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Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 12:45 AM
Anyone here have experience with paying for an "elite" college education?

My 16-YO high school sophomore has her eyes set on an "elite" private school.

But she is also practical (thank God) and doesn't want to run-up lots of loans.

I was looking at the Harvard site and read this:
MYTH: I can’t afford Harvard.

FACT: Because of Harvard’s unequaled facilities and faculty, the total charge was $36,800 for the academic year 2002-03. However, over 70% of all students receive financial assistance. EVERY STUDENT ADMITTED TO HARVARD WHO IS JUDGED TO BE IN FINANCIAL NEED IS GIVEN ASSISTANCE. Assistance is based solely on financial need, not on superior academic (or other) achievement. Harvard expects students with financial need to earn and borrow a certain amount of money each year and have their parents contribute a set amount (if judged capable of doing so). After that point, grants are awarded, the result rarely being a full scholarship, but ALWAYS a package that permits EVERY admitted student to attend Harvard without unreasonable financial sacrifice, need for a full-time job or excessive borrowing.
http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/womswim/recruiting/myths.html


So how much do they expect students to borrow?

To be perfectly honest, I'm a bit turned-off by the lack of specific information from Harvard and others. Very ambiguous, short on specifics.

For example, another Harvard page doesn't mention borrowing at all:
No contribution is expected from parents with incomes under $65,000. Beginning with the class of 2016, those parents with annual incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 are asked to contribute from zero to ten percent of their income. Some families with incomes above $150,000 still qualify for aid. Families at all incomes who have significant assets will continue to pay more than those in less fortunate circumstances. Students are also asked to contribute to the cost of their education through term-time and summer work.

http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/financial_aid/faq.html

Here they don't mention borrowing. It doesn't matter if they don't demand a prince's ransom of the parents, if they expect the kids to borrow in the many tens of thousands.

I was also surprised that Harvard doesn't offer any merit scholarships, period. Are there any elite schools that do?

How much can you negotiate with the schools?

Any good reading on this subject? Advice?

Edit to add: Two things she has expressed an interest in include: (1) Becoming an M.D., (2) Serving in the military. But if she takes a ton of loans to go through medical school, would she be able to make enough income in the military to make payments on the school? How does that work?

Shawn Pixley
04-25-2012, 1:15 AM
I am a bit unsure of how to answer this. My general advice is "caveat emptor." My experience is a bit aged as it was my own experience. I come from a poorish family. I ended up going to an "elite" school with a merit scholarship, athletic scholarship and grants. Freshman year was essentially free. Sophmore year they cut the scholarship and grants in half. Junior and senior years this repeated. My parents could not afford this. The university expected me to earn and bank 10-12K$ every summer (this was around thirty years ago). I ended up getting a great education and a huge pile of loans.

My advice is to call and talk to one of the financial counsellors. Get the details up front. I didn't and suffered from this. PM me if you want more detailed feedback.

Brian Kent
04-25-2012, 1:16 AM
Good questions, Phil.

The Harvard example - now over $58,900 / yr for tuition, room, board, fees - is one of the best endowed institutions in the nation. Here is the calculator they offer: http://npc.fas.harvard.edu/

If she is interested in the military, the service academies like the Air Force Academy, offer full room, board, and a small stipend. She should get her medical training through the service rather than before the service.

Most other examples will cost much more than the two examples you gave. If she qualifies for these institutions, she could do well. The reason there are no merit scholarships is that already, just to get in, all of the students are the top notch students.

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 2:03 AM
I ended up getting a great education and a huge pile of loans.


That is the kind of story that scares me.

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 2:32 AM
Good questions, Phil.

The Harvard example - now over $52,000 / yr for tuition, room, board, fees - is one of the best endowed institutions in the nation. Here is the calculator they offer: http://npc.fas.harvard.edu/

Yeah, they have enough money that I once heard they don't even need to charge tuition. They or another I-L school had considered eliminating tuition?


If she is interested in the military, the service academies like the Air Force Academy, offer full room, board, and a small stipend. She should get her medical training through the service rather than before the service.

Didn't know that was an option. Do you need to go through one of the service academies for this? She spoke to a Navy recruiter at a conference and he was impressed with not just her academics, but her athleticism.

Is end of sophomore year too early to start talking to them about this? Too late?


Most other examples will cost much more than the two examples you gave. If she qualifies for these institutions, she could do well. The reason there are no merit scholarships is that already, just to get in, all of the students are the top notch students.

Yep, I get that. That Harvard calculator is helpful. I wonder how set in stone that is? By the time you factor in the equity in your house, and modest investments, the cost is $65,000+ for four years.

Me thinks the calculator is really a calculator of how much it would cost (tuition/room/board) to go to a state school (plus/minus), and they pretty much just match that.

At that point, the only value-added is their name/reputation.

And they don't have have a big-10 football team, LOL.

Steven Green
04-25-2012, 4:09 AM
I understand Phil, my oldest daughter was accepted at Dartmouth. I talked to the people over there about costs and walked out sick as a dog. We had two other kids and I couldn't justify spending what it would have taken to get her through four years. It was a very difficult choice to make and I spent many hours second guessing myself. She didn't go to Dartmouth but did still wind up in a different Ivy League school and although the costs were high she got a great education. I wish you luck with this I'm glad we are done with it and get to play with the grandkids now.

Dan Hintz
04-25-2012, 7:23 AM
Phil,

I went to Purdue for my Masters... paying out of state tuition, the bills rack up quite quickly. I was lucky enough to be far enough along in my career that I could work an engineering job during that time, so I didn't come out with a complete boatload of loans (just the stern). At around $600/credit hour (easily, it's more now and will vary with school... Harvard is likely even worse, particularly considering it's in MA) and a typical load of 30 hours/yr, you're looking at $20k/yr just for class and books. Room and board is another story, too, so I hope she likes roommates... MA ain't cheap for off-campus living, not to mention it can be dangerous if she strays outside the Harvard campus (say she wanted to take a walk to Brookline... you have to pass through a nasty little area to get there), so plan on paying for dorm living.

"Financial assistance" usually amounts to a few $k/yr, unless she's lucky enough to get a (at least partial) scholarship, so don't count on that to help very much. I think the biggest help I ever received was deferred loans from the gov with very low interest rates... not the same thing as cash money to spend immediately towards school with no need to repay.

Jerome Stanek
04-25-2012, 8:06 AM
When a school says that most students get assistance it may mean as little as $500 that was what my kids got from the state as everybody in our state is eligible.

Kevin Nathanson
04-25-2012, 8:49 AM
For admission to the service academies, she needs to start now with her inquiries. She needs to be appointed in order to be admitted. Another path would be ROTC in order to pay for medical school. The military WILL pay for med school, but of course, there is a service obligation incurred, and the risk of that obligation, whether she finishes successfully or not, i.e. you don't just get to pay them back by writing a check if things don't work out.

You can find out more about admission to the service academies at their web sites, and search on ROTC, NROTC and AFROTC medical school programs for the options there.

Belinda Williamson
04-25-2012, 9:37 AM
If she wants to become an M.D. you're looking at the tip of the iceberg for education costs. Med school isn't cheap. I know, I worked two and sometimes three jobs to help put my ex through med school and pay off his student loans after he graduated, and completed his internship and residency.

Montgomery Scott
04-25-2012, 10:08 AM
The myth is that anyone needs an education from an elite school to have a rewarding and successful career. State schools can do as well or better. Look at the rankings for medical schools. Our state school, the University of Washington is ranked #1 in the US and is far less expensive than Harvard. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/primary-care-rankings

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 10:38 AM
The myth is that anyone needs an education from an elite school to have a rewarding and successful career. State schools can do as well or better. Look at the rankings for medical schools. Our state school, the University of Washington is ranked #1 in the US and is far less expensive than Harvard. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/primary-care-rankings

Yep, she hasn't ruled-out state schools. The way she is looking at it, the University of Wisconsin (in Madison) is her benchmark school. She knows the costs, there are no secrets. So if she attends one of these elite schools, it would have to be able to justify any additional costs. She has set the bar pretty high.

I guess I'm surprised at the lack of merit scholarships, though. I guess the only full-ride scholarships these days are for sports? Way back when I was in high school, kids with outstanding grades and SAT/ACT scores got full-ride offers. I don't think that happens any more, though.

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 10:39 AM
If she wants to become an M.D. you're looking at the tip of the iceberg for education costs. Med school isn't cheap. I know, I worked two and sometimes three jobs to help put my ex through med school and pay off his student loans after he graduated, and completed his internship and residency.

Well, the military option looks pretty appealing. The hitch is you really have to decide that is the path you're going to take at a very young age. No second guessing once you've signed on the dotted line.

John Pratt
04-25-2012, 10:43 AM
I have also looked into elite schools for my kids to attend, and was physically ill at the prospects of the costs associated. I have seen first hand the ills of coming out of school loaded with student debts. I fall into one of the categories where financial aid would be minimal, but at the same time paying my end would put me into deep debt. Now take those numbers times 4 for my 4 kids that want to attend college and I can feel my stomach start to churn.

But, you also have to ask yourself if the "Elite" education in todays academic enviroment is really any better than a quality state school.

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 10:47 AM
For admission to the service academies, she needs to start now with her inquiries.

Thank you. We're going to discuss this over the next couple of weeks. It does seem like you have to commit to a path at quite a young age. I mean, what if she enters one of the academies and decides (after three years) she wants to be a PhD physicist instead of an M.D.? Does the military freak-out? She would still be willing to serve, obviously. But would they tell her that they won't pay for any additional education beyond the academy?

