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dmmetler

Kid accepted to all 8 Ivy league schools chooses Alabama

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I feel I should stipulate that I have no skin in this game: While I freely acknowledge that either or both of my kids could be Ivy material, neither went that route. And given their areas of interest, neither graduate schools nor high-powered law firms will ever need to be impressed by the names on their degrees. My younger and last student is happily enrolled at the college of his choice, so I won't ever have to supervise the high school preparation or college selection process again. And given that both of mine are thriving, I don't feel the need to defend their choices to anyone.

 

I have to say, though, that I look at a lot of these stories and see a certain amount of confirmation bias.

 

For example, while reading the story above, I can totally see a story from the other side about a student who attended a good-enough school and got excellent grades and got into the same medical school, thus "proving" that it doesn't matter where you go to college.

 

Similarly, people who attend prestigious colleges probably do get jobs in which the names of the colleges they attended are noticed and considered a plus. Consequently, they assume it's important to have attended such a college to get such a job. But the many others who get similar jobs at other firms/companies at which name brand colleges don't matter as much will happily tell you that attending an Ivy doesn't matter.

 

The only reputable studies I've seen done of this issue suggest that students who were admitted to highly selective schools and chose to go elsewhere do about as well by every identifiable measure as their peers who attended the more prestigious option. So, while I'm willing to stipulate that for some small number of fields, attending an Ivy or "Ivy-equivalent" might open some doors, my gut tells me that, for the vast majority of students, the number and type of door opened may be less significant than many of us think.

 

Edit: I went searching for a good link to any of the studies I remembered reading about. I haven't found a link yet to any of the original material, but here's a quick summary of the findings of one of those studies:

 

http://www.quora.com/Does-attending-an-Ivy-League-school-really-matter

 

(Formatting is from the original article, so the italics and bold are not mine.)

 

Krueger and Dale examined sets of students who had started college in 1976 and in 1989; that way, they could get a sense of incomes both earlier and later careers. And they determined that the graduates of more selective colleges could expect earnings 7 percent greater than graduates of less selective colleges, even if the graduates in that latter group had SAT scores and high school GPAs identical to those of their peers at more exclusive institutions. 

 

But then Krueger and Dale made their adjustment. They looked specifically at graduates of less selective colleges who had applied to more exclusive ones even though they hadn’t gone there. And they discovered that the difference in earnings pretty much disappeared. Someone with a given SAT score who had gone to Penn State but had also applied to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school with a much lower acceptance rate, generally made the same amount of money later on as someone with an equivalent SAT score who was an alumnus of UPenn. It was a fascinating conclusion, suggesting that at a certain level of intelligence and competence, what drives earnings isn’t the luster of the diploma but the type of person in possession of it. If he or she came from a background and a mindset that made an elite institution seem desirable and within reach, then he or she was more likely to have the tools and temperament for a high income down the road, whether an elite institution ultimately came into play or not. This was powerfully reflected in a related determination that Krueger and Dale made in their 2011 study: “The average SAT score of schools that rejected a student is more than twice as strong a predictor of the student’s subsequent earnings as the average SAT score of the school the student attended.â€

 

Sorry for the large text, but wanted that sentence to stand out.  It is for this reason that studies have shown that the students who benefit the most from an elite college setting are those who are from lower SES families, or first generation or in someway do not have the same background as the "typical" students.  The student who fits in comfortably at an ivy college would likely have come from a higher SES family and would already have made many contacts through family and social connections.  Those connections will help them when it comes time for applying for jobs whether they attended an ivy or another college with a lesser reputation.

 

We often read stories of the students who overcame obstacles and gained admittance to top colleges, but they are very much in the minority of students on those campuses.   For many of them, I do think that their choice of college matters.  As the ivy colleges and some of the other elite colleges are the most generous, I think it's more likely that they would choose that college over others, so their experiences are probably not reflected in those studies.  They're targeting students who were accepted into an elite college, but chose to go elsewhere. 

 

Bottom line is that each family needs to make choices which work best for their student and their family and their finances.  I just think it's ironic that on a homeschooling board, where many of the families chose to homeschool because they felt the other options weren't good enough for elementary school, junior high and sometimes high school, when it comes to college the thought is that any one will be fine.  And sometimes "Wherever College" does have to do since it is what's affordable.  It's up to the student to find the opportunities and to take advantage of all that's offered wherever they attend.  Dd had an incredible experience at her DE college, which is unranked.  She also had very nice options last year and thankfully some were even affordable.  Had she not already done DE, CC would probably have been her financial safety.

 

So different options can work out well, but I wouldn't say that all college options are equal any more than I'd say that all elementary schools are equal or all high schools are equal.  We all have different budgets and different priorities and need to make the best choice out of the options we have.  And Jenny I completely agree that all of us have our biases.   Dd wasn't admitted to the few ivy colleges she applied to, but that doesn't mean that our opinion of them and the education they offer changed, but it is human nature to reflect more on the negatives than the positives.  And it's also human nature to think about all of the positives the chosen college has to offer.  That's a good thing!  I'm sure that's what this young man and his family are doing.  

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I think many of us more or less consider them the same thread.   ;)

 

And regarding your previous post, yes to the part after the bolded too.  MANY students AND parents pick the "better" school based upon amenities...  :glare:   It's hard to fault schools for feeling they have to keep up, because they do, or so it really seems anyway.  Not many want to buy the fixer upper even if it costs less.  If there's not enough demand, it's tough to keep going, not to mention, getting rated decently.

 

I had to laugh at a couple of the college tours we went on.  Some schools showed us really nice, new or newly renovated dorms (and I can't really blame them for wanting to show off their nicest rooms or the rooms that reflect the direction they are heading).  At Virginia Tech, the rooms were more basic.  The guide made a comment about the rooms not having AC.  But that they set up two fans to provide a good ventilation flow.  Then he shrugged and said, "I mean, we are an engineering school. You should be able to set up a couple fans."  

