September 30, 2012

"I am saddened by my daughter’s ongoing disappointment because we could not afford to send her to her dream college."

"Instead, we are paying for her education at half the price (but still over $26,000 a year) at an in-state school," writes some mother to advice columnist Amy Dickinson.

This takes me back to my teenage years, in the 1960s, when my parents told me they couldn't send me to a private school (after my French teacher talked up Middlebury College to me). I didn't consider it an option to complain, though I felt bad about it.



My parents paid all my college expenses, and the notion of taking loans to make up the difference never came up. It was a different culture back then, at least at my house. You understood that you bought what you could afford, and it showed bad character to mope about it, and you didn't want to be ungrateful or selfish. And if I had crossed the line into a display of such bad character traits, my parents would never have considered writing to an advice columnist about what to do about their complaining, ungrateful daughter who won't value what is good about the college we are able to pay for.

Ask Amy says: "Your daughter needs to learn a lesson tougher than any course she will take in college: that she is responsible for her own success and happiness, now and beyond," and maybe she should transfer somewhere she likes better and, along the way, figure out how to cover whatever expenses exceed the part her parents can pay. That's good advice for the daughter. But I prefer advice columnists who go straight for the letter-writer's problem when the letter-writer is saying somebody else is a problem. There are always implied problems belonging to the letter-writer, beginning with the problem of lacking your own ideas of how to extricate yourself from your problems.

What did you do to raise a daughter who would put on a display of complaining like that? At the same time, I look to myself and wonder why I accepted the limitation, imposed by my parents, of attending a big state school and had no idea of how to explore the option of going somewhere else.

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them.

119 comments:

somefeller said...

While there may be a sense of entitlement here, there's a quote from the article that's worth noting: "She wanted a small school where professors know their students by name, not as a number. She is a good student but finds all the partying at this particular school distracting."

If the problem is that this young woman is stuck in an educational and social environment that is stifling and where she's made to feel like a disposable number at the school, her complaints aren't invalid. But on the other hand, unless she got into a really top-ranked school (and those schools are usually good for providing scholarships to those who need them, including a lot of not-poor people), it's not a good idea to take out a lot of student loan debt. It sounds like the options were state school with no debt or lots of debt to attend a good but not top-ranked private school, and in that context, state school is better.

This young woman should try to get into the honors programs at her school, they tend to have smaller classes and give the atmosphere of a private college at the cost of a public one. That route is often missed and good for all involved.

David said...

"The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them."

Worth repeating.

EDH said...

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them.

Who's been selling that social poison?

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Althouse would like to highlight this sort of thing instead of repeatedly hammering away at the Obamaphone lady.

I'm guessing that the con base is more interested in the Obamaphone lady.

Anywho, I'd like to know what this kid is studying. Law?

David said...

Somefeller, she has opportunities that most people can never dream of. The stifling is self imposed. It's really not hard to avoid or ignore all the partying. There's lots of partying at Williams and Middlebury too.

Ron said...

Perhaps we have lost the belief that there is some connection to work, effort and reward. Reward now seems either more luck based or connection based, but NOT effort based. Why work towards something when all that work won't pay off in the end?

somefeller said...

Somefeller, she has opportunities that most people can never dream of. The stifling is self imposed. It's really not hard to avoid or ignore all the partying.

David, agreed. But while 18 or 19 isn't childhood, it isn't maturity either. Sometimes people get into a rut and if there isn't an obvious way to get out of that rut, stay there. Maybe the honors program at her school is a way out.

There's lots of partying at Williams and Middlebury too.

Oh, yes, absolutely. No doubt about that, I've seen it first-hand (though not at those two colleges specifically). And usually with better liquor too!

Tom Spaulding said...

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them.

Pointing this out, where the "entitled everyone" is a Black woman and the "things they can't pay for but feel someone should" is an Obamaphone is racist, however.







edutcher said...

Not all that many people get to go to the college they want most.

A good many probably shouldn't be going at all.

If she has the smarts and Mom and Dad still have the money in these ghastly times, she should count herself lucky, indeed.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

"The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them."

Is Althouse saying that professors are overpaid whiners who are robbing young Americans? If so, it is nice to see that she is still living the old fashioned nobility of her youth. Her parents would be proud. Bravo.

pm317 said...

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them.

Some of Romney's message and his implied message about the 47% (yet that would not make you vote for him), or did you miss it? (not trying to hijack the thread).

About the whining daughter and the saddened mother -- my nephew in India at one point thought I could finance his MS education here at the best of schools (even though his GRE scores were abysmal) out of my pocket and my sister (his mother) thought that I could just drum up a bank loan to make that happen for him. I was willing to help him get into a local univ where I knew people but for them it was not enough. I tried to explain to them how I was a new immigrant with not that kind of money but they never understood. We are estranged now.

Hagar said...

These days, young ladies can do a stint in the military and then go to their "dream college."

The Crack Emcee said...

I went to City College of San Francisco until I ran out of money. Then I joined my first band and didn't look back. I had no parents to lean on so made my own way.

I may go back to college again, one day, but music still calls me more,...

Unknown said...
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Surfed said...
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Chip S. said...

Althouse would like to highlight this sort of thing instead of repeatedly hammering away at the Obamaphone lady.

I'm guessing that the con base is more interested in the Obamaphone lady.


The con base has already discussed this chick extensively. Her name is Julia.

Surfed said...