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 11:04 AM
But, you also have to ask yourself if the "Elite" education in todays academic enviroment is really any better than a quality state school.

Yep, we're taking that into account.

I have to admit that I had a giant misprision of how this works. I thought there were merit scholarships. I guess I'm discovering that, there aren't.

Dan Friedrichs
04-25-2012, 11:12 AM
I have just a few thoughts you might find useful:

1) I would never spend a lot of money on an undergraduate degree. It's just not worth it. No employer is going to pay a significant premium for someone from MIT versus Iowa State University. That said, if you daughter has aspirations to be a senator (or something) - the connections that could be made at a more elite school may be worth it. That networking potential has value, but only if she wants to break into that very elite class. An undergraduate degree is a commodity, any more - get one of acceptable quality at the lowest price you can find.

2) Just as an example, I've worked with several MIT/Caltech engineers, and many (not all) have been completely inept. Those elite schools are not making a name for themselves by providing great undergraduate education - they're trying to spend as little time and money as possible on the undergrads, so that they have more resources available for research (which is how they build the "brand name"). The mid-tier schools, on the other hand, can't compete with the biggest research institutions, so they ARE trying to build their reputations on their ability to provide excellent undergraduate educations. They also need to attract quality students to build a reputation - so there ARE merit scholarships available (just as an example, I had offers for two essentially all-costs-paid scholarships at mid-tier state schools - and I'm no National Merit Scholar or anything - just had good grades and was involved in HS activities...)

3) MD's are not as lucrative as some people think. Getting into medical school is daunting beyond belief. Some medical school tuition runs $70k/yr. Consider undergraduate debt, plus $70k/yr MD school tuition, plus living expenses, followed by a 4-year near-minimum wage residency, and you have a HUGE debt. Then, starting salaries for general practice, pediatrics, etc are only around $85k/yr. Many MD's are living the lives of paupers as they work multiple jobs trying to pay down debt.

4) I'd suggest finding a cheap mid-grade state school for undergrad, and seek out an "elite" school for graduate work. Grad schools won't give much weight to "where" anyone took an undergraduate degree from. BUT - she'll have WAY more opportunities to get involved at a smaller, less-elite school, and lots of activities, success, and involvement are what the graduate/professional schools are looking for. At the undergrad stage, I think it's better to be the BEST among the GOOD, than to be the AVERAGE among the GREAT.

David Weaver
04-25-2012, 11:30 AM
Phil, based on the experience of my wife and her siblings, there are probably some second-to-ivy-league tier private schools who would love to have your daughter on merits, and her wallet would be a lot thicker when she left.

My wife and her siblings went to a private school that was probably overall better than the state school I went to, but definitely better for people who want to have an interactive relationship with quality instructors (I did not, I am a self learner to the nth degree). My wife's dad paid less for her than it cost me to go to state school. I did get a couple of after-the-fact corporate scholarships (bizarre things where they tell you that you've been granted some amount, like $3k or $5k after the fact -without application), but my wife's schooling still cost less despite the base tuition+room+board at her school being more than double mine.

Ken Fitzgerald
04-25-2012, 11:30 AM
Phil,

If she is interested in med school, an Ivy League top ranked college isn't necessary.

Though he graduated from a small local state college, our youngest son was accepted at 9 of the top 11 ranked dental schools in the country and made the ranked alternate list at the other two.

Secondly, the military is happy to pay for medical school and dental school. My youngest son is a currently 13 year US Navy veteran, and is currently a 4th year dental student on a Navy scholarship.

I worked as a field engineer installing and maintaining CT scanners, MR scanners and x-ray equipments for 34 years before my recent deafness caused me to retire. 3 of the doctors, 2 radiologists and 1 neurologist that I worked with locally went to medical school courtesy of the US military. One radiologist and the neurologist met while in the US Naval Academy, married and both went to med school on US Navy scholarships.

David Weaver
04-25-2012, 11:38 AM
I have just a few thoughts you might find useful:

3) MD's are not as lucrative as some people think. Getting into medical school is daunting beyond belief. Some medical school tuition runs $70k/yr. Consider undergraduate debt, plus $70k/yr MD school tuition, plus living expenses, followed by a 4-year near-minimum wage residency, and you have a HUGE debt. Then, starting salaries for general practice, pediatrics, etc are only around $85k/yr. Many MD's are living the lives of paupers as they work multiple jobs trying to pay down debt.


This must be regional. I know *a lot* of residents, and though they don't get paid a lot for docs, they are closer to $50-60k/yr than they are minimum wage. They'll be paid handsomely when they are done, too.

I don't know any physicians, pcps or pediatricians (most of the PCPs around here designate themselves as internal medicine, maybe that's the new name?) that are at an 85k level, even starting, and when you move to surgeons and specialists, the levels are several times that and up. I guess if you ran your own practice and didn't have business sense, you could get yourself paid that amount, but were I to go to medical school and find someone trying to pay me that after incurring the debt, I'd just change regions because those numbers certainly aren't relevant for this region.

The people who are really getting nailed are the second-tier professionals, like physical therapists and nurses, where the starting salaries have stayed flat for years and the raises are cost of living at best, with benefit cuts occurring every half a decade. Those individuals don't get the same kind of white glove treatment that physicans get by their employers, and they generally have no leverage to negotiate other than to leave.

Paul Cahill
04-25-2012, 11:52 AM
I guess I'm surprised at the lack of merit scholarships, though. I guess the only full-ride scholarships these days are for sports?
Phil: My experience is that substantial merit scholarships, up to and including full-rides, do exist. However, they are limited in availability, often associated with a competition, and not necessarily well publicized. That said, a student who is a serious candidate for a school with such high entry requirements as Harvard, would also be a serious candidate for merit scholarships at other schools. The key, I feel, is the leg work in doing the research, a major time commitment, and really needs the help of a parent. PM me if you would like more specifics.
Paul

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 12:20 PM
All interesting input, THANKS!

She is only a sophomore in high school. MD is only one thing that interests her.

Like most any other kid in the 10th grade, she really doesn't know what she wants to do, for certain.

dennis thompson
04-25-2012, 12:26 PM
Phil
I just went thru the college admission process with my grandson
Three websites which I found helpful were :
Collegeboard.org..................click on students & get info on many colleges

Finaid.org...info on financial aid

Fafsa.ed.gov ..........which is the govt form you need to fill out to get financial aid from many, if not most, colleges

You are right to start early, it's a complicated,frustrating & often confusing process.
Dennis

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 12:32 PM
Well, I'm going to research this a bit more.

I'm very fond of the words "full ride."

Don Jarvie
04-25-2012, 2:33 PM
Botton line is she has to apply, get accepted and then see what the package is. There's a lot of other factors that go into financial aid, where your from, grades, etc. Ex, a frind of the familys daughter got a free ride to Northeastern in Boston because they have to give so many scholarships to Boston residents. Also, extra-curricular activities help a lot also, volunteering, etc.

Schools like Harvard are leaning toward a well diverse student body and its not all based on grades anymore.

Oh Dan, Boston is a pretty safe city compared to most major cities and Harvards in a decent area of Cambridge.

John Lohmann
04-25-2012, 2:43 PM
My son gets paid a stipend to go to Grad School, I guess it depends on your major, but we looked at 5 school in the southeast, & they all offered stipends. Undergrad, stay in state, save your money, degrees are a dime a dozen nowadays

Phil Thien
04-25-2012, 2:47 PM
Botton line is she has to apply, get accepted and then see what the package is.

I'd prefer to do some research ahead of time and and try making an educated guess at what the package may be, even before applying. Unless you guys tell me the schools sometimes offer scholarships even when they publicly say they don't offer scholarships.

John Coloccia
04-25-2012, 3:24 PM
I've worked with several MIT/Caltech engineers, and many (not all) have been completely inept. Those elite schools are not making a name for themselves by providing great undergraduate education - they're trying to spend as little time and money as possible on the undergrads, so that they have more resources available for research (which is how they build the "brand name").

I hate to say this, but this is sooooooooo true. Some were brilliant, but they would have been brilliant anyway. A dissproportionate number were breathtakingly unprepared for real work...no, they were breathtaking unprepared to even learn how to do real work. It's almost like they spent 4 years in a graduate prep school as opposed to undergraduate program. It's really a shame to have so many smart people in one place with no guidance. Anyhow....

Personally, I would go to a cheap college for undergrad, work hard to distinguish yourself there, get involved in extracurricular activities (no, not glee club...something in your field...help a professor with research, volunteer somewhere, something like that), and then save the big guns for grad school. Unless she's really just in love with the idea of being a doctor, she may well reconsider when she sees the reality of the costs, time and mediocre payback. At that point, though, she may choose to go into some related field and then she'll have a great shot of getting her graduate studies for free with an assistantship.

Frankly, there's no way I would go into any significant debt for an education. What a terrible way to get started in life!

Ken Fitzgerald
04-25-2012, 3:38 PM
Frankly, there's no way I would go into any significant debt for an education. What a terrible way to get started in life!

John,

While it's true and I agree with you, it's not uncommon for doctors and dentists to several hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before they begin to practice in their respective fields. Education isn't free and one has to live too.

One of the practices you see small communities near here use is an offer to pay off some doctor's student loans in return for them practicing within the community for a given number of years. In those cases, the small logging and farming communities win and so does the doctor.

