Is the college bubble leaking?

by L

College costs – is the bubble slowly leaking?

This Is the Way the College ‘Bubble’ Ends

I am pinning my hopes on state school, or college costs coming down in the next 10 years!

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187 thoughts on “Is the college bubble leaking?

  1. I remember the President of the university I used to work for saying last yaer that for the next few years there was going to be a dip in college enrollment nationwide because there was a bit of a baby bust 18 or so years ago, but then those teenager numbers go back up again. I guess we’ll see. I hope the costs slow down for our sake.

  2. I don’t see our state schools getting more affordable anytime soon with the fiscal situation of the state government on shaky ground. I can hope that it won’t get exponentially more expensive in 9 years and also hope that the quality of the schools stay steady.

  3. I hope so! After the conversation a few days ago about dodging $60k/year college bills, I checked on my kids’ 529s to see where they are projected to be when they are slated to head off. We save what I think is quite a bit in the 529s and we will still be short some money if my kids pick expensive schools and the increases continue at the same rate.

  4. International students will happily fill the seats left empty by American demographic trends:

    “American colleges are educating more international students than ever before, according to a new report, “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange,” released by the Institute of of International Education. The widely anticipated report finds that nearly 1 million international students—many of them from countries such as China, India, Kuwait—were educated in the United States in the 2014-15 school year, up 10 percent from the previous year. These students typically arrive with the means to pay the full price tag for college.” https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/11/globalization-american-higher-ed/416502/

  5. The slowing rate of list price TUITION increases is real but I’m not so sure about room/board cost control. This could be a back door way to keep overall annual price (revenue) growth higher than inflation.

    The discounting is real. Higher % discount (merit) for 3rd kid than for other two. Similar student profiles, similar schools.

    I’m expecting many more small private school closings a la Sweet Briar in the next several years. These are the schools which are highly tuition dependent to cover their annual operating budgets.

  6. I am not sure what role the Great Recession played but it seems like cost consciousness definitely ratcheted up after. It became acceptable for many more parents to restrict attendance to state colleges as opposed to second tier private colleges. If kids are not ready for college or weighing their options community college has become more of an option. I see more kids looking at state campuses below the flagship level
    Where once they might have gone to a private college. The University of Alabama for instance has raised its profile sufficiently to be a choice for students from our region.

  7. Remember there’s been an increasingly large difference between sticker price and actual price. Colleges have become one of the most useful examples of “price discrimination” in the market.

    With the more scrutiny on the decision to go to college (and the ROI of attending any given school) and the greater focus on avoiding debt, I think most of the shake-out in the bubble will be among marginal, expensive private schools.

    Public universities– particularly in their gen ed courses– will continue to see more competition in terms of on-line courses, local universities during the summer, and perhaps dual credit (although that may be receding).

  8. “I don’t see our state schools getting more affordable anytime soon with the fiscal situation of the state government on shaky ground.”

    This is the part that that concerns me. Among people who save for college, “I’m saving to cover the cost of state school” seems to be the most common response; and for those who don’t [not can’t], 2 years at community college and transferring to state school is going to be the most affordable option. But if the state budgets stay the way they are (or worse, continue the downward funding trend), then that means either tuition increases or the schools have to rely on more and more out-of-state or international students to cover the difference. And neither of those options is good for the state residents who are counting on being able to send their kids there.

    I hope the overall slowdown in costs continues/increases, but I’m not counting on it doing much for my kids. It also sounds like a lot of that slowdown is due to for-profit colleges, which is definitely a good thing, but again isn’t necessarily going to help us.

  9. “then that means either tuition increases or the schools have to rely on more and more out-of-state or international students to cover the difference”

    Or the schools could actually reduce costs by trimming some of the fat.

  10. “I don’t see our state schools getting more affordable anytime soon with the fiscal situation of the state government on shaky ground. ”

    What is interesting to me that at DS’ state school, tuition is about 1/3 of the estimated bill. Room and board is crazy expensive, as are all the fees. I will reiterate that DS’ luxury apartment costs the same as a crappy, old, small dorm room on campus.

  11. “Or the schools could actually reduce costs by trimming some of the fat.”

    Yeah, good luck with that.

  12. “Or the schools could actually reduce costs by trimming some of the fat.”

    What’s the value add on a 3 year degree vs. a 4 year degree for a given major? Thinking back to the plane load of Accenture kids, for a given SAT/GPA, is having gone to college for 4 years making them that much better an employee than 3 years?

  13. “What is interesting to me that at DS’ state school, tuition is about 1/3 of the estimated bill. Room and board is crazy expensive, as are all the fees. I will reiterate that DS’ luxury apartment costs the same as a crappy, old, small dorm room on campus.”

    Yes – at UIUC, tuition is only about half. They have made the dorms much nicer since DH and siblings went there (even the one that graduated <10 years ago). It looks like this split was about the same BITD though because both tuition and other costs have both gone up exponentially. The question is – should Room & Board have quadrupled in 20 years? Why would it? In Champaign, Illinois – which is very low on the COL scale.

  14. Georgia did something interesting last year in that they took the largest community college (Georgia Perimeter College) and made it a part of Georgia State University. Georgia State was already getting a ton of students from the community college and so there were a lot of cost savings associated with the move (all of those redundant administration jobs) and it’s supposed to be a lot easier now to get your two year degree and then transfer to the four year program.

  15. Rhett – people say the same thing about law school (including my husband) – it really doesn’t need to be three years. Law schools are cash cows though (no equipment/labs, etc. it’s just faculty and one building)

  16. All I can say is I sure hope it doesn’t double in the next ten years, since I still have a 3 year old!

    And DS1 still insists he is going to Yale (he writes poems about it). Somehow I don’t think there will be a lot of discounting by Ivies for over-represented minorities from Totebagland….

  17. I hope that people are able to discharge their student loan debt through bankruptcy. People can’t escape their student loan debt, which makes it less risky for banks to lend money. If banks had to scrutinize student loans more closely, then interest rates for student loans would go up, fewer people would take student loans because of the cost or inability to secure a loan, fewer students would go to college and drive down demand, and colleges would have to lower costs. There are other negative impacts as to who would be able to secure a loan etc. but I think the inability to discharge student loan debt creates bad incentives. Students who shouldn’t necessarily go right to college do because of the easy access to loans.

  18. ““I don’t see our state schools getting more affordable anytime soon with the fiscal situation of the state government on shaky ground. ””

    This is RI’s problem. BITD, the state of RI used to support ~40-50% of the state U’s budget. Now it’s down to ~10% in a good year. The state has effectively turned the state flagship into a private college. So the flagship targets out-of-state students and foreign students who pay full freight to keep the lights on. There are many places I can see fat-trimming, but it won’t happen.

    I fear what college will cost in ~15 years when my oldest will be making his choices and having me sign checks (or by that point, maybe send a retinal scan across the interwebs to automatically withdraw the payment from my checking account).

  19. “I hope that people are able to discharge their student loan debt through bankruptcy.”

    I agree, the fact that this is not the case is ridiculous. Why should people be able to discharge running up ridiculous sums on credit cards but not student loans.