Absolutely correct Ann. I'm an inner city public school teacher (one of the "bad guys" of scociety right now)and I put my daughter through Catholic Schools (I'm no Catholic) and four years of Florida State University. She graduated with zero debt. That said she worked at part time jobs, got scholarships and grants and did well for herself and works for the Governor of Florida. But I picked up almost all of the tab. And, because of that I don't have much to show by was of personal posessions in my life. I've got a surfboard, a sailboat, a guitar and a great girlfriend (from Wisconsin!). So I guess I win. And my daughter did too.

sydney said...

"I was not willing to saddle her with a loan that would take 10 to 20 years to pay off", said the mother. Taking 10 to 20 years to pay off a loan isn't that much to ask for a lifetime investment. That ay have been where the mom went wrong. She taught her daughter to expect a free education.

Inga said...
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Aridog said...

What a load of manure. Poor little darling is unhappy with her full time state university and parents footing the entire bill?

Clue to parents: bring her tender behind home, stop paying for everything, tell her to get a full time job, and then if she really wants an education, enroll in a state university closest to your hometown for night school, on her own dime. She will find herself in the company of others who have to produce to progress. No hand outs. What a concept.

Inga said...

I couldn't afford to send my daughters to private colleges either, nor did they want to go to one. UW Madison was the place to be and that's where one of them was lucky enough to end up at, two were less lucky and attended UW Milwaukee. All three are happy with their choices and lives.

I don't understand paying exorbitant tuition to a private college, it's up to the student to be succesful wherever they attend. As for small class sizes and being just a number, well yes maybe, but we are training them to succeed in the big wide world, consider college a way to break it to them that they aren't all that special in the scheme of things.

One of my daughters, an honor student all through high school and college, found out in Law School that there were many as smart as her and smarter, she was a bit surprised, ha! That lesson has served her well in her career as an attorney.

n.n said...

It's a dissociation from reality. In it's extreme form, it manifests in consumption of psychotropic drugs. In all its forms, it's a preference for fantasy over reality. Both men, and women, by their nature, have dreams of instant gratification (i.e. physical, material, ego). These dreams rarely, if ever, can be fulfilled without consequences.

We have experienced cultural corruption by pandering to and promising fulfillment of these dreams, especially through involuntary exploitation. The outcome has been a progressive corruption of individuals, institutions, and society. Some behaviors are suitable for normalization, others may be tolerated, and others yet should be rejected.

So, we have normalized an entitlement mentality, denigration of individual dignity, and devaluation of human life. The effects are obvious and their treatment, in perpetuity, is profitable. For this reason, the causes will not be addressed.

America is in a crisis of far greater proportion than the so-called "evil empire." Not only have we made made great strides to normalize involuntary exploitation (with "good" intentions and an ever increasing indigent and homeless enrollment); but, we have also managed to normalize evolutionary dysfunction. The latter is directly observable in a majority of the population reproducing in the minority.

The last achievement was quite a trick (our egos, material desires, and distaste for personal responsibility, overrode our better judgment). Americans, in the majority, were convinced to voluntarily commit generational suicide through elective termination of their children and normalization of unproductive behaviors. This is, presumably, the justification for permitting the displacement of Americans by the millions annually.

Anyway, it seems that Americans are destined to exchange their liberty for submission with benefits. They dream of instant gratification without perceived consequences and they are comforted with false promises.

Peter Hoh said...

Who's been selling that social poison?

The market.

No down payment. Low monthly payments. Seventy-two month car loans.

hiswiserangel said...

Here's a different take, I chose a small Division II school with good academics and a lousy football team. What wasn't covered by scholarships earned by working my ass off and not partying, was paid for by the numerous part-time jobs. My parents were willing to get a 2nd mortgage to send me to a "better" school, but I wasn't going to take that. I got two degrees in 5 years, great networking, and no debt.

Chip S. said...

Peter Hoh, what connection do you see b/w the "entitlement culture" and the Fed's current interest-rates policy?

William said...

It's all relative, or who your relatives are. Churchill felt somewhat deprived because his mother could not afford to keep a string of polo ponies for him. That's what happens when your grandfather is a Duke and your mother an heiress.....People who feel entitled frrequently get what they feel entitled to. It's the people who don't feel entitled who get screwed

Dante said...
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Dante said...

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them.

Nothing like being in the middle, eh, Ann? When people complain about cell phone entitlements, it's racism.

The middle, in the eye of the hurricane, following it wherever it goes. The safe place, where any position is justifiable.

ricpic said...

Middlebury College is a downscale Dartmouth...which is a downscale Yale...which is half a tick below Harvard. That kind of fine tuned status positioning among our ruling/mandarin class may be sickening but hey, that's what mandarins do.

Paul said...

"Dream college"... what a crock.

Tell that lazy college student to GET A PART TIME JOB.

I did 30+ years ago.

Gad our society is so lazy and expectant of everyone else to finance their way in life.

Freder Frederson said...

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can't pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn't have to think about them.

You do realize the irony of this statement three paragraphs after telling us that "My parents paid all my college expenses", don't you?

No of course not, your narcissism knows no bounds.

Inga said...

It was understood by my kids that they would be working throughout college and they did, except for my daughter's first year of law school. My daughter in Madison waited tables at a Creole restraurant. I think it was called the Creole actually.

Oso Negro said...

I suspect if Ann had worked her way through college back when, she would be more conservative today. In fact, I feel sure that as a rule, people who worked their way through school are more conservative.

Oso Negro said...
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Chip S. said...

I just checked and discovered that if your parents have a good credit rating, you can get a student loan at an interest rate that's well below the going rate on car loans.