John Coloccia
04-25-2012, 3:48 PM
I like what your communities are doing. That's a practical solution to a real problem.

Belinda Williamson
04-25-2012, 4:11 PM
John,

While it's true and I agree with you, it's not uncommon for doctors and dentists to several hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before they begin to practice in their respective fields. Education isn't free and one has to live too.

One of the practices you see small communities near here use is an offer to pay off some doctor's student loans in return for them practicing within the community for a given number of years. In those cases, the small logging and farming communities win and so does the doctor.

This is a very common practice in the rural south. The drawback is that practicing medicine in a small community can have its challenges. In my experience most doctors that accept this offer complete their committment and move on.

Phil, a few things to share with your daughter that she may not know . . . docs don't just have to go to an office and see patients. Some cruise lines hire doctors. Disney hires doctors. Both situations are mostly ER work, but there are some perks that go along with the job.

terry mccammon
04-25-2012, 5:46 PM
I suspect this is not going to be popular.

It is all about the kid. Both of my children went to elite schools, both knew what they wanted, understood that getting in was the start of the work, not the end. They worked like dogs academically, both graduated Phi Beta Kappa, both are employed (grad school for one on stipend and LT in the 82nd for the other). In both cases, a good percentage of the kids in their classes were resting on their laurels, having achieved admission to the top, they could and did never really work hard again. If your child is in that group, forget paying for it. If they get the message then do what you have to do to make it happen as they will be at the top of the tree for life.

We are absolutely middle of the middle class, in both cases my children's school made the package within our reach. My son decided that he would do the four year ROTC scholarship route as it removed the only parental control left. But His college forgives room and board for ROTC scholarship students so he was cash positive all four years. But it was not free education, he is paying for it.

We spent approximately $40K on my daughter over four years (full tuition did not cover room, board, books). It is paid, she worked at a good job for several years and is now in the top rated grad program in her field.

Our deal was you produce superior academic results, we pay the bill, you do otherwise, we pay no bills.

Your results may well vary.

Ken Fitzgerald
04-25-2012, 6:12 PM
This is a very common practice in the rural south. The drawback is that practicing medicine in a small community can have its challenges. In my experience most doctors that accept this offer complete their committment and move on.


Belinda...that is true but a lot of the small communities find it's the only way to get any doctor or nurse-practioner to practice in those areas. I have watched small rural towns struggle for years without a physician on staff....extremely small rural hospitals close because there is no doctor on staff. While those same hospitals don't need all of the expensive latest technology, they provide a great service when a trauma case happens whether it is a farming accident, logging accident or a car wreck occurs and they can shoot some x-rays, diagnose their condition and stabilize them until they can be airlifted to a trauma center with the necessary treatment available. Receiving some intitial accurate treatment in the golden hour saves a lot of lives.

Belinda Williamson
04-25-2012, 7:34 PM
[QUOTE=Belinda Williamson;1917761]This is a very common practice in the rural south. The drawback is that practicing medicine in a small community can have its challenges. In my experience most doctors that accept this offer complete their committment and move on.
QUOTE]

Belinda...that is true but a lot of the small communities find it's the only way to get any doctor or nurse-practioner to practice in those areas. I have watched small rural towns struggle for years without a physician on staff....extremely small rural hospitals close because there is no doctor on staff. While those same hospitals don't need all of the expensive latest technology, they provide a great service when a trauma case happens whether it is a farming accident, logging accident or a car wreck occurs and they can shoot some x-rays, diagnose their condition and stabilize them until they can be airlifted to a trauma center with the necessary treatment available. Receiving some intitial accurate treatment in the golden hour saves a lot of lives.

Agreed absolutely Ken. Having an ER physician in my parents small town saved my dad's life a number of years ago. Folks who aren't from a small southern town just need to be aware that the person who hasn't been to a doc in 20 years won't think twice about showing up on your doorstep on Sunday morning if he/she needs care. Nor will the mom with a coughing child hesitate to call your home number at 3 a.m. Docs in cities don't have to deal with this as much as they typically are in a call group and have an answering service. In a small town everyone knows your name, and where you live, and what you drive, and where you are at any given time.

Robert McGowen
04-25-2012, 8:08 PM
In Texas, there is the Hazelwood Act. There is also have the Post 911 G.I. Bill. I am not sure if they have anything similar to the Hazelwood Act where you are. My son was in the Air Force for 18 months. They asked him if he wanted an early out, as they were overstaffed in the job that he was trained in. He opted out, but still qualified for all of the education benefits. He received a full ride, plus a $500 a month grant, for a Bachelor's degree at the University of Texas. He then used the Post 911 G.I. Bill and received a full ride, plus living expenses, for a private school Master's degree. Something to consider - he received his Master's a few months ago and is totally debt free.

I tried to throw my other 3 kids out at the Air Force recruiters, but they kept finding their way home. :rolleyes:
I have one college senior and two college juniors in school right now, so I feel your pain about paying for school.

Greg Portland
04-25-2012, 9:01 PM
I was also surprised that Harvard doesn't offer any merit scholarships, period. Are there any elite schools that do?

How much can you negotiate with the schools?

Any good reading on this subject? Advice?

Edit to add: Two things she has expressed an interest in include: (1) Becoming an M.D., (2) Serving in the military. But if she takes a ton of loans to go through medical school, would she be able to make enough income in the military to make payments on the school? How does that work?
The military will pay for you to go through medical school in exchange for the promise of serving a certain number of years (basically ROTC with a longer commitment).

Ivy Leagues don't offer merit based scholarships because it would be extremely difficult to differentiate between applicants. Rather, they work on a straightforward grant system (as you've seen from Harvard's page).

When I was looking @ schools, MIT was ~ $28k a year (tuition) and I was offered $20k in grants (my parent's were teachers... not poor but not rich). As you can see, it is possible to bring costs down to your local state school level. However, note that these dollar amounts are not locked in! Frankly, for a bachelor's degree any of the top 20-30 schools are going to give you a great education and give you the background required to get into a top graduate or medical school. Save the big $$$ for your PhD or MS.

Greg Portland
04-25-2012, 9:15 PM
Is end of sophomore year too early to start talking to them about this? Too late?No, you should begin right now. Most of the top scholarship programs (Westinghouse, Coca-Cola, Siemens, Nat. Merit Scholar, etc.) all begin with PSAT scores and later ACT/SAT scores (hopefully she's taken these tests already... taking the ACT/SAT multiple times is a good idea). Application periods for the top awards occur during the end of junior year or very early during senior year. Merit scholarships (NOT grants) at schools are typically applied for between Junior and Senior years in high school.

Start researching scholarships now... there are a lot of organizations that hand out $1k-$2k a year. Apply to as many as possible. The fact that you have a girl and she's applying to a science/engineering (STEM) discipline will open a lot of doors. I'm not sure if the gov't has started funding any programs yet (there has been talk) but it's something to look into.

Larry Frank
04-25-2012, 9:49 PM
There is a lot to consider in helping your child pick a school. I think that what gets left out in a lot of the discussion is the return on investment. If you are going to spend a lot on an education, you also need to consider the probability of getting a job in that field and what the typical salary will be. It is a lot like many other things in that you have to understand what you are spending and what you are getting. I think that it is important that the whole family take part in the financial discussions.

My wife and I put two of kids through an elite engineering school and it cost plenty. We let them know that we were willing to make the sacrifices if they worked hard and got good grades. If they did not do this, then they could say good bye to the school. Both of them did well and got good jobs upon graduation. We have absolutely no regrets and are very pleased with the schools they went to and their career choices.

What do the elite schools offer? Typically, they offer a better teacher to student ratio. They offer good solid education with good contacts for getting jobs after graduation. A good question to ask is what per cent of the graduates get jobs in their field.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of hard work, worry and looking at budgets in deciding where someone will go to college. This a critical point in time in rearing your children and it deserves a lot of thought.

Bob Coleman
04-25-2012, 9:57 PM
Phil,

PM me if you want more details on how to get into a service academy. I graduated in 1999 from the Naval Academy.

It is possible to get into medical school right after graduation, but very hard. 15 years ago, only 10 slots per class (my graduating class was 868, but average is ~1000) were available and they were allotted based on class standing after the first semester senior year. Interested people also had to be accepted into a medical school in order to take a slot, which means on top of everything required of students, she will also have to take organic chemistry and other med school classes (which probably will be on top of the courses required for her major since there are very few majors that those would be required for - basically only chemistry)

One note - do NOT, whatever you do, talk to a regular navy (or any branch recruiter) extensively about how to get in. Very few recruiters know the details, and having someone in their district get admitted and attend doesn't count towards their quota. The recruiters I knew were really good at the bait and switch - I would need a pretty good spreadsheet to tally up the people who worked for me in the navy who were six times smarter than me and ended up cleaning oil out of the bilge instead of school. Find the blue and gold officer in Milwaukee. He or she will be a navy grad who volunteers time to help get people admitted. Your daughters guidance counselor should have a phone number or contact academy admissions directly. I'm sure there are equivalents for other academies.

GO NAVY - BEAT ARMY

Bob Coleman
04-25-2012, 10:06 PM
Thank you. We're going to discuss this over the next couple of weeks. It does seem like you have to commit to a path at quite a young age. I mean, what if she enters one of the academies and decides (after three years) she wants to be a PhD physicist instead of an M.D.? Does the military freak-out? She would still be willing to serve, obviously. But would they tell her that they won't pay for any additional education beyond the academy?


