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College Update

August 8th, 2019 at 05:27 am

Where we have been at with the college thing is that my oldest son has all the tech genes that completely skipped us. So, not only is he interested in the shortest and most practical route from Point A to Point B (typical engineer), but he also lives exactly where he needs to be to go to college. Not exactly where we live, but it's all pretty much in our backyard.

So while I am open to just about anything (within reason), MM(16) has a gazillion A+ colleges to choose from that cost pennies.

So that's mostly where I am at with things (and where I have always been).

On the flip side... MM(16) has always been an extreme outlier. When he was younger, I thought it might mean he was cut out for Ivy League. I always felt very *shrugs* about this because no one in our family (parents/us/siblings) had ever spent any significant dollars on college. & our parents have done *very well* financially over the long term. So, if one out of every 10 of us is an outlier, we have the cash to help them. For us, MH could take on a full-time job to pay cash for college. & in addition to that, our parents would be willing to help. & there's scholarships. MM has nothing but options.

MM(16) went on a tour of several colleges, a couple of weeks ago. We were curiously waiting to see how that shook out. Before that time, he had only toured our alma mater (which has been his #1 choice).

There was one obscure private college that I was glad they were going to hit on the tour. I had a friend (very similar personality) who went there, and so was just curious. I then read it is the "most expensive college in the U.S." So, of course, MM came back with this school as top contender. *sigh*

Honestly and truly, I feel pretty zen about it. If it's meant to be, we have the means to make it work. I think this sums it up pretty well. MH was worried maybe everyone was getting a little too emotional about it. I said last night, "I have the feeling MM will end up at this school, he can get it in, and it will work out. But it's not like we are going to lose any sleep over it if he doesn't get accepted." I think we all feel pretty *shrugs* about it. I just have a very good feeling about it. But you know, *boohoo* if we get to save a billion dollars and he can go to school at any of the top engineering schools in the Bay Area? Pretty much, he can't go wrong. Nothing feels very much at stake here. In fact, I don't even know if MM will choose this private school over more affordable options, if he does get accepted. He's just too logical and practical. We've already discussed that the location isn't particularly ideal. Sure, everyone there gets Bay Area internships. How useful is that when you go to school 6 hours away?

So, that is where we are at with things. It's clear as mud. Flip a coin. Our alma mater is absolutely impossible to beat as far as cost/benefit. So, does he go to school at a school that cost pennies or does he choose one of the most expensive schools? Talk about black and white! Will see...

It's been kind of funny because my husband has accused me often of being close-minded when we talk about college. ??? I always tell him I am open to anything, but come on, there's a 90%+ chance MM just goes to our alma mater. Why would we consider anything else? I guess I know my kid, his talents are the same as many in our family, and I am familiar with most the relevant schools. Even so, I am surprised how much I called it. He's interested in the all of the colleges I would have expected him to be. Some of the other colleges I didn't know much about and he wasn't interested in. So pretty much nothing new came out of this trip, except him being particularly enamored with the one school. It doesn't surprise me at all, but I also wouldn't have been surprised if he decided that was a racket and impractical.

MH has never heard of this school before, and feels kind of like the train left the station without him. We left him in the dust. I finally said, "Do you believe me now? I've always said I am open to absolutely anything." Yeesh! He believes me now. & I admit if I had never heard of the school, I'd probably not be too thrilled with this turn of events. IT's funny how the tables have turned. But for such a small school, they sure have a lot of tours. So we are loosely planning to go tour the college in the spring. We need to get MH up to speed, and lord knows I know very little about the school. We need to see it for ourselves, and ask a lot of questions.

This leads me to revelation #2. So, I am looking into other school tours. We obviously have to hit Berkeley and Stanford. Close to home, easy to tour whenever. Anyway, I am truly open to anything. I am always thrown off when "being open to living at home" or "being open to community college" is taken as the polar opposite. I've gotten so many lectures about this stuff when I've actually never seriously considered that MM would live at home for college anyway. ??? I think that is because of his tech leanings and us being generally underwhelmed by college options in our lower cost haven. Meh. Honestly, I wouldn't even send him to community college here. I think the odds that he will live at home for college are at about 0%. So... I had to laugh at myself when thinking about college tours, I didn't even think of anything local?? & then we went on a drive to Yosemite last week and we passed a billion (so it felt like) colleges I didn't know much about. It's like, "Oh yeah, there's that college and that college and that college..." & then I got home and started thinking about all these other big name tech-y colleges (that I had forgotten about when making initial list). UGH! So, I asked MH if he wanted to tour a couple of the local schools. He did, so I will add them to the list. But I told him that other than that, I Was done. If he heard of some other college that really struck his fancy, to let me know. But I think we can officially check off that we did our job as parents, if we take him on an additional 2-4 tours.

I share, because I think this illustrates why we haven't seriously considered any out-of-state colleges. We are pretty much drowning in affordable/excellent public options. This has always been a very clear trade-off to higher housing costs. I had always planned to take advantage (and we certainly did so with our own degrees too).

I guess #1, this is where we are at currently with all things college. But #2, I have to throw it out there in case I do eventually announce that my son is going to some crazy expensive private college. Because if I don't share this post, it might seem like that is coming way out of nowhere. Like with my husband, I know I have always said I am open to absolutely anything (within reason). But he didn't *get it* until last weekend. I expect it's the same in my blog.

As a refresher, these are our parameters re: college:

We both agree that we expect the kids to work significantly during high school and college, that our own financial health comes first, and that we don't want to borrow a penny for college. We don't want them to graduate with any student loan debt. We are willing to help our kids in any way we can as long as we are within these parameters.

It always strikes me kind of silly as people get really bogged down with the details. If I had a dollar for every person who told me just how their kid will go to college (where, how they will or won't work, if they will live at home or in the dorms, etc.) from like the day their child was born. This has always struck me as completely insane. Heck if I know! Depends depends depends. I've never focused on the details. It's the parameters I mentioned above that matter to me. Not mortgaging my future (or encouraging my kids to mortgage their future), and it has to make any sense whatsoever. But beyond that, I couldn't tell you any of the details. Even 2 years out, still feel very much, "It depends how it all shakes out". & of course, more opportunities always arise when you keep your options open. The second we start locking things down and being inflexible, the less options we will have. Which is why we are going to wait until it all shakes out.

In addition to that, it's been very important for us to have our kids work and save money now, because I don't know how college will shake out. It's very likely my "extreme outlier" child will not be able to work during college. Obscure private college heavily encourages summer work and internships. That would be very much in line with our values. But it's pretty clear that he probably couldn't work during the school year, at that college. I wanted to clarify because I did put "work" in there. I've never taken it for granted that our kids could work as much as we did during college. That was more, "Our kids aren't going to sit on their butts and do nothing during the summers," if nothing else. There will be always be some way to work and contribute, and that's all I mean by that.

Edited to add: To be clear, our "expected contribution" at private college is literally 10 times as much as sticker price at any public college. Unless he does very well on the academic/sports scholarship side of things, the cost of this private college will be ridiculous. It's a decision that is impossible to make until we have college acceptances and scholarships in hand. Until then, it's going to be clear as mud. Will plan for both extremes.

2 Responses to “College Update”

  1. Lucky Robin Says:

    Unless your kid is going to study rocket science, there is very little point in spending that much money for an engineering degree. My husband is a control systems engineer. No one ever asks him where he went to college.

  2. Joe Says:

    Just remember that very few people pay the sticker price. If you haven't already, you need to understand FAFSA and Expected Family Contribution.

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