Based on the number and quality of the cars I see in the student lots at the local university, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a lot of people are using student loans to finance student cars.

Tom Spaulding said...

"Saddened by her daughter's ongoing disappointment".

Saddened. Not outraged. Saddened.

Not tired and sweaty from beating her daughter's ass with a yardstick for being a spoiled brat. Saddened.

Who are these people?

Fr Martin Fox said...

I think mummie and daddy should hold payment on the checks and give princess the want ads.

And advise her that she starts owing rent starting next month.

Full disclosure: I had help from my parents, and the gov't, to attend a tax-funded college. I'm grateful.

Martha said...

I was that whining girl 46 years ago but way back then private college cost was $3300 -- tuition + board!
My parents did listen to my begging and allowed me to attend the private college of my dreams. I thank them to this day for that. I did manage to win a fellowship for the subsequent 4 years of medical school--so IMHO my parents' investmentin my private college education paid off.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

"Not tired and sweaty from beating her daughter's ass with a yardstick for being a spoiled brat."

&

"people who worked their way through school are more conservative."

Is there any research regarding kids who are beaten (in the strict old fashioned way)? Does being whacked as a kid affect the political views or selfishness/selflessness when these folks grow up? Was Althouse smacked? Or, was she only taught w/ visual aids, e.g. when her dad ripped money in half?

Chip S. said...

There's an easy way to avoid this problem.

First, the parents have to determine how much they think they're obligated to spend on their kids' college education. This amount obviously varies a lot depending on their wealth.

Next, the parents simply tell their kids that they get a check in this amount every year for the next four years, regardless of where they go to school. Then they can let their kids decide where to go.

If the school costs more than the parents are kicking in, then the kid has to come up with the balance through his choice of borrowing and working. If the school costs less than the check from the parents, the kid gets to pocket the difference.

No tears, no pining, no guilt, no resentment.

Chip S. said...

PB&J, the one bit of research on spanking I'm aware of found that it's pretty much used by parents who don't have the means to use financial incentives to affect their kids' behavior. Obviously, this is just a central tendency and there are lots of cases that don't fall neatly on the regression line, but it's still the basic relationship.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...
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Tom Spaulding said...

"I failed to raise a responsible, self-reliant child and now I'm sad."

You are losing me.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Not only was Althouse taught that she shouldn't expect to go to an expensive school, she was also deterred from going into fields that were more suitable for men.

"Boy the way Glenn Miller Played
Songs that made the Hit Parade
Guys like us we had it made
Those were the days.

Didn't need no Welfare states
Everybody pulled his weight
gee our old LaSalle ran great
Those were the days

And you knew who you were then
Girls were girls and men were men
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again

People seemd to be content
$50 payed the rent
Freaks were in a circus tent
Those were the days

Take a little sunday spin
Tonight I'll watch the dogers win
Have yourself a dandy day that cost you under a fin

Hair was short and skirts were long
Kate Smith really sung the song
I don't know just what went wrong"

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The daughter does seem to lack imagination. She could have applied to the more expensive school to see how much it would cost and then figured out how to afford it.

Or, the daughter could leverage the money saved on college to go to the grad school of her dreams. Or a down payment on buying a house.

For the parents, the hard question is, is your daughter unhappy, or is she an unhappy person? My guess is that she'd still be unhappy if she transferred, feeling that she'd missed out a crucial year or two.

Pastafarian said...

Interesting: on the Lions/Vikings game, they just ran a very long Obama ad, with somber photos of workers from various fields, and that 47% recording of Romney playing in the background.

Then they ran it again, immediately afterward.

Think about how much that cost: how many people must have contributed money to portray Romney as evil and vile, for saying the same obvious thing about the entitlement culture that Althouse just said.

I wonder how much of the money that paid for that large expensive slot came from productive work in the private sector. Ten percent, maybe? Fifteen?

Clyde said...

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child."

-- King Lear, William Shakespeare

Malesch Morocco said...

Your last paragraph says it all.

Malesch Morocco said...

Your last paragraph says it all.

Levi Starks said...

I'm saddened she can't have the opportunity to clean truck stop restrooms for about a year before she starts college.

jr565 said...

This post answers Sandra Flukes argument quite readily. Everyone would like to attend that dream college, but not everyone can afford it. If you can't afford it, you attend the college you can. In Sandra's case she made the choice to attend a college that was so prohibitively expensive that she literally was unable to cover her birth control expenses. When in fact, that was not her only option. She, like this womans parents could weigh the costs of respective colleges and find a scenario where she could afford both college AND birth control. It's called making priorities and adults do it every day of their lives.
If you can afford Georgetown but no condoms, maybe you can't really afford Georgetown. So why not attend a good SUNY school where you can afford SUNY + Condoms + a big screen tv? See how that works?

jr565 said...

Why should we subsidize seconard expenses for people able to afford expensive colleges when people have to settle for less than their dream school because they can't afford a place like Georgetown? Sandra Fluke should be subsidized for attending an ivy league schoo but somehow we should give short shrift to people who can't?

Kit said...

First off, I don't at all feel that this is indictive of the times. This kind of pouty, blackmailing-the-parents behavior has been going on forever. That's all this is.

The way to have nipped it in the bud would have been to have had an ongoing discussion of family finances and expectations as soon as the college discussions began. What do you do now? The parent and the kid both have some growing up to do. Now would be a good time.

My college was paid for with a modest family inheritance. My husband paid for his own. For our daughter, we agreed to pay for whatever the cost of in-state (state school) tuition was. If she wanted to go out of state, she had to cover the rest. Also, we gave her back one student loan to pay back, so to help her build a cedit rating.