 

That may have been one of the best sells of the tour.

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I had to laugh at a couple of the college tours we went on.  Some schools showed us really nice, new or newly renovated dorms (and I can't really blame them for wanting to show off their nicest rooms or the rooms that reflect the direction they are heading).  At Virginia Tech, the rooms were more basic.  The guide made a comment about the rooms not having AC.  But that they set up two fans to provide a good ventilation flow.  Then he shrugged and said, "I mean, we are an engineering school. You should be able to set up a couple fans."  

 

That may have been one of the best sells of the tour.

This reminds me very much of the dorm tour at Michigan Tech! LOL

 

I have the types of boys that are far more worried about internet speed than what the walls look like, LOL!. 'Course it's Michigan Tech, good 'ole Houghton Michigan so no need for AC. You have to love a school whose packing list suggests a snow shovel and snowshoes!

 

It's interesting that back in my day, my friends and I were all about the academics, the perceived strengths of the schools in our majors. Parents too. No one was particularly worried about amenities and what not. Sure, they were nice to have it worked out that your school of choice was a good fit, provided enough aid and merit, and managed some fun fun too. But, mostly we were all worried about our degrees.

 

It's a foreign concept to our family. Dh and I, the boys too, do not give any thought to that stuff so long as the campus has decent security, fairly low crime, the buildings are up to code, and the academics are excellent. I guess we have low standards. :D

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I just think it's ironic that on a homeschooling board, where many of the families chose to homeschool because they felt the other options weren't good enough for elementary school, junior high and sometimes high school, when it comes to college the thought is that any one will be fine.  And sometimes "Wherever College" does have to do since it is what's affordable.  It's up to the student to find the opportunities and to take advantage of all that's offered wherever they attend.  Dd had an incredible experience at her DE college, which is unranked.  She also had very nice options last year and thankfully some were even affordable.  Had she not already done DE, CC would probably have been her financial safety.

 

So different options can work out well, but I wouldn't say that all college options are equal any more than I'd say that all elementary schools are equal or all high schools are equal.    

 

But I didn't see anyone saying that "any college" is fine or that all college options are equal. What many people said is that they are concerned about the price that children and families are paying in money and stress and all kinds of other ways in the frantic pursuit of admission to a specific kind of college, just because it's that kind of college. 

 

We have young adults who are, apparently, killing themselves because they either don't get into the "right" college or feel that they aren't succeeding once they are admitted.

 

We have kids giving up childhoods and pounding Starbucks in order to stay awake long enough to complete schoolwork they may not even understand and participate in extracurriculars they may not even like because their families have been told those things will get them into said colleges.

 

There's a huge, huge gap between accepting that as "normal" and shrugging and saying that any old college will do. There's an enormous range of good and great and great-for-that-student colleges in between those two extremes. Most of us -- even those of us who do value education and chose to homeschool because it was the right choice for our families -- live in that in-between land. Our kids are happy and academically challenged and enjoying their college years and going on to careers they choose. 

 

Making a thoughtful choice that is different does not have to mean accepting "less."

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I think the fallacy that "Any college will do" is just as bad as "Ivy (or equivalent) or your future in life is ruined."

 

In some cases either could be true (the latter not as often as the former), but as blanket statements?  It amazes me that either are believed.

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I feel like I should say, too, that if either of my kids had gotten his or her heart set on applying to a highly selective/prestigious college, I would have done my utmost to support that attempt. But I would have thrown myself at it because it was what my student wanted, not because I had a burning desire to put the bumper sticker on my car.

 

I have nothing against the Ivies. I totally get how the environment can be exciting and wonderful for the right student. I just think it's crazy that so many families are focusing in so narrowly on those schools and spending decades pursuing admission to one of them when there are so many other valid options.

 

Remember, if the research holds true, the student whose story kicked off this thread should do just fine, better than fine, because the very fact that applied to and was admitted to all of those elite schools means he has the ability and ambition to succeed. 

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(somewhat tongue in cheek) - I think the colleges provide nice amenities so the kids will not want to leave!! It's a trap! Kids may wind up taking longer to finish because they have it so cushy. When they stay longer, they continue to pay tuition. I absolutely loved my college, but the dorms were crap, the food was crap, and there were no fancy rec centers or gathering places. People may have loved being there, but they wanted to get out so they could start working and live better. Now with colleges so "nice" and the job market so tough, what incentive is there to get out?!

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But I didn't see anyone saying that "any college" is fine or that all college options are equal. What many people said is that they are concerned about the price that children and families are paying in money and stress and all kinds of other ways in the frantic pursuit of admission to a specific kind of college, just because it's that kind of college. 

 

We have young adults who are, apparently, killing themselves because they either don't get into the "right" college or feel that they aren't succeeding once they are admitted.

 

We have kids giving up childhoods and pounding Starbucks in order to stay awake long enough to complete schoolwork they may not even understand and participate in extracurricular they may not even like because their families have been told those things will get them into said colleges.

 

There's a huge, huge gap between accepting that as "normal" and shrugging and saying that any old college will do. There's an enormous range of good and great and great-for-that-student colleges in between those two extremes. Most of us -- even those of us who do value education and chose to homeschool because it was the right choice for our families -- live in that in-between land. Our kids are happy and academically challenged and enjoying their college years and going on to careers they choose. 

 

Making a thoughtful choice that is different does not have to mean accepting "less."

 

I'm not disagreeing with you. 

 

Finances have to be considered.  Better for the student to attend the college they can afford for 4 or 5 years than ignore affordability and end up having to drop out before graduation. 

 

As has been mentioned in this thread, there's another thread on the high school board which addresses cost issues, so I was including that in my reply here.  It is hard to separate the two.   Some don't understand how anyone could choose to spend 30K or more for a private high school.  If money wasn't a concern, I'd have considered that option.  But that is not at all my reality.  Some of the top private schools are amazing in the breath and depth of courses offered and in the prep students receive for rigorous college courses.  Saying that doesn't take anything away from what dd did do in high school.  Saying one is great or possibly better doesn't make her experience any less.  Kwim?  

