself today. We just wrote a big check for private school. The thought of doing that periodically for the next few years is making me nervous and touchy and feeling poor and frustrated. Objectively I think we’ll pull it off; subjectively, it’s freaking me out. I wish I were the type of person who could just say – it’ll work out. One of mine just bombed a test and the other puts in very little effort – so why am I spending so much? Then again they’re so young. Worry and Doubt – thou are cruel masters and my near constant companions of late!

    Trying to keep a sense of humor today.

    At least my sprained wrist is better and I can finally type with two hands.

  134. Scarlett,

    Most people also think of $200k as an amount they could never possibly save. A typical totebagger looks at it as $100/week for 18 years at 7%. They feel the same about retirement as well.

  135. I’d like to add that DD’s college was not even on her radar until March of her senior year. The school waived the application fee and offered her merit aid. Then they doubled the merit aid. (I think they were trying to recruit kids from our part of the country.) At that point, I pressed upon DD that this was a really good school and she should reconsider. The first time we even visited the school was on accepted students day. She was still not 100% sold but she agreed to attend for a year. By October of her freshman year she loved it.

  136. Meme, not trying to force anything on you, but perhaps seeing a bit more about where I’m coming from will let you see that my intent is anything but causing pain. If the language about “controlling lives” offends you, take a look back at your own posts. You accuse a young person (who I assume is in considerable distress) of intentionally manipulating her parents’ lives. You probably would not say the same thing about your husband when his depression gets the better of him. Children deserve the same consideration and benefit of a doubt, imo. This info is for k-12, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t be applicable for someone a year older than that. http://www.mlschools.org/cms/lib5/NJ01001801/Centricity/Domain/461/School%20Refusal%20-%20Information%20for%20Educators.pdf Note that many of the suggestions involve easing the student’s discomfort and making sure they feel safe. If school itself is stressful, then adding on more anxiety could push total past the breaking point. Her parents may well know something I don’t, but as I said above, what I’ve said about dealing with anxiety nearly all says the best path is supporting the anxious person in “backstage” ways so they can gather their strength for the assault on their main anxiety. My understanding is that school, not driving, is her central concern, or maybe social interaction in general, including school.
    It happens that in requesting accommodation for her anxiety over driving, your niece fits in with a portion of young people that grows from year to year, a phenomenon discussed on this blog in the past. Is it unreasonable to expect that over the course of her lifetime, changes will take place that will make driving less of a “must-do” for adulthood in this country, just as there are other places in which it is not a requirement? https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/01/19/drivers-licenses-uber-lyft/78994526/
    I wish your niece and her family all the best.

  137. +1 to tcmama way up thread

    Plan to pay off mortgage. If he goes to public MS/HS, we should be even further ahead by the time he goes to college. I’d potentially pay for a EPC, depending on a lot of factors. Especially since I went to one & loved it. I’m not sure if he will be a big university type, but we’ll see. I’m more skeptical about paying for a different state flagship, perhaps rated only slightly higher, over my own. But a SLAC is a different experience. Like tcmama said – it doesn’t have to be a top/HSS school, but I’d want it to be academically-focused with a lot of opportunity. Not one of the lower ranked ones.

    We do save in a 529, but probably a lot less than some people here. We never intended the 529 to cover his entire college – maybe 1/4-1/3. 9 years in, it has enough to cover one year at the state flagship, and that’s about where I intended his 529 to be at this point.

    If we have major issues between now & 10 years from now (extended job loss, illness, etc), then I think paying for college will be a different ballgame, but who knows. If our income is significantly less, he’d probably get more aid too. And something could happen.

  138. Totebaggers never assume anything will work out. The assumption for the average Totebagger is that it will all go to hell so every possible contingency must have a plan. This is what separates a Totebagger from a normal person. It is also why we all worry about the stupid stuff we said in third grade and whether the grocery store checker looked at us funny on Tuesday. This leads to a very well-planned and funded life even if it isn’t super high on the footloose and fancy-free happiness scale.

  139. Kerri: For some reason, it’s easier for me to cut larger checks via our online Bill Pay account. Something about doing it online makes it feel less real.

  140. Sure. But when you’re, say, 30, retirement is a LOOOOONG way away, and there are a lot of options such as working longer or moving in with amenable adult children or eating cat food. 17 years is a blip.

    I disagree – 17 years seems like a heck of a long way away when you have a 1 year old.

  141. Houston – That is funny and yet I totally get that! Physically writing a check makes it sink in somehow.

    Kate – +1000.

  142. “17 years seems like a heck of a long way away when you have a 1 year old.”
    Also when it’s more than half your life. A 30 year old may only be half of that away from college graduation themselves.

  143. “Totebaggers never assume anything will work out.”

    Ha ha!! So true! I still remember a month or so back that an overwhelming majority were forecasting 0% growth on their investment portfolio for retirement planning purposes. I’m the same way with our finances, even though my own family has a ton of examples of things working out financially even with really poor planning.

  144. Kerri – one thing to keep in mind is that the choice of school and associated cost is your choice not one your kids made. So, most kids that age don’t process that they will be going to a school that cost “x” so they will have to put in the effort = x, to offset the cost.

  145. Kate +10 (2:07 pm comment)

    For a couple of years, I was wondering if DD#2 would be college material at all or a late bloomer at best. Then, we had her disabilities diagnosed and worked with the neuropsyc on some interventions (that worked) and worked with the OT who gave her strategies to implement (that worked). We had a different kid, who better understands some of the limitations of her executive function. She is not the academic powerhouse her sister is, and no longer having them at the same school has taken lots of pressure off her to “perform” the same way. It should make sense, but I was surprised about how much her grades and handling scheduling/responsibility has improved.

    Watching another family go through the college decision choice process has been eye opening. The DD received acceptance to 5 colleges, 3 would be in the HSS category. The issue came down to $$. One out of state private was willing to offer the family the in-state rate, one gave lots of merit aid, one is in state public (last choice), one only offered loans, and nothing was said about the last one. But, other than the state public, they had no idea how the “gap” would be filled.

  146. Louise – My rational self fully realizes that the kids have no concept of cost nor are they responsible in any way for what we choose to spend on their education. Logically, I know its the right decision at this time, we can change our minds later and that there are lots of other paths and options.

    And yet, I’m not so great on spending large amount of money on what amounts to a leap of faith.

    My former roommate and I went to Ethan Allen to buy a sofa when we first started our professional lives. We were cash poor but had good jobs. The salesperson started to tell me that a particular sofa (about $2000 or so – some large amount in my mind) would last for 30 years. I nearly had a panic attack! How could I possible pick out fabric for a sofa that I’d be happy with for 30 years! my roommate, knowing me well, reminded me that I could sell it or re-upholster it later. Helped tremendously.

  147. My MIL’s parents ended their educations in grade school, MIL went to college to become a secretary for scientists and eventually provided the family income and insurance after FIL had to stop working at 53 due to cancer.

    Most of our kids will be OK. I try not to worry about mine- I’m raising dandelions, not orchids.

  148. Chuckle, I’m still in bed an hour before the flight leaves.

    How is he getting home if he’s a three hour drive away? Are you going to drive 3 hours and then turn around and drive 3 hours home only to do it again Sunday night?