She graduated in 4 years, including a year abroad and is now back in school, working and living on her own.

Rustling Leaves said...

Perhaps she should have considered a community college if she wanted small intimiate classes. That was my experience. I never was taught by a TA. My professors were passionate about the subjects they were teaching. My major's cohort consisted of 15 students. We were all in mostly the same classes and knew our professors very well. I doubt this is the case in all programs at all community colleges, but this experience does exist if you choose a good major. Also, it really just depends on what you are willing to put in that will determine what you get out of your education. That, I believe, is more important than which school you can afford to attend.

gadfly said...

Professor Althouse asks:

What did you do to raise a daughter who would put on a display of complaining like that?

The warning siren went off in my head, but it seems that "the times they are a-changin'."

A quick Google search got me the expert advice of William Saffire who says:

Although I’m usually a prescriptive usagist, I’ll now argue that to tut-tut at “I’m raising my kid to be a billionaire” is to commit an incorrection. . . . My advice to the stalwart rear/raise differentiators, drawing to an inside straight: fold ’em. Raise takes the pot.

gadfly said...

@pbAndjFellowRepublican gave us the the infamous "Those Were The Days" lyrics.

However, I am sure that Archie and Edith would watch the Dodgers, not the "dogers."

ricpic said...

peanutbutter&jelly doesn't understand the song Archie sings any more than Norman Lear, Archie's creator, could understand his creation's popularity. You've won, pb&j, you and Norman and a million other robotic leftists have wiped out a world that could be loved because it was lovable with a world that's...LIBERATED from all those fuddy duddy human connections.

B said...

Chip S. said...Next, the parents simply tell their kids that they get a check in this amount every year for the next four years, regardless of where they go to school. Then they can let their kids decide where to go.

I did something not too far from your plan but had to factor in 4 educations up front. I sat each one down in HS. I committed to paying half of their college tuition and ran some numbers and scenarios for them showing what they would be liable for ranging from commuting to a local state college to room and board at a private college. I made it clear that with my financial profile they would be unlikely to get much direct aid in the form of grants but if they did that would come off the top before the split. Any academic or athletic direct aid they got would reduce just their end.

Not sure how much of that took when they were 15/16 yo and I got some bitching about it later but that was the deal. One went to a service academy, but damned if the other three didn't all choose private colleges.

Athletic and/or academic scholarship money reduced their end in each case but they all owed some student debt ranging from about 15k to 25k on graduation. That's a drop in the bucket compared to some and none of them had/have any particular difficulty servicing their debt.

It wasn't part of the original deal but what's similar to what you wrote is that now that they're all through school and I've paid off what educational related loans I borrowed I've started retiring their loans proportionally. The two with the lower private college loans will end up with money in their pockets and by the time the other gets out of the service - or before as there's talk of making a career of it - about 25k.

Michael K said...

"I don't understand paying exorbitant tuition to a private college, it's up to the student to be succesful wherever they attend. "

The situation now is that out-of-state students are greatly desired by state schools because they pay approximately private school tuition.

I have five kids. The two oldest went to private university and I paid for it, both because it was relatively cheap then (1980s) and because I could afford it. My third is a fireman and has only a junior college record without a degree. He is happily married with three kids a nice home and is conservative. The oldest two are Obama voters.

The next, the fourth in the series, went to junior college and UCLA. I paid for it and she is another Obama voter.

The youngest is now at the U of Arizona although I told her I though she should go to a California college. She ignored me. She working and paying her living expenses and expects me to pay the tuition, which went up by 1/3 after her first year. I feel some obligation since the others went at my expense but I have told her I can no longer afford this. We have a standoff at the moment.

In 1956, I was accepted to CalTech, my first choice, but did not get my scholarship because my father, who had not graduated from high school, refused to fill out financial disclosure forms. I got another scholarship to USC and managed to go through both undergrad and medical school on scholarship. I did work to pay my expenses as I got no help from home.

Freeman Hunt said...

I would have been ashamed to ever express the merest hint of disappointment at anything my father provided for me. I did not apply to my favorite school because it offered no merit scholarships, and I knew my father would have felt obligated to pay for it if I'd gotten in, and it would have been a huge financial strain.

People starve to death in this world. If you're not going to your ideal school, big deal. Get over yourself.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

somefeller,

[quoting the article:]

"She wanted a small school where professors know their students by name, not as a number. She is a good student but finds all the partying at this particular school distracting."

You know what? If you want to, you can get to know your professors by name at any school. There are these quaint things called "office hours," as well as the time immediately after class. Most faculty at most schools love to talk to individual students.

And partying? Believe it or not, there is a way not to be distracted by the party culture. It's called "not being interested in it."

Honestly, people. OK, I went to UC/Berkeley, which doesn't have a particular reputation as a party school, but there was certainly a lot of partying. It didn't distract me, because I wasn't interested. And I knew all my professors, because I took the effort (and it doesn't take much -- faculty are eager to talk to students who seem actually to want to learn something) to introduce myself and ask questions.

Really, that's all you need.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

I can imagine Meadehouse singing that song.

Especially when Althouse earnestly claims that everyone is looking for a handout. Not 47%. Everyone!

Funny stuff.

RigelDog said...

The daughter has so many options available. Here in Pennsylvania, we have a multitude of relatively inexpensive, state-affiliated colleges and universities. My son just started at the most expensive and largest, Penn State. But if he'd wanted the small college experience there are many from which he could choose...the enormous student body, big-party school is certainly not for everyone.

