The “Gotta-Get-My-Kid-Into-a-Dream-College” Trend: Our Journeys Continue

We all know the student loan bubble is going to pop soon and we don’t want our kids to have any part in it. Photo:

Disclosure: Our PTA is hosting a college parent panel tonight to share insights and information about the college admissions process. I will be there to hear what they have to say…


Both Aimee and I have high school kids (Aimee one and myself, two) and as one of her neighbors puts it, we are going to “buck the trend.” 

What’s the trend we want to buck, you ask? We want to buck the perception our kids may have that they are required to attend a four-year Dream School (or Back Up School) after they graduate high school. As discussed in this Washington Post article, we want to encourage our kids to go for community college, life instead of a student debt-filled life. Ideally, our kids would go to a two-year school, then decide where to transfer for further education, all the while working to get experience, any experience, while building credit.

We plan to share our personal research on this journey on TFF. We’ll post when we can — there’s no set schedule — so it may be a day or two months before you see something! Part of the reason we want to share info with you is to help other parents out there who may be facing the same dilemma of what to do about this college issue.

Those Dreaded Conversations

…Aimee’s dreaded conversations:

  • From a well-meaning friend with one kid, “I don’t know how people with multiple kids do this. $60,000 a year?!” I’ve got three kids. How AM I going to do this and not end up being a bag lady?
  • “Get ready for the college tour – it’s such a thing now.”  Evidently, putting together a list of schools to go tour is a trendy thing to do. When am I going to have time to do this? How do people afford to take time off from work to do this?
  • “Well, since we were going to be on vacation in the D.C. area, we decided to show her American, George Washington and Georgetown.”  Okay, some folks give up their vacation time to do this.  (You know I’ll be putting Cape Cod Community College on MY list!)
  • “Oh good, my kid got into his top three choices, so now we don’t have to have UCONN as a back-up.” Yes, this was said in my presence. Oh, the horror of sending her kid to a state school!  I happened to have gotten a great education at a state school in NY.  But these days, with all the publicity around its basketball teams, UCONN is not the same value as it once was.
bill rolls
It takes bundles of money to fund college for one kid…we hear that grandparents are willing to pay for college at the expense of their own retirement funds. Is that really a good idea? Photo:

…Marilyn’s dreaded conversations:

I’ll be the first to say this: I dread hearing other parents talking about trips to college campuses around the country and the fact that grandparents will be paying for their kids’ college costs. But I do hear ALOT from around the water-cooler about families paying for their kids’ college with HELOC money, paying to the tune of $1,000 a month for their kid’s loans, kids who drop out after a semester, switch majors five times, can’t get a job, don’t want to get a job after graduation, or here’s a good one — the story about a kid who went to an IMPORTANT SCHOOL, took a music class but didn’t play any instrument, so the instructor had her bang a tambourine as her part in the class. Preschool…or college?

What We Hope to Share

We’ll share anecdotes (we’ll never divulge real names) and insightful things along the way. Yahoo Finance, and I think HufPo, too, frequently posts and aggregates articles about the college bubble and college costs, so we will share some of those, too. Here’s more of what Aimee and I hope to research when we have the chance–but we may not get to all of it:

  • true costs of attending community college (we know that the sticker price for a four-year college is not always the cost of attending, but we want to compare, hear both sides, etc.)
  • quality of instructors at a community college vs four year (we hear that sometimes the professor’s assistants teach the class rather than show up and teach…anecdote or not, this is a question that begs research)
  • the psychological makeup of a kid who succeeds or drops out of community college
  • potential for successful graduation and careers, success stories, etc.

I’m sure this will evolve over time, but we do look forward to sharing our insights.

~Marilyn, TFF