…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

Headed to “Admitted Students Day” for Kid #2

April 17th, 2011 . by economistmom

My daughter, Emily, has been accepted into Sarah Lawrence College with a very nice merit scholarship of theirs–their “Presidential Scholarship.” We are headed up there today to check out the campus and the people. I am also going up there with a mission of getting us some need-based aid, because even a scholarship that would cover all the costs at an in-state, public university doesn’t even cover half of the costs of a Sarah Lawrence education. And yes, I really am “needy” now–having been through a divorce that has taken two years and depleted my entire retirement savings with the legal and medical (therapy) bills alone.

But back to the positive focus. My older daughter, Allie, is finishing her first year at Princeton, so my two older daughters’ college paths are likely to be as different as they are from each other. (Look them up in the U.S. News rankings and you’ll see part of what I mean–but don’t jump to simplistic conclusions just yet.)  It’s really wonderful that there are places seemingly “just right” for each of them. I recently wrote a column for the Christian Science Monitor related to these different types of students and the different kind of “human capital accumulation” that best brings out their talents–and how broad the definition of what makes us “valuable humans” really is. I’ll write more on this in a week or so, when I can share my CSM column and more on the David Brooks book that inspired it (as well as my kids who inspired it).

4 Responses to “Headed to “Admitted Students Day” for Kid #2”

  1. comment number 1 by: AMTbuff

    Note: I very much doubt that the following applies to Emily at all. However it’s something I see as a widespread problem spanning many decades, so I am taking the excuse of a tangentially related topic to spout off on a pet peeve.


    The “college for everyone” dream is turning out to be not simply a failure, but a bad idea. 100 years ago most teenagers went straight to work. The academically gifted went to college, but the mainstream kids didn’t waste their time getting bored in class or discouraged by their poor performance in competition with the bookworms. Regular people started their adult lives as teens, learned a skill or two, and quickly prospered.

    If such non-college paths were widely available today we would have higher teen employment and better outcomes for teens of modest academic ability. College education would be cheaper (less demand) and better (less need to dumb down the classes).

    I believe we will get back to this approach when low-tier college education becomes seen as essentially worthless relative to its sky-high cost. In my opinion taking a low-status job and doing it very well is a better qualification for future employment than graduating with middling grades from, say, Fresno State. The country still needs good office assistants, auto mechanics, dental assistants, and on and on. College education is a nearly complete waste for millions of people taking jobs like these. However sending such a child to college can gratify parents’ ego or assuage their guilt. Then you have the parents who take it a step further, as described in “Race to Nowhere”:

  2. comment number 2 by: rjs

    way off topic, but i just went to your twitter page and it said ‘more like economistmom: donald rumsfeld’

    think you have an image problem…

  3. comment number 3 by: Gipper


    Early on I told my children that they would be responsible for paying for most of their college. Using my economic reasoning I found that people exert more effort and have more discipline when they have skin in the game.

    I pledged to provide some assistance, but not all. As a result my daughter will be enrolling at Claremont McKenna College ($55,000/yr.) with a 4-yr. ROTC scholarship (2250 SAT scores and 4.0+ GPA) that she earned with hard work. CMC is usually ranked in the top 10 liberal arts colleges.

    My son paid for 2 years of college before enlisting in the Marines. The GI bill will be the remainder when he’s ready to finish his B.A.

    I’m proud that my children figured this stuff out themselves, and they actually feel more adult and independent that they’re not relying upon their parents. I’ll also be able to save more for my retirement and be a happier grandfather for their children (fingers crossed).

    I’m with AMTbuff on the outrageous costs and dubious return on investment of this education. Hell, if a parent put $220,000 (4 x $55K) as a down payment on an income property, and had their child get a job to make mortgage payments while they lived in it, they’d be pretty far ahead of most of their classmates financially.

    I believe that there is a tremendous over-investment in “schooling,” not education. The teacher unions do their best to escape a critical analysis of their value-added. Along with pensions, there will be a major retrenchment in the coming years as taxpayers have a more jaundiced view of the self-serving self-promoters of schooling.

  4. comment number 4 by: Taxslave


    Well stated. I think many parents are waking up to the very mediocre (if not negative) returns subpar schooling brings.

    Congrats to your daughter. I know CMC well as I work and live nearby. She will love it there.