    Try doing that in Denver. The closest you could reasonably live to the airport is 15 minutes away. Even with Clear or first class priority, it’s at least 15 minutes to get to your gate, and realistically can be a half hour, so you need to plan for that, not the 15 minutes. Maybe if you’re flying first class, you can be confident with getting to the gate 15 minutes before departure time, but you can’t do that flying coach.

    As for question 2, if either of my kids go to college that close, I assume they’ll take their car. But DS has zero interest in any schools that close. But I also don’t care if they are within three hours. I went to college 1000 miles away from home and have no problem if my kids go that far.

  149. PTM, no offense taken. I adore you too. But the college educated professionals whose kids take a different path were not the subject of my comment. They are not the parents trying to figure out how to pay for Georgetown

  150. Mooshi – really curious – what will you do? Give him a C- – just enough to pass but still look bad on his transcript?

  151. “Totebaggers never assume anything will work out.”

    Not quite true. Totebaggers use 99+ as life expectancy for retirement planning purposes.

  152. Totebaggers use 99+ as life expectancy for retirement planning purposes.

    Yeh but 20 of those years are demented in a nursing home.

  153. “We just wrote a big check for private school. The thought of doing that periodically for the next few years is making me nervous and touchy and feeling poor and frustrated. “

    I can empathize. It was hard at first, even for just one kid.

    One thing that’s helped me with this is that each time I have to write the checks, as well as when I send in the deposit committing us to paying the next year’s tuition, I reflect on what we’ve been getting for what we’ve paid, and consider whether we’ve received value commensurate with what we’ve paid. I believe we have, and that makes it easier to write the checks.

    I think I’ll have the same anxiety you just had very soon, when we have to pay DS’ first college tuition bill.

  154. “Totebaggers never assume anything will work out.”

    DH doesn’t really care about financials, so it pretty much all rests on me. A few years ago I went to our financial advisor and asked what I need to do to be on track for a reasonable retirement. They said we were on track. It includes SS, which isn’t very totebaggy, but knowing we’d have enough helped me feel better and that everything will work out. But now I think I’d like more than enough, so now I’m swinging back to assuming nothing will work out.

  155. “His other daughter is at Harvard, so I’m sure he was kidding a bit and has been planning for this.”

    Humble bragging.

    BTW, how does his daughter like Harvard?

  156. “I need to set up a meeting with our HR to go over the tuition exchange plan because it is evidently very complicated.”

    @MM – My tuition was mostly paid through tuition remission exchange, and it was definitely complicated. There were multiple groups of cooperating colleges all with different rules, and then different rules for each college within each group. Some had full reciprocity, some partial, some that would only give me reciprocity if a faculty member’s child attended another school in the group, etc. We met with the school’s counselor, and it really helped sort through the choices. My dad teaches at a school of a certain religious denomination, and the schools with the best exchanges were the ones of the same denomination. I eventually attended one of those. But it saved me a significant amount of money – I paid nothing for tuition with the exchange plus an academic scholarship.

  157. “We have tuition exchange with Drexel so we can consider it.”

    I suggest you also ask about NMF scholarships. I believe Drexel is generous with merit aid to NMF, so explore the possibility that that may be a simpler and less expensive way to pay tuition there.

  158. Austin, DS won the RPI medal, which came with $25k/year merit aid.

    I went to college with a couple of kids who transferred back home to flagship U from RPI. They could not deal with the weather.

  159. Moodhi, I’m wondering about greater weights on the earlier stages– or to be more creative, a minimum threshold on some/every earlier stage(s). If you flunk X, you can’t even do the final draft.

    I have something similar in writing. If they make more than one error per page, I lop off five points a pop. It’s not quite zero-tolerance, but it greatly reduces the really bad writing.

  160. “I’m interested in the RA option for our second boy. ”

    There was a recent discussion of this (Resident Assistant, not Research Assistant) on CC. Consensus was that it’s not for everyone; it can be very demanding of time and bandwidth, but also can be very rewarding.

    Financially, the benefits vary from school to school, as well as things like RA/resident ratio, which needs to be considered.

    Also keep in mind the income can affect need-based aid in subsequent years.

    Research Assistantships are not out of the question for undergrads. When we toured Caltech, we were told that a lot of their undergrads get summer research internships.

  161. “People hope the kid will get both the acceptance and the 50% merit scholarship”

    Not us. We hoped our kid would get the 100% merit scholarship.

    But alas, no such luck, and we are left with 0% and 50% as our choices.

    Actually, the original plan was 100% tuition scholarship, which is not a reach for NMF, but DS decided against applying at most of the schools where he’d have had an excellent shot at 100% tuition and fees.

  162. My DD has a friend at her college, who is also a freshman, who has a research assistantship.

  163. Mooshi, I’ve mentioned before that IMO, your DS1 should be focusing on getting good grades this semester, which can mitigate against his testing/GPA dichotomy. E.g., IMO again, he’d be better off spending time on homework, and making sure he turns it in, than on SAT test prep.

    I also suggest he look into schools that tout the number of NMSF/NMF students they have.

  164. Pseudonym, good to hear your DD is adjusting to college.

    I was under the impression that the college she attends is not one where kids are in major programs their first semesters, but rather that they need to apply to majors later.

    Or is that just engineering that does that there?

  165. S&M – there are programming equivalents of TurnItIn, but they don’t work for this siituation and neither does TurnItIn – they can’t detect a paper or a program that was custom built for the students. There are a number of websites that take a professor’s assignment and custom build the solution for a price.

    Kerri – the student would thank me if I gave him a C-. Right now, he is at the cusp between an F and a D. He just wants the D. In my courses, all the assignment weights are set at the beginning of the semester, and I never change the rules midstream. I haven’t yet calculated if this would push him into a D. I just spoke with another professor who has him, and he is failing her class.

    Ivy – our tuition exchange rules sound similar. And most of the schools are liberal arts colleges of the same religion as us, not the types of schools that offer programs of interest to my kid. But there are some exceptions.

  166. tcmama, we’ve taken the same approach. Our mortgage is paid off, so we’ll use a combination of the cash flow that had been going to mortgage and tuition, combined with college savings, much of that from the Bank of Grandparents.

    “I don’t think college costs will continue to rise at the rates they have been over the last several years. I think college costs are a bubble. If they continue to rise, then we will evaluate our options at that time.”

    But as totebaggers, we plan based on the assumption that the bubble won’t pop until our kids are out of school.

  167. Finn, DS1 is done with SAT prep. No more. He is getting ready for his APs next week though, and since they impact his grade, studying is important.

  168. Mooshi– can you give him a D-? Or for that matter, an F+?

    I’m thinking that this is just one course, and a D- won’t really help him graduate, assuming there are minimum GPA requirements, both overall and in the major, to graduate.

    Mémé, as usual, has a very rational suggestion for dealing with this.

  169. Great comment, Kate. I think I was only a temporary totebagger financially, maybe from 50 to 65. From 40 to 50 I was like most American, one more bit of bad luck away from financial disaster. And now I want to see my money put to good and current use in the world and within my family – keep enough to pay for late life care but no more. (99 year life expectancy has been rolled back to a more reasonable 95 on the spreadsheet). But on the education at all costs front, a totebagger all my life.