DEEBEE said...

BHO is right, these kind of loser kids do need to be on teir parents insurance. He did not go far enough.

meep said...

Speaking as someone who went to a large state land-grant university, I had no trouble w.r.t. the profs knowing my name. They tend to know the names of the few people who actually show up to their office hours or just come by to chat.

The great thing about large universities with a party atmosphere is that the competition is low if you're serious academically as an undergrad. Usually one can find lots of helpful profs, because they're not actually taxed by many students wanting to discuss stuff further. And there's a huge amount of resources and opportunities compared to smaller schools. At my school I got to: TA a calculus class as an undergrad, wrote a handbook used for 3rd semester calculus, got an RA position in the physics department for my senior year, and had summer educational stuff paid for.

Thing is, it's up to you to go seek out opportunities in such a situation. There's not much in the way of catering to the passive student. One can't hide in a small program, but it's easy to play dead in a big institution. If you're used to other people handing opportunities to you, you're not going to do terribly well.

Bruce Hayden said...

First, some admissions - my father, some 45 years ago committed to paying for whatever undergraduate college any of his sons wanted and was able to attend, and ended up paying the equivalent of maybe 14 years of quality private college (the rest was mostly at state universities). And, I promised my one kid the same, and would have had to stretch to do it, if they hadn't gotten a nice scholarship. He said that I had a choice - a new car, or a college education. I was tempted by the car, but luckily picked the college education.

And, when I told them that I would pay whatever it cost, I pointed out their obligation to the next generation. You can't take it with you when you die, and your major legacy is in your descendants.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

meep,

[I haven't seen your welcome byline in ages.]

Speaking as someone who went to a large state land-grant university, I had no trouble w.r.t. the profs knowing my name. They tend to know the names of the few people who actually show up to their office hours or just come by to chat.

The great thing about large universities with a party atmosphere is that the competition is low if you're serious academically as an undergrad. Usually one can find lots of helpful profs, because they're not actually taxed by many students wanting to discuss stuff further. And there's a huge amount of resources and opportunities compared to smaller schools.


Exactly! If you aren't on a name basis with your professors at a big school, it's because you've never bothered trying to talk to them. They are mostly desperate to have contact with students who are doing something more than plodding through the requirements.

Bruce Hayden said...

That all said, a couple of things have to be kept in mind. First, and foremost, as Glenn Reynolds keeps pointing out, the return on investment for a college investment has dropped significantly over the last decade or so, and probably no where more than at the most expensive colleges. Maybe not at the Harvards, Yales, etc., but after the very top tier of schools. And, part of that is because it pretty much costs the same (excluding financial aid) at the very top private schools, in many cases, as it does at the 50th.

A lot of reasons for this, but probably the biggest is that the cost of college has been rising at several times the rate of inflation or economy growth for decades. While my father could afford to send 5 kids to private college (out of cash flow), I was pushed to pay for one to one comparable in cost today to those my brothers and I attended.

Where has all that money gone? Nicer dorms. Better athletic facilities. Much more administration. Lighter teaching loads for the faculty. And, more financial aid to preferred minorities (while the proportionate amount available to White Americans has shrunk). And, who knows where else. Interestingly, the one place it really hasn't gone, is into smaller class sizes.

But, with the Obama recession hitting the young, including new college grads, the hardest, the bubble seems ready to burst. We are already seeing it this year in law schools, but haven't much in the top undergraduate schools. And, I don't expect the Harvards and Yales to suffer much, but the rest?

Bruce Hayden said...
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Bruce Hayden said...

Another part of the inflation has been that college graduation acts like a signaling mechanism. President Obama must have been smarter than John McCain III, because he graduated from Columbia, and then Harvard Law School - ignoring that he was likely admitted to both as a foreign student to increase those schools apparent diversity (but, the problem now is that Mitt Romney has two Harvard graduate degree, not one - does that mean that he is even smarter?). John Kerry graduated from Harvard (and George W. Bush from Yale). Does that mean that he is that smart? Not really - based on his test scores, his IQ is likely not much above the mean.

The signaling value of college degrees from more elite schools follows you throughout life. Maybe 45 years after John Kerry slid through Harvard, many still think that he must be smart, because he got into that school and then graduated. And, I think that it is even more so with law schools - where they went to LS is one of the first things that lawyers look at when looking at other lawyers.

The signaling has traditionally mattered financially. Better schools mean better jobs, better graduate schools, etc. And, until recently, the added cost of attending has statistically been more than compensated by the increase in life earnings. So, it has made financial sense to the parents paying for such, and it also serves as a signal that they are financially well enough off to afford it, and are smart enough to make it happen for their kids.

Unfortunately, the bottom is dropping out of the return on investment in most of the more expensive colleges, which is why I think the bubble will burst.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Bruce,

Wasn't w's MBA from Harvard?

Yale & Harvard = smartest of all!

jr565 said...

It's not mentioned in the article, but I'm wondering what her major is going to be.

Aridog said...

I just re-read the Washington Post article again. It occurs to me that I was *HAD* in the first run through. That I bought the story bothers me. It occurs to me now that like many *advice* columns, this one has *fake* requests for advice.

We have *Reality Advice Columns" now,eh? ...fully scripted and stage managed like the TruTV show I mentioned on the **Oh, my, waaaaaagh, it's racist!! Romney bad!! threads.** That I fell for the blarney even briefly disappoints me.