 

I love following what you son and daughter have accomplished and how they take advantage of opportunities.  You've done a great job in your role as guidance counselor!  

 

Another thought.  While there are some lower ranked colleges which hold their students and classes to very high standards, the top colleges are top for a reason.  The classes are hard.  Students who are used to straight As will likely have an adjustment period.  Our role as guidance counselor doesn't end the minute they get their high school diploma.  We need to keep the message that grades alone do not define them.  They need to know that the goal is not perfectionism but learning.  And once they've chosen where to go, they need our support and validation.  Really sad thread on CC recently written by a senior about how his father just couldn't accept that he didn't get into a particular college.  The son got into his number one choice, but Dad couldn't let it go.  Sad. 

 

 

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But I didn't see anyone saying that "any college" is fine or that all college options are equal. What many people said is that they are concerned about the price that children and families are paying in money and stress and all kinds of other ways in the frantic pursuit of admission to a specific kind of college, just because it's that kind of college. 

 

We have young adults who are, apparently, killing themselves because they either don't get into the "right" college or feel that they aren't succeeding once they are admitted.

 

We have kids giving up childhoods and pounding Starbucks in order to stay awake long enough to complete schoolwork they may not even understand and participate in extracurriculars they may not even like because their families have been told those things will get them into said colleges.

 

There's a huge, huge gap between accepting that as "normal" and shrugging and saying that any old college will do. There's an enormous range of good and great and great-for-that-student colleges in between those two extremes. Most of us -- even those of us who do value education and chose to homeschool because it was the right choice for our families -- live in that in-between land. Our kids are happy and academically challenged and enjoying their college years and going on to careers they choose. 

 

Making a thoughtful choice that is different does not have to mean accepting "less."

 

The one thing I truly dislike about these threads is the underlying current that name brand will always be the superior experience, every single blinking thread. To trot out commentary that it's ironic that homeschoolers for whom B&M options weren't good enough, but who'll just accept any old college, is downright insulting. (Not directing this part at you, Jenny.) The unspoken implication is that "good" parents will supply that "perfect" college experience; if you can't or won't, then welcome to the crappy parent club.

 

I have not worked my backside off the past eight, going on nine years, to just randomly drop my son in "any old college." We'll make, as Jenny in Florida put it, "a thoughtful choice."  For example, ds wanted to go to a particular (more elite, I guess) school. He discovered that the economics department there was ranked only 2-3 positions higher than one of our state schools. The price tag difference between the two is over $100,000!  Sorry, but I don't see the value of "the name" in this case.

 

I love my son, but I also love my dh. He has worked hard for us, easily 60 hours a week, for over 20 years so that I can be at home with the kids and they can have some lovely extras. I may drive a car not built in this century and the great room furniture has covers, but our kids have lacked for little in the way of comfort, health, safety, and joy. When my youngest graduates from high school, dh will be 59 years old. I have no desire to lose him because we opted for a name brand college and the stress that the extra debt entails as that time of life. My hope is for a good LAC that meets ds's academic needs and our budget. I'd do and have done a lot to get there, but I won't sacrifice our future as a family to do so.

 

ETA: This is where we are at and is no reflection on anyone else's choices.

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Heck if the bumper sticker is the goal for anyone, they can get that easily enough.  Aside from the academics, our goal was affordable choices. 

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The one thing I truly dislike about these threads is the underlying current that name brand will always be the superior experience, every single blinking thread. To trot out commentary that it's ironic that homeschoolers for whom B&M options weren't good enough, but who'll just accept any old college, is downright insulting. (Not directing this part at you, Jenny.) The unspoken implication is that "good" parents will supply that "perfect" college experience; if you can't or won't, then welcome to the crappy parent club.

 

I have not worked my backside off the past eight, going on nine years, to just randomly drop my son in "any old college." We'll make, as Jenny in Florida put it, "a thoughtful choice."  For example, ds wanted to go to a particular (more elite, I guess) school. He discovered that the economics department there was ranked only 2-3 positions higher than one of our state schools. The price tag difference between the two is over $100,000!  Sorry, but I don't see the value of "the name" in this case.

 

I love my son, but I also love my dh. He has worked hard for us, easily 60 hours a week, for over 20 years so that I can be at home with the kids and they can have some lovely extras. I may drive a car not built in this century and the great room furniture has covers, but our kids have lacked for little in the way of comfort, health, safety, and joy. When my youngest graduates from high school, dh will be 59 years old. I have no desire to lose him because we opted for a name brand college and the stress that the extra debt entails as that time of life. My hope is for a good LAC that meets ds's academic needs and our budget. I'd do and have done a lot to get there, but I won't sacrifice our future as a family to do so.

 

I'm so sorry, but you inferred what was never implied, written or otherwise.

 

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I had to laugh at a couple of the college tours we went on. Some schools showed us really nice, new or newly renovated dorms (and I can't really blame them for wanting to show off their nicest rooms or the rooms that reflect the direction they are heading). At Virginia Tech, the rooms were more basic. The guide made a comment about the rooms not having AC. But that they set up two fans to provide a good ventilation flow. Then he shrugged and said, "I mean, we are an engineering school. You should be able to set up a couple fans."

 

That may have been one of the best sells of the tour.

Carnegie Mellon made a similar statement years ago, except it ended with "besides, you won't be in the dorm much anyway". Which was true.

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When you expand the college rosters, you inevitably have to taken lower quality students, which then necessitates more support services to make sure these students have a reasonable chance of graduating.

 

I'm sorry, but this doesn't pass the sniff test.  While some universities are enrolling more students than in the past, others aren't.  All have seen dramatic rises in tuition.  How much has Harvard's tuition risen in the last 30 years?  How many more students do they enroll?  My Big State University's enrollment has been pretty constant for the last 20 years, but tuition has risen substantially.