  170. Finn,

    I think it is just the engineering students who have to apply to their major. It might be others as well, but DD has never had any interest/aptitude for engineering. She was able to transfer to a new major fairly easily, and one that suited her interests and talents much better than the one she signed up for.

    She handled the college ap process mostly herself, which was likely not the best option. DH and I navigated the process without parental help and didn’t realize how much the world had moved on since then. She choose a premed major, which is only sensible if one wants to be a doctor. She never wanted to be a doctor and now is on a path more suited to her talents and goals.

  171. I am just checking in, and there are so many comments today.

    I agree with Scarlett 1000% about the payment for a highly selective school. It’s possible that guy was just making conversation with DD, but most people applying to Georgetown that actually get in will KNOW that there is no merit aid. The application process for those schools is so complex that you son’t just lean this in April of senior year. We’ve discussed a few times on prior posts that the most selective colleges do not offer merit aid. They offer financial aid and some athletic scholarships for certain sports. My friend that is attending the school near Fred received a large amount of merit aid to attend that university. She specifically applied to this university because she loved it, and she knew that this university gave merit aid to kids with her type of scores and grades. This wasn’t a reach school for her, so she knew that she had a high probability that the university would try to recruit her with merit aid. The university knows that she may get accepted to one of her reach schools, and this is one of the best ways for them to compete with that admissions offer to a very selective school.

    Most of the kids that are applying to the most selective schools know which schools offer merit aid, or financial aid. I interviewed two applicants this year during the alum interview process that shared their concerns about how they would pay. One is from a home with a single mother, and the mom doesn’t speak English. This applicant and her mother had already discussed that she would need a full ride from almost any private school if she wanted to attend. She shared this with me during the interview, and told me it was one of the most important factors in her decision about where to attend college. It isn’t just the Totebag families that are discussing how to pay if you’re talking about seniors that are applying to the top schools.

  172. “There was a recent discussion of this (Resident Assistant, not Research Assistant) on CC. Consensus was that it’s not for everyone; it can be very demanding of time and bandwidth, but also can be very rewarding.”

    Every school is different, but at our university, only seniors are considered for RA positions, and because they totally cover room and board expenses, the application process is very competitive. It’s not something that you can count on getting.

  173. We are saving in a 529 to get the state tax break. We have money in Roth IRA’s we could withdraw if the 529 runs out. If everyone goes to the State flagship for 4 years of undergrad and no more then we are smooth sailing. The house will be paid off half way through and there will be some grandparent help from 1/2 of the family.

  174. Finn – Thanks for confirming my understanding of the RPI medal. Were there many kids who were interested in it? At DD’s school, the counselor offered to nominate her. DD told the counselor she didn’t know if it was her first choice and to nominate another student, if it was their first choice. Counselor said that no other Junior had expressed any interest at all.

    I am worried about DD and weather. After our August visit, if any of those schools come out in her top 3, I’ll be sending her back in the middle of winter for a few days!

    BTW – Taking ya’ll advice on flying in to NYC and then taking the train to Albany. Waiting to figure out the rest of the pattern as two schools haven’t opened up their calendars yet. May fly home out of Boston or Pennsylvania.

  175. Question – SAT subject matter tests. If you have a good ACT, and you took the SAT too. Is there any reason not to just send your ACT scores?

  176. Finn, he already took the SAT Bio and Chem. I think he should take physics but haven’t heard anything about it.

  177. Austin, at my kids’ school, the science dept faculty selects the medalists. To my knowledge, there’s no student input. As might be expected, at least for the last few years, the medalists have not attended RPI; I think the winners the two years before DS are both at Harvard.

    BTW, I suggest your DD cast a wide net, at least at this point. I’ve heard that some tech schools are especially generous with female applicants with good GPAs/test scores, in admittance rates and/or aid, as they strive for more even gender balance. E.g., I believe the female acceptance rate at Harvey Mudd is higher.

  178. “SAT subject matter tests. If you have a good ACT, and you took the SAT too. Is there any reason not to just send your ACT scores?”

    Some schools require SAT subject tests. In particular, many selective STEM-oriented schools require Math II and a science, and many HSS require them. Some HSS have gone away from requiring them (e.g., Columbia), but I’ve heard that is mainly to increase their URM applicant pool; for non-URM kids, not submitting SAT subject test results puts them at a relative disadvantage.

  179. “most people applying to Georgetown that actually get in will KNOW that there is no merit aid. The application process for those schools is so complex that you son’t just lean this in April of senior year.”

    Georgetown participates in a roadshow with Duke, Stanford, Harvard, and Penn, and one thing they emphasize up front in their presentation is that their finaid policy is very similar. They meet financial need, but, other than a small amount at Duke, do not offer merit aid.

    IIRC, Georgetown is also possibly unique, and definitely unusual (thanks RMS), in requiring three SAT subject tests.

  180. The chairman of my department in graduate school sent his daughter to Georgetown and paid for it by winning for a straight week on Jeopardy!. So there’s always that option. :-)

  181. FWIW – if my kid inherited 0.5MM, I would also pop a bottle of champagne and stop contributing to the 529. Score! That is a lot of money to us. I’m sure we’d still help him in other ways,

    But that is such a laughable long shot that it’s hyper-theoretical. I doubt any material support will come from his grandparents. Both are doing fine, but not fund-college-for-6+ grandkids fine. I’m just thankful that we don’t have to worry about financially supporting them, frankly. I’ve seen more & more of that lately among my friends. One friend will have her kids college funded by family money, but that’s it. And that family has had its share of tragedy. I do not envy them.

  182. One friend will have her kids college funded by family money, but that’s it. And that family has had its share of tragedy. I do not envy them.

    This was actually a horrible tragedy as well — Friend’s brother, brother’s wife, and brother’s two kids all died in a horrifying car crash. It’s taken Friend years to recover from all the loss.

  183. Rocky, I’d rather win a game show. Funding your kid’s college through an inheritance from your brother’s family being wiped out sounds like the “make it worth the tuition” performance pressure Louise and Kerri were talking about above, times about a thousand and one.

  184. Rocky, I’d rather win a game show.

    Oh, for sure. It made for several great parties gathering at Chairman’s house watching the show. He couldn’t/wouldn’t tell us how long the winning streak went, but he was certainly the cat who swallowed the canary for a few months.

  185. Remind me not to wish on a monkey’s paw for college funding.

    My oldest, a 16 y/o junior, will either be <5 miles or thousands of miles from home. In the thousands of miles category, he's looking at some out of state publics that do the regional tuition exchange (WUE) rate of 1.5 their in-state rate — not flagships, more directionals near national parks — and a private college near LfB that he found at the College that Change Lives fair, and that may give decent merit money to a boy with stellar scores and mediocre grades. Re the mediocre grades, he's taking a couple of college classes this summer, including calculus, and I suspect that if he does indeed do well in that then he has a decent shot of showing that can thrive in college classes, and presenting himself as boy-who-wasn't-challenged-enough rather than lazy-ass-slacker. The latter characterization is more accurate but less appealing to colleges.