Why is it bullshit? I quote the article's first sentence, the premise: I am saddened by my daughter's ongoing disappointment because we could not afford to send her to her dream college. Instead, we are paying for her education at half the price (but still over $26,000 a year) at an in-state school

Say what?!! Visualize me banging my head against a stone wall repeatedly. Say again?!!

One question: How many ordinary normal Americans earing the median income around $50K or so are supposed to even slightly relate to this nonsense? Or even double that median? How many of them could dream of paying $26K per year for their kid's college education? For multiple kids? This whole bit is a new-era bodice ripper for sub-teenage mentality girls.

The premise is as ripe as road apples on a hot summer day. Period. Concern over this straw student's disappointment issue is a damning conceit.

Just reading through the sincere comments here I note most of us, including myself, came from long ago, or come from recently, rather well off families, far above the median income levels, with a few exceptions who made it clear they had to earn every dime themselves.

Hint: Take away usurious long term debt financing from today's college masses and the vast majority do not go to college...they simply cannot afford it, especially without working directly to earn it and attending at night most likely.

*Crack* described the circumstance for most kids correctly. Anyone feeling remotely sorry for this straw student and/or the straw parent is disconnected from reality.

I realize this is just my dreary opinion, but I am unanimous in it. Show me how I'm wrong. Please.

vza said...

Good article @ Financial Times

Parents: How Much College Do You Owe Your Kids?

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/09/26/Parents-How-Much-College-Do-You-Owe-Your-Kid.aspx#page1

Ann Althouse said...

"Middlebury College is a downscale Dartmouth...which is a downscale Yale...which is half a tick below Harvard. That kind of fine tuned status positioning among our ruling/mandarin class may be sickening but hey, that's what mandarins do."

I never researched these schools at the time, but I remember Middlebury being presented as a place with a great languages program and my French teacher thinking I had special language skills and all-around numbers that would make this good for me. There wasn't much pushing of female students into posh schools, but the Ivy League schools you're thinking of were not open to women. There was talk of the 7 Sisters for females. But this was the hippie era, and I was hearing about Antioch and Oberlin. If I'd been given my choice of schools, I'm sure I would have ended up squandering my undergrad education, which is what I did at the University of Michigan. I really should have retreated into some menial art job until the whole thing blew over and gone back to school around the time when IRL I got around to going to law school, 1978.

Aridog said...

jr565 said...

It's not mentioned in the article, but I'm wondering what her major is going to be.

Her major? *Scripted Bullshit* ...but I repeat myself.

Ann Althouse said...

@gadfly That raise/rear thing is a lost cause and Safire's been dead a long time. The fact is, it sounds wrong to say "rear" which is an unpleasant word.

If you say "bring up" a child, why not say "raise"?

When I was a kid, it was also a subject of chiding to call a kid "a kid"? "Kids" are goats, the pedants would say.

It's language. It means what it means.

Phil 3:14 said...

Speaking as someone who went to an elite school, the desire for the elite school is like the desire for the iPhone:
yes it has some superior aspects but when all is said and done, its no better than the pedestrian android, just more expensive. But, it sure is cool!


( PS I'm a former iPhone user, now happily an android guy.)

Phil 3:14 said...

Re: response to Gadfly.


Damn, Professor, you've been in a pissy mood lately.

Ann Althouse said...

"John Kerry graduated from Harvard (and George W. Bush from Yale)."

No, Kerry went to Yale. And for law school, he only made it to Boston College for some reason (even after his post-military high-profile political activism).

George Bush went to Yale and then Harvard Business School.

Check out my old Is Kerry smart? post

campy said...

One question: How many ordinary normal Americans earing the median income around $50K or so are supposed to even slightly relate to this nonsense? Or even double that median? How many of them could dream of paying $26K per year for their kid's college education? For multiple kids?

We did it for 7 years, as a 1-earner family with 2 daughters — both in high-$ private college for one year.

MayBee said...

Richard Nixon was given a scholarship to Harvard, but his family could not afford the train fare to get him there, nor the balance of whatever his tuition would have been.
So he went to Whittier College, lived at home, and worked in his family's store.

He became president so he was obviously successful, but he was also a bitter man so he brought about his own downfall. I'm not sure what this illustrates.

Aridog said...

Campy said...

We did it for 7 years, as a 1-earner family with 2 daughters — both in high-$ private college for one year.

That is intense sacrifice....but I believe you. Question: You did this without grants, 2nd mortgages, or student loans? I ask only because you haven't said...

Still, I have to assume you are in the second cadre, those double the $50K median...otherwise that *one year* would have been virtually impossible. Nothing wrong with that, but it's an important qualifier.

None-the-less, I admire greatly your dedication to you daughters. I might be wrong, but I'm inclined to think you are unusual, that you had savings to help out, and unusual in a good way.

MarkW said...

We could have afforded to send our daughter to the private school she was considering, but that was sort of the problem -- the private school was demanding full retail rate (less a fairly nominal scholarship/discount). It still would have been at least 40-45K a year (for what turned out to be 4 1/2 years). NF way we were going to spend almost $200K on her education (and then another $200K on her brother's).

So she want to a state school for quite a bit less than half. She was in both the honors college and a small residential program, so she got all the small classes and individual attention she could stand.

She ended up with an excellent education and no student loans...and we ended up with our retirement savings intact.

MarkW said...

We could have afforded to send our daughter to the private school she was considering, but that was sort of the problem -- the private school was demanding full retail rate (less a fairly nominal scholarship/discount). It still would have been at least 40-45K a year (for what turned out to be 4 1/2 years). NF way we were going to spend almost $200K on her education (and then another $200K on her brother's).