  20. So, you actually can discharge student loans in bankruptcy. There is just a higher standard that has to be met (Brunner test). And I think that I agree with it and think that we should make it harder to discharge other debts.

  21. I don’t think there will be a lot of discounting by Ivies for over-represented minorities from Totebagland….

    At 270k/year Yale is giving you 10% off. That seems similar to Harvard which has a calculator that’s much easier to use. So at 210k you’re getting half off.

    https://yale.studentaidcalculator.com

  22. think that we should make it harder to discharge other debts.

    Why? America’s bankruptcy system is the envy of the world and one of the keys to our prosperity.

  23. 5 years ago, online education was going to make college very affordable for everyone. I don’t think this has played out at all, has it? When reputable schools offer online classes, I think they cost the same as in person courses. Anybody with insight on this?

  24. But consumer debt discharge is kind of BS.

    Why? If Toyota Motor Credit wants to get aggressive by loaning money to marginal borrowers, why shouldn’t they be on the hook for the losses?

  25. Because the net effect is that it increases borrowing costs for everyone (supply of credit isn’t perfectly elastic, costs are passed on) . I don’t particularly want to pay more because some bozo got a Lexus when he could only afford a Corolla. Bozo driving a Lexus doesn’t increase my utility. Now, if instead bozo was trying to start a business, maybe there is a chance it does eventually increase my utility.

  26. It feels like no matter how much money we save, it will never be enough for college for Riobaby and the additional 2-3 children we hope to have. So I’m sure hoping this trend plays out!

    I tell DH only half-kidding that he should consider quitting his 70 hr weeks, 200kish a year job and go live a good life as a high school teacher if we wants to send our kids to private college. It seems like almost all the marginal income would go to taxes and tuition costs, since I basically see the current financial aid system as a giant tax on the upper middle class.

  27. Because the net effect is that it increases borrowing costs for everyone

    No, it gets reflected in the borrowing costs of those with poor credit. It’s the reason Toyota will extend you 0% for 72 months and someone with a 622 FICO will have to pay 7%. There borrowing costs increase, not yours.

  28. Ada – Stanford and MIT offer online courses for free. I don’t if they are for credit, but I did get a cert from a Stanford course.

    But more to the point – online classrooms have created a for-profit college industry that is probably doing a disservice to the students, and to the “good” schools that offer online courses.

    What does everyone think about July’s article which point to states (like NY) making college more affordable through scholarships (does FL still have the “Bright Future for FL scholarship”? and I think my friend purchased tuition for her kids 10 years ago, when they were babies.. do they still do that?) or RI’s promise legislation to reduce/remove tuition at CC’s for instate students?

  29. We purchased a Washington tuition plan ~6 years ago that has turned out to be a poor investment because the legislature froze tuition at the university and allows expensive programs (like engineering) to charge additional fees in lieu of tuition that the Washington tuition plan doesn’t cover.

    I think the problem at community college is that tuition costs are often less than room/board/transportation/books costs and only some parents of community college students are willing/able to subsidize room/board, which leaves students working too many hours and unable to get to class. A significant portion of community college students are also parents, which adds childcare complexity. Also, the best programs (physical therapy assistant, nursing, mechatronics) are very competitive and so are only available to a small percentage of (generally excellent) students.

    I love the MOOC model and may use it to try to gain specialized knowledge (metallurgy) to apply for a new/better job but finding the time to learn in the midst of middle class adult life is hard.

  30. Rhett – I think that when economists study these things, they find that more lax bankruptcy laws lead to lower credit availability generally. In states with higher exemptions in bankruptcy, people get turned down for credit more and pay higher rates compared to similarly situated people in states with lower exemptions.

  31. they find that more lax bankruptcy laws lead to lower credit availability generally.

    That’s a feature not a bug.

  32. When reputable schools offer online classes, I think they cost the same as in person courses.

    Oregon State offers them at the in-state cost for everyone, so while it’s not a savings for in-state students, it is a significant discount for the potentially large out-of-state pool. And you can actually apply and enroll for completely online degrees, so it’s not like those online classes make sense only for folks who are enrolled at OSU already or are non-degree-seeking.

    Rhode, I think the big difference in what you pay is whether you’re taking a course for credit (and the ones that give you a certificate aren’t generally giving you three credits or whatever). I don’t know if the colleges see a higher cost in having to actually enroll the person for at least one term, have the transcript in their records, and otherwise provide the full apparatus of an accredited credit-granting institution, or if it’s just a case of the demand being sufficiently higher for actual credits that the market will bear the higher prices.

  33. Somewhat apropos to this topic, my oldest is going to be primarily a community college student this year. He’s still finalizing things, but assuming the principal approves his Chinese Lit class as counting for senior year English, he’ll have that, second semester calc, and first semester calculus-based physics at the college, and just French and his beloved STEM class at high school. It’s an exciting development for him. And I can tell you, at something like $125/credit at the community college, the price is right!

  34. HM,

    I think a lot of it is based on the need to protect their business model. Could med school be a 6 year program you start at 18? Sure. Could law school be a 4 year program that starts when you’re 18? Sure. Could we have grades K-10, 2 years of CC or an vocational training program followed by 2 years of college or a two year apprenticeship? Sure. It would likely work much better that our current system. But that kind of monumental change would be incredibly difficult.

  35. go live a good life as a high school teacher if we wants to send our kids to private college.

    Being a high school teacher sounds incredibly difficult to me.

  36. Rhett – home country has medical school starting after 12th grade. It is four and a half year of academics and one year of internship.
    Undergraduate degrees are three years. Most professional degrees take 2/3 years.
    In talking to people they don’t understand why a doctor here has to complete their undergraduate education just like everyone else and then go on to medical school adding years and more debt to their total
    Education.

  37. For the first time, I had some insight into why kids would choose a for-profit college. As I mentioned, I have been kind of looking at the U.C. Santa Cruz course listings to see if there are any fun classes to take. (The out-of-state tuition doesn’t look at all fun, I have to say.) But then I was looking through the application process and it starts with something like “First, fill out the ‘Intent to Apply Form’ ” and I was all “Oh hell no, that’s too much trouble.” (Obviously when I was young I jumped through all the hoops, but I’m not young anymore). The for-profits made everything entirely too simple and it was just a matter of writing the check. Or getting the loan.

  38. I don’t see why someone couldn’t do a 5 year program for undergrad and Masters in a bunch of subjects. The only bug (or feature for some) is the lack of time to take electives. But in 2-3 fewer years you have a post-graduate degree. Depending on your field, that’s worth more than fun electives.

  39. Eh, to someone who likes working with youth and feeling like they’re making a difference in the world, teaching can be a lot more emotionally rewarding than spending 70 hour weeks alone looking at a screen as you work on hypothetical projects that are almost never executed. And teachers work hard, but generally get a much more balanced family life than people in certain professions with extreme hours.

  40. HM – DD has a similar plan for her senior year. WA State allows high school students to take community college classes for free. Since DD finished the IB program her junior year, she’ll take some sort of calculus class (she already took AP Calc this year – so it’s something that comes after AP Calc), physics and a literature class. And then she’ll continue taking Spanish at her high school.