    The cost of attendance for the WUE schools would be in a range that we could cover as we go, and the cost if staying home would be lower yet. The tricky part will be the ~4 years we have 2 in school at once. That's when we may call on my husband's remaining GI bill benefit, and my parents have also generously offered to fund a semester for each grandchild. I know my MIL opened a 529 for at least one of them when the kids were small, but I have no idea whether that's anything substantial, and it's not something we're figuring in when planning college finances.

  186. Remind me not to wish on a monkey’s paw for college funding.

    Tangent: In 8th grade, Mom reviewed the stories and novels were were going to read. She vetoed “The Monkey’s Paw” and “The Scent of New-Mown Hay” and wrote my essays for those stories so I wouldn’t have to read them.

    I still haven’t read them.

  187. But I got stuck with David Copperfield! I read the Cliffs Notes and got an A on the essay.

  188. HM, has he considered WSU in Pullman? I’s a land grant WUE participant. Mr WCE went there and we would recommend it over U of W for undergrad if we lived in Washington.

  189. WCE, two of his criteria are at least a medium amount of rain, and mountains. In the absence of mountains he will take forest — this is why he’s considering the one near LfB, they boast of a forest-like campus — but I don’t think WSU meets his specs, does it?

  190. And correct me if I’m wrong on this, please, because I think WSU has a decent NMSF scholarship and that would be nice.

  191. Yes, WSU currently has good NM(S?)F scholarships, which is why it’s on my list of “Schools we could probably afford if my sons decide an extension of high school isn’t right for them.”
    Pullman has snow and the strange hills of the Palouse, which is as close as it comes to rain and mountains but it’s a weekend trip from mountains in two directions.

  192. Google tells me Pullman gets 19″ of rain annually, which is more than the 7.7″ in Mr WCE’s hometown.

  193. That’s almost as much as Flagstaff, which is on his list. I’ll suggest it to him. Thanks!

  194. OMG, Cal State Monterey Bay! Beach, mountains, and based on last year, rain.

    Look, the CSUs aren’t famous for their research, but depending on your major, you might get a decent undergrad education.

  195. University of Utah? That’s a very decent school No rain, no particular mountains.

  196. Geology and CS, maybe electrical engineering, also an interest in theater / Shakespeare but probably not as a field of study. I’ll mention those to him, assuming they are WUE schools — I think many or most of the Cal State ones are.

  197. I see Chico’s on the list. Email me if you want more inside scoop; I still have friends who teach there.

  198. I tried to talk him into Utah — I talked to some students from there at a chorus conference a couple of years ago and it sounded promising — but no, SLC is too dry apparently. (In the rainfall sense. It’s not as dry as it used to be in the other sense!)

  199. OH, too bad Colorado School of Mines isn’t on the list. That would fit the bill perfectly.

  200. HM, good luck. Twenty-five years ago, I can assure you that WSU was an excellent choice for an unmotivated, bright male engineering student. Mr WCE and I are both of the opinion that the quality of your professor’s research has little bearing on your undergraduate education. Far better to learn at a school where TA’s who speak fluent English are prized over maximal research dollars.

  201. Cal State Northridge is the best Cal State, by many measures. But I dunno about rain. Mountains are a ways away.

  202. But ultimately I’d plunk for Colorado State University in Ft. Collins.

  203. HM/RMS – without visting :-), I was about to suggest Colorado School of Mines as well.

    RMS – I have heard good things about the University of Colorado – Boulder, is that considered the State Flagship ?

    A colleague’s DD was looking at colleges in AZ but ended up at UC Davis and really liked it.

  204. I know people in Fort Collins and I must agree with RMS that is likely a good choice as well.

  205. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to look in Colorado. His sister tried to talk him into going to the CSU booth at the most recent college fair — she’d had a nice chat with the CSU rep herself — but nooo, not interested. He’s looking at Montana Tech, so it can’t be that he wants purely coastal. And I wouldn’t say our swing through Colorado two years ago stood out as hot or dry — did I mention we got hailed on repeatedly, in June? — and he loved RMNP.

    But, you know, he’s the one that’s going to be living there, wherever it may be.

  206. RMS – I have heard good things about the University of Colorado – Boulder, is that considered the State Flagship ?

    Yep. Pretty good school.

  207. Is the University of Utah a WUE participant? I remember that, very generally, flagships on the continent aren’t part of the program.

    He might want to check out Western Washington, which I believe is a WUE school. I think it ticks his rain and mountain boxes, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it on CC.

  208. RMS – I just looked up those two stories on Amazon – scary! I had heard the names but knew nothing about them. The Monkey’s Paw seems to be a classic “be careful what you wish for” type of tale, and The Scent of New Mown Hay looks creepy!

  209. Finn, Western Washington is on his list. Many state flagships are WUE participants, but not in WA, OR (not OSU either), the U of Cs, or Colorado-Boulder. So it’s the coasts, plus Colorado, where the flagships don’t do the program.

  210. From the NYT article:

    “So why isn’t there an epidemic of students who find themselves in the wrong place and either transfer or drop out?”

    I would say because there isn’t much difference between different schools in the same “type.” The experience at one state flagship is probably very similar to others. The experience at one SLAC is probably very similar to other SLACs. The experiences at different urban private schools are probably very similar. Etc.

    I think most students know themselves well enough to pick the type of school that suits them, so they might not end up at the school that is the best fit for them, but most end up at schools that fit them good enough.

  211. HM, is a swing through the western continental US on the docket for this summer?

    You and Mooshi should compare notes on finding schools for kids with very high scores and less than correspondingly high GPAs.

  212. BTW, for those of you with younger kids, keep in mind that current juniors need to have an idea of what schools they’re thinking of, to make sure they’ll meet all the admission requirements.

    E.g., many current juniors will be taking SAT subject tests in May or June if the schools they’re considering require them.

  213. BSU! Boise is a great city, low cost of living, close to mountains. Very little rain, but that’s a bonus.

  214. Omg. Wiche tuition at BSU is $7300, cheaper than anything in HI, and housing has got to be tons cheaper. And skiing! And mountain bikes!!

  215. I would caution you to draw conclusions from the # of female applicants at Harvey Mudd, the # of female acceptance, and the comparative quality of applicants compared to male. It is entirely possible that only highly qualified women apply, therefore apply in lower numbers and get in at a higher rate. Interestingly, the yield for women is much lower. It is a brutal and rigorous institution that does not coddle students. The sophomore return rate is statistically the same for men and women, implying that they are equally qualified to continue their education.

  216. At the acceptance day for WPI, I talked to a girl who had never set foot on campus until that day. She said that she did a lot virtual tours of different colleges on-line and knew from these tours that WPI was the school for her.

  217. DD, I agree that in selecting colleges most students “end up at schools that fit them good enough”.

  218. I think I mentioned before that college tours were unhelpful for DS. With DS2, we will not be doing college tours, but will rely on virtual tours and accepted students day activities.

  219. I think for my kids weather will be a factor and location of a campus – city/college town/isolated. They, I think are most likely to prefer fairly good weather and a busy surrounding area. I would say showing them examples of each and just getting a feel for different areas would be helpful. We can do this as part of family vacations.
    If there are a few colleges they are keen on we would visit those. But I don’t think we will be visiting a ton of schools without some sort of narrow list.