 

Perhaps (perhaps!) high school students aren't as prepared as they were.  But numerically, there are many colleges that are enrolling basically the same numbers of students as when their tuition was much lower.

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As a graduate of Yale married to a graduate of Columbia, I can say a few things with reasonable assurance:

 

1) Going to a tippy top college doesn't guarantee a tippy top income.

2) Going to a tippy top college doesn't guarantee happiness

3) Going to a non-tippy top college may mean a tippy top income.

4) Going to a non-tippy top college may lead to great happiness.

5) Going to a tippy top college can absolutely open doors, but doesn't mean they stay open.

 

Nothing matter, IMO, except the individual and what a good life means to him or her. Is the purpose of education to lead one to a job with a higher income? To a greater appreciation of the world, the arts, culture and history? To understand the meaning of life? I left a job in investment banking to become an acupuncturist. I saw what other top earners in the industry (particularly the women) had to sacrifice to earn millions. And I thought to myself "Is this it?" Is this really why I went to this amazing school, was exposed to such amazing thinkers? To earn money? Really? 

 

Were most of the other analysts in the firm Ivy League graduates? Yes. Of the ones who were there the longest, were most of them Ivy League grads? Nope. They were the ones who were willing to sacrifice almost everything for money. It takes a certain kind of person to make those kinds of sacrifices. 

 

The most important thing a child can learn (and it takes most far longer than just their childhood to learn this) is "what makes me happy?" "What are the qualities of a good life, to me?" Some, like my brother (who attended Williams on a so-so academic record--he was a recruited athlete) might make the decision that they want to earn money, above almost all else. And they (as my brother did) will do just that. They will hire nannies to watch their children, who then graduate to a $40,000 a year first grade class (oh yes, really). The children will attend after-school enrichment programs, the parents will sign off on overnight trips to Utah, and the children will, more than likely, go on to attend a top-notch school. And so what if they do. So what if they do.

 

Some, like my husband and I, will decide that the good life consists of more than simply accumulating until you die. And you know what? My education at Yale, and his at Columbia, allowed us to see that. By exposing us to so very much of the world, including the privilege of the world, we could make that decision from a certain vantage point. And we have no regrets. Others, who might never have had the opportunity to see what the so-called "good life" is might very well romanticize it (money! cars! vacations! houses!) without realizing how much is lost in its pursuit.

 

A good education is good in its own right, no matter where you obtain it. The more important considerations are self-knowledge, self-direction and an understanding of how one wants to live in the world. It seems this young man has all three. 

 

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I'm sorry, but this doesn't pass the sniff test.  While some universities are enrolling more students than in the past, others aren't.  All have seen dramatic rises in tuition.  How much has Harvard's tuition risen in the last 30 years?  How many more students do they enroll?  My Big State University's enrollment has been pretty constant for the last 20 years, but tuition has risen substantially.

 

Perhaps (perhaps!) high school students aren't as prepared as they were.  But numerically, there are many colleges that are enrolling basically the same numbers of students as when their tuition was much lower.

 

The quote you used belonged to a college professor, not me. That's why they were in quotes with an attribution.

 

I can see taking exception with the comment that with enrolling more students, they are taking lesser quality ones that need more support. However, I wonder if at the root of this is really the issue of college "readiness."

 

One set of numbers that I saw cited nearly 60% of kids who make it to college are not academically ready and require some form of remediation:

 

"Figure 1 shows the extent of the college readiness problem by portraying the gap between eligibility for college and readiness to do college-level work. Students in public colleges and universities attend one of three types of postsecondary institutions: highly selective four-year institutions, somewhat selective four-year institutions, and nonselective or open-access two-year colleges. The readiness gap is nominal in the most selective universities because their admissions criteria screen out most students who are underprepared. The gap is huge, however, in the other two sectors of higher education, which serve between 80% and 90% of undergraduates in public institutions. "

 

gap_fig1.jpg

 

If there is any truth to this support, and I suspect there is given the comments of some of our professors and teachers, taking care of this situation could certainly boost a college's cost. I am not giving the colleges an out; I am just trying to explore the issue. My favorite pet is the overly expensive administration. It's problematic in the business world, no reason why it wouldn't be in education.

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If there is any truth to this support, and I suspect there is given the comments of some of our professors and teachers, taking care of this situation could certainly boost a college's cost. I am not giving the colleges an out; I am just trying to explore the issue. My favorite pet is the overly expensive administration. It's problematic in the business world, no reason why it wouldn't be in education.

 

If this were true, wouldn't Harvard and the Ivies have the least amount of tuition increase?

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As a graduate of Yale married to a graduate from Columbia, I can say a few things with reasonable assurance:

 

1) Going to a tippy top college doesn't guarantee a tippy top income.

2) Going to a tippy top college doesn't guarantee happiness

3) Going to a non-tippy top college may mean a tippy top income.

4) Going to a non-tippy top college may lead to great happiness.

5) Going to a tippy top college can absolutely open doors, but doesn't mean they stay open.

 

Nothing matter, IMO, except the individual and what a good life means to him or her. Is the purpose of education to lead one to a job with a higher income? To a greater appreciation of the world, the arts, culture and history? To understand the meaning of life? I left a job in investment banking to become an acupuncturist. I saw what other top earners in the industry (particularly the women) had to sacrifice to earn millions. And I thought to myself "Is this it?" Is this really why I went to this amazing school, was exposed to such amazing thinkers? To earn money? Really?

 

Were most of the other analysts in the firm Ivy League graduates? Yes. Of the ones who were there the longest, were most of them Ivy League grads? Nope. They were the ones who were willing to sacrifice almost everything for money. It takes a certain kind of person to make those kinds of sacrifices.

