College: The value question

By College Advice

hamptonsThink about house hunting. Imagine seeing a house that is generically amazing – 5000 square foot house with water views in a town with good schools.  Now add on your idiosyncratic preferences – if you want a pool, the house has a gorgeous one; if you want a dock for your boat, the house has one also; if you want a new kitchen, the house has the most modern one on the market and so forth.  The house is amazing. But is it worth it?

“How can I answer that question without knowing the cost?” would be the only sensible reply. The other large questions would focus on “how much money do I have?” and “what other houses are on the market and what do these cost?”  The house is “worth it” to you if you have the money and the cost is in line with market value.

Presumably the one question that you wouldn’t ask is should I live in a house at all?

Metaphorically, these are all the same questions that parents face.  The college value question is often addressed by people who do not work with high school students. Strangely, they tend to address the metaphorically similar question “is college worth it at all?

Most of the writers are in the work force – more often than not in the high tech space – and seem to think that 18 year olds could forego college, get training in coding or some other tech discipline, and get hired in the work force. Others will suggest giving the 18 year old the college money to go start a business.

My work has been with Connecticut students in the New Haven to Stonington area, primarily in the Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, and East Lyme areas. I mention because these are the type of students who would be best positioned to enter the work force or start a business as 18 year olds.  While we work with all types of students, those in our Winter SAT-ACT Mastery Seminar all seemed headed to success in life.  But none of them are considering skipping a college –  as we discuss the issue within the SAT-ACT class – because the “other options” are not good.

In the year 2016, there are not many really good options for Connecticut suburban types to explore other than college.  Sure, there is an outlier or two who could effectively start a business – I’m sure most parents are laughing hard at the suggestion about giving their child $100-$200,ooo to start a business  – and I definitely know that some asocial advanced tech types might want to skip college – even though they probably should go to college for socialization – and train for a specialized tech job.  My guess is that most of those types would a rough time at 18 with all the soft skills that are associated with all work, even tech work.

If those writers were addressing the housing market as they do the college market, they would be writing things like: “maybe you should build your own house” or “live in a Winnebago”.  These cost-saving options do make sense for less than 1% of the population but for no one else.

So, is college the best option for most Connecticut suburban types? Absolutely. Is it worth it? That’s nonsensical question unless the specifics are revealed.

Daryl Capuano

CEO, The Learning Consultants and Connecticut’s top private education consultant
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