A Family Discussion: Higher Education

During my senior year in high school, I was fairly concerned about getting into college as well as which college I would attend. For many, final application deadlines to college will arrive soon.

There is one important discussion that I will suggest needs to take place regarding college: what you expect to pay and what, besides a slip of paper, do you expect to get in return for your hard-earned dollars.  As some of the protestors of Occupy Wall Street will tell, just getting a degree does not entitle you to a good-paying job. It may increase your chances of qualifying for certain positions.

In this environment, it makes sense to shop smart when it comes to higher education.  This could mean looking at in-state public schools or schools that will grant an in-state rate if you live in a closely neighboring state rather than some of the pricier private higher education options. The lower cost schools could provide a potential for receiving a larger return on your educational dollar spent.

Another thing to consider is the major. Chances are that the average engineer will make more than the average artist. One has to question the financial wisdom of spending significant amounts of money in hopes of a career that will lead to a lower than average income. If you earn significantly more than the average person, chances are that you will consider your college education dollars well spent.

This is not to say that money is the only factor when it comes to education, but given the skyrocketing costs of higher education, it is a significant one for many. My suggestion is that you have a family discussion regarding the costs and probable outcomes regarding the decisions you make before falling in love with any particular college. The “dividends” resulting from the discussion(s) could be quite substantial and chances are that your child will thank you later on in life for having them.

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