College Dilemma - Expensive and Popular vs. Affordable

Posted by Doug Kinsey - 12 June, 2019


Summary commentary from a recent article by Lynn O'Shaughnessy, College Planing SpecialistHigher-Education-1

I recently read an outstanding article by Lynn O'Shaughnessy, a specialist in college planning who heads up a service we subscribe to for college planning and advice for parents. The topic was how to make a decision when faced with competing opportunities for your child's college education - an expensive, well-known school or a more affordable option that may not be as sexy.

Having just gone through this with my youngest son, I feel that it is something that many parents face. Here is my summary of her advice and some excellent resources that she provided in the article.

  1. Money is almost always an issue, and parents / students place too much emphasis on college rankings. Lynn references an article by Malcolm Gladwell here which is well worth reading: The Order of Things.
  2. The importance of fit. In other words, how closely matched the university and the student are. Reference: Stanford study on Fit .
  3. It is very important to have a complete understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of various academic departments within a university. Reference: Digging Deeper When Researching Colleges.
  4. Evaluate potential career success after graduating from a particular institution. Educate to Career provides information on occupation and salary by institution and major: Educate to Career.
  5. Evaluate the school's graduation rate. Source: College Results Online.
  6. Look into the probability of graduating in your major. Again, Educate to Career is the recommended resource from Lynn.
  7. Still enamored with elite schools? While I don't advocate being a "dream crusher," sometimes a dose of reality is in order, if it's time for a gut-check, here's an article for consideration: Seven Reasons Not to Aim for Elite Colleges.
  8. Really research the school's price. Nearly everyone uses the school's net price calculator prior to signing on the bottom line, but Lynn suggests a quick review of sticker prices at, and the individual school's "paying" link.

In the interest of time and space, I really just wanted to get these resources out to you, and I claim no particular creative input here. Lynn wrote an excellent article, full of great tools and resources for parents and students who are in the process of making a college decision. I just wanted to get this information out to those of you who may find it valuable.

And, if your son or daughter is very young, it still may not hurt to gather some information for your overall financial plan.

Let us know if we can be of help to you in any way.

--Doug Kinsey, Founding Partner

Topics: college planning

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