  41. Rio,

    I’ve done corporate training and to me it’s very grueling being up there teaching for 6+ hours a day. It’s a lot different than being at your desk where you can take breaks whenever you want or sitting in a meeting where you only have to chime in when they get to your item on the agenda.

  42. “I tell DH only half-kidding that he should consider quitting his 70 hr weeks, 200kish a year job and go live a good life as a high school teacher if we wants to send our kids to private college. It seems like almost all the marginal income would go to taxes and tuition costs, since I basically see the current financial aid system as a giant tax on the upper middle class.”

    There’s a lot of truth to both points. From what I’ve gathered from the back-and-forth on financial aid between Rhett and Finn, the optimization would be to squirrel away as much of that $200k into retirement accounts, and then home equity. Then, no less than a year or two before your current baby starts college, move to some low-COL area, buy a McMansion outright with a great swimming pool, and get a $40k per year teaching job.

    I wonder, if we were actually facing the HSS dilemma, and home equity is not counted, should we upgrade to a 10,000 sf house, even if it’s only for a couple of years?

  43. That’s basically our strategy, Milo. We max out all retirement, and are putting what we would otherwise be saving into renovating our house. And I tell DH all the time that he should consider switching to a lower-compensated but more personally satisfying job, at least once we pay off the hosue. We’re Totebaggers who don’t desire a lot of expensive things other than great educations for our kids. And the financial aid system makes accomplishing that goal a lot less straightforward.

  44. I wonder, if we were actually facing the HSS dilemma, and home equity is not counted, should we upgrade to a 10,000 sf house, even if it’s only for a couple of years?

    I’ve known people who remodeled there entire house, bought new cars, etc. to get their non-retirement account balances down to maximize the aid they were getting.

  45. “I’ve known people who remodeled there entire house, bought new cars”

    No, no, no. Not remodeling, not new cars. Those are fine in their own rights as personal consumption, but you don’t get your money back with either.

    I’m thinking, hypothetically only, about buying an existing house with a price that ties up as much assets as possible into “primary home equity,” but with an eye for easy resale once the last tuition payment is processed. Then immediately go back to something more sensible.

  46. We’re Totebaggers who don’t desire a lot of expensive things other than great educations for our kids.

    “Great” for many being a euphemism for prestigious and name brand. It’s really no different than any other type of luxury/status consumption, other than it’s something considered laudatory among totebaggers.

  47. SSM, she’s probably at the same level as my son for math, but if her AP Calc class was the B/C version she’s a semester ahead and wins the Golden Totebag ^_^. I have to admit that free is an even better price than $125/credit, but I’m still quite happy for him to be getting some college credits in at that price. Is her physics class the calculus-based version too? It’s funny how similar their schedules are!

  48. Then immediately go back to something more sensible.

    So you go from a $600k house to $1.2 million house. 6% real estate commission is $72k. The scholarship difference between 1.2 million in investments and 600k in investments is 18k per year. So you’d save $72k in tuition and spend $72k in commission thus just breaking even.

  49. Milo/Rio – I hadn’t thought about all of that. We had planned on selling this house at some point and putting half into a new house and half into our taxable account but maybe I should just buy a house outright on Cape Cod, we’ll get middle class jobs and send our kids to our alma mater.

  50. Interesting that the math matches to the penny. I bet we’re not the first ones to think this scam up.

  51. I was thinking more like a $2M house. But yeah, those real estate commissions are a killer. Perhaps DW should obtain her real estate license.

    This would potentially be for more than one kid.

  52. The whole college and asset discussion was a revelation. We have to plan better. I alerted DH. He still thinks he is poor and will be shocked at our EFC.

  53. Milo,

    You’d also have to read the fine print. I would imagine Harvard, Yale, MIT etc’s has complete discretion to decide on a financial aid award amount. You wouldn’t want to go through all the trouble and then get a letter saying, “We checked Zillow and we see what you’re up to, so pay up.”

  54. I have thought about getting my real estate license just because we never use agents any way and I kind of like it and would help my friends buy and save the 3% (but not sell; I don’t like sales). The major snag in this plan is that, at least in Va, you have to be associated with a broker who won’t let people like me in without being serious and really working. I am trying to figure out a workaround.

  55. Seattle: Does your school offer HL Math for IB kids? It’s what you take after BC Calc.

  56. Not all HSSs ignore home equity in their calculations for financial aid. This is from a few years ago so things may have changed. I notice Yale is not mentioned but it does count home equity, for example..

    Will Your Home Equity Hurt Financial Aid Chances?
    http://www.thecollegesolution.com/will-your-home-equity-hurt-financial-aid-chances/

    HM and SSM, Wow on the accelerated students taking college classes. Do you anticipate shaving off some college costs due to earning these credits? It did save me considerable money for one kid.

  57. Off topic – on my Facebook feed today is a discussion from a friend about how their child’s summer camp has no plan in place to prevent children from looking directly at the eclipse. I found the whole situation laughable, but based on the number of comments, this is really a hot topic. So many upset people claiming that daycares and summer camps are failing our children. Perhaps I’m an unfit mother in that this isn’t a top concern of mine.

  58. Interesting. I only knew that Mrs. MMM got her license solely for personal transactions.

    My brother purchased his house with the services of an agent who charges by the hour, and refunds the rest of the 3%. It worked, no gimmicks. And my brother did most of his own research online, etc.

  59. I have been successful at getting the 3% back for both houses that we have purchased but it still kind of burns me that agents get paid 3% on the buy side. Especially around here. Even a high hourly rate doesn’t come close to 3% unless the buyers are really crazy and look at hundreds of houses.

  60. On the finance thread from a couple of days ago, there was (big surprise) a digression into college talk. One strand was about whether kids should work for pay or take extra credits to graduate early and save money or take electives as seize the day opportunity before going into the working world. Several of our posters from time to time discuss in detail how they want to manage things in late high school and into the college years because they see many finely distinguished variants of the college experience as make or break to the kid’s short term or long term success.

    I think one reason to follow the less expensive Milo path is that if you aren’t shelling out megabucks for the kids and having them carry all your parental hopes on a weekly basis, you can leave ’em be to choose their own courses, find their own way, manage or mismanage their own time, and take detours that might not be immediately cost effective. In other words, to grow up and practice “adulting” in the way most of us did it – by necessity and parental benign neglect. Fred is my idol here with the way he handled his eldest. Yes, just as with my eldest, it would have been easier for all if the signs had been more apparent early on and those who love him could have nudged him onto a less painful and circuitous path.

  61. I have no comment on this thread, because I have so little interest in some ways, and care too much in others. I do not expect to pay sticker price for any university. I’m offended by the notion of measuring a university education’s worth by whether attendees are better employees for their time there. And “trimming the fat” is far from simple. Flooffy dorms, we can all agree, are unnecessary, but if they bring in more $$$, I doubt admins will agree. Given the major conflicts of our day, an emphasis on technocratic education at the expense of social sciences and humanities is more stupid than ever before, yet some would still defend it.