 

The most important thing a child can learn (and it takes most far longer than just their childhood to learn this) is "what makes me happy?" "What are the qualities of a good life, to me?" Some, like my brother (who attended Williams on a so-so academic record--he was a recruited athlete) might make the decision that they want to earn money, above almost all else. And they (as my brother did) will do just that. They will hire nannies to watch their children, who then graduate to a $40,000 a year first grade class (oh yes, really). The children will attend after-school enrichment programs, the parents will sign off on overnight trips to Utah, and the children will, more than likely, go on to attend a top-notch school. And so what if they do. So what if they do.

 

Some, like my husband and I, will decide that the good life consists of more than simply accumulating until you die. And you know what? My education at Yale, and his at Columbia, allowed us to see that. By exposing us to so very much of the world, including the privilege of the world, we could make that decision from a certain vantage point. And we have no regrets. Others, who might never have had the opportunity to see what the so-called "good life" is might very well romanticize it (money! cars! vacations! houses!) without realizing how much is lost in its pursuit.

 

A good education is good in its own right, no matter where you obtain it. The more important considerations are self-knowledge, self-direction and an understanding of how one wants to live in the world. It seems this young man has all three.

My husband and I also made a conscious decision to step off the fast track. We have three advanced STEM degrees between us, one from an Ivy Leaugue schools, but value free time to travel, volunteer, and immerse ourselves in hobbies far more than money and high powered careers. Our education has given us the ability to live comfortably and securely while working less than full time, so it was definitely worth the investment of time and money. But seeing friends and family members who make more money than us but work much more and are under much greater stress is a regular reminder of why we chose the path we did. We certainly have no regrets.

 

Related to this, the NY Times recently reported on a study that found that the happiest lawyers were those in the lowest paying positions such as legal aid and public defenders. They also drank less than their high-powered high earning peers and despite earning significantly less money were equally satisfied with their lives. The study also did not find increased happiness with promotions such as making partner.

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As a graduate of Yale married to a graduate from Columbia, I can say a few things with reasonable assurance:

 

1) Going to a tippy top college doesn't guarantee a tippy top income.

2) Going to a tippy top college doesn't guarantee happiness

3) Going to a non-tippy top college may mean a tippy top income.

4) Going to a non-tippy top college may lead to great happiness.

5) Going to a tippy top college can absolutely open doors, but doesn't mean they stay open.

 

Nothing matter, IMO, except the individual and what a good life means to him or her. Is the purpose of education to lead one to a job with a higher income? To a greater appreciation of the world, the arts, culture and history? To understand the meaning of life? I left a job in investment banking to become an acupuncturist. I saw what other top earners in the industry (particularly the women) had to sacrifice to earn millions. And I thought to myself "Is this it?" Is this really why I went to this amazing school, was exposed to such amazing thinkers? To earn money? Really? 

 

Were most of the other analysts in the firm Ivy League graduates? Yes. Of the ones who were there the longest, were most of them Ivy League grads? Nope. They were the ones who were willing to sacrifice almost everything for money. It takes a certain kind of person to make those kinds of sacrifices. 

 

The most important thing a child can learn (and it takes most far longer than just their childhood to learn this) is "what makes me happy?" "What are the qualities of a good life, to me?" Some, like my brother (who attended Williams on a so-so academic record--he was a recruited athlete) might make the decision that they want to earn money, above almost all else. And they (as my brother did) will do just that. They will hire nannies to watch their children, who then graduate to a $40,000 a year first grade class (oh yes, really). The children will attend after-school enrichment programs, the parents will sign off on overnight trips to Utah, and the children will, more than likely, go on to attend a top-notch school. And so what if they do. So what if they do.

 

Some, like my husband and I, will decide that the good life consists of more than simply accumulating until you die. And you know what? My education at Yale, and his at Columbia, allowed us to see that. By exposing us to so very much of the world, including the privilege of the world, we could make that decision from a certain vantage point. And we have no regrets. Others, who might never have had the opportunity to see what the so-called "good life" is might very well romanticize it (money! cars! vacations! houses!) without realizing how much is lost in its pursuit.

 

A good education is good in its own right, no matter where you obtain it. The more important considerations are self-knowledge, self-direction and an understanding of how one wants to live in the world. It seems this young man has all three. 

 

I cannot like this enough. Thank you.

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My husband and I also made a conscious decision to step off the fast track. We have three advanced STEM degrees between us, one from an Ivy Leaugue schools, but value free time to travel, volunteer, and immerse ourselves in hobbies far more than money and high powered careers. Our education has given us the ability to live comfortably and securely while working less than full time, so it was definitely worth the investment of time and money. But seeing friends and family members who make more money than us but work much more and are under much greater stress is a regular reminder of why we chose the path we did. We certainly have no regrets.

 

Related to this, the NY Times recently reported on a study that found that the happiest lawyers were those in the lowest paying positions such as legal aid and public defenders. They also drank less than their high-powered high earning peers and despite earning significantly less money were equally satisfied with their lives. The study also did not find increased happiness with promotions such as making partner.

 

I suspect I'd get along really well IRL with many of my Hive peers.  ;)

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Last night our oldest ds, who graduated from PodunkU with his chemE degree in 2011, told us he was put on the corporate promotable list. That means if he desires, then he will be groomed for high level management. What makes people be selected for the corporate list? Not the name on the diploma. It is job performance.

 

So while name on the diploma might matter for some companies for some fields, it is far from a universal truth. His chemE degree was earned from a small instate tech university that was very low cost. He did not need to attend a top 10 powerhouse engineering university leaving us with high levels of debt. (I guess I should mention that he works for a top global chemical company. He has already earned his black belt and is an EIT (engineer in training for his PE.)

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Frank Bruni's book Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania is worth reading. A quote from Amazon:

 

Bruni, a bestselling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors' mansions, or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys, and the stories of hugely successful people who didn't attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges-large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands-serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student's efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.