  220. My best friend from high school picked a school that she had never been to before because the brochure looked pretty and she ended up loving it there. My husband had visited our college but really couldn’t decide between our alma mater and I think Fairfield, so he flipped a coin. All turned out fine.

  221. Ada’s right about Boise — it’s a neat town, though obviously it gets cold in the winter.

  222. @ Houston – that’s interesting, I don’t remember you mentioning that before. Why were they unhelpful?

    College tours were critical for me. I really needed to have a sense of the space. The bad news was that my parents had totally checked out of the college process after oldest sibling flunked out, so they didn’t take me to visit any colleges. The good news was my best friend was the oldest in her family and her parents still had high enthusiasm, so I went to visit a lot of places with her family. And she and I were interested in many of the same schools so it worked out.

  223. Rain is really problematic in the West. Washington and Oregon might be safer bets for rain. Obviously this past year California got inundated, but you can’t count on that.

  224. My best friend from high school picked a school that she had never been to before because the brochure looked pretty and she ended up loving it there.

    I know I’ve shared this story before, but I think it is illustrative of Scarlett’s point ahead about how stupid 17 year olds are. My first choice was Notre Dame, because I LOVED the football program. (Can’t remember why.) I did not even know it was a Catholic school (we are not Catholic). Certainly I didn’t visit it. I applied early decision (WHAT THE … MOM AND DAD SOME INVOLVEMENT HERE WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL). Thankfully, Notre Dame recognized our incompatibility and sent the thin envelope. I was so upset and in retrospect what a ridiculous wish for me.

  225. “Why were they unhelpful?”

    DS cared more about college ranking (i.e. prestige) and where his friends were going than the college tours. Also, all colleges tours say basically the same thing, so after a while, they all start to run together (great location, friendly students, great program, great campus).

  226. Before we moved, I spent a lot of time “visiting” DH’s campus via the website. The webcam, if that’s the right word, showed multiple campus spots and I would check those spots on a regular basis, especially during the winter, to see how the heavy snowfall affected campus life (that’s how I learned that — whoosh — the snow removal guys have some amazing toys and the students don’t even need boots) or how often the sun was shining.

    When most of us applied to college, we had to physically visit the place to get even a glimpse of what it was like. Our kids have so many other options for virtual visits and contacts with current students or recent grads. I agree with the comment in the NYT article that the admitted students day can be unhelpful, especially if it’s all hard sell and the weather is great. I have the same view regarding campus visits. I see the tours almost every single day, and the stuff that the backwards walking tour guides are telling the kids and parents — the name of this building or how many coffee shops there are and aren’t they neat — isn’t not particularly pertinent. If you want to compare urban v. rural or big v. small, you can do that with local generic colleges.

  227. Every time the topic comes up I am still surprised at vast range of expectations this (you would think) narrow group has for the college experience. College was always for me, and for those in my family with similar quals, about academic rigor and student body. We had financial constraints, too, and were sensitive to brand value, but campus visits or accepted student events at home allowed for a decision on ambience/fit as well among fairly equal candidate schools. For my eldest, it was solely a rite of passage/ticket punching exercise, and getting his degree from U Mass Boston at 29 proves that. For my youngest, it was finding a school with Marine Biology – academic consideration – that best fit his high SATs, science team captain, but middling grades (I have one of those, too). But never in a million years were nearby recreation, student spirit, division 1A sports, campus facilities, weather, or career prep under consideration. However, distance from home was a factor in a different way than for most people – lots of distance preferred.

  228. While I generally agree that campus tours are overrated, I saw that only upon setting foot on campus was my kid able to feel that certain vibe that helped him make a decision. Walking around the grounds, going into buildings, eating at the dining halls, and observing students while visiting in person did add value to the decision process.

    “DS cared more about college ranking (i.e. prestige) and where his friends were going than the college tours.”

    Funny, that sounds like my son except he was interested in where his friends were NOT going. He liked and is still close to his HS friends, but he really wanted to get out of the somewhat insular environment of our community.

  229. “I’ve heard that some tech schools are especially generous with female applicants with good GPAs/test scores, in admittance rates and/or aid, as they strive for more even gender balance.”

    Well, I certainly hope this is true. DH and I are in disagreement over this; I am fretting over DD, because I hang out here too much and realize exactly how average her resume is for the kids she will be competing with for slots. Meanwhile, DH went all-engineering, all the way and currently works in tech, and he tells me that a girl with her resume can basically write her own ticket most places. Clearly, many parents believe this: at DD’s math honors society induction last night, all of the competitive teams were at least 50% female, and one was 100%. I guess I just need to hope the numbers don’t shift too much in the next 2 years. :-)

    I also like the idea of an engineering degree because it gives her an off-ramp if she decides 4 years is enough school for now (vs. the med school treadmill). DH asked me the other day: what is the one class we have never heard her complain about? It’s her engineering class. She loves it — she is an “applied” kid (like DH), not a “theoretical” one like me, and that class feels real to her in a way the others don’t. So if she gets interested in something like a biomed engineering program — there’s a new one at Wake Forest that I know nothing about but has the benefit of being both a smaller school and near my dad — she’d have lots of options.

  230. “While I generally agree that campus tours are overrated, I saw that only upon setting foot on campus was my kid able to feel that certain vibe that helped him make a decision.”

    This was me as well. I never would have chosen my alma mater had I not felt instantly at home and surrounded by people I liked and fit in with when I went to spend a weekend. Which was very different from my reaction to what ended up being my second choice.

    I am also with Meme: distance was important because it was preferred. I knew that if it was too easy for me to go home, I’d run home when it got tough and never learn to manage through the crap and misery on my own. I have strongly advised DD to look far away, because it is a big country and she should see it. Besides, when else can you experiment with a totally different part of the country with no long-term commitments and with someone else paying the bill?

  231. LfB – my DH went to law school at Wake – it’s a beautiful school and he loved it there. He only applied because they sent him a letter waiving his application fee. He had never heard of Wake before (how this is possible I don’t know) and was sort of set on Tulane, but we were going to Myrtle Beach for senior week anyway and so I convinced him that we should go visit. Come to think of it, I think the only law school he actually visited in person was Rutgers and that was promptly discarded even though it would have almost been free.

  232. I knew that if it was too easy for me to go home, I’d run home when it got tough and never learn to manage through the crap and misery on my own.

    To each his own. I lived through the crap and misery 35 miles from my home. I found it helpful to go to familiar surroundings occasionally. And I grew up and got a job and all that stuff.

  233. Are there any HSS’s in really awful places? I’ve driven through North Dakota and I think I’d kill myself if I had to live there. But it never occurred to me to go to ND because there aren’t any really top schools there (I know the ND state schools are well-funded and I’m sure people have happy, productive lives when they graduate.) I didn’t like the city of Chicago because of the weather, but qua city it’s quite nice.

  234. @Rocky — fair point, so let me rephrase that. I had a very strong, opinionated mother whom I love dearly but who was always very happy to tell me exactly what to do and how to do it. She encouraged my independence in daily stuff, but she couldn’t stand to see me unhappy/underappreciated/taken advantage of/etc., so whenever I had a problem, she always wanted to “help” fix them. And the type B part of my personality was sort of happy to go along with that, because it’s soooooo much easier when someone else makes difficult decisions for you. So I went far enough away that I knew I couldn’t fall back on Mommy when things got hard.