  62. July, I’m certainly hopeful that it’ll save some money since even if some of the credits he’ll have end up being basically just extra electives in terms of meeting degree requirements, he’ll have so many that some of them are likely going to count, and he should be able to start with more upper-level classes. But the main reason for doing it is that he likes the college classes a lot better than the high school classes, and he’s more successful in them too, so this schedule should make for a better senior year experience all round.

  63. HM – yes, she’s taking calculus based physics. I’m not sure what level of calculus she took junior year (I should know – but can’t remember).

    Houston – yes, DD’s high school offers HL math for IB kids but she decided not to take that. Her school also offers AP Stats which I thought would be useful but DD decided to keep on with the calculus. I think in part because she’s a little tired of her high school and in part because her best friend and her boyfriend are also taking classes at the community college instead of at the high school.

    July – depends on where DD goes to school. I went to a small private liberal arts college. They wanted you there for the full 4 years – so college credit wouldn’t have reduced my college costs. But if DD goes to some place like the University of WA or Oregon State, then I imagine it would reduce college costs – or at least help ensure that she graduates in 4 years. Maybe it was the sort of college I went to but Back In My Day everyone finished in 4 years. Now 5 or even 6 years seems not uncommon.

    Also, I think home equity definitely factors into whether you are eligible for financial aid. I think that’s why we haven’t qualified (though I haven’t had a chance to try the link Rhett posted yesterday).

    Also, thanks to everyone who posted yesterday about various colleges – much appreciated! I think someone mentioned USC (Finn?). DD had a friend who didn’t like it so she somewhat arbitrarily struck it off her list. Which since her current list of potential schools is kind of long, I decided I was ok with.

  64. But I will comment to say I agree strongly with Meme, and that it can be tricky to know in which areas your kid is ready to go, fall down, and get back on the horse, and in which areas your guidance is required.

  65. Even a high hourly rate doesn’t come close to 3% unless the buyers are really crazy and look at hundreds of houses.

    After all the work many folks don’t end up buying. Making 100k a year as an agent working full time puts you at the top of the field and that’s only 11 300k houses a year. With those numbers you have to figure most agents are spending a large percentage of your time with folks that will never buy from you.

  66. I don’t know if our California buyer’s agent was really worth the full 3%, but she did look at a lot of stuff for us when we couldn’t fly out and ultimately she found the house we bought. I think she put a lot of work in over several months.

  67. OTOH, now that I think about it, the buyer’s agents for the first and second Denver houses were a definite rip-off.

  68. FWIW, in both sales that we have done in the last 11 years, the commissions were 5% and not 6%. I have also thought of getting licensed (apparently attorneys can do it without doing anything except paying a licensing fee?) but wouldn’t do it unless we are on the buy side on a less crunched time period.

  69. I think the real estate agent fee is a total racket. With all of the online stuff I can’t believe we all still need to be paying 6%. I have a few friends who have their real estate license solely to sell their own homes and save the 3% (and once in a while they’ll help out a friend who wants to buy). Our real estate agents (husband and wife team) seem to be doing quite well. I get postcards of a lot of their listings and they all seem to be $2M but that is an industry that obviously has its ups and downs.

  70. We paid 5%too when we sold our house 6 years ago but only because the agents were representing us on the buy side too. But at that point we also had to pay closing costs for the buyer (as did the people that we bought from).

  71. At least locally, dual enrollment as a whole is something the public schools and community colleges have been promoting and is growing. But most of that is kids doing one class, or something like a special section of the basic comp class taught on a high school campus. The sort of thing where a high school student is spending a significant part of the school day on a college campus is a small fraction of all dual enrollment — but it’s growing too. Maybe this is part of the leak in the college bubble. It does, as SSM pointed out, allow even the kids who will be going off to a 4 year college to save some money by ensuring that 4 years doesn’t turn into 5 or 6 years.

  72. $9k on a $300k house is reasonable. $60k on a $2m house is not. And if you live in the area and kind of know what is going on and have some time, it is crazy to pay that. I don’t need someone to unlock the door or point out the dining room.

  73. At lunch the other day I overheard the conversation at the table behind me. It were a group of realtors and one of the ladies was discussing how her clients finally had an offer accepted – they looked at over 50 houses, had put in 7 offers that were rejected, and finally on the 8th got the house. Then she went into some detail about the inspection and the appraisal and the negotiating she had to work to get to closing. In the current market, with houses selling before hitting the market, I think a realtor has value. That being said, when we sold our last house (10 years ago) I felt that I did everything and my realtor offered little value.

  74. $60k on a $2m house is not.

    I assume having a good (very good in the case of $2 million homes) agent gets you a price that more than compensates for the commission. With Helen, the house sells for $2.1 in 4 weeks without her it sells for 2 million in 12 weeks.

  75. In Massachusetts not only do you have a real estate agent and a title company to pay, you have to pay an attorney as well. I didn’t have a buyer’s agent for my house, and paid a little more in attorney’s fees, but the price was lower because the seller’s agent convinced the seller via lower fees.

  76. Most of my anger is on the buy side. We used an agent to sell. I don’t know if there is any way to get it on the MLS without one.

  77. I don’t see why someone couldn’t do a 5 year program for undergrad and Masters in a bunch of subjects. The only bug (or feature for some) is the lack of time to take electives. But in 2-3 fewer years you have a post-graduate degree. Depending on your field, that’s worth more than fun electives.

    There are a bunch of five-year combined programs for PAs and NPs. The down side is they cram 4 years of undergrad into 3 so there isn’t a whole lot of free time or summers off, but you save a year or two off the traditional route.

  78. A brief hijack. For kids who love popsicles, here’s what we’ve been doing that they love:

    4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
    1 can frozen limeade or lemonade concentrate

    Blend, freeze in popsicle molds

    My kids think I’m a genius but really I just read it in a magazine this summer. You’re welcome.

  79. http://www.moreheadcain.org

    I first heard of this scholarship through the NYTimes – The Choice. One student was deciding between Carolina (with the Morehead Cain scholarship) and Reed. He chose Reed.
    There are several Totebag kids it seems who probably fit the profile and can try. I have always thought it pretty cool.

  80. ” I think in part because she’s a little tired of her high school and in part because her best friend and her boyfriend are also taking classes at the community college instead of at the high school.”

    This is one of the reasons that I did dual-credit at the local college. I did it more to be around college kids/college campus rather than my high school. The transferable college credit and tougher courses were a side benefit. FWIW, I transferred all my credit to a small LAS and graduated early. YMMV.

    @Lemon – Does the summer camp have a plan in place to keep kids from staring at the sun on a normal day? ;)

  81. “Yeah, they’ll always find a way to screw the little guy in the end.”

    “I was thinking more like a $2M house.”

    :-)

  82. FWIW, from what I understand on realtor commissions, the 3% that the one agent gets is also split with the broker company, and the agents negotiate for the percent of the 3% they get based on their numbers and such — IIRC, the average split for a broker with decent experience/numbers is around 50/50, but a newbie will get a lot less, and the really big guns can negotiate for a lot more. And of course advertising and other costs have to be accounted for (I am sure the deal with the brokerage spells that out, too — what the brokerage covers, what is extra, whether it comes off the top or out of the split, etc.). Plus a lot of the very big brokers who pull down the huge numbers that get them a larger share of the 3% hit those numbers by hiring assistants/admins/junior agents to help do the easier stuff, and those folks have to get paid, too (this is what our NM agent did — she was the “face,” but she had an assistant who managed the nuts and bolts). So unless you have a totally solo and independent agent, there is no way your agent is pocketing a check for anywhere near $60K on a $2M house.

