ROI Rage: Let’s Go Crazy

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Dear Parents of Teenagers:

Think back to 1999{Click here for the Prince song.}

Who was in your household back then; How old were they?

Now – with that information – if I could get for you a brand new 1999 Porsche 911 {Click here for the Prince song about Corvettes; he didn’t do one about Porsches} or a 1999 Honda Odyssey, {not a Prince song}, which car would you get?

Most folks choose the vehicle with the 3rd row cup holders, not the one that could go 0-60 the fastest.

And yet, too often – when it comes to selecting a college – you are told that you have to buy the Academic equivalent of the Porsche.  It ranks higher in the magazine ratings.  It has prestige.  It’s sleek and cool and gets you to your destination faster.  You won’t be hired if you pull in with an Odyssey.  Hiring managers only hire Porsche owners.

And lately, this argument has taken a turn for the worst.  Since only the Porsche owners get jobs, and you have to pay good money to buy the Academic Odysseys, don’t buy anything at all.  It’s not worth it. Click for such an article; no music attached.

Let me focus on my breathing and take a moment to respond, because statements like this make me delirious. {Prince, with the Muppets}

First, beyond any monetary consideration (and this is part of the argument I sometimes forget to make), there is a value to the discourse, the knowledge of the professors, the intellectual, social, athletic and spiritual gains and challenges, to the friendships, the clubs and organizations and the responsibilities placed upon us.  College, in varying degrees but always in some degree – shapes who you are, who you know, what you know and what you value.  Like a great raspberry beret, there is no price that can be put on such things.

Second, the monetary value has been both well publicized and horribly understated.  You may have heard that the average person with a bachelor’s degree earns $2.1 million in their lifetime and a high school graduate earns $1.2 million. If I gave you 2 sets of stocks or 2 sets of ANY INVESTMENT with the same payoff, which one would you pick? As I stated, I think this data, is by definition, horribly understated.  Since the Census data deals with with current data, it doesn’t reflect inflation, salary increases, etc.  Although we currently live in a world where COLA salary increases cannot be assumed, it CAN be assumed that – over a 40 to 50 year career – salary data will only become more and more divergent.  In other words, it is a fairly sure bet that the average 2016 College graduate will earn much, much more than a million dollars more than someone who stops in 2012 with a high school diploma.

Of course, this data is all for folks that GRADUATE college.  And that brings me back to my Odyssey.

There are far too many academic “families of five”, too many students who should be driving the academic equivalent of an automatic transmission, who are buying “Porsche Colleges” because they will supposedly provide the best return on investment.  When the opposite – for those individuals – is far more likely.  They run a higher risk of not graduating.  They are far more likely to not get anywhere near the internships advertised at the “dealership” (i.e. – admissions office) and to feel disenfranchised by not following their own Odyssey.

Unfortunately, data for folks who have to trade in their Porsche Colleges after a semester or two is a little hard to find.   But, as a proud owner of a 2001 Saturn, I suggest to you to find the model that’s right for you and meets your needs.  In the meantime, let’s go crazy.

As always, I welcome your comments, your ratings, your Facebook posts and your emails.  I can be reached at, on Facebook at “College Counseling for the Rest of Us”, on Twitter @MichaelCCR and by cell at 908-403-3819.

The FAFSA is For Everyone

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My guest post for the College Planning Group is now available at this link. Only slightly edited from my original submission, but I forgive them. It touches on why every family should complete the FAFSA.  Enjoy!

I expect to have the “regular” weekly blog up by midnight tonight – tentatively called “ROI Rage – College IS Worth It”.