Grad school after an Academy - also very difficult. PM me anytime with any questions.

It IS a big decision to make at a young age. You can opt out anytime before the first day of classes junior year and owe nothing.

However, that decision only comes around once, decide against and that's it.

Eddie Watkins
04-27-2012, 1:31 PM
One thing to think about, while the "elite" schools may get a higher starting salary on the first job out of college, within 5 years the salaries tend to fall back in line with their contemporaries. Success still boils down to hard work.
http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/forget-harvard-4-degree-more-plumber-long-run-20110318-063704-224.html

Rick Potter
04-27-2012, 2:49 PM
One thing that is fairly common in CA state schools is that they make it almost impossible to get all the classes you need to graduate in four years. This way it forces a fifth year tuition from some students. Don't know how other state schools compare, but it might be worth checking out.

We ended up sending our kids to a private university in Arkansas, where they guaranteed, in writing, that the kid could graduate in four years, assuming no change in major, etc. Ouachita Baptist University, rated among the best in the south.

Rick Potter

Steve Meliza
04-27-2012, 5:31 PM
When I was her age I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn't know what for and no one was going to pay for me to go. My choice was to enlist to get the MGIB and Navy College Fund kicker for a total time served of 6 years in an "advanced field". About 2 years in I knew what I wanted to go study so when my 6 years were up I was ready to go and got through my BS at our state university without having to work a side job, but it was pretty much exhausted after that and I was on my own to get my MS degree. I tried to go the Navy Academy route, but I was late in getting the process started and was only able to get a secondary nomination from my Senator, meaning I would go if the primary nominee declined (which they didn't).

My wife is an RN and currently makes more than I do on my MS degree. She got her tuition paid for at a local private university through a scholarship program with a hospital. After school she worked for 3 years for the hospital and paid really annoying taxes on the scholarship money over those 3 years, but she never went into debt and neither did her parents. It's not too early to start planning and investigating the options.

My BS and MS degree are from my state's university that is known to have a solid engineering program, even though it's not particularly high on anyone's ranking system. My manager and several co-workers graduated from the same university, but when we interview new candidates their choice of university for undergraduate isn't important and their choice of graduate school is only moderately interesting, what's between your ears is what matters because no university teaches the skills we need to do our jobs.

Matt Meiser
04-27-2012, 6:03 PM
My parents put 5 kids through 13 years of Catholic school (except me, I went public for K) and all 5 of us ended up with a bachelors degree from a private institution. Along the way my mom also got her masters and my dad got a 2 year engineering degree (he already had a 4 year accounting degree and part of a masters.) You want to talk about sickening--start to add all THAT up! They could own a REALLY nice house or two! :D They didn't pay for my youngest brother's second bachelors degree or masters, nor my 2nd brother's masters.

Complicated story, but I started out at an out of state public university, then spent a year at an in state public university before finishing my bachelors at an "elite" private college. Due to the factors that public institutions consider for financial aid vs. what the private college considered, the out of pocket expenses were actually LOWER for my 3rd-5th year (each) than my 1st and 2nd years. One financial aid officer at the in state public university made statements that, if my ancestry was different, would have been considered illegal. That was 20 years ago (:eek:) so things may have changed.

Jim Becker
04-28-2012, 6:02 PM
One thing in her favor if she has the academic chops (or some other unique qualifications) is that the upper echelon schools, while expensive, also can be pretty generous with scholarship money when they really want a student...as you've pointed out. Scholarship money doesn't need to be repaid...it's not a loan. But it's hard for them to put details out there since it's very individualized. Borrowing is going to affect the net cost of tuition, books, room and board. The bottom line is that your daughter shouldn't not apply to these schools because of financial reasons. If they want her, they are going to find ways to help you and her make it happen.

BTW, Professor Dr. SWMBO got her Doctor of Science from Harvard School of Public Health. While I don't know the details since I didn't know her back then, her family was not wealthy and she did get a lot of assistance. If she had any loans, they were paid off long before I met her.

Eric DeSilva
04-28-2012, 8:13 PM
Frankly, there's no way I would go into any significant debt for an education. What a terrible way to get started in life!

I graduated professional school with what was, at the time, debt that would have allowed most people to finance a nice 3BR house in most areas of the county. But, going to an elite school meant much more lucrative opportunities post-school. Even with the debt payments I was making, I still made more than my high school contemporaries with bachelor's degrees in engineering and the like--and they had been working for several years while I finished my education. Five years later, half my debts were paid off; the rest were finished in ten. I have zero regrets and the investment I made in myself has paid off many, many times over.

Debt has to be balanced against future earnings prospects. In many cases, that mitigates in favor of taking on the debt.

Jim Matthews
04-28-2012, 8:30 PM
Is there any specific field of interest she intends to study?

Some degrees return the investment, handsomely.
Others - not so much. I'm pushing my boys (much younger than the OP's daughter) to develop a trade in parallel with any higher ed aspirations.

John Coloccia
04-28-2012, 8:50 PM
I graduated professional school with what was, at the time, debt that would have allowed most people to finance a nice 3BR house in most areas of the county. But, going to an elite school meant much more lucrative opportunities post-school. Even with the debt payments I was making, I still made more than my high school contemporaries with bachelor's degrees in engineering and the like--and they had been working for several years while I finished my education. Five years later, half my debts were paid off; the rest were finished in ten. I have zero regrets and the investment I made in myself has paid off many, many times over.

Debt has to be balanced against future earnings prospects. In many cases, that mitigates in favor of taking on the debt.

As a practical matter, I've found that it's far more important to move up and distinguish yourself at your job than it is to have a great job out of school. In retrospect, I'm not sure that my masters actually helped me at my first job. It may have helped me a bit at my second job, but that was only because it was combined with stellar performance out of my first job. Past that, it didn't matter at all. From a hiring manager point of view, if someone has an advanced degree I skip ahead to see what they've actually accomplished in terms of outside work, internships or anything else. For an undergrad, what impresses me is any sort of outside work in the field. Contributions to an open source project. Part time work doing anything in the field. Things like that.

As a practical matter, what I want to know is do I think you can survive in the real world, and do I think you're the kind of person that I can teach. I already know that you're brain dead coming out of school. I don't care what school you went to...I know you're not up to it. I need to see that you have a basic understanding of your choosen career, and that you have drive and can LEARN because I have a lot to teach you.

You sound like you're very smart and driven, Eric. I don't think for one minute that the lack of an elite degree would have held you back. When I had a real job, you are probably the kind of person that I would have latched onto in the interview process, hired and then mentored to be a superstar. Maybe this is just my bias coming from the engineering world, but I have to tell you that I don't care diddly squat who signed the diploma. Some places do. I suggest avoiding those companies like the plague. Specifically, I suggest avoiding anywhere that has "Research", "Lab", "Center" or "Government" anywhere in the name or the description of what they do. LOL.

Just my experience.

Matt Meiser
04-29-2012, 11:31 AM
Those elite schools are not making a name for themselves by providing great undergraduate education - they're trying to spend as little time and money as possible on the undergrads, so that they have more resources available for research (which is how they build the "brand name").

The school I graduated from to is consistently ranked at the top for engineering schools that DON'T offer a PHD program in US News and World Reports annual guide. The result--our professors taught. When they weren't teaching they usually could be found in their office with the door open. More often than not the syllabus had their home phone listed on the top. I also spent a year at one of the largest state universities here. Totally different environment. I hated it there and the beginning of the end was when a professor of record for a class refused to meet with me for nearly a week because his policy was to only meet with students during office hours unless they had a class or work conflict for both hours he had scheduled. I only had an conflict with one so I had to wait for the other even though it was 6 days off.

I agree on applying and seeing what happens. She's 18 months or less away from the start of that process so no matter how early you want to think you are in thinking about sending her off, its not that far away :D.

Dan Friedrichs
04-29-2012, 9:46 PM
When they weren't teaching they usually could be found in their office with the door open. More often than not the syllabus had their home phone listed on the top. I also spent a year at one of the largest state universities here. Totally different environment. I hated it there and the beginning of the end was when a professor of record for a class refused to meet with me for nearly a week because his policy was to only meet with students during office hours unless they had a class or work conflict for both hours he had scheduled. I only had an conflict with one so I had to wait for the other even though it was 6 days off.


Had basically the same thing happen to me, Matt. At mid-sized state school (undergrad), you could have called a professor at home. At public ivy (grad), I saw professors literally shut the door in the face of students who had waited >1hr to see said professor, because "office hours were over".