 

What I think is dangerous about only pursuing the Ivies and other top schools is that it can prevent a child from going through the messy process of discovering their genuine interests. Some kids follow a strict prescribed path that they don't like or that they just follow blindly thinking that their Ivy education will set them up for the life they want. It doesn't work that way because they have to discover what they want and then do the work to make it happen.

 

Having said that, I do know people from Ivies and other top schools who did exactly what they wanted and are content and thriving.

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Last night our oldest ds, who graduated from PodunkU with his chemE degree in 2011, told us he was put on the corporate promotable list. That means if he desires, then he will be groomed for high level management. What makes people be selected for the corporate list? Not the name on the diploma. It is job performance.

 

So while name on the diploma might matter for some companies for some fields, it is far from a universal truth. His chemE degree was earned from a small instate tech university that was very low cost. He did not need to attend a top 10 powerhouse engineering university leaving us with high levels of debt. (I guess I should mention that he works for a top global chemical company. He has already earned his black belt and is an EIT (engineer in training for his PE.)

Did he grad from an ABET/EAC accredited Engineering Program?

 

Folks going the no accredited route need to be aware that they need at least 8 years of experience in order to sit the PE exam, while a person graduating from an accredited pgm only needs at least 4 years. And of course, the option for the person who has no degree is at least 12 years exp. So, saving the cost of the dorm by commuting to regional unaccredited state U may have $$ implications later.

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Did he grad from an ABET/EAC accredited Engineering Program, or will he use experience to satisfy the PE reqts?

 

Folks going the no accredited route need to be aware that they need at least 8 years of experience in order to sit the PE exam, while a person graduating from an accredited pgm only needs at least 4 years. And of course, the option for the person who has no degree is at least 12 years exp. So, saving the cost of the dorm by commuting to regional unaccredited state U may have $$ implications later.

 

It is an ABET accredited university.  He took the FE right before he graduated and scored very high.

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It is an ABET accredited university. He took the FE right before he graduated and scored very high.

So, definitely not Podunk U.

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I think maybe people have varying ideas of what classifies as PodunkU...

 

It is a small university which is only ranked regionally, not nationally, with a very high acceptance rate.  ;)

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It is a small university which is only ranked regionally, not nationally, with a very high acceptance rate. ;)

Mine was similar. Its well known for what it does. On the job, my colleagues were from MIT, NYU, Columbia, Berkeley, Penn State, Ohio State, UVA and Clarkson. Never did meet one from unaccredited regional state U 30 miles away....they arent able to hit the ground running, from what I was told at the time.

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This was my reaction as well. :)

Just curious as to what acceptance rate might determine your classification as Podunk U? ;)

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Just curious as to what acceptance rate might determine your classification as Podunk U? ;)

 

I'm curious as well! I would think a small school that is only regionally ranked, with a high acceptance rate, would be considered Podunk U by most people - certainly where a high stats student is concerned. 

 

Edited to add that there are plenty of regionally ranked universities with 70% - 80% percent acceptance rates, and ACT spreads of 20-25 and thereabouts. 

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Just curious as to what acceptance rate might determine your classification as Podunk U? ;)

 

Nearing 100% 

 

As well as no accreditation or having departments that the school is known for regionally as being better than the rest of the school...

 

I thought it meant absolute bottom rung.  No scores needed, etc. What are those schools called?

 

Clearly, I'm a complete newbie and still have LOTS to learn. I'm not sure what all the rankings mean...

 

For example, months ago someone lamented her child settling for a less than U. I looked up the school - it was ranked in the top 50 internationally. :svengo:

 

If that's settling, we're living in a van down by the river...

 

I have a feeling your son went to what seems normal and typical to me, not Podunk.  ;)

 

It's all so relative!

 

(ETA: Some research I did in college took me to some pretty rural, downtrodden areas. I think that forever skewed my views on education. I wasn't studying education, but the impressions related to it were lasting...)

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Nearing 100% 

 

As well as no accreditation or having departments that the school is known for regionally as being better than the rest of the school...

 

I thought it meant absolute bottom rung.  No scores needed, etc. What are those schools called?

 

Clearly, I'm a complete newbie and still have LOTS to learn. I'm not sure what all the rankings mean...

 

For example, months ago someone lamented their child settling for a less than U. I looked up the school - it was ranked in the top 50 internationally. :svengo:

 

If that's settling, we're living in a van down by the river...

 

I have a feeling your son went to what seems normal and typical to me, not Podunk.  ;)

 

It's all so relative!

 

(ETA: Some research I did in college took me to some pretty rural, downtrodden areas. I think that forever skewed my views on education. I wasn't studying education, but the impressions related to it were still quite lasting...)

 

I was editing my prior post while you were writing, so I'll copy it here as well: 

 

I'm curious as well! I would think a small school that is only regionally ranked, with a high acceptance rate, would be considered Podunk U by most people - certainly where a high stats student is concerned. 

 

Edited to add that there are plenty of regionally ranked universities with 70% - 80% percent acceptance rates, and ACT spreads of 20-25 and thereabouts. 

 

Keep in mind, those are schools with a number rank, not Rank Not Published. I've definitely seen number ranked schools that hit 90% acceptance. I think there are about 500 or so regionally ranked universities - and LOTS of ranked schools overall. 

 

The ranking most people have in mind is national universities ranking - that would be the one with Princeton, Harvard, Yale, taking the top few spots. That's about 250 schools. 

 

Then you also have national liberal arts, regional universities, and regional liberal arts. Regional universities number ranks about 500 schools total, so add everything together and you are talking about quite a few schools that get ranked. 

 

It's definitely relative, and some people take it to the extreme in both directions. Generally, though, a university that is only ranked regionally is considered Podunk U for a good stats student (and often for a middling stats student).  

 

I think the term for absolute bottom rung schools is, uh, bottom rung! 