So she want to a state school for quite a bit less than half. She was in both the honors college and a small residential program, so she got all the small classes and individual attention she could stand.

She ended up with an excellent education and no student loans...and we ended up with our retirement savings intact.

Peter Hoh said...

Chip S: Both make Wall Street happy.

Penny said...

I couldn't help but wonder if the parents couldn't afford the private college because they already blew their wad on K-12 private schools.

MadisonMan said...

The child (truly still a child it seems to me) does not seem to have much gumption to go out and pursue what she wants. So I do think she'll be unhappy with life when opportunity doesn't fall in her lap. She does seem to expect it.

$26K seems high for one year at a state schools, or is UW just cheap? It's $10K tuition for my daughter (I'm paying) plus room and board (she pays) which I think is way less than $10K.

Amy Dickinson is pretty no-nonsense. I like her columns.

Penny said...

"Her major? *Scripted Bullshit* ...but I repeat myself."

OH! Yes, law school in her future!

Penny said...

You know what's great about going to law school? If you pass the bar, you can torment anyone who disagrees with you, merely by threatening to sue them.

Esquires have POWER, baby!

MadisonMan said...

As to why this woman is writing to an Advice Columnist for such a White Person Problem: I will posit because she has no one else to talk to about it.

There is no husband (note that she alone saved the money). She has spent all her time / effort for 18 years on saving money for her daughter and has sacrificed her entire life for her. Result: No friends, no confidantes.

Penny said...

It may cost 'em a bundle of money to get that law degree, but if they can't find the "job of their dreams", it only costs the expense of a ream of paper with their name followed by ESQUIRE to torment anyone who did them "wrong".

chuckR said...

Regardless who pays, the following makes some sensible suggestions for a small number of courses that will help make college a worthwhile investment.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2012/08/21/how-to-make-a-college-graduate-employable/

To the liberal arts students who might object to a semester each of econ, calculus (differential, not integral), statistics, programming, communications and a business course, perhaps, pumpkin, you're not really college material. If you take these, you'll still be able to follow your bliss.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Prof. Althouse,

@gadfly That raise/rear thing is a lost cause and Safire's been dead a long time. The fact is, it sounds wrong to say "rear" which is an unpleasant word.

If you say "bring up" a child, why not say "raise"?

When I was a kid, it was also a subject of chiding to call a kid "a kid"? "Kids" are goats, the pedants would say.

It's language. It means what it means.


Yes; and "rearing" children means what it means. I'm sorry that you think the word is "unpleasant."

Penny said...

And if you use that ream of paper with ESQUIRE behind your name to help your friends and neighbors intimidate the shit out of those who did them "wrong" too?

Hell, I think you're destined for politics!

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes; and "rearing" children means what it means. I'm sorry that you think the word is "unpleasant.""

You choose words not just for their meaning but for their sound and connotations. "Rear" is unpleasant... it has a whiff of ass.

Inga said...

When my children were small and came in from playing outside, all sweaty and hot, there was a definite smell of kid wafting off of them.

Michael K said...

"$26K seems high for one year at a state schools, or is UW just cheap? It's $10K tuition for my daughter (I'm paying) plus room and board (she pays) which I think is way less than $10K."

I think UC schools are approaching that level. I don't know because my middle daughter who went to UCLA graduated about 10 years ago. She is now at USC, the private U where the two oldest went, and I went, in a PhD program all expenses paid for five years including two in Spain. She has recently decided to take a LOA for a couple of years to take a job.

U of Arizona is at $26,000 tuition for out of state students. UC is now limiting in-state students so it can take more out of states.

The junior colleges, where my middle daughter went before she transferred to UCLA, are getting starved by the state financial woes. They were excellent when I took some computer science classes at the local one in 1995-98. I don't know about now.

When I sent the older two to USC in the 1980s, the tuition and room and board was about $7500 a semester for both of them. They overlapped for part of the time. The middle daughter lived in an apartment but tuition then was about $7500.

Aridog said...

MadisonMan said...

As to why this woman is writing to an Advice Columnist for such a White Person Problem ...

Because she's not, really...it is scripted BS for the column. Reality TV meets advice columns, or vice versa.

I fell for it on first read...and I am embarrassed that I did.

Tom Spaulding said...

"Rear" is unpleasant... it has a whiff of ass.

If there was video of someone saying that, how many times would Rush have to play it before it was obvious that Romney was a bigoted homophobe?

Michael K said...

"You choose words not just for their meaning but for their sound and connotations. "Rear" is unpleasant... it has a whiff of ass."

The joke is that Greek boy hated to leave home because he didn't want to leave his brothers behind. "

Is "behind" also out of bounds ?

sydney said...

It was going to cost us $20,000 a year to send our second child to Ohio State. He ended up going to an Ivy for $16,000 instead.

That has never made sense to me, but OSU pays it's president and football coaches millions, so I guess they have to get that money from somewhere.

Nichevo said...

Ascent. Bass fishing. Rear-ended. Niggardly.

You really disappoint.

Nichevo said...

Would I be the butt of your jokes if I asked to bum a fag?

Kimberly said...

I'd like more backstory here. Where did this idea of the "dream college" come from? Without knowing that, it's hard to tell if the daughter is legitimately disappointed or just being whiny. Where was the mom when the daughter was developing this dream? Maybe the mom was part of it. Certainly it sounds like expectations weren't well-managed, though maybe their financial situation changed recently.