Think about getting into classes, too. In 4 years of undergrad, I never once wasn't able to get into the section of a class that I wanted. In fact, a few times, professors willingly overrode the limits and added me to a section I wanted to be in, just because it was more convenient for my schedule (aka - not at 4pm on Friday :) )

Don Morris
04-30-2012, 6:48 AM
I sent one to Vanderbilt. When he graduated I had $1500.00 left in the bank. No regrets. He's a VP of a Fortune 100 High Tech company, he's very appreciative and we're very close. I have 5 degrees including one doctorate. I ended up my career teaching 11 yrs. at a Major, not elite, University as an Associate Clinical Professor. My comment is: it depends on: what curriculum, the school and the student. It's a waste to send any student to any university in some curriculums such as History. There are only very limited positions for those graduates. Unless the student wants to be professor of that subject. That's like kids thinking they're going to play in the NFL. Very, very few do that. Some elite schools don't have enough resources in the area of interest of the student. A school like (and I'm only picking this because a friend recently told me this) Oberlin College in Ohio didn't have the resources to satisfy his needs in geology, whereas the University of Texas had the best program in the US in his field. He has a PhD in that area. Neither was an "elite" university. He also felt that it is a myth that you had to go to an eastern "elite" liberal arts school to get a general education first then perhaps go technical. Bright students just don't need that diversion. I agree. It's helpful if the student is focused and has a goal. My Vandy grad knew what he wanted from the time he was 14. Same with me. Most "elite" schools have alumni who are on their rolls that are willing to talk to potential HS grads about their fields. Contact the school, in particular the department of interest to your student and see if there is a graduate of that department, in your area your student could talk to. I know my son has done interviews for Vandy. It is helpful to have a top school as a reference. My wife worked for the head recruiter at Marriott. He definitely took the fact a person was a grad of a top university into consideration. It wasn't everything, but it helped. Just like the NFL, the #1 middle line backer at Alabama would probably be sought after more than the #1 middle line backer at Northwest Minnesota State.

Jeff Duncan
04-30-2012, 2:33 PM
Harvard has a good reputation for financial aid, as you get closer you'll have to talk with them to see where you'll be at ultimately. I don't know if they offer additional help based on merit as you have to be at the very top just to get in! There are many types of grants and loans in general available though, and if one is willing to do the mountains of paperwork...can lead to a lot of financial help. And I should also add Harvard's campus is very safe, it's one of the most populated area's around and safety is just not a problem anymore than just about any other urban campus. We go out to eat in Harvard square every so often as it's just a great place to hang out with so much going on! Most of the surrounding neighborhoods, one of which we live in, are just as safe!

There are of course other great schools to get an MD at also....Tufts being one that pops to mind, though I don't think they offer as much financial aid? What you would probably want to research is the effect of the degree. I have to imagine a degree from a school like Harvard or Tuft's or other similar schools carries more weight than your run of the mill school....but I don't know for sure? If you can get information on if/how a particular schools degree effects job placement and entry level pay it may help sway the decision one way or another. One thing I would probably agree with is that the undergraduate may well be less valuable than the post. Hence if you get the undergraduate at a decent school and do very well, you would then apply to a better medical school.

Lastly I would strongly encourage your daughter to find and speak to people who are in the fields she thinks she's interested in. My cousin just went through this recently and chose a less expensive school also. After talking with several people in different fields she's decided becoming an MD, (her goal for years), is not worth the extra expense and devotion of time vs some other careers in the medical field that pay a bit less. Also many do not require as much of your life or expose you to the same type of litigation issues that necessitate the incredibly high malpractice insurances doctors have to shell out. Becoming a doctor really is an amazing commitment that one should be fully prepared for before going in!

anyway good luck,
JeffD

Phil Thien
04-29-2013, 2:06 PM
Digging up another old thread.

We got her ACT scores, she has yet to take the SAT. She got a 34 on the ACT. Her English was a 25 (18 out of 18 correct), Mathematics was 32 (17 pre-algebra/15 algebra/18 geometry+trig), Reading was a 36 (18/18 correct), Science 33 (doesn't break anything down).

Still waiting for her writing score, but she writes well.

She thinks she might like to attend Case Western Reserve, Boston, U of Penn, or maybe Brown, based on what she has read. We have not visited any of those, plan on visiting Case Western this summer.

We're pretty clueless (I need to read some books). We don't know exactly when you find out about any sort of financial assistance. Do you have to go through the entire application process before you'd find out?

It would be nice to know if the school would at least reduce the tuition to what she'd pay to go to public in-state schools, before applying. She says she doesn't want to bankrupt me. :)

Speaking of reducing tuition to in-state levels, she has been told that her affinity for languages may qualify her for a program at the local university where they actually pay HER to attend. She is going to look into that. But if that is available, do the elite schools care? Or they make one and only one offer, and you take it or leave it? Are they not likely to take into account that she would be paid to attend a state school?

Dan Hintz
04-29-2013, 4:23 PM
I'll put it this way... if a school doesn't take your daughter (and they would be stupid not to), there are plenty willing to take her place and pay the same out-of-state fees. Lots of smart people out there (and a ton of stupid ones), but there's enough the schools can be picky. If you set demands, they'll wish you good luck. As far as I'm aware, scholarships of various types are available, and the school can point you in the right direction for many... but it's up to you to do the real legwork.

Bob Coleman
04-29-2013, 4:57 PM
Been a while since I did this, but I don't think the schools really factor in ability to pay into acceptance or not. Once accepted, then you can see what kind of money is available from the school. If they want her they'll help, if she's on the bubble, she'll probably get some money, but not a full ride.

Plus, this is what high school guidance counselors are for - hers should have gobs of info on how to get money. Applying for $1000 scholarships might not sound like its worthwhile, but it'll add up.

If there's a place that her heart is set on, look into early admission. If she gets in she can't apply other places, but may get some extra help by committing early. Not everywhere does this.

Lee Schierer
04-29-2013, 5:14 PM
The last time I recall hearing, you could not go to medical school from the Naval Academy. It was not an option even after graduation, but it would be best to check to see what the current policies are. The service academies do offer an :Delite education, there is minimal cost to go there. There are some up front costs to pay for uniforms and a computer but you also receive pay as a cadet or midshipman equal to 1/2 of the pay for an O-1. Room and board are included. HOWEVER, you will have to pay back for your education with a minimum of 5 years active service. If you leave early you may also have to pay back some or all of the cost of your education. Students should not apply if they aren't sure that they wish to serve in the military as you will be in a military environment from day 1 and governed by the UCMJ. There are significant height, weight and physical fitness requirements to be accepted and that must be maintained throughout the 4 years. The service academies are all great schools, with Navy leading the pack :D. A degree from any one will open doors all your life even if you elect to leave the service.

Go Navy - Beat Army.

Phil Thien
04-29-2013, 5:22 PM
Been a while since I did this, but I don't think the schools really factor in ability to pay into acceptance or not. Once accepted, then you can see what kind of money is available from the school. If they want her they'll help, if she's on the bubble, she'll probably get some money, but not a full ride.


It is funny how the current system works. Too much power concentrated in the hands of the schools, if you ask me.

A smart (enterprising) individual would develop a website where kids can list their standardized test scores, high school grades, click-off extra-curriculars like sports, debate, etc. And then let the schools bid on the kids. :)

Her high school guidance counselor will be helpful, I'm sure. I think once the school gets the scores the counselor will be able to provide some direction.

Charlie Velasquez
04-29-2013, 5:38 PM
While not Ivy League, we did deal with two elite institutions. My son was accepted at M.I.T. and my daughter at Notre Dame.

When we talked with MIT (1998) we already had in hand not only a full ride at Iowa State University (tuition, room and board) but he would get an additional $14,000/year. I thought this would allow some leverage at MIT... Uh, no. The finance counselor said, "ISU is a very good school and in four years he can say he graduated from ISU; or he can say he graduated from MIT."
They did offer $22,000 of their expected $36,000 yearly cost, which made the money manageable. But, my son decided to take the ISU offer.

Notre Dame was the same. In 2001 they offered $24,000 of an expected yearly cost of $38,000 in combination Pell Grant, work-study, scholarships, and student loans.

Both the MIT and ND finance counselors said their studies showed that students and families that have a significant investment do better than students that have a free ride. In that vein, we had to declare any additional scholarships that my daughter received after their financial offer, and they reduced their offer by that amount.

Stephen Cherry
04-29-2013, 5:39 PM
Let's just rememer, the world needs ditch diggers, too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiRGRvE_Wqg


(just joking, my prediction is that in the future, education will be even more important than it is now)

One thing that I have thought about would be for a child to separate from the parents and become independent and poor. It seems to me that in that case, with excellent grades, the sky would be the limit.

Dan Friedrichs
04-29-2013, 5:52 PM
Do you have to go through the entire application process before you'd find out?

Pretty much. However, the application process would be pro forma, in her case - any of the schools you listed would jump at having her. So it's just a matter of choosing one that meets your financial needs. I'd suggest bringing up scholarship opportunities right away during the first visits to schools - meet with an admissions counselor, and don't hesitate to ask about money. A 34 is an extraordinary ACT score - if you shop around, you'll find a school that will give her a full ride. And schools will have very different possibilities available - in my case, I had 2 schools offer various scholarships worth about 50% of tuition+fees+room+board, 1 school offer pretty close to 100%, and one school offer nothing but the token $1k "incoming freshman" scholarship. So shop around.

Specifically, I'd encourage looking into the "flagship" scholarship programs offered by the schools. The "Presidential Scholarship" or something similar. Most schools have these awards, typically funded by an institution-specific endowment, and they usually cover nearly the total cost of schooling, plus come with other perks (meet-and-greets with the president, etc).

Phil Thien
04-29-2013, 5:55 PM
While not Ivy League...they reduced their offer by that amount.

That is such valuable information, I am extremely thankful for that.

So we will encourage her to apply to UW no matter what.

Phil Thien
04-29-2013, 5:57 PM
Pretty much...plus come with other perks (meet-and-greets with the president, etc).

Thank you Dan. You guys are on a roll for providing excellent tips.

