1. PaulBC says

    Actually I like the idea of undercutting universities and hiring profs directly. The magic of the marketplace, right?

    Yes, I know it does not work that way. Plus, when you go to a place like Harvard, you are buying your way into a career network. The education is secondary. I am not sure how you explain the expensive little-known private colleges.

  2. christoph says

    If you buy a baby tiger and it grows up and maims or kills you, it’s your own fault.
    Fun fact: The cheetah is the only big cat that has been known to comfortably bond with humans. All the others should be left alone in the wild. Probably the cheetahs should also be left alone.

  3. says

    Okay, fine, change the cats into something else. “Son, you can either have a university education or I can pay for 3 PhDs to tutor you full-time all year plus every consumer video game that is released.” Or “plus a new high-end computer, complete with peripherals and software, every six months.” Or even: “plus a new car every year”.

  4. PaulBC says

    I could have bought my kids an awful lot of nerf guns for the price I paid for “enrichment” activities of various kinds.

  5. says

    Even in Canada, where students must foot the bill themselves, tuition is nowhere near as out of control. And unlike the US, attending a small or regional college won’t “kill your career”.

    From CNBC:

    The College Board estimates that during the 1998 – 1999 school year, average published costs at public institutions (including tuition, room and board) were $12,000 and the average net cost for public university students after grants and scholarships was about $8,850. During the 2018 – 2019 school year, those figures increased to $21,370 and $14,880, respectively.

    Statistics Canada says that the average undergraduate tuition is C$6,463 (US$4973) in 2019.

    You can’t maintain a system like that. Sooner or later, it has to collapse.

    Canada has 81 public universities but only 16 private, and almost all colleges are public as well, which means tuitions are under control. Unless I misread, the US has more private colleges and universities than public. At the price of tuition some US universities charge (e.g. Columbia $56000/year), it would cost less to go to Canada as an international student. The US tuition would cover tuition, room, board, books and a car in Canada. And at universities like McGill, UBC or McMaster, the quality of education is the same.

    The most galling thing I see are the number of unaccredited colleges and how many attend them. Isn’t that an educational dead end? Do accredited institutions accept credits from such places? And at the prices some of them charge for a worthless education, you’d be better off just taking the money.

    Sorry for the long comment.

  6. christoph says

    @stroppy, # 7: “Leave them alone” is pretty self explanatory, obviously the smugglers and poachers don’t do that. It’s depressing and horrifying to see what some people will do for a profit. They’re pretty much feeding on misery.

  7. christoph says

    @ Stroppy, # 7: Oops, I misread “Definitely leave them alone” in your post as “define leave them alone.” Sorry.

  8. simonhadley says

    @#8 That reminds me of a line from Good Will Hunting. “…You dropped $150,000 on an education you could have gotten for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library…” As for the unaccredited schools, nobody accepts them as far as I know. I made the mistake of going to ITT back in the 90’s and even though they were accredited, many schools wouldn’t accept them because it’s a pretty low quality education. Fortunately, the air force did take them and I was able to parlay that into a monotonous twenty year long dead end career from which I finally retired.

  9. PaulBC says

    In fact, I was just looking (very, very tentatively) at the possibility of a Canadian university for my son in a couple of years. I think California in-state tuition makes more sense, but Canada is not a crazy idea. Many private US universities strike me as a complete ripoff, and out-of-state public universities aren’t any cheaper than some private ones. A very competitive university doesn’t seem like a serious option at this point, which simplifies things a bit.

    It probably is worth going into debt for Harvard, Stanford, MIT, or Caltech. Probably even going into debt to attend one year, flame out and switch to a public university. But I say that based on name recognition and social connections rather than quality of education. If you have to explain why your school is one of the best (like, say, Swarthmore) you are probably not getting much out of the name.

    I read an unintentionally hilarious book in which William Deresiewicz bemoans the fate of our poor, poor elite who are not really getting a well rounded education at Ivy League schools. He seems to miss that this is a problem afflicting some fractional percentage of young Americans while the problem afflicting the rest of us is that our “meritocracy” elevates these “excellent sheep” to be in charge of the rest of us. It’s actually an interesting and well-written book with some good points, but the perspective is just way off.

  10. says

    California has a great community college system that can allow you to complete all University of California lower level requirements. You can then transfer by law to any UC and finish your degree. You can save tons of money.

  11. lochaber says

    seconding CA Community Colleges, I’ve had quite a few really great profs there, and the courses are generally really inexpensive if you are a resident.

  12. magistramarla says

    Our oldest daughter spent 5 years at CalTech, earning an Engineering BS and a Masters degree in Computational Neuroscience, and we did not pay a penny for it. She visited the campus, and was told that “If she belonged there, money should not be an object”. The Financial Aid Office there was phenomenal. She was one of several students from middle-class families who were given a challenge to compete to find the most scholarships, grants, etc.
    If your son has a mind for science and/or math, and has the drive to be accepted at CalTech, encourage him to look at all of the possibilities.
    We paid much, much more out-of-pocket for the youngest two daughters, who attended Texas State schools.

  13. PaulBC says

    @16 Uh, I’ll be quite pleased if not over the moon if he gets into a UC school and I don’t mean UCLA or Berkeley. He’s a bright kid but not the competitive type and not super-organized. I don’t push because it’s counterproductive. He’ll do fine, but not at Caltech.