The college admission cheating scandal has put higher education back in the news in a bad way.
Is it really worth $500,000 to get into the “right” school?
What if your child can’t get into his or her top choice school? And even if she can get in, what if it’s not realistic for you to come up with the money to cover the bill?
Probably the best advice I ever got when my oldest was applying to college was that it would all work out in the end. If she didn’t get into a school, she probably wouldn’t be happy there anyway. And the school she got in to would probably be a good fit for her.
Sounds hokey? Maybe.
But recent research is showing that it’s just not worth it to sweat the admissions game. Where you go to school does not determine how happy you are later in life, or even how much money you make over your working career.
It turns out that an individual’s choice of major, such as engineering, is a far more powerful factor in her eventual earnings than her choice of college, say authors Elissa Nadworny and Anya Kamenetz in a March article for NPR.
CEOs, atop the pinnacle of the American business world, come from a broad mix of public and private institutions, according to a U.S. News & World Report study. Only 14 CEOs from the top 100 companies were Ivy Leaguers.
And of course, “many tech billionaires are better known as college dropouts,” say Nadwory and Kamenetz.
Other studies show that “wealthy students don’t boost their earnings power” by attending elite institutions, says college planning expert Lynn O’Shaughnessy.
Even if your child gets in to a top private school, taking on excessive college debt can lead to problems, and not perks, down the road.
The Takeaway: Going to college does provide a big, lifetime earnings boost. But you don’t have to go to an expensive school or even a top-ranked school to get those benefits. So choose wisely and keep your cool when it’s college admissions time.