 

 

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Maybe it's the term, too. It comes with previous connotations in my mind, which could be adding to my confusion. ;)

Maybe. Let's just say that people driven by stats would not be impressed bc the acceptance rate is very high and the test scores are very avg. The engineering dept, however, is well respected by industry. But, simply based on what most people look at when selecting universities, they would say it was an under match for a strong student. PodunkU?? Irrelevant, really. The point is that rankings give very little real info.

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I was editing my prior post while you were writing, so I'll copy it here as well:

I'm curious as well! I would think a small school that is only regionally ranked, with a high acceptance rate, would be considered Podunk U by most people - certainly where a high stats student is concerned.

Edited to add that there are plenty of regionally ranked universities with 70% - 80% percent acceptance rates, and ACT spreads of 20-25 and thereabouts.

Keep in mind, those are schools with a number rank, not Rank Not Published. I've definitely seen number ranked schools that hit 90% acceptance. I think there are about 500 or so regionally ranked universities - and LOTS of ranked schools overall.

The ranking most people have in mind is national universities ranking - that would be the one with Princeton, Harvard, Yale, taking the top few spots. That's about 250 schools.

Then you also have national liberal arts, regional universities, and regional liberal arts. Regional universities number ranks about 500 schools total, so add everything together and you are talking about quite a few schools that get ranked.

It's definitely relative, and some people take it to the extreme in both directions. Generally, though, a university that is only ranked regionally is considered Podunk U for a good stats student (and often for a middling stats student).

I think the term for absolute bottom rung schools is, uh, bottom rung!

I realize that I'm conflating comments of several posters in my head. But it feels like there is a vein in this thread of suggesting that a student who was accepted at Ivies but chose to attend the top honors program at a state school should be pitied because he had to settle. (IE the state college was an unworthy choice driven only by financial concerns.)

 

But then when someone mentions the term Podunk U folks say that couldn't apply to a regionally ranked school but only non ranked or non accredited.

 

There is such a vast number of schools between Ivy and unranked. (Personally I'm not that convinced that the Ivies live up to the hype. They definitely beat a school with 1000 avg SAT scores. But I'm not sold on the idea that the students at HYP are having deeper conversations than those at schools in the top 100-150 schools. Within some areas certainly. But judging from some of the stupidity that comes out from those schools there are fools in Ivies too. (Trigger warnings needed for Ovid is a recent example.))

 

There are 150+ schools with ABET accredited Chem E programs.

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But then when someone mentions the term Podunk U folks say that couldn't apply to a regionally ranked school but only non ranked or non accredited.

 

 

 

For the record, I'm just trying to understand, not making judgements on what term can and can't be used.  Different terms mean different things in different locales. I'm truly just trying to understand.

 

I've misunderstood things on this board before and made decisions I regret based on those misunderstandings. I'm just trying to avoid doing that in the future.  :) 

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Whether the Honors Program is an undermatch compared to any Ivy depends on strength of program. If the person is in Engineering, will they get the quality humanities they seek? Take music, for ex. At state u here, serious music on campus is restricted to majors. At Cornell, one can continue, on campus.

 

To me, being in a podunk town doesnt make the U podunk.

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For the record, I'm just trying to understand, not making judgements on what term can and can't be used.  Different terms mean different things in different locales. I'm truly just trying to understand.

 

I've misunderstood things on this board before and made decisions I regret based on those misunderstandings. I'm just trying to avoid doing that in the future.  :)

 

That makes sense.

 

I have just found the general current of some of the thread hard to follow.  UA is in the top 100 of nationally ranked universities.  

 

Podunk U can mean different things to different people.  To some people it could mean anything that isn't highly selective.  

 

I had someone tell me to my face that the school where I did my grad degree was just a diploma mill.  Now I'm the first to admit that my MS Ed - like just about every other MS Ed - was not arduous.  On the other hand, there were great profs in the history and German department and history and MA degrees in other disciplines did require a thesis.  This would probably count as Podunk U to many people.  It's largely a commuter school.  The city is ok, but not a major city.  On the other hand, it does have a few ABET accredited programs (Civil Eng, Mech Eng, Elect Eng and Computer Sci).  My German professor went from that Podunk U to the Northeast.  She has subsequently taught at Brown.  She didn't get smarter when Brown hired her.  

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Podunk U can mean different things to different people.  To some people it could mean anything that isn't highly selective.  

  

 

:iagree:  and the fact that it doesn't have "a" meaning is what can cause problems.

 

There are 4599 degree granting institutions out there (2870 4 year places).  

 

https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84

 

I'm not really sure how anyone defines Podunk U as a school outside the Top 10/20/50/100/1000, etc.

 

Odds alone put 1435 four year places in the Top 50%.

 

There are differences in experiences in each school just as there are for each of us where we live, but success (defined as supporting yourself in a field of your choice) can come from so many places.

 

"A" specific job might need "a" name on a degree (oldest wouldn't have gotten his job without graduating from his college as an alumni hired him), but there are other jobs and other places out there with different hiring personnel. 

 

MOST people IME are intelligent enough to rate people on the job by how well they do their job (there will always be exceptions where other superficial things matter more, but they are exceptions), so getting that first job (or into grad/prof school) is important.

 

This is why I feel it's important to see where recent grads from _____ U have gone.  If they are successful, there's no reason to doubt that others can be too.  If they are not getting into places or getting interviews at places where one wants to go/work, that ought to be a huge red flag.

 

Then it comes down to what each individual does with their opportunities at college.

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 And so what if they do. So what if they do.

 

 

Halcyon,

 

I just wanted to thank you for this. Ever since I read your post this phrase has become a mantra of sorts. I've been surprised at how many times in two days it's popped into my mind regarding various issues.

 

Thank you.

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Out of curiosity, I asked middle son where his summer internship (at Stanford) peers are doing their undergrad.  This is an elite Brain & Cognitive Studies paid internship where roughly 240 applied and 13 were accepted.  Obviously, my guy is from U Rochester... so his is the top one listed since it's the best school of the lot.   :lol:

 

U Rochester

U Wisconsin - Madison

U Michigan

Yale

Brown

UCSD (2)

UC Berkeley

Wellesley

Claremont-McKenna

 

He doesn't know where the other three are from yet.  They are just getting to know each other at the moment (he's not at Stanford until mid-June).