    Make more sense?

  235. LfB – I think I mentioned before that Wake is one of those schools which will give merit aid and make the offer attractive for the candidates they want. Since you are coming from further away than surrounding states that may count as well.

    Scarlett – DD sometimes pipes up that she would like to look at said snowy college. I think she gets the names from where her friends parents went to school. Coincidentally they tend to sports powerhouses like Lark mentioned.

  236. I visited exactly zero colleges when I applied. It worked out fine. I am of the opinion that I would have been fine at most schools. Times like these are when it helps to be a satisficer and not a maximizer.

  237. Laura, I was just commenting that every kid (and every mother) is different.

  238. RMS – Awful places is variable. My DD#1 hates cold – so I am VERY surprised she wanted to see RPI, WPI, RIT and Penn State. Yes, just this week has she removed a layer – typically – cami, long-sleeve polo, sweater vest and hoodie – and is now sans sweater vest. I am thinking if she goes up north, she will live in a snow suit.

    Yes, the campus visits do seem similar. I would say the things DD#1 has taken from them (1) could she live in that dorm and (2) could she stand the food. She spend time at Davidson and Duke as part of the Duke TIP program. Loved Davidson; Hated Duke. Says she would never want to spend 4 years on that campus.

  239. Also, DD#1 now found Cal Poly. Any insight? This child is bound and determined to get out of this state!

  240. Visiting colleges was easy for me – all were within driving distance. Hard not to be impressed with my alma mater at first glance. It’s got all the bells and whistles. The campuses of other schools I visited were less impressive, which forced me to really look into specific programs. One was not a good fit at all. The other was fine but the school was far too close to home (minutes) for my aspirations. My back up choice university would have been fine.

    I also applied to Notre Dame because my mom freaked out because I had applied to so few schools and it had a really late application deadline. Never visited and I believe I either got in or waitlisted. I don’t think it would have been a good fit (which is why I didn’t apply until my mom nagged).

  241. Austin Mom – In college, I remember a guy from LA pulling out his brand new parka in October. I told him to wait until it had at least snowed and introduced the concept of layered clothing to him. He adjusted.

  242. This is a fun topic. Brings back all sorts of great memories and my nephews are college age/applying to college age so I get to live vicariously through them a bit. What an exciting time of life that was!

  243. RMS – it is funny you mention ND as I had an employee who chose UND, she grew up in a very Totebaggy MA enclave, for the express reason that she would not know anyone going there. The funny thing is it really worked for her in the interview as it showed she took risks as well as adjust to new situations and thrive. We were her first post college job.

  244. ” If you want to compare urban v. rural or big v. small, you can do that with local generic colleges.”

    this is exactly the advice I give parents with kids behind ours in the process. Within ~ 15 miles of a circle drawn around them here you can get a middle sized private R1, a larger but not giant private technical, generic directional state college, + a few SLCs. If you want to feel a big, urban, state research U, drive 60 miles west. If you want an Ivy, though the biggest Ivy, that’s only 90 miles away. From there, narrow it down.

  245. Austin – which Cal Poly? There are two (San Luis Obispo & Pomona). CPSLO is in a much nicer area.

  246. I absolutely loved going on campus tours/visits. It was for multiple reasons – to get out of HS for the day, to compare campuses & settings, and to try to get a feel for the people. It wasn’t really to compare academics. I guess that wasn’t on my radar as much at the time – the schools I looked at were pretty similar that way. I didn’t apply to HSS, but I didn’t really look at “safety” schools either. I don’t know if things were a lot different then, but with my ACT score & grades, I was completely unstressed about getting in anywhere that I wanted, seeing as I didn’t really want to go to a coastal HSS.

    While I think DD is mostly right, I felt like there was a lot of nuance between the SLAC that I visited. I went to Macalester & immediately saw that it was a bit too crunchy-liberal for me, even though I considered myself pretty crunchy-liberal at the time. The gender-neutral bathrooms in 1993 on the campus tour of the dorms and the signs around campus were a sign. There were also schools that were ruled out immediately for being too religious. Some were ruled out for having a drab and depressing campus. I ended up having a few schools that I liked a lot that were very similar, and picked the one with the people I liked the best from my visits. I had a fantastic college experience both socially and academically, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But in hindsight, I also admit that it probably would have been similar had I gone to another, similar school.

    Maybe you don’t need to physically visit to suss these things out anymore. But it really helped me. Or maybe I just liked the excuse to travel around.

  247. Coincidentally they tend to sports powerhouses like Lark mentioned.

    I know a lot of people here don’t understand the appeal of college sports, but they go a long way in boosting the profiles of colleges. Duke is a great academic school, but it would not have the national stature that it does if it wasn’t for the success of the basketball team. And we’ve mentioned schools like Butler, Gonzaga, Xavier, etc. that are nationally known because of their basketball teams. Boise State’s profile really increased in the last decade because of its football team. DS’ friends who are interested in the University of Denver are primarily interested because they just won the NCAA hockey championship and they won the lacrosse championship last year.

    Right now, DS is interested in Oregon because he likes the football and basketball teams, Nebraska because DW went there and he likes the football team, and Arizona because my dad lives in the area and showed him the campus, and he likes the basketball team. He has absolutely no idea what he interested in majoring in, but that’s not nearly as important as the sports teams.

  248. We’re taking a road trip to South Dakota this summer to see DW’s hometown and we’re going to try to work in some totebaggy college visits. Not tours or anything but just to see the campuses. We’ll hit USD, and I’m trying to work out swinging through Laramie on the way home to see UW. We went up to Fort Collins a couple of weeks ago (I’ve lived here almost 20 years and had never been there) and saw CSU, and it really is a cool town.

  249. ” I knew that if it was too easy for me to go home, I’d run home when it got tough and never learn to manage through the crap and misery on my own. ”

    See, and I anticipated absolutely no misery in going away to college. Pure excitement and anticipation. I could not wait to go. I guess I am an optimist at heart. In the end, my college troubles were pretty run-of-the-mill – roommate drama, dating drama, getting by with very little $$, etc.

  250. College visits were not realy normal in my HS in that era. I did one college visit – to Indiana University, because I had to interview for a scholarship. Of course I knew the state flagship in my home town, and I had been on the campus of UWashington a number of times. But the other 8 schools I applied to, including the one I went to, I had never seen.

  251. ” Boise State’s profile really increased in the last decade because of its football team. ”

    I didn’t know that BSU existed until recently, and all I could tell you is that they have blue artificial turf. And I am not really a college football fan at all. But I’m with you – I think sports is a huge draw to at least boost “brand awareness” for colleges.

  252. DD, college sports are a money loser at many Division I schools, It really depends.

  253. I kind of knew Boise State existed, simply because it is the sort of school you would know HAS to exist. I didn’t know it did sports, I would have assumed it was a directional state U in DIvision III

  254. I lived through the crap and misery 35 miles from my home.

    I sorry to hear that.

    I had the time of my life, I was so happy I was practically delirious. I guess I should keep a lid on that so I don’t sound like one of those people who loved high school saying it’s the best years of your life.