Matt Meiser
04-29-2013, 6:43 PM
Again, here small schools might be more helpful than big schools. I had no intention of transferring to the school I graduated from I was looking at smaller state university. My brother had a roommate who was transferring to this school they were encouraging me to check it out. I had pawned calling them off to my mom. She forgot about the time change and called just before business hours and got campus security. The head of security gave her the 800 number and had her call back then transferred her to admissions to leave a message. He had her call back again and transferred her to financial aid. And so on with each group she wanted to get information from. By mid-day every single one had actually called her back. Financial aid gave her a rough idea of what they could do for me. I went for a campus visit later that week and within about 2 weeks I had been accepted, have everything lined up, etc.

Also regardless of whether you think its right or wrong, at least in the early 90's, some schools were looking at meeting diversity numbers as a major factor. If you were in a category they were looking for you got a lot more support than someone who wasn't.

charlie knighton
04-29-2013, 8:41 PM
Phil,

look into this

http://www.jeffersonscholars.org/

full ride, also sent to europe for a summer trip paid for by the school/foundation

my brother's daughter married a jefferson scholar

it definetly was a good deal

and yes start now setting your daughter up to qualify, by the way he was from outside phila, does not matter if student is out of state

only bad thing you are wahoo instead of hokie for life

Phil Thien
04-29-2013, 10:47 PM
BTW, should we start sending ACT scores to schools she may be interested in NOW? This is an automated process, you do it via the ACT web page.

Or should we wait until she is applying?

I'd think the fact that you can do it early means we should probably do it early to see if there is any interested among the schools she is considering?

Dan Hintz
04-30-2013, 8:48 AM
When we talked with MIT (1998) we already had in hand not only a full ride at Iowa State University (tuition, room and board) but he would get an additional $14,000/year. I thought this would allow some leverage at MIT... Uh, no. The finance counselor said, "ISU is a very good school and in four years he can say he graduated from ISU; or he can say he graduated from MIT."

This is essentially what Purdue told me... there is little leverage unless you're in the top 0.1% of those applying.

Dan Friedrichs
04-30-2013, 12:02 PM
BTW, should we start sending ACT scores to schools she may be interested in NOW?

Yes, do. It can't hurt (other than the flood of junk mail that they'll all send you back). But I'd also expect some personal contact from institutions that are more interested.

Rich Riddle
04-30-2013, 12:48 PM
Phil,

My wife and I have elite educations and also good educations. The endeavor cost us hundreds of thousands. You can only decide it that's worth it. It's paid off for us. It's hard to determine if lesser educations would have paid as well, and no method exists to accurately speculate. If we had to do the same thing again, would we? Most likely, but not in our exact specialties. That would have only changed the ending of our educations, not 90% of the educational process.

Greg Portland
04-30-2013, 7:53 PM
Edit to add: Two things she has expressed an interest in include: (1) Becoming an M.D., (2) Serving in the military. But if she takes a ton of loans to go through medical school, would she be able to make enough income in the military to make payments on the school? How does that work?
The military will pay for you to become a doctor. The programs vary & I don't know what happened after the recent round of budget cuts.

Be very careful with the financial aid packages. I know a lot of people at top tier schools who got great financial aid for 3-4 years and then were screwed on the last year.

Darius Ferlas
04-30-2013, 11:56 PM
Regarding the "elite" education, it is always a good idea to decide what the word "elite" refers to. Check the faculty biographies at Harvard Med school and you will be pleasantly surprised to find out how many of the professors were originally educated in other, not so elite universities. Take Harvard's Jack Szostak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_W._Szostak) (Nobel in medicine). He's at Harvard now but he didn't go to any elite schools. He got hired by one. There are plenty of examples like that. It's not just the school. It's also the student.

When it comes to money, here in Canada parents can setup educational savings accounts for their children. Basically, the federal government matches parents' contributions We opened an account like that for our daughter when she was 12, so by the time she was ready for the academia, a good chunk of the costs was already covered, and whatever was left to pay she managed to pay for from grants and scholarships.

Long story short - she turned down a pricey offer from Yale and opted for the lowly Brock University in Canada instead. She continued on in Wroclaw (Poland), Leipzig (Germany) and now she's competing her masters in Vienna (Austria). Just 23 years old now, last month she got a job offer from a major international organization fighting drugs and crime. Her debt is close to zero, though I have to admit her multiple citizenships helped with that, as EU education is not that expensive for EU citizens. Sadly, US based schools were the most expensive she applied for, and offered the least financial discounts/incentives, even though she is also a US born citizen. The "out of state" reason was the most frequently used basis for the higher prices. None of the EU countries were she studied have a concept of non-resident citizen for the tuition purposes.

As someone mentioned before, another key factor is WHAT she wants to do. Matching genuine interests and passion with education and careers is the ideal to strive for. Avoid mortgage sized student loans for a young person just starting out.

Dan Hintz
05-01-2013, 7:40 AM
Regarding the "elite" education, it is always a good idea to decide what the word "elite" refers to. Check the faculty biographies at Harvard Med school and you will be pleasantly surprised to find out how many of the professors were originally educated in other, not so elite universities. Take Harvard's Jack Szostak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_W._Szostak) (Nobel in medicine). He's at Harvard now but he didn't go to any elite schools. He got hired by one.

If a school only hired alumnus, the knowledge base would stagnate pretty quickly. I have no issue with (using your example) Harvard hiring someone with a community college education, as long as they're selecting the cream of the crop. I know some guys who have no education beyond high school, but they're light years beyond some guys with PhDs. Not every potential Nobel Prize winner gets the chance to go to Harvard, but Harvard would be crazy not to take them when they appear.

Darius Ferlas
05-01-2013, 11:26 AM
The point is not that Harvard hires outside profs. The point is that you don't need to go to Harvard to become the cream of the crop.

Dan Hintz
05-01-2013, 1:07 PM
The point is not that Harvard hires outside profs. The point is that you don't need to go to Harvard to become the cream of the crop.

Understood... but it's easier to become cream if you're surrounded by a creamer.

Mel Fulks
05-01-2013, 1:51 PM
I don't think elite and education are compatible terms. The competion among colleges for newer bigger buildings and top athletes are the source of most elite ratings . The word traditionally applies to ones place in society ,not education. It is a fact that professions such as law like to hire people from the same schools and don't hire 'rivals'. That means they are all the best. My son paid for his own education at a good ,not high profile ,engineering school and has excelled .Putting education as the highest priority makes choosing a school a lot easier.Good luck!

Brian Elfert
05-01-2013, 3:25 PM
The idea of applying to a military academy for a "free" education is a good one, but at least for West Point you must be nominated by a member of congress or the vice president. Most members of congress will nominate one person to West Point with a possibly a few alternate nominees. A young man I know was planning to go to Virginia Military Institute, but he got accepted to West Point so of course he went to West Point.

David Weaver
05-01-2013, 3:33 PM
In the scenario where it was no debt vs. a hundred Gs, I would choose the "elite" only if it was between an elite school and an absolute dud of a school (i.e., I wouldn't go to one of the fourth tier schools just to avoid paying, you'd just be astounded by the folks around you). If it was between an elite school and a "good" school, there will always be resources at a good school for an elite student to challenge themselves if they want to.

The only exception to that would be if I was dead set on doing something like managing a hedge fund, where it seems like every single name on the prospectus has a ph D from an elite school or some other post graduate ivy league degree.

Or if you wanted to work at a multinational law firm, but why anyone would want to do that for more than a year or two is beyond me.

Mel Fulks
05-01-2013, 3:34 PM
Brian ,an excellent example of the subjective views of what makes a good school. Most who go to VMI attend their first choice.

Darius Ferlas
05-01-2013, 4:38 PM
Understood... but it's easier to become cream if you're surrounded by a creamer.
Agreed, but you can have very little formal education and still be a creamer.
A few famous people we all know, but shouldn't discuss, were members of the elite before they went to Harvard.

Brian Elfert
05-01-2013, 7:20 PM
Brian ,an excellent example of the subjective views of what makes a good school. Most who go to VMI attend their first choice.

I was more making the point that military academies, while "free", are extremely difficult to get into. West Point has a bit over 1,100 freshman yearly so maybe 15 applicants from each state will get in per year. The rest of the class is active military who get selected for West Point.

Mel Fulks
05-01-2013, 7:58 PM
It was a good point and no offense taken .Fortunately everyone doesn't want the same thing.VMI is long tradition in some families; an old acquaintance had a whole stairwell lined with photographs of family members all in their formal uniforms.

Bill Edwards(2)
05-02-2013, 12:02 PM
This is such a long thread and this may have been mentioned.

My step daughter got a rather "high end" education in social work.

It's like a money guy told her, "Why go to Notre Dame" if you're going to get McDonald's wages.

Prashun Patel
05-02-2013, 12:30 PM
I'm not saying it's worth breaking the bank, but one of the benefits of an 'elite' education is that it's an internal validation. There are exceptions to the rule, but early external reinforcements of ability are key to a person's long term success.

Getting cut from the junior hs baseball team makes you think you're not as good as others and discourages you from trying to get better, which was a self-fulfilling prophecy in my case. The opposite is true as well: getting into a top notch school is a signal to yourself that yes, you can.

IMHO, this has been worth way more to me than the quality of my education.

Brian Elfert
05-02-2013, 2:23 PM
It was a good point and no offense taken .Fortunately everyone doesn't want the same thing.VMI is long tradition in some families; an old acquaintance had a whole stairwell lined with photographs of family members all in their formal uniforms.