  83. “Also, I think home equity definitely factors into whether you are eligible for financial aid.”

    I believe the definitive answer is, “it depends.”

    I don’t recall having to provide home equity information.

    “I think someone mentioned USC (Finn?). DD had a friend who didn’t like it so she somewhat arbitrarily struck it off her list. “

    Yes, that was me. I mentioned two USCs, Gamecocks and Trojans. Which didn’t her friend like?

  84. “I don’t see why someone couldn’t do a 5 year program for undergrad and Masters in a bunch of subjects.”

    BITD, I was accepted into a program that would’ve had me out in 5 years with an MBA.

    This is also possible at a number of programs at LSJU. Some have intense one year MS programs.

  85. “They wanted you there for the full 4 years – so college credit wouldn’t have reduced my college costs. “

    Could the credits have facilitated a second degree, or perhaps a minor or two, during those 4 years?

  86. “I’ve known people who remodeled there entire house, bought new cars”

    One question the CSS asked us was make, model, and year of our cars.

  87. “I’m thinking, hypothetically only, about buying an existing house with a price that ties up as much assets as possible into “primary home equity,” but with an eye for easy resale once the last tuition payment is processed. Then immediately go back to something more sensible.”

    If you’re going to consider this, one thing that can make a house really expensive is being in a very good school district.

  88. I’m thinking of a tragedy where one dad did all this trickery and finagling with his house and career and cars, etc so that his kid could get tons of aid for a HSS, and another dad, wealth irrelevant, insisted his kid attend the same HSS and carry the weight of the family’s high expectations on his 18yo shoulders.

    The first dad’s schemes don’t work–the HSS does the Zillow search and calls the bluff, or the regs change, or whatever–and now this dad, who has bragged to all his friends that his kid is going to HSS, can’t afford it, and doesn’t want to face the humiliation in pulling the plug and sending the kid to the local CC instead. So he sends the kid anyway, but we pan across the icy Charles River (for example) at some point in late winter and there’s the dad, standing on the bridge, thinking maybe he’d better jump in.

    Meanwhile, the second dad is failing out, so maybe while the camera pans over the river, we spot the kid a little further down the bridge, considering the same leap. Make the two kids roommates, or at least hall mates.

    Of course, I don’t know Boston and you can all guess how much time I’d want to spend learning about all the financial hoops Dad 1 jumps through, all the FAFSA forms and gaming, etc. So maybe Milo and Meme can co-write this one.

  89. If you’re going to consider this, one thing that can make a house really expensive is being in a very good school district.

    I’m sure nobody on this blog was aware of this concept until now.

  90. “So maybe Milo and Meme can co-write this one.”

    With July as a technical consultant.

    And I enjoyed this insight into your creative process.

    But the thing I don’t get WRT the 1st dad is that he hid all his wealth to get aid. But when that was discovered, why couldn’t he just use some of that wealth to pay for his kid, or use some combination of part of that wealth, and loans?

    If his kid was good enough to get into one of the HSS very near the Charles River (and they are among the few schools that are truly need blind in admissions), that gets back to the discussion we’ve had here before of whether you’d tell your kid, after getting into such a HSS, that he or she will need to attend a less expensive school.

  91. “I wonder, if we were actually facing the HSS dilemma”

    Are we actually influencing Milo to consider something he’d never considered before?

  92. Are we actually influencing Milo to consider something he’d never considered before?

    People like us don’t have kids who get into HSS.

  93. “Isn’t there a history of HSS attendance in Milo’s family?”

    No. We’re not that type.

  94. Ahh – Milo, but if you have to attend college and learn all about different types of boats at the same time, the college is in a way highly selective (your story about evading another boat that was bearing down was worthy of a movie).
    Says she who has watched too many boat movies including Dunkirk.

  95. “’Isn’t there a history of HSS attendance in Milo’s family?’

    No. We’re not that type.”

    Uhhhh, Milo, hate to break it to you, but your alma mater pretty much qualifies.

  96. “Uhhhh, Milo, hate to break it to you, but your alma mater pretty much qualifies.”

    +1000 For a kid from Texas, your alma mater is harder to get into and much more prestigious than any Ivy League school.

  97. “your alma mater ”

    They have a few ways of puffing up their selectivity. They reject a lot of people, yes. But their average reject is probably not quite the same caliber as the average Harvard/Stanford reject, if you know what I mean. “Less likely to have distinguished oneself in Calculus,” to paraphrase Finn. And since they’re not ranked directly in the overall rankings alongside HYPS Chicago Cornell Penn Brown MIT, etc., then none of those schools have any incentive to shit on them, and besides, to do so might make them look unpatriotic and effete and not “supporting the troops.” They (the Academies) do seem to be ranked highly in the more specific lists, e.g. “liberal arts colleges,” or “engineering colleges,” and I don’t doubt that the academic programs, based on their quality and rigor, are deserving of those accolades. They are. But that’s not quite the same as selectivity.

    There are other factors, too. The Academies accept a small, but not entirely insignificant portion of their student bodies from the enlisted ranks, some of whom, I think, might never have even taken SATs or ACTs. Most of those applicants, along with many of the recruited athletes, get sent to a year of prep school first in Newport, RI to bone up on Calc and Chemistry and maybe “Trucker English,” as it was affectionately known.

    “Says she who has watched too many boat movies including Dunkirk.”

    We were just talking about Dunkirk last night with our Totebaggy/hipster friends, the anesthesiologist whose DD calls him “Papa.” I told him that I read it was pretty brutal and violent, and when those movies are based on true stories, I have to space them out lest I get too depressed. I’m still recovering from Hacksaw Ridge.

    But on the note about boats, I recently finished reading [the audio version] “Burning Shore” about Hitler’s U-boats in the early stages of the Battle of the Atlantic. Anyone who liked “Dead Wake” should love this. I didn’t quite realize how close the war was to the U.S. east coast, including a nighttime submarine mining operation near Thimble Shoals at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay which caused a horrible disaster that American beachgoers were watching from Virginia Beach (and since we spent a few years living right by that spot, it hit home). They also mined New York Harbor (and I think Boston Harbor), but were less successful.

    There’s great character development, and it’s amazing to read about some of the efforts that each side took to help out the victims of their own attacks. The German U-boat captain risks his own life and crew to give supplies, water, and directions to the victims in life boats of the ship that he just sank. An American patrol bomber pilot allows himself to nearly run out of gas and kill his plane crew spending too much time searching for the survivors of the U-boat that they just sank, trying to pass on their location so that an American ship could rescue them.

  98. “Less likely to have distinguished oneself in Calculus,”

    Perhaps things have changed? One of DS’ camp mates was concerned about DS’ admissions chances because he was not doing any unique scientific research. When DS told him that he was working for a biotech start up company, his friend relaxed and said “That’ll work”. These were rising juniors discussing their summer internships. Very driven, very academically gifted.