  255. And we’ve mentioned schools like Butler, Gonzaga, Xavier, etc. that are nationally known because of their basketball teams.

    Many a hiring manager would be more impressed by Gonzaga than Harvey Mudd*. At least they’ve heard of it.

    * They named a school after a Star Trek character? No, that was Harcout Mudd.

  256. If the hiring manager has not heard of Harvey Mudd I suspect a major mismatch between the candidate and the position being offered.

  257. “If the hiring manager has not heard of Harvey Mudd I suspect a major mismatch between the candidate and the position being offered.”

    I agree. We don’t get applicants from Harvey Mudd in my industry, and our recruiters might not know much about it but that makes perfect sense. I suspect that engineering firms wouldn’t know how to rate art/design schools either.

  258. DH applied for tech jobs in the midwest in 2001, during the last bubble burst. He was a recent graduate of Harvey Mudd. No one had heard of it. He bartended for a year before he could get a help desk job.

  259. “See, and I anticipated absolutely no misery in going away to college. Pure excitement and anticipation.”

    Oh, I was very, very excited. But I’m also an introvert, and so I figured there was going to be a big adjustment involving meeting/living with/getting along with roommates and the whole dorm scene. Add in a little MN winter, and, yeah.

    Besides, remember, I’m a totebagger — I always assume the worst so I can prepare for it. :-)

  260. HR, the recruiters. He was applying for entry-level positions, and couldn’t get a foot in the door. Networking events available to people new in town ended up being a bunch of out of work tech people comparing notes on food service jobs. It was a recession that struck tech in that city harder than the coasts – an airline manufacturer had laid of thousands of tech people after they unexpectedly lost a gigantic government contract. We were there three years before he had a job that required a college degree.

    Harvey Mudd produces around 150-200 grads per year, probably 1/3 go to grad school and 1/2 stay in CA or neighboring states. There can be a 10 year period where none of them enter the Chicago job market.

  261. I just informally surveyed the six engineers in closest physical proximity to my office. Only one recognized that Harvey Mudd is a college, but thought it was “some small liberal arts school.” The other five asked me to repeat the name, but had still never heard of it.

  262. Harvey Mudd is a very well known school, with high prestige, in CS. I actually never heard of Gonzaga before.

  263. “Harvey Mudd is a very well known school, with high prestige, in CS.”

    Says the college professor who doesn’t hire anyone. It is a great school for getting into grad school, or working in the big Tech Giants on the coast.

    In the long run, it all worked out well for us. It was a rough introduction into the working world. We don’t live in the midwest anymore and the Harvey Mudd name recognition and education (and now work experience) have given DH a ton of opportunities. We are comfortable tote baggers who can spend hours worrying about how we won’t qualify for any aid.

  264. Ivy – what are the top design schools ? A design school inside a tech type university would be good for DD.

  265. Mooshi & HM, if you make the list that Finn suggests, please pass it on!

    Laura, I get wanting to cut the apron strings, but couldn’t you do that with a three-hr drive and no car? Worked for me anyway. Then again, it didn’t work for my sisters, who have always been much closer to our mom than I am. I continue to be impressed by your daughter. My niece who is also a junior looking at engineering schools is building up her application completely differently, with money. Mini UN conferences in Europe. Robot competitions. Crew. School trips for service or tourism. She’s a good kid, but I doubt she has the resilience your daughter does, and certainly not the big personality. My sister and I recently got into an argument, because I suggested she try to work an info interview into a trip to The Hague. Sis insists that she just has to pick a school with lots of majors and engineering programs. I tried and failed to explain that if the girl likes the UN and engineering, it would be helpful in picking schools/majors to know what classes/programs the UN likes in the very few engineers it hires. I’m also not sold on the idea of a make-up consultation focusing on the eyes as her birthday present, so what do I know?

  266. I sorry to hear that.

    Thank you for your sympathy, but I think most of it was plain old ordinary untreated depression.

  267. I had the time of my life, I was so happy I was practically delirious. I guess I should keep a lid on that so I don’t sound like one of those people who loved high school saying it’s the best years of your life.

    Undergrad, working, masters, PhD classes, diss, prof-ing–each step was better than the last. Now I’m back in high school.

  268. Hey Anon, I worked in industry for 12 years and did a lot of hiring. Do not make assumptions

  269. What list does Finn want? I missed it and can’t find it by scrolling through all these messages

  270. Finn on April 27, 2017 at 9:36 pm said:

    HM, is a swing through the western continental US on the docket for this summer?

    You and Mooshi should compare notes on finding schools for kids with very high scores and less than correspondingly high GPAs.

  271. Ivy, in MN, the options are:

    Grand Portage – 9403 E Highway 61, Grand Portage, MN 55605, US
    International Falls Enrollment Center – 312 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649, US
    Minneapolis – St. Paul Global Entry EC – 4300 Glumack Drive, St. Paul, MN 55111, US
    Warroad Enrollment Center – 41059 Warroad Enrollment Center, State Hwy 313 N, Warroad, MN 56763, US

    You have much better options that Denverites do.

  272. So how much more convenient IS Global Entry? I’m also debating the whole point because I know DH won’t bother to fly someplace just to get it, and I’m traveling with him, so I’ll be stuck in the slow lane anyway.

  273. DD, college sports are a money loser at many Division I schools, It really depends.

    In terms of pure profit/loss, yes, but you can’t put a price on the publicity Gonzaga received going to the national championship this year or that Butler got with making the finals in 2010 and 2011.

  274. Laura, I get wanting to cut the apron strings, but couldn’t you do that with a three-hr drive and no car?

    I had a friend in college who was in that exact situation and still managed to go home almost every weekend.

  275. Austinmom – Cal Poly SLO is considered one of the best Cal State Schools (although RMS mentioned Cal State Northridge as the top one, so I defer to her). It is getting harder to get into though, just like so many schools!

    One thing to consider about the school is that you jump right into your major as soon as you get there. You have to be sure what you want to study, and it isn’t always easy to make a change. Now, that change may end up being as simple as most schools where you can go from the Engineering school to the Arts and Sciences school, no problem, but you can’t go the other way around (without basically starting over), but I am not sure.

    San Luis Obispo is very nice, but I doubt the airport is very big so she would be looking at a flight and then a train trip or bus ride (or small plane ride).

    It has great name recognition in the state, but I don’t know how much outside of the west coast – no big sports teams!!

  276. DD, my sister did that too. Same campus, but once her fiancé graduated from the Bible college in Arkansas and was back in our hometown three hrs away, she was home pretty much every weekend. She also finished college in three years so they could get married. Between the two of us, we averaged four years of undergrad, but she still went home more than enough for the two of us.

  277. “Only one recognized that Harvey Mudd is a college, but thought it was “some small liberal arts school.””

    Mudd actually characterizes itself as a SLAC, and it shows up near the top of some ratings of SLACs.

  278. “Also, DD#1 now found Cal Poly. Any insight? This child is bound and determined to get out of this state!”

    As Fred mentioned, there are two Cal Polys, although it seems “Cal Poly” alone, without the location (SLO vs Pomona), typically referrs to CPSLO.