I'm pretty sure this young man had no tradition of other family members going to any military school. His father has risen to a pretty high rank within the Army Reserve or National Guard and his sons got interested in the military due to that. The father got activated as part of the Iraq war and was active for something like five years. He did most of his work in the USA, but was deployed for a tour overseas.

I don't know why someone would apply to West Point if they had a family tradition of going to VMI.

Ben Hatcher
05-02-2013, 2:54 PM
If your daughter's goal is an MD, she should really be considering what medical school she wants to attend, then talk to their admission counselors to determine what they're looking for.

Bryan Slimp
05-02-2013, 3:45 PM
If your daughter's goal is an MD, she should really be considering what medical school she wants to attend, then talk to their admission counselors to determine what they're looking for.

This is pretty much what I was thinking. I'd be more interested in what the next level (med school) wanted me to have. I'm lucky enough to live in a community with REALLY good health-systems. I know many people that have gone to the state med school here and many that wanted to go here but couldn't because they didn't have just the right qualifications. Omaha may not be as "elite" as a big east coast Ivy League town, but real medicine, training, and research are happening right down the road from Milwaukee (ranked number 6 on the link provided earlier in the thread.)

Ben Hatcher
05-02-2013, 4:11 PM
A girl I dated a few years back wanted to go to OSU's Pharmacy school. The counselor told her that GPA was most important, undergraduate degree didn't matter, and that she'd have the best chance of getting in with a 4.0 in Communications than with a 3.5 in Chemistry. The same may hold true for certain med schools. A 4.0 from a "lesser" school may hold more weight than a 3.5 from one considered more elite.

David Weaver
05-02-2013, 4:34 PM
When I got out of school (I am not an accountant, I can't remember why I saw an audit firm's requirements - maybe they sent me something because they employ actuarial students in small numbers), the min GPA for a lot of the audit firms was 3.8. I guess they had to have degrees in accounting, I don't know.

The firm where I worked had a policy of 3.5 gpa or better. The average GPA for the major was about 3.2 at my school, which meant they cut out a lot of people unless you really had something else on your resume that would convince them to ignore that. The only thing I didn't like about it was when I was sifting through resumes to help decide who should be interviewed, there were some local colleges where it seemed like there must've been a dozen kids who had 4.0, and kids from much tougher schools where nobody had exactly 4.0, maybe some 3.97, etc, but no 4.0s. I went to bottom of the first tier school, and there was a proof course where nobody received an A, I didn't mind - I did a little at the time, but I don't now. I prefer the latter rather than grade inflation, but it's part of the selling point for the easier school, I guess. I'm sure a 3.45 at difficult school X was much much harder to obtain than a 3.8 at easy school Y.

I can say one thing, though, and that was something that Dr. Ben Carson said in a speech, and I mangle it a little bit to fit my purposes - when you are in my profession or another one similar and you work at one of the larger firms (which functions a lot like a law firm), some of those "very best of the best" types seem to be interested only in winning. Not solving problems, not providing thoughtful work, but winning first and justification later. (Ben Carson said that about Lawyers vs. Doctors, though, that Doctors are taught to solve problems, and lawyers are taught to win). I don't so much enjoy that kind of attitude from people, regardless of whether or not they feel it's their duty to make sure that on a relative comparison, they always feel like they're above anyone else they can think of.

Mike Henderson
05-02-2013, 6:54 PM
I don't so much enjoy that kind of attitude from people, regardless of whether or not they feel it's their duty to make sure that on a relative comparison, they always feel like they're above anyone else they can think of.
That reminds me of a joke about doctors:

What's the difference between God and a surgeon?

Answer: God doesn't think He's a surgeon.

Mike

Eric DeSilva
05-02-2013, 7:04 PM
Having been involved in our hiring program, I can assure you that we do know which schools are harder and the GPA/relative placement criteria are going to depend on where you go. But those are really screening criteria, and we only hire from two to three dozen schools anyway. I wouldn't assume going to a "easier school" will still get you past the entry criteria--you might find the door isn't even open.

Jerome Stanek
05-02-2013, 7:33 PM
That reminds me of a joke about doctors:

What's the difference between God and a surgeon?

Answer: God doesn't think He's a surgeon.

Mike



What's the difference between God and a surgeon?

Answer: God doesn't think He's a surgeon.

Or
what do you call a student that graduates at the top of his medical class

valedictorian

what do you call a student that graduates at the bottom of his medical class

Doctor

Phil Thien
05-02-2013, 9:09 PM
A doctor is driving to the hospital for rounds one day when she is t-boned by a car that blew through a red light.

A bystander ran to the doctor's car and asker if she was alright.

"How would I know?" the doctor asked. "I'm a doctor, not a lawyer."

David Weaver
05-02-2013, 9:30 PM
Having been involved in our hiring program, I can assure you that we do know which schools are harder and the GPA/relative placement criteria are going to depend on where you go. But those are really screening criteria, and we only hire from two to three dozen schools anyway. I wouldn't assume going to a "easier school" will still get you past the entry criteria--you might find the door isn't even open.

It depends on the company. It had no weight where I worked unless the person screening the resumes felt like applying some standard of their own. That was was a company with 57000 employees in something like 60 countries. There are other companies where it matters, and certainly places where it seems like a prestige school is just about required (like a lot of hedge funds and mutual funds).

Jerome Stanek
05-03-2013, 7:35 AM
Higher education is good but common sense is better

Phil Thien
05-03-2013, 11:17 AM
Higher education is good but common sense is better

She is looking for free higher education. If she can pull it off, she will have both (higher education, and common sense).

Eric DeSilva
05-03-2013, 2:25 PM
Higher education and common sense are good, but being among the right peers helps too. Let me start out by saying that we all know people that succeeded notwithstanding going to a less than first tier school--heck, we all know people that succeeded notwithstanding *not* going to school. And just as clearly, going to a good school doesn't automatically mean you will be successful and we all know pointy-headed idiots who managed to have gold-plated degrees from the Ivy League.

The question, in my mind, is whether you are maximizing the opportunity for your child to succeed. I think we can all acknowledge--and many of the most successful people around will acknowledge--that part of their success is luck and being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I don't care what field your kid ends up in--there is no field where relationships aren't important. And if going to a first tier school means that your kid will be surrounded--and develop relationships with--other bright bulbs who are statistically more like to lead their fields, your child will have an advantage. As I write this, there is a cynical part of me that despises it--this is how peerage is perpetrated in the modern economy. But it is reality, and I've seen it first hand.

Dan Friedrichs
05-03-2013, 3:56 PM
The question, in my mind, is whether you are maximizing the opportunity for your child to succeed. I think we can all acknowledge--and many of the most successful people around will acknowledge--that part of their success is luck and being in the right place at the right time with the right people.

Absolutely, but I just don't think it's quite as cut-and-dried as you make it. While an elite school might give you connections, it might deprive you of the higher-quality education you'd get at a teaching-focused school. An elite school may make it hard to "stand out in the crowd" - certainly there is great value in being among people who will intellectually challenge you, but the ability to differentiate yourself is also important.

My opinion would be that, if you have the ability to obtain an "elite" education at a good price (ie - the return-on-investment is good), and you plan to stop your schooling after an undergraduate degree, then that's a good choice.

If you're stopping after undergrad, and would incur massive debt for an elite education, it's not worth it.

If you're continuing on to graduate or professional school, it's (in my opinion) better to choose a mid-tier school where you can "stand out from the crowd" (in order to maximize your opportunities for involvement, etc). Admissions committees in professional and graduate programs will be more impressed by a top-of-the-class candidate from a mid-tier school than a middle-of-the-road candidate from an "elite" school, even if those two candidates are objectively equal.

Eric DeSilva
05-03-2013, 5:47 PM
While an elite school might give you connections, it might deprive you of the higher-quality education you'd get at a teaching-focused school.

Hmm. I'm not sure I see what you are saying there. Can someone emerge from an elite school having spent four years doing nothing but gut courses? Of course. Can someone graduate from a non-elite school with a phenomenal education? Of course. What that says to me is that you get out of it what you put in--regardless of the institution, the student has to take maximize their use of the educational resources that are available. Where we probably differ is that I'm going to say that elite schools typically offer students better resources. Elite schools tend to be elite because they have faculty with great credentials and a reputation (that they need to uphold) for producing well-educated graduates. There may be stand-out professors in other schools, but my gut reaction is to believe that you are going to get--on average--access to superior faculty at an elite school.

I also think it's hard to assess your return on investment when you are 18 and have limited life experience. Better to find a bunch of folks later in life and ask them whether they regret their investment on education--I think most of them would clearly say "no." I certainly have no regrets about my investment--and this is coming from someone who graduated with educational debt that, at the time, was staggering.

The odd part is that I did what you advocated--I went to a mid-tier school (local state university), but got admitted to a top tier law school. I'll say that the reason I stood out was because I had an odd undergraduate degree (mathematics)--it certainly wasn't my GPA, although that wasn't bad. But on balance, if my son wanted to go into law, I'd still tell him to aim for Yale, Harvard, Stanford or MIT as an undergraduate because of the people he'd meet and the resources he would have.

Your view that admissions committees are more impressed by top candidates from mid-tier schools rather than mid-tier candidates from elite schools also doesn't comport with my experience--at least not looking at the undergraduate institutions that populated my law school class. I was clearly an exception, since virtually the entire class were from elite institutions.

Dan Friedrichs
05-03-2013, 11:27 PM
Elite schools tend to be elite because they have faculty with great credentials and a reputation (that they need to uphold) for producing well-educated graduates.