  99. “Perhaps things have changed?…because he was not doing any unique scientific research”

    Certainly possible. And if so, that lends credence to my argument that we’re really not the type of people to be pushing our kids to craft high school resumes in order to boost the likelihood of HSS admission. We’ve allowed ourselves to be left behind in the admissions arms race.

  100. Posted too soon. But it’s also possible that DS’ friend has a cautiously inflated view of what it takes to be competitive for acceptance.

  101. Milo – I will look up those two books. I am deep into the World War II rabbit hole. I guess I jump around too much and some of my reading and documtary watching gets way out there.

  102. I may have misled you. Both books are great, but “Dead Wake” is WWI, and about the Lusitania, so before the U.S. entered.

  103. Following up on the school registration, we got this email yesterday:

    “We are going paperless! Thank you for those of you who came in and made use of our computer station to gain or access parent portal and do the online registration. As of Thursday, August 10th, registration will now be paperless and will need to be done online. Please bring in your online verification form to show that you have registered.”

    The word paperless does not mean what they think it means.

  104. Milo – I thought your brother was admitted to a HSS and chose elsewhere. Or was that a close friend?

  105. My brother was admitted to, matriculated at, and was graduated from, Penn.

    (How’s that for effete wording? That final comma bothers me a little.)

  106. “Please bring in your online verification form to show that you have registered.”

    Ha!

  107. In the midst of moving to new websites/parent portals, my email disappeared from the schools distribution lists. We were warned that a change was coming and after complete silence for most of the summer (some sort of emails are always sent even in the summer), I realized I was cutoff and had to email to be added to the new systems.

  108. Rhett, I thought so but then he seems to be contradicting his “No. We’re not that type.” comment. OTOH, that type of denial is a strong totebag tradition. :)

  109. I like Finn’s clarification of the two USC’s. I didn’t realize there was another USC till I moved here. Of course the folks here are referring to the Gamecocks, not the Trojans.

  110. in middle school, some guys liked to wear South Carolina hats because they said “Cocks” across the front. So edgy.

  111. Rhett, I thought so but then he seems to be contradicting his “No. We’re not that type.” comment. OTOH, that type of denial is a strong totebag tradition. :)

    I’m pretty sure his “people like us” schtick is sarcasm.

  112. I’m pretty sure his “people like us” schtick is sarcasm.

    I don’t know. Milo seems to really want to think of himself as an average guy.

  113. Risley I know your tongue was firmly planted in cheek when you provided the plot outline. I actually know of an friend’s old Yankee sister-in-law who was *astounded* that the Block Island house her husband inherited while the kids were in high school made her girls ineligible for need based aid. They had left the rat race and were private school teachers (in MD) with a mortgage and little of their own money. They asked her father for money and he said, sell the damn house. They told the elder girl, who had been on the totebag treadmill, no college or community college. The thrifty grandfather (about 90) conveniently passed away and left enough actual money along with their share of his Maine second home so that the crisis was averted.

    My friend is a working class girl who defied her upbringing to go to college. She married up, but worked everyday of her life as a tax pro (retiring about now). Her husband is exec dir of a local historical society and his late dad was a divinity prof and Unitarian pillar (you can’t make this stuff up). Yankee thrift plus upwardly mobile grit (and a premium on education for both) equals comfort in all realms. Next generation looks okay too.

  114. It’s a little bit of sarcasm, but it’s also true that I don’t identify with the Totebag obsession with college in general, and all the focus and devotion that entails. It’s just four years.

  115. “I think that people should think twice about trying to game the system using home equity. A lot of schools consider home equity as part of your assets for financial aid purposes.”

    Chiming in late, but every school that accepted DD included the value of our house and rather large yard for financial aid purposes.

  116. It’s also true that modern military officers, which was my formative professional experience, are in the position of working around a held-over caste system that is outdated in many ways. To do so effectively requires that, rather than emphasize whatever educational pedigree one has had the opportunity to achieve, you tend to downplay it.

    Later on, if you have the Millionaire Next Door or MMM type of goals for your own personal wealth accumulation, you come to the conclusion that the easiest and most sensible mindset is to scrap the “striver” mentality that requires you to constantly evaluate what brand name or level of spending or neighborhood or vacation destination or car make is fitting and commensurate with your particular station at that point in time (Chevy when you’re starting out, then a Buick, then a Cadillac…) and just say “Fu(k it. I like Walmart.”

    I’ve been collecting baseball hats from various national park gift shops. I mix them in the rotation with my favorite Bass Pro Shops cap and the only somewhat-ironic Krispy Kreme hat.

  117. “rather large yard”

    Ha!

    “Later on, if you have the Millionaire Next Door or MMM type of goals for your own personal wealth accumulation, you come to the conclusion that the easiest and most sensible mindset is to scrap the “striver” mentality that requires you to constantly evaluate what brand name or level of spending or neighborhood or vacation destination or car make is fitting and commensurate with your particular station at that point in time (Chevy when you’re starting out, then a Buick, then a Cadillac…) and just say “Fu(k it. I like Walmart.””

    Yeah, I identify with that. I was talking to a relative of the same thoughts about this not long ago. She said it was the hardest to hold the MND mentality when she was about my age with kids approaching/in middle school because everyone started really buying luxury cars and significantly upgrading their houses. (and they were outwardly comfortably MC/UMC) But that it was worth it as she is now a comfortably retired snowbird in her 50’s. She’s my hero. And her & her husband are both directional state school graduates (along with their kid and most of my family members).

  118. Millionaire Next Door or MMM type of goals for your own personal wealth accumulation,

    That shtick used to work until we found out the goal was the SS Milo.

    MMM would say you should be happy with this:

  119. Fu(k MMM. He also says that you should be happy driving your 15-year-old Scion into the ground, then he goes out and buys a Nissan Leaf just because. Oh yeah, something about supporting revolutionary technologies.

    And now he’s buying vacant buildings downtown to turn into hangout spots for his hipster sycophants to gather ’round and praise him.

    I do love boats, though. Even my little redneck party barge. We’ve taken so many people out on it this summer, and now that my youngest is older and less dependent on an early bedtime, we’ve done a lot of late-afternoon to well-past-dark outings. It’s so incredibly enjoyable when the sun is setting, and it’s fun piloting back in the dark. And every single person has been commenting, and multiple times at that, how much they’ve loved it, as if they’re surprised that they like it so much and they can’t believe such an option exists. Even DW’s aunt with MS who can not take the heat at all, and supposedly has never enjoyed boats, wrote me a long email about what a great time she had.

  120. Per MMM I think the most value you can get out of him by thinking of him as the Marie Kondo of money. Is what you’re spending your money on giving your pleasure? If fancy cars aren’t your thing but boats are direct the money into a boat. If the thought of an early retirement fills you with delight then direct the money that way.

    In my case, is replacing my 10 year old car with 50k miles going to bring me more delight than another lavish vacation? No. Then vacation it is.

  121. It’s a little bit of sarcasm, but it’s also true that I don’t identify with the Totebag obsession with college in general, and all the focus and devotion that entails. It’s just four years.

