About Prudent $cholar

The Prudent Scholar explores the topic of money and higher education. We look at at big picture and small: both the latest news and the nitty-gritty details of college life that might help you save money and get more value from your educational experience.

February 28, 2011

College application frenzy: One Dad Says Stop Stressing

Public Radio's Marketplace intereviewed the author of Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College. The takeaway:  Relax.

In the interview with Marketplace's Tess Vigeland, the author Andrew Fergusen describes the pressure and frenzy surrounding the process of getting into college, then reflects:
 "Of course, this is the big myth about college admissions now, which is somehow the exact school you want to go to is going to determine your future and your future happiness, when it's actually quite clear in their studies about this, that where you went to college doesn't have any influence on your happiness or even your job earnings for that matter."

Welcome, Prudent Scholars

 Last week I shared a ride with a charming graduate student who during our chat told me matter-of-factly of his $70,000  professional-school debt.  That's on top of his undergraduate debt-load from a well-regarded private university.  To work in the field he loves -- the one for which is training -- he is resigned to a life of near-poverty. "I know I'll never own a house," he said.

Crushing debt and limited means to repay it can mean more than a life of renting. Crushing debt crushes choices and opportunities. Last fall The New York Times reported how debt thwarted young love or at least could make it more complicated.

As a higher education professional, the owner of a couple of paid-off degrees and the co-steward of my husband's relatively modest student debt, I am all too aware of the costs of education. Lately, I have felt inundated with discussions -- in the media and face-to-face -- around the topic.

I'm a true believer in higher education. The college experience can be mind-expanding and add value to a life unrelated to issues of lifetimes earnings.  I'm a true believer, but I'm not here to proselytize.  This blog assumes you want an education of some sort beyond high school.  This blog assumes you haven't thought too much about finances before, but are ready to start. 

Because I make a true believer's salary, I get to practice one of my other great interests: frugality.  Like many other blogs on saving money, this space is for a discussion on cutting costs, sometimes substantially -- sometimes by just a little -- and getting value for money and time spent.

This blog is not called the "cheap scholar" or the "cheapskate scholar" - for a reason.  Sometimes bargain basement prices do not lead to bargains. Sometimes they do.  This blog will share cost-saving tips, yes, but it will also be about priorities and values. We will discuss how you, my prudent scholar, can make choices that you can live with and, hopefully, live with comfortably and happily.  It is meant to help you own your choices rather than be swept along by expectations, assumptions and misunderstandings. 

I'm not really the prudent scholar of the title. You are. This blog is for all who are looking at the choices -- the tiny and the not-so-tiny that add up to the college experience.  I write to all the prudent scholars out there, who want to learn great things, but not at the cost of their future.