Let me preface this all by just reiterating that all of this is purely my opinion, and that if there were a "truth" to be found in any of this, well, then the discussion would be moot :) Clearly we will all never agree, entirely.

However, I'd posit that more elite schools are not building their reputations on the backs of well-educated undergraduates. MIT is world-renown because of cutting edge research. Professors need to divvy up time between research and teaching. If they're at an institution like MIT, the expectation is that they will be doing world-class research of the caliber that makes mention in the evening news. They don't have time to do that if they're busy teaching undergrads. My experience (which includes working in academia), is that the higher-ranked schools make promotion and tenure decisions that are almost exclusively based on research productivity, not teaching effectiveness.

Smaller schools, however, are trying to grow their enrollment numbers, and, thus, are generally much more interested in teaching effectiveness. Professors who choose smaller institutions do so because they are more interested in student interaction and teaching.

Many would argue that "access" to world-class professors at an elite school is valuable to undergrads. At that level, though, the work being done is so far beyond what the undergrads can understand, that such access is useless. No undergrad will walk into a high-powered bio sciences research lab and be able to understand or contribute in any meaningful way.

Just my opinion, of course, but you can test my hypothesis fairly easily: During a college visit to various institutions, mention that you'd like to set up a meeting with a faculty member in the department that you're interested in. Not the staff member who advises undergraduates, or an admissions person, but an actual professor in the department. I'd bet that at most "elite" institutions, faculty simply can't afford to take time away for such a meeting that is of no benefit to them.

Finally, I suspect that law/business admissions may be radically different than science/engineering/medicine/etc. Just a hunch.

Jerome Stanek
05-04-2013, 7:54 AM
. Elite schools tend to be elite because they have faculty with great credentials and a reputation (that they need to uphold) for producing well-educated graduates.

Elite schools are elite because that is what they want you to believe. Not all the teachers are that great some have their tenure and can not be lot go. Some teachers think they are the best but may be just average. The school tries to project a degree of excellence. What one of our elite grads said in a speech was you can not learn about poverty from the poverty stricken you have to learn it from the experts. Ex vice pres. Spiro Agnew. That is some of the thinking of the elite.

John Coloccia
05-04-2013, 9:38 AM
Just to make a point, and nothing against MIT, but it's almost become a joke in the industry that MIT, and a couple of other "elite" engineering schools" but particularly MIT, pump out new grads that are very knowledgable yet can't engineer their way out of a paper bag. We can argue about that, but I've made zillions of phone calls for phone interviews, gave lots of interviews in person, and I only occasionally have found that one that I thought would be more of an asset than a PITA. I can teach you some technical stuff when you show up, but you if you're a new grad you need to show up with some ability to solve problems independently because you're not working on some professor's pet project anymore. I can't hold your hand excessively, and I can't tell you every little thing.

Now, 10 years into their career? They're pretty darn good.

Less technical, more actually doing and thinking independently. That seems to be a missing ingredient. Just my opinion.

Eric DeSilva
05-04-2013, 9:54 AM
I've been pretty close to academia throughout my life as well. I can assure you that pressure to produce funded research is not exclusively limited to elite institutions. And I do think having access to great minds can make an impact on an undergraduate. So we'll have to agree to disagree there. And, if you've ever tried to reach your professor for a one-on-one in a large state institution, in most cases you aren't going to have any better luck.

"Smaller schools . . . are trying to grow their enrollment numbers, and, thus, are generally much more interested in teaching effectiveness." I don't see the conclusion following the premise there--you can also grow your enrollment by admitting more students and having larger class sizes. If larger enrollment is the expression of the profit motive, you can also accomplish that by raising tuition. My siblings both went to "teaching only" institutions on the east coast--two of the top ranked such institutions. I don't think either of them got an appreciably better education than I did, although the discussions of what people did on their summer breaks was certainly different. And I'm not sure, frankly, that the cost differences between those institutions and an elite school were all that much different anyway. The smaller environment of those schools was certainly a better environment for both of them, but I'm not sure that applies to everyone. I was fine as a nameless, faceless number on a campus with 42,000 people.

I also disagree that most research is so far over the heads of undergraduates that it is incomprehensible. Research is so narrow that undergraduates often made valuable contributions in labs. Most of science is grunt work, not people sitting around having brilliant insights day after day. I know a lot of undergrads who worked in leading edge labs and, in so doing, learned great lessons about science and science careers.

At the end of the day, none of this matters to my central point. Elite institutions attract the best and the brightest students. Not 100% of the best and brightest attend elite institutions. Not 100% of the attendees of elite institutions are the best and the brightest. But if you want to put your kids in a place where they are likely to develop lifelong relationships with people who will become tomorrow's movers and shakers, there really isn't a substitute.

Eric DeSilva
05-04-2013, 10:09 AM
Jerome, the classic forensic mistake you are making here is that the exception doesn't make the case. Sure, there are bad teachers with tenure and there are blowhard idiots on the faculty of elite schools. That doesn't disprove my point, which is that students have access--on the whole--to better minds at high end institutions. In other words, I'd argue that there are more bad professors with tenure and and more blowhard idiots per capita at lesser institutions.

And I really can't believe you went all the way back to the Nixon administration to prove something I stated up front--"we all know pointy-headed idiots who managed to have gold-plated degrees from the Ivy League." Again, the exception doesn't make the rule.

Dan Friedrichs
05-04-2013, 12:53 PM
But if you want to put your kids in a place where they are likely to develop lifelong relationships with people who will become tomorrow's movers and shakers, there really isn't a substitute.

I will heartily agree with you, here.

Geoff Barry
05-04-2013, 2:06 PM
Phil,

I haven't read through the entire thread, but one thing to remember is that a couple of the elite schools (Harvard and Princeton, for sure) have removed loans from their financial aid packages. If you earn between $65k and $150k, they will come up with a number they expect you to cough up (the 0-10% mentioned in an early post), but the remainder will be grants, not loans. So your daughter would graduate without debt.


As for the advantages of attending an elite university, people's views tend to be colored by heir own prejudices. To be clear, I'm a graduate of one such university. In my view, I could have gotten as good an education in many places (note that this would not be true if I were a ground-breaking genius, but as a middle-of-the-road student, I believe it to be true). The main advantages for a student like me were twofold: First, all of my fellow student were really sharp. Even the beefy football player who didn't wear shoes ended up as a neurosurgeon. As one who believes that one's views and beliefs are best tested by informed challenges, I woul claim that the value of being surrounded by sharp, articulate people cannot be underestimated. Second, as a prior poster noted, many of your classmates will go on to be high achievers, and these places have tight alumni networks. Those connections can help throughout one's life.

Now, having said all that, I did not stay in the "ivy league bubble". As a result, I can say that some of the smartest and most effective people I have met in life never have set foot on an "elite" campus. With a very few exceptions, you don't end up at an elite school unless you are smart, but it's not the attendance at such a school that makes you smart, nor do all smart people go to the elite schools. And if your daughter plans to go on a professional school (med or law in particular), the status of the professional school will matter more for her career than that of her undergraduate institution. To make up an example, a student at the top of her class at a state university has a better chance of admission to an elite professional or grad school than a student in the middle of the pack at an elite undergraduate institution. In the eyes of the professional school, the middle-of-the-pack student has already demonstrated her top end, whereas the top student clearly excels.

Phil Thien
04-03-2014, 2:10 AM
I thought I'd update an old thread to let everyone know that my daughter will be attending UW-Madison.

She got some decent offers from other ("elite") schools that pretty much matched the cost of Madison in the freshman year. BUT, no guarantee that packages beyond the freshman year would be equivalent, even if she maintained a minimum GPA or any other standard. When she'd try to discuss 2nd-4th year, those schools got pretty vague.

The only school to which she applied where the offer would have certainly been worth accepting (financially) would have been Harvard, but she was not accepted there (only about 1 in 25 applicants were accepted to the 2018 class). Perhaps she should have targeted schools with huge endowments, but Harvard was the only school with a big endowment (and therefor hugely subsidized tuition) to which she applied.

They're all compromises (even Harvard, as she felt it was a pretty boring place when she spent three days there in February with her high school debate team, staying in the dorms and living with Harvard students).

The thing is, these big public schools are like 500 # gorillas. They have it all, high academic rankings almost any way you look at them, Big Ten sports, gobs of extracurricular activities, and affordable tuitions (thanks to taxpayer subsidies). I'm not saying they were slouches thirty years ago when I went to school, but they have undeniably strengthened over the last few decades, and some of them have turned into downright juggernauts.

Brian Ashton
04-03-2014, 10:19 AM
For those who maybe still contemplating:

Personally I think it's better to look at education and the school you attend somewhat differently than the traditional how much it's going to cost. I think a more productive approach is to evaluate how much future choices and or options is that tuition going to purchase. That's where the real value for money is. It doesn't sound so expensive if that 200000 bachelors gets you a job where you're making 150000/year after only a few years and or allows you to move to most anywhere on the globe... As opposed to what I'm finding. My $24000 degree from australia is pretty much worth less than the paper it's printed on because it's a 3 year degree as opposed to the the world standard 4 year degree. Doesn't matter that I'm in the top 5% it's still worth less... Some how if I had a harvard degree I don't think anyone would be telling me it's worthless, I'd have the pick of the litter for jobs...

Education is about one thing. Creating options for yourself through out your life. Less education = less options