    I agree with that. It’s the comments like “people like us wouldn’t buy a Bosch dishwasher” or “we had friends who went the lake house every weekend growing up, I just can’t imagine that” when your in-laws have a lake house.

    I do give you kudos for violating the long-standing totebag practice of not mentioning colleges by name and stating straight out that your brother went to Penn.

  122. “hipster sycophants

    LOL!”

    So Why Did We Buy a Building?

    This somewhat wild scheme is the culmination of a few different values:
    •We wanted to get more involved with the local community, by owning a little piece of the Main Street and helping to make it a more joyful place. There’s nothing wrong with selling stuff and making money, but I’m also interested in teaching classes, hosting events and parties, and donating the space for use for non-profit events which are designed to help people.

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/08/02/introducing-the-mmm-world-headquarters-building/

  123. “stating straight out that your brother went to Penn.”

    Yes, sometimes it’s best just to come clean and deal with the fallout directly

  124. “you come to the conclusion that the easiest and most sensible mindset is to scrap the ‘striver’ mentality that requires you to constantly evaluate what brand name or level of spending or neighborhood or vacation destination or car make is fitting and commensurate with your particular station at that point in time (Chevy when you’re starting out, then a Buick, then a Cadillac…) and just say ‘Fu(k it. I like Walmart.’”

    Well, in fact, that is a very “old money” approach — very anti-showy, playing the cards close to the vest. It is also entirely consistent with the Totebag ethos (i.e., that is one of the traits of the wealthy that we tend to emulate).

  125. The difference for Milo is that he considers an elite school education to be a consumer indulgence of the order of a Mercedes SUV or a real Tesla. The inconvenient truth that his brother went to an Ivy and he attended an elite service academy have to be downplayed as stuff that just sort of happened. Kind of like my unexpected inheritance.

  126. “Well, in fact, that is a very “old money” approach — very anti-showy”

    To a degree. They like their ancient cars, as long as they’re ancient Volvos or Saabs. I think you could probably draw parallels for other categories.

  127. ““we had friends who went the lake house every weekend growing up, I just can’t imagine that” when your in-laws have a lake house.”

    Bay. But that’s not the same as growing up with it.

  128. that just sort of happened

    He has mentioned that an inordinate amount of effort didn’t go into getting him in the Naval Academy or his brother into Penn. I assume his brother went to school in the late 90s early 00s so it wasn’t all that different back them. Perhaps you either have it or you don’t and parents are deluding themselves by thinking you can extracurricular you way around a 1420 SAT score*.

    * Penn’s average is 1510 which would be the 99.24 percentile 1420 is the 97th.

  129. “Per MMM I think the most value you can get out of him by thinking of him as the Marie Kondo of money. Is what you’re spending your money on giving your pleasure? If fancy cars aren’t your thing but boats are direct the money into a boat. If the thought of an early retirement fills you with delight then direct the money that way.

    In my case, is replacing my 10 year old car with 50k miles going to bring me more delight than another lavish vacation? No. Then vacation it is.”

    I totally agree – great analogy. That’s exactly what I’ve taken from him. Right down to not replacing the 10 year old car with 50K miles because it really wouldn’t be as enjoyable as other options.

    MMM is a little trapped. He’s gotten very rich off living a poor lifestyle, and now he has to invent ridiculous justification for spending some of those ill gotten gains. It’s been very entertaining to watch, actually.

  130. “elite school education to be a consumer indulgence of the order of a Mercedes SUV or a real Tesla”

    No, I consider it higher than a Mercedes. But at $70k-post-tax a year, I don’t consider it as something that I’m obligated to purchase, if given the opportunity. I do value education and life-long learning, but I also very much value financial independence and security, and achieving those things as early as possible. I also take a little bit of the Good Will Hunting philosophy that the best education is equally available with a public library card, and now more so than ever with the exploding number of resources for auditing courses. Considering that, it really does become little more than the opportunity to spend a huge amount of money to purchase a credential to signal the fact that, from the ages of 14-18, you ticked all the right boxes and performed well on a number of standardized tests. For the rich, it’s better than a third and fourth Mercedes GL. For the statistical middle class, they won’t pay sticker price, anyway. But for the upper middle class, it’s not a financially sound bet.

  131. Bay. But that’s not the same as growing up with it.

    But your kids are growing up with it.

  132. But for the upper middle class, it’s not a financially sound bet.

    That all hinges on the kid. One of the neighbor kids just graduated from HS and his dream is to work on Wall St. For them it’s worth it. If kid wants to work for a non-profit or be a social worker then no it’s never going to pay off.

  133. I think MMM took a circuitous route to being an entrepreneur. He should have started into rentals and real estate, fixer upper buildings a while ago. He sort of reminds me of the various Duggar businesses.

  134. No kid is a fully-formed person when they graduate from high school. What they do, where they go, what’s expected from them next shapes them in important ways. That’s not to say Ivies are best for everyone. I’m thinking of a regular here who has described vividly that she did some kind of hotel maid thing at a liberal arts school out on the prarie. I think she could still be kind of a big deal there because of her big brain. Would she be the same person today if she’d had an average brain at a place that reinforced her identity as a poor person? I certainly think I’d be a different person if I’d taken a different turn at that point in my life. Buying d brand car can’t come close to that kind of influence over a person’s life.

  135. “I think MMM took a circuitous route to being an entrepreneur. He should have started into rentals and real estate, fixer upper buildings a while ago.”

    I don’t think he ever trumpeted the merits of entrepreneurialism, or that it was initially all that lucrative for him. He writes about how he lost a friend whom he had made a business partner when the friend backed out on a house flipping deal.

    His thing was always two software engineers, roughly $80k a piece, live on a small fraction of that, set the timer for 10 years, “DING!” Retired!

  136. I think MMM took a circuitous route to being an entrepreneur.

    Out of necessity more than he’s willing to admit. As we’ve discussed before, depending on the exact timing of everything, his real estate losses could have wiped him out. He was saved, to a considerable degree by the blog. He wants us to think (and maybe believes himself) that he’s living on his old software developer money but he’s really living on the accumulated blog money after having lost the original nest egg.

  137. Rhett – The real estate losses were all before the blog started, or at the very least, before it got going big and earning any money. And I always understood that they were separate from his basic $million+ in Vanguard stock index funds. So when he really was living on $25k annually, it was comfortably below his 4% “safe withdrawal rate.”

  138. Right, but if the market was down by half when he needed $200k to bail himself out of the spec houses then he was down to his last 50k or 100k. Of course, as I said, it all depends on the exact timing.

  139. SSM, if you’re interested as the parent of another Running Start student, it turned out that the high school’s comfort zone is to count only classes with ENG in the title for English, so he’s added a creative nonfiction class. He’s still taking the Chinese Lit class, so now he has a full college schedule plus the two high school classes. No fear that he’ll look like he’s slacking senior year, I guess!

  140. RMS, it seems to mean travel writing, memoirs, science writing, personal essays, and other types of nonfiction done in a readable and non-dry way. Anyway, the class has good reviews.

  141. HM, just curious, is he going to the CC nearest your home? How’s he getting there (e.g., TheBus, drive)? Hmm, that suggests a topic to submit to July….

