Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Should your kid go to college (part 2)?


Yes.

But only when your child reaches a certain level of maturity and when tertiary education can be funded WITHOUT ANY DEBT.  Maturity will obviously differ from child to child, in terms of age, life experience, etc.  Very few seventeen year olds have the ability to think and plan ahead for the rest of their lives.  Heck, some adults are still deciding!

A professional degree, e.g. law, medicine, accounting, etc., requires a college education.  Almost any other degree offers little or no value beyond the personal and life experience value derived, and perhaps especially later in one’s career.

Refer back to part 1.  The answer was no.  It assumed to be talking to parents of high school children, from middle class families.  In other words, people who would typically require debt financing in order to pay for college.  The answer is absolutely “no”!

The opening paragraph above is not a contradiction to the previous no.  Deb and I have two sons, neither of them schooled in the traditions of middle class America (or Canada, where they were raised).

Our older son finished high school in Canada and left promptly thereafter to teach English in Muikamachi, Japan for a year.  The cost of this life education was minimal, at only a few thousand dollars in travel costs and pocket money.  In order to qualify for his teaching post at a kindergarten school, he had completed a TEFL certificate on weekends during his senior year at high school.

When he returned from Japan to Toronto, he enrolled for a general business diploma, part-time at a local college, and worked regular, low-paying retail jobs (just like other students) to help fund his tuition.  Occasionally we helped him with some of the tuition and general cost of living expenses.  With the $150,000 we saved on full time college tuition, we bought an apartment, which he lived in, that we later sold.  We reinvested some of the proceeds into our family property management business, which he co-owns.

He also has a real day job now, working as a Solutions Specialist for a technology company; helping clients with implementations, consulting and service issues.

Our younger son is 19.  He attends Brighton College (UK), studying online, part-time.  He also works 6 days a week as a driver for a car dealership.  It happens to be a Mercedes Benz dealership, which means he also gets to drive some of the finest cars on the planet.  This infers that he likes his part-time, low-paying job… he does, while he completes his studies.  He pays his own tuition and we help with some of the cost of living expenses. 

He lives on his own in West Palm Beach FL, in a property owned by the property management company mentioned above, which he co-owns with his parents and brother.  Total student debt = $0.  Total current personal savings = $ 5-figure cash + an equity portfolio of Dow stocks.

Total tuition costs referenced above = less than $10,000 (each).  Total student debt = $0.

Sound doable for you? Probably also "yes".