If you don’t have the money to bribe your way into collegeSubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on March 21st, 2019
Last week William “Rick” Singer plead guilty to an astonishing college admissions bribery scheme where college sports coaches were bribed; people were paid to take the SATs and ACTs for the children of celebrities and wealthy families. To pay for it, hundreds of thousands of dollars were funneled through charities so that the money trail could be hidden and the wealthy could get a tax deduction, too.
It was a revelation that we have always suspected but rarely seen revealed: the rich can buy their children’s way into college, even if they did not earn it.
Such news was disappointing for parents of college-bound children. As if getting your kid into college wasn’t hard enough! This leads us back to why this happened in the first place—parents’ drive to get their children into elite colleges and universities—in this case—at any cost.1
Does graduating from an elite college make that much of a difference to your child once they are out in the workplace or in life?
I think it is fair to say that graduating from an elite or brand name school can open doors to certain employers after graduation. But do these schools foster a young person’s resiliency, determination and ability to deal with failure? (The college brochures say that they do.) I think these qualities are important but are harder to connect with attending a specific college.
Are elite colleges really worth it?
While graduates from elite schools go on to get good jobs and live fulfilling lives, it is debatable whether attending an elite college (along with the elite price tag for attending) is worth the extra cost. In my work I encounter many wealthy clients and business contacts. Surprisingly, several have advised me to send my own children to less expensive—but good—schools instead of striving for elite or highly selective schools. I wonder why they told me and if they now regret spending all that money.
Compounding the college selection process, colleges have continued to raise tuition and room & board costs faster than inflation for several decades. This is causing families to fork over larger amounts or worse, borrow the money to put their kids through school. If your goal is to provide your child with a very good education and the opportunity to grow up, there are excellent alternatives to mortgaging your future or depleting your retirement savings.
For a long time in this country there has been a belief that if you worked hard, you would be rewarded for it. Scandals like this one call that saying into question. But I believe that the mistakes of a limited few cannot dismantle the benefits of hard work, persistence and belief in yourself. Deciding to put aside the elite college myth might serve your child better than anything else.
How do I find a good college for my son or daughter? Give us a call. We’re here to help.
Lyman H. Jackson
1 There was a great article in the Boston Globe this early week about the pressures of getting into top schools and how parents never explicitly tell their children they must go to an elite college. But school guidance counselors tell a different story: students tell them that their parents implicitly expect them to do whatever it takes to get in to the best schools, which puts an enormous amount of pressure on them.
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