    I’ve heard lots of good things about CPSLO, not so much, good, bad, or indifferent, about Cal Poly Pomona. Some rate CPSLO above some of the lower-ranked UCs.

    I believe the UCs don’t take race, gender, or ethnicity into account in admissions, but I’m not sure if that extends to the Cal Polys, or the Cal States for that matter. I have heard that financial aid at California Universities is largely limited to in-state students.

    This goes back a long way, but a former roommate went to CPSLO, and I met several of his college friends, all of whom did pretty well in SV. My former roommate loved it there.

  279. “Are there any HSS’s in really awful places?”

    I’ve never been to these places, but I’ve heard students choosing not to go to Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Williams because of their locations.

    In the case of Williams, not because it is really awful, just quite isolated.

  280. Cal Poly SLO is very good. And yes, sometimes Northridge is called CSUN, but a lot of times it’s called Northridge. CPSLO has, or used to have, a very impressive architecture program.

    I interviewed at Cal Poly Pomona. The campus is butt-ugly. It seemed like a pretty mainstream CSU campus in most regards.

  281. “I agree with the comment in the NYT article that the admitted students day can be unhelpful, especially if it’s all hard sell and the weather is great.”

    IMO, the NYT article has a logical fallacy in assuming that campus visits and consulting others are mutually exclusive.

    DS is currently at an admitted student event, which I think will weigh heavily on his final choice. He attended a similar event back in February, and he found the chance to meet many other admitted students and to attend classes gave him a much better feel for what going to school would be like there.

    He had a chance as a junior to attend an international event with a bunch of very bright kids in which they all stayed together in dorms for much of the event and really enjoyed it, and that helped him decide that he wanted a really immersive experience like that with kids like that (he was also heavily influenced by Hogwarts).

  282. “I think I mentioned before that college tours were unhelpful for DS. With DS2, we will not be doing college tours, but will rely on virtual tours and accepted students day activities”

    As a counterpoint, I offer the experience of a coworker, whose DD had done a bunch of online research, including the web tours, and was set on Kenyon. But they decided to visit the campus the summer after her junior year, and it was only then that she realized how isolated it is, despite having read all about that online and hearing about it from others.

    She decided on a similar SLAC about an hour from a major urban area.

    OTOH, accepted student day events offer a lot that you can’t easily get any other way, like meeting the pool of accepted students and staying in dorms.

  283. My purpose in our campus tours was a bit different than what the NYT article assumes.

    We toured during the summers after DS’ 8th and 9th grade years, and while one goal was for him to see some different t ypes of campuses, the main goal was to get him excited about colleges, HSS in particular, to motivate him to reach the academic standards necessary to be considered for those schools.

  284. I believe the UCs don’t take race, gender, or ethnicity into account in admissions, but I’m not sure if that extends to the Cal Polys, or the Cal States for that matter. I have heard that financial aid at California Universities is largely limited to in-state students.

    That policy extends to all California public schools. There was an initiative that passed several years ago that prohibited discrimination by race, gender and ethnicity.

    Cal Poly is very well regarded, and in a beautiful spot. We did a tour a few years ago. DDs did not like it. DS adored it. One thing to consider is that a Bachelors is usually a 4 1/2 to 5 year degree at Cal Poly.

    AustinMom, the way home would be a short flight/train trip to LA, then Southwest to Austin. There are a lot of flights from California to Austin.

  285. Finn, I agree with all your points. And visiting imo gives you a much better sense of the areas surrounding campus.

  286. Finn, I agree with your comments based on your experience. I think it is important to visit if you have the time and money to visit the schools.

  287. Cornell (Ithaca, NY) is centrally isolated. I got materials from them decades ago saying so.

  288. Ithaca is one of the classic college towns, like Boulder or Burlington VT or Amherst. While I find college towns to be depressingly similar (the pedestrian mall! the organic yogurt place! the brewpub! the bike paths! the stores selling environmental Tshirts!), they are not depressing in the way that North Dakota, or Nebraska can be.
    Hamilton College, on the other hand, is in the true middle of nowhere upstate NY, and has no town at all, just a bunch of farms and some scattered strip malls. I had a friend who grew up there in a farm family who told me that the area is very poor (her family was for sure) and that there is little interaction between the locals and the college.

  289. “While I find college towns to be depressingly similar (the pedestrian mall! the organic yogurt place! the brewpub! the bike paths! the stores selling environmental Tshirts!), they are not depressing in the way that North Dakota, or Nebraska can be.”

    Wondering just how a college town could offer something Different from what you describe here, that would not also be depressing or otherwise sub-optimal.

    For that matter, upscale walkable urban neighborhoods also seem to consist of the same elements (the bikeshare racks! the brick walkways and fountains! the Whole Foods or local WF equivalent! the single-source ethically grown coffee shops! the Apple store! the organic farmer’s markets! the street artists!) with some local geographic features such as palm trees or mountains or waterfronts.

  290. I don’t think of Boulder as a college town – there is too much other business/industry there, and it’s part of a major metropolitan area. I think of college towns as being more in the middle of nowhere with not much business aside from the college. I’ve never been to Ithaca but that probably fits. Places like State College, Oxford, Athens, Champaign, Laramie, Charlottesville, etc.

  291. The definition of a college town seems to be broad, and based on our own perceptions. We planned to spend several days in Boston during the Easter break. We had to cut the trip to a long weekend because DH had to work all week. We ended up staying in Cambridge near MIT because the rates in Boston were insane since we could only visit during the weekend of the marathon. We definitely felt like we were in a college town even though Cambridge and Boston have so many other industries. Even when we went to Fenway to tour the stadium, we saw students every where because it is so close to BU, Northeastern and Berklee. We learned (on the duck tour) that almost 250,00 students come to Boston/Cambridge every year for study.

  292. Scarlett, your description of “walkable neighborhoods” sounds to me like the relatively new planned developments that have the look of walkability, but are actually quite car-dependent irl, as opposed to older neighborhoods, up to and maybe including the very first car suburbs, which have grown according to residents’ needs and therefore are walkable in practicality, not just in “sip-my-latte-while-walking-the-dog-in-my-spandex-outfit” ways.

    MM, I don’t understand what you have against college towns. In My Day, parents chose universities in them because of the “isolation”, with amenities needed for students life provided, but not those big-city vices. They are built for negotiating on foot or bike, and have much more to offer than any other small town of their size.

  293. Where we live now is the inverse of the old booster slogan “the cultural life of a big city; the traffic of a small town”–plenty of traffic, but not much to do, once you get past the tourist stuff.

  294. I just graduated from college in 2014. I relied heavily on working during the summers. Building residential homes during the day and helping on farms during the evenings. As I progressed through my college career I was able to substitute the hard labor jobs with internships which payed much better. What is even better than internships is co-ops. Co-ops require taking a semester off school which gives some tuition relief. Most importantly the co-op is really an 8 month long internship; which is provides enough cash to pay for what the student loans won’t and leave a little left over for fun. I just wrote a 4 part series on being sure you can pay off your student loans by analyzing college like an investment. You can check it out here https://lifestyleengineeringblog.com/2017/05/19/how-to-choose-a-college-degree-part-i-college-is-an-investment/

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