I’ve been baffled by this phenomenon of sending kids to expensive colleges — I’m not kidding. Isn’t it possible to get a high-quality college education inexpensively?
Why are adults so willing to hock their right kidney in order to send their darling baby to the priciest school possible? Is it because they want their little pumpkins to have the best possible education? Is it because they want their wunderkind to hang out with Buffy and Chad for future connections? What is it?
Well, I finally figured it out. It hit me in a flash as I walked back from the mailbox a few years ago.
It has nothing to do with the student’s prospect for future success — although that’s the lie we tell ourselves. Studies prove that kids with equal ability have similar financial success in life regardless of where they go to college. Those same studies show that what they study is far more important than where.
Nope. One of the biggest reasons we send our kids to colleges that cost more than the first house we ever bought is because of our ego.
How do I know this?
Because when I went out to the mailbox that day I saw a letter from NYU. My middle daughter had just been accepted and the first thing I wanted to do was go to eBay and list my kidney (and right arm) to pay for it. At that instant, I was willing to do anything to send my own little pumpkin to NYU.
Those of you who know me realize how insane this is. For years, I’ve been critical of people who do what I was so willing to do in a flash. It’s like me telling people to track their spending and then getting into credit card debt.
Thankfully, I came to my senses quickly. When I really looked at my motivation in that instant, I saw that it had nothing to do with my child and everything to do with my ego. I am not saying there is anything wrong with NYU or other snooty expensive school.
But the decision should be based on two factors alone:
a. What is the overall best decision for the student?
b. What can the family afford?
We have to keep ego out of these kinds of decisions.
This topic is important. Even if you don’t have a child ready to go to college, observe how your ego trumps your intellect on other important financial decisions if you don’t stay on top of it.
Was your ego involved the last time you bought a car? A house? A meal in a restaurant? How much does your ego cost you on a daily basis?
Marketing is all about ego, so stay awake. If there was ever a time to keep your ego out of financial decisions, this is it.
Did you go to a pricey school? Was it worth it? Why?