My parents valued hard work, but refused to go into debt or allow me to do so, and I was told that without a scholarship they would not pay a dime towards my tuition. I knew this at 13. My dream college was whatever one would give me the most money to attend it. That path helped me earn three degrees (including a PhD) essentially for free, so I wonder how some of these "dreams" get started.

Joe said...

I am saddened by my ongoing disappointment because I cannot afford to send myself on my dream vacation.

Joe said...

Did she consider working her ass off in high school in order to obtain a scholarship?

How about attending a local college and getting an associates degree, working for a few years and then finishing up at the "dream" college?

Incidentally, I paid for film school by working my ass off. Child #3 is attending a local university for $5000 a year--tuition is barely covered by grants. Child #4 is on target to get a full scholarship at the same school. For the bulk of undergrad degrees, it's a damn good school.

I Callahan said...

bring her tender behind home, stop paying for everything, tell her to get a full time job, and then if she really wants an education, enroll in a state university closest to your hometown for night school, on her own dime.

EXACTLY how I did it. Community college, then Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration (one of the best Accounting schools in the country - you can't even get in unless you already have 2 years of college).

It took me 9 years part time (85-94), and I had 5 years real work experience when I got my degree. At the end, I owed no one anything. Not a single regret.

If young people really want college and don't want the crushing debt, this is the way to do it.

BarryD said...

And when I went to college, at a good but inexpensive in-state school (I got in just under the wire; it costs many times as much now), I was disappointed that I didn't have a Ferrari and Robert Palmer's dancers following me around.

Boo-fucking-hoo.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Barry,

One of my college friends did have a Ferrari.

It was brand new. Of course it was the cheapest model (at the time), an F 355. OTOH, it was loaded, and it did still cost somewhere around $140,000, back then.

Anywho, he had plenty of gals, though not Palmer's dancers.

Patricia said...

I can see myself in that young woman. I was much too impressed with how bright I was, my expectations were way too high, and I wasn't as sensitive as I should have been to my parents' other responsibilities. To make matters worse, I found out the hard way that I was unprepared for, and had little aptitude in, the area I thought I wanted to study. From reading the comments to this post, I feel ashamed of the me of 30 years ago.

Skookum John said...

I went to Dartmouth. I can truly say that once I returned to Arizona, it was perfectly useless to me and has not advanced my career a single millimeter. My daughter will go to the U. of Arizona and save her money for grad school.

Steven said...

"She wanted a small school where professors know their students by name, not as a number. She is a good student but finds all the partying at this particular school distracting."

Then, actually, as has been suggested by Rustling Leaves, she should have gone to a community college for her first two years. (And it's probably not too late to switch!) Small classes taught by profs rather than TAs, people who are there to learn (rather than running off to college to party for a few years), lower tuition, and no residence fees since she'd be living at home.

After she gets her Associate's, then transfer to a four-year institution (possibly better than this state school, since she saved the money the first two years) for the last two years, which means upper-division courses with significantly smaller class sizes.

Sabinal said...

The child sounds naive, like no other person in the world had to sacrifice their college dreams. You make the best of it. End of story

Sabinal said...

Airdog said...

What a load of manure. Poor little darling is unhappy with her full time state university and parents footing the entire bill?

Clue to parents: bring her tender behind home, stop paying for everything, tell her to get a full time job, and then if she really wants an education, enroll in a state university closest to your hometown for night school, on her own dime. She will find herself in the company of others who have to produce to progress. No hand outs. What a concept.

preach it!

Aridog said...

I Callahan said...

EXACTLY how I did it

My original comment reflected my college career as well. I was full time at a state university for 2 years, 90% on parents dime, with a few part time jobs to fill in the short moments...I didn't whine, but I was a f-up. Grades sucked. Dad suggested, emphatically, that I would do better working full time and going to night school in Detroit, and that the money spent so far didn't grow on trees. I didn't complain and managed to graduate in 8 years total, 6 of them on my dime. I even fondly recall the apartment at 2nd & Forest. Even though I drive by now and think WTF?

Sabinal said...

Airdog said...

...preach it!

Didn't measn to sound "preachy" :-) I had responsible parents who laid it out. This lil' bimbo needs some of the same medicine.

Let me repeat a theme I suggested earlier: There are NO poor families who can send their kids to $26K per year schools and pay for it...and there are damn sure none who'd feel bad about it not being even better if they could.

I wonder at times how crap like this sob story gets written.

Randeg said...

This girl shows she is really smart by realizing that exercising her sense of entitlement to a dream college is not the way to go. There is no sense getting what you want when you end up deep in debt and to be in that situation for twenty years. That will just make her a debt slave.

Evelyn Guzman
http://www.debtchallenges.com (If you want to visit, just click but if it doesn’t work, copy and paste it onto your browser.)

Randeg said...

This girl shows she is really smart by realizing that exercising her sense of entitlement to a dream college is not the way to go. There is no sense getting what you want when you end up deep in debt and to be in that situation for twenty years. That will just make her a debt slave.

Evelyn Guzman
http://www.debtchallenges.com (If you want to visit, just click but if it doesn’t work, copy and paste it onto your browser.)

Trashhauler said...

My word, was I naive back when I graduated from high school. Not only was I given no money for college, I was not even inclined to ask - I knew there wasn't any. Nor did any of my brothers and sisters, yet eight out of nine of us managed to go to college and four out of nine have advance degrees. And the one who didn't went straight into business and has more money than any of the rest.

By today's standard, I guess my Mom and Dad were total failures.