    If he’s going to the CC nearest your home, I can guess where he might buy his lunch on many days.

  142. “elite school education to be a consumer indulgence of the order of a Mercedes SUV or a real Tesla”

    I’ve expounded here before on what I see to be the experiential aspect of college, as well as my kids’ K-12 schooling.

  143. He’s going to KCC. I’m not sure if it’s actually closer than HCC or not, but there is a convenient bus between there and his HS that should work out well for him. And I agree, he should definitely be getting his lunch at KCC but he never once tried the cafeteria (don’t think 220 Grille was open) over the summer. Maybe he’ll be more willing to now that he’ll have some days where he has a break at lunchtime between classes instead of an early morning class and then pau. And also he may be feeling more comfortable on campus; part of his problem was that he felt awkward about (as he saw it) intruding on a college campus.

  144. Oh, wait, you were thinking HCC and he’d get lunch at Costco, weren’t you?

  145. “My brother was admitted to, matriculated at, and was graduated from, Penn.”

    That’s what I was thinking when I asked the question.

    I definitely consider Penn to be a HSS. I find it interesting that you apparently don’t, but perhaps that explains a lot.

  146. HM, bingo. But I was also curious about whether he’d drive or catch TheBus. Does he have a youth pass?

    Isn’t KCC’s culinary program being moved to another site? If it’s still on the same campus, it would make sense for him to try out their fare.

    I don’t think it’ll take long for him to feel comfortable there, no longer than it took as a HS freshman to feel comfortable at his HS. When I did something similar, it just took me long enough to know my way around the part of campus where my classes were.

  147. “They have a few ways of puffing up their selectivity.”

    IMO, Milo’s alma mater is a HSS, but their basis of selectivity is much different than non-DoD HSS.

  148. “definitely consider Penn to be a HSS. I find it interesting that you apparently don’t”

    No, I do. You guys just take my comments, and this topic, too seriously. At least half of what I say is sarcastic.

  149. “it’s fun piloting back in the dark.”

    Just curious– What kind of lights do you have on the boat? Do you use them much after dark, or just navigate by starlight/moonlight/other ambient light?

  150. “So when he really was living on $25k annually,”

    I wonder how much of that $25k was left after medical insurance premiums.

  151. “it was the hardest to hold the MND mentality when she was about my age with kids approaching/in middle school because everyone started really buying luxury cars and significantly upgrading their houses. (and they were outwardly comfortably MC/UMC)”

    Yeah, we want to pass down MND values to our kids, but it’s hard when a lot of the delayed gratification that put us in our current position happened before they were born, and now when we reap some of that delayed gratification, we’re not demonstrating those MND values.

  152. MMM grew up in Canada, had US jobs as a younger man with health coverage, and was covered by his wife’s insurance at her job until Obamacare. But I know people who are actually quite extreme in their minimalism and do not believe in health insurance as long as they “take care of themselves.”

  153. “What kind of lights do you have on the boat?”

    Oh, you opened up a can of worms.

    Short answer is lights on any boat are to be seen and identified, not to illuminate your path ahead. This takes a little getting used to when you first try it out, in my case, on a sailboat long ago. So, port and starboard running lights (red and green, respectively), and a white all-around light. As I regaled my friend who asked about this recently, once you get used to that, you can see lights miles in the distance and based on color combo, your mind just processes what aspect of the other boat you’re seeing, just like if you’re driving down an empty road, your mind reacts differently to seeing red (tail lights) than it does to white (headlights), even though you don’t consciously think about what each means.

    As ships get larger, they add additional masthead lights to indicate significant length, status of towing, restriction in ability to maneuver, status of fishing, etc. But that’s beyond the scope of what you might encounter on an inland lake, so I’ve forgotten most of it.

    Now, Joe Sixpack lately has gotten interested in a lot of add-on products of various LED strips for “mood lighting,” and lighting up the surrounding water. Technically these are sold to be used only at the dock, but that’s not always followed, and while it makes you seen, it screws up the system by which you recognize what’s going on. If you’re in Maryland, with their heavy law enforcement presence on the water, you’ll get a ticket. But we don’t have that many police here. There are very specific requirements for this, you can’t just dick around with a whole strip of green LED:

    b) “Sidelights” means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side.

    Here, read Rules 19-30:

    https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=NavRulesWithAnnexes#rule18

    We also have docking lights, which are white LED headlights that are only supposed to be used for docking. Joe Sixpack, again, will often leave these on all the time. I might use them to flash quick warnings if necessary to, let’s say, mariners who are less prudent than myself. (Rule 17(b))

    But what you were really asking about is how do you know where to steer. The answer is GPS and the Navionics app on my iPhone (if it’s totally dark).

  154. “But what you were really asking about is how do you know where to steer. ”

    Only partly.

    I have an interest in lighting, especially LED lighting, having done development work a while back. I also improvise bicycle lighting (I’ve found commercially available stuff to be some combination of more than I’m willing to spend and not good enough), so I’m always interested in other possible sources of hardware I might be able to use on my bike.

    Sounds like the recent advances in LED lighting aren’t that big a deal to boaters following the rules.

    Right now, my bike has a 550 lumen LED flashlight clamped to the handlebar as a headlight. I think I paid about $12 for it at a Home Depot Black Friday sale. Per Wikipedia, a car low beam is about 700 lumens.

    BTW, do you have a backup to your iPhone for navigation?

  155. The problem is you’re supposed to see the red and white lights only in this picture. From a little more distance, they will be obscured by the redneck decorative lighting:

    “BTW, do you have a backup to your iPhone for navigation?”

    Sure. The North Star and a sextant. ;)

    No. It’s just a lake. I can find my way back, especially slowly.

    When we venture out in a few years, then yes.

  156. So if your boat has a cabin, are you supposed to close its shades if you turn the lights on in the cabin?

    I’m also wondering about the local sunset cruise boats. Are the passengers supposed to eat in the dark? Next time I see one I’ll need to pay closer attention.

  157. Haha, no. And I suppose that’s a fair question, as where do you draw the line? Traditionally, cruise ships, for example, are big fountains of light.

  158. “Yeah, we want to pass down MND values to our kids, but it’s hard when a lot of the delayed gratification that put us in our current position happened before they were born, and now when we reap some of that delayed gratification, we’re not demonstrating those MND values.”

    That’s a great point. Only one of our kids remembers the first house. But that’s where the stories about walking to school in the snow uphill both ways come in.

  159. “Traditionally, cruise ships, for example, are big fountains of light.”

    Relating this to dry land, our back neighbors seems to have started to leave their outdoor lights on for extended times. It’s a bright spotlight situated at the second floor level, so sitting my my backyard in the evening I feel I need sunglasses. Now I’m more aware of our own lights, which we sometimes forget to turn off after we let the dogs out. However, our lights are at first floor level and have dimmers. I’m not sure how long I’ll wait before I say something to my neighbors.

    The other thing these neighbors did was position their new trampoline right next to the fence separating our yards, so it’s right next to our yard and farthest away from their back door. When their kids were out jumping and our dogs were out there was a lot of barking, which was not a surprise. They’ve since moved the trampoline closer to their house.

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