 

I'd say there's a fair representation of plenty of good schools.  Other years I would expect to see similar caliber, albeit, probably some different names.  Definitely note only 2 of those schools are official "Ivy" schools.  Four (five students) are state schools.

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For the record, the college west of here that accepts any warm body to fill a seat - i sometimes think my cat could get accepted - and is widely known to have no discernable academic standards with a bizarrely high turn over rate amongst the faculty combined with high unemployment amongst it's grads because employers know it is awful but students are wooed because it is dirt cheap is known locally as "Totally Crappy State U" by those that are concerned with not wasting educational dollars and time.

 

Podunk doesn't get used much and is more likely to refer to location - out in the middle of no place. So LOL Cedarville U is "podunk" because it is literally in the middle of a giant corn field and half hour south from a Walmart...or at least it used to be. Haven't checked in a long time.

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Yes, sounds like a smart kid.

 

When I was in research I had a summer student who was at University of Kansas.  His goal was an Ivy League medical school, so he didn't want to take on debt at that point.  His parents intended to do as much as they could, but couldn't do Ivy League all the way.

 

And he did indeed end up at Harvard Medical School followed by Mayo Clinic.  He's one of the top specialists in his field, and I've seen him interviewed multiple times on TV.

 

My oldest is not at that level, but still got into some tough schools on early decision. He chose the local community college where I teach because it feeds into a top-25 school in his field and has an excellent honors program. No loans will be required. People have been pounding us right and left for that decision, but he was over the moon when I let him go with his heart.  

 

And yes, that community college accepts nearly nearly everyone.  You have to have truly bottom level placement/SAT/ACT exams or have a conviction for a violent crime to be rejected.  And yet the graduates from that community college go to many nationally-ranked colleges.  Not Ivy League, but "name brand" for sure.  I have a former student who went to UVA for law school, and another who did her PhD at Georgetown.

 

Things aren't always what they seem!

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Add Stanford itself to my guy's list.  One of the students is an undergrad there already working on the project.  My guess is that student will have a lead role of some sort.

 

This was my guy's Plan B to do at U Rochester.  The researcher (prof) he works with would have gladly kept him there (paid) over the summer, but suggested it would be better for his education/career/experience to go out and see what's happening at peer institutions (peer meaning doing similar studies).  She also provided the suggestions about where to apply and gave him his reference letter.  Many of those profs know each other, so I think they tend to be "sharing talent" as well as exposing the students to more.

 

One school left to uncover.

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Well, the last school is Yale meaning two students come from there.

 

Three students come from official "Ivy" schools - only two schools represented.  Ten students do not.  Five students come from four state schools.  Eight students come from private schools.

 

Still, none of the schools on the list surprise me and one could easily interchange other peer names (state and private) other years and it wouldn't surprise me either.  What they need is a good Brain/Cognitive studies program (though I believe he told me one student was majoring in math/cs and another in psych, so there's a little diversity there too).

 

ETA the whole list here:

 

U Rochester

U Wisconsin - Madison

U Michigan

Yale (2)

Brown

UCSD (2)

UC Berkeley

Wellesley

Claremont-McKenna

WUSTL

Stanford 

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Merit aid for the Ivies? Every kid there is stellar, and you could substitute in an equal number who applied and were rejected and are just as stellar.

 

Merit aid exists to attract stellar kids to the not-so-prestigious schools. And honors programs exist to create a match for the stellar kids within those schools.

 

I think its interesting to look at the system that you see in countries where university education is fully or more significantly publicly financed than in the US.  I notice two things - in many of them, there isn't the same emphasis of universities having better or worse rankings - often, all of them are considered to be well worth going to.  The other is, when there is an elite institution, it often really is catering to a really small population of students.  It still isn't like most good students have the opportunity to go there.

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Well, the last school is Yale meaning two students come from there.

 

Three students come from official "Ivy" schools - only two schools represented. Ten students do not. Five students come from four state schools. Eight students come from private schools.

 

Still, none of the schools on the list surprise me and one could easily interchange other peer names (state and private) other years and it wouldn't surprise me either. What they need is a good Brain/Cognitive studies program (though I believe he told me one student was majoring in math/cs and another in psych, so there's a little diversity there too).

 

ETA the whole list here:

U Rochester

U Wisconsin - Madison

U Michigan

Yale (2)

Brown

UCSD (2)

UC Berkeley

Wellesley

Claremont-McKenna

WUSTL

Stanford

I know I'm gonna get tomatoes thrown for this, but since much discussion occurs on this board about rankings and their validity, I'm just going to point out that the lowest ranked school on this list is #47.

 

I am fully aware that Berkeley, UCSD, Wisconsin, and Michigan are "state schools," but not all state schools are created equally, and these are all ranked among the top for state schools.

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What I actually think is the the false dichotomy is that only schools like Stanford lead to successful careers with financially stable outcomes. Kids can have a stress-free childhood which provides solid academic outcomes with the necessary qualifications for 100s of universities (Including top schools). People can and do attend Podunk U and still have great careers. Careers that have them living a life like the people in the articles? Not as likely (but not impossible, either.)

 

But the trade off is not poverty vs cut-throat high powered job. The trade off is more likely your avg suburban middle class life style.

 

And, yes, I would rather my kids actually have a childhood and attend Podunk U then be stressed to the point of committing suicide over some idolized outcome.

 

Or - they could not attend university at all, and have a perfectly good life.

 

I can't tell you how many people I know who got a university degree and then realized - even if they loved what they learned -  that university didn't give them much access to the kind of work they would enjoy, so they ended up getting a diploma in a trade or just doing something completely different. 

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