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Old 01-12-2010, 02:07 PM   #61
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I tried Googling the actual university (LSU in Baton Rouge) but couldn't find anything. I recall that is was a collegue who obtained the information and we used it as part of our company's partnership with our adopted High School. Among the things the company does with their adopted High School is bring in groups of students for a few hours to show them the sorts of jobs they can get - finance, IT, engineering (Process, Electrical and Mechanical), chemists, lab technicians, process operators etc. All these jobs need a degree these days and the thrust of the day out is to encourage these kids to stick in at High School and get themselves to university and earn a degree.

I often gave presentations and tours of the IT and Process Control groups and always enjoyed the experience. I was VERY lucky at the same age to have had good advice by a teacher at school who also did career counselling plus our school took us on several trips to local industries to see the sorts of jobs available.
Sounds like a neat program. I think that teenagers have trouble visualizing jobs that are "inside" companies (not face-to-face with consumers). It helps a lot if they can get inside and see all the real people there.

I notice that all the jobs you mentioned, and all the jobs on the top 15 list, require math. Lots of teenagers say "I hate math". Those kids should think very carefully about the job market before they commit to tens of thousands of dollars for college.
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:29 PM   #62
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I notice that all the jobs you mentioned, and all the jobs on the top 15 list, require math. Lots of teenagers say "I hate math". Those kids should think very carefully about the job market before they commit to tens of thousands of dollars for college.
I guess that is because I work in the chemical industry and the site I'm at that does this "adopt a school" program is all about manufacturing. The lawyers, salesmen, customer service, HR folks etc are all in Corporate offices so we don't have many degree level jobs that don't need math, plus there has always been a shortage of scientific / engineering graduates hence the encouragement of the company to the students to go into these fields.

In 1971 when my teacher at school was advising me on careers I always remember him saying "Have you considered engineering? The economy rises and falls and jobs come and go, but in my experience there will always be a demand for good engineers and it is a well paid job" At that stage I could have gone in many directions. I was good at languages and loved them and had top grades in 'O-Level' French and German plus 2 years of Latin. In the UK in 1971, at 16 you choose 2 or 3 'A-Level' subjects which pretty well determines which courses you can apply for at college.

I was still living in rented terraced housing, sharing a bed with my brother, and we had no heating other than a single coal fire in one downstairs room, no car, no garden, no phone, and only a black and white TV so I was looking for money and financial security. I opted to take A-levels in Math, Physics and Chemistry. A much harder curriculum but I am so pleased that I went that route.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:05 AM   #63
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I am grateful that we were able to provide the opportunity to our children. We paid for our kids college but it was a cooperative effort. They worked on/off campus and during summer breaks for spending money and books.

When each child began HS - we told them the amount of $ that were saved for their education. Our deal was - this is the amount of money. We told them that if they got a scholarship, the amount of money available would not be reduced. Any monies left when they graduated would be theirs to help them start the next phase of their life. All of this was subject to successfully carrying a full load of classes and a 4 year schedule unless there were mitigating circumstances such as class availability, etc.

Both children ended up with scholarship money to attend college. Child #1 used all her money and child #2 had enough left to help her make the transition into the working world.

Both children graduated. Best money that we ever spent. We would always have helped our kids through college to the best of our ability unless they were not yet "ready" or "able" for college or a trade school.

Education is the one thing that nobody can ever take from you.
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:49 PM   #64
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Molly: Like you I paid for both my childrens tuition/room/board. Any money for books or pizza they had to earn themselves. I am extremely proud of both of them as they both graduated in the last two years and have successfull careers paying over $60K already. Boy I wish I made great money right of college, I guess I should have put my beer can down more often (but it was a great time of life!!)

I think one of the big issues to consider is the actual cost of college nowadays and the ability to pay back huge student loans. You may say "Well I paid my own way so they should pay theirs". The world is different now. Even if you don't want to contribute, the FAFSA forms you have to fill out to get any aid says the family can contribute so much. So if you have good income or assets, your child is not going to get any aid. How can they start their own FIRE if they begin their careers 50K-100K in debt.
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:59 PM   #65
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...we don't have many degree level jobs that don't need math...

In 1971 when my teacher at school was advising me on careers I always remember him saying "Have you considered engineering?"...

I was good at languages and loved them and had top grades in 'O-Level' French and German plus 2 years of Latin.

I was still living in rented terraced housing, sharing a bed with my brother, and we had no heating other than a single coal fire in one downstairs room, no car, no garden, no phone, and only a black and white TV so I was looking for money and financial security. I opted to take A-levels in Math, Physics and Chemistry. A much harder curriculum but I am so pleased that I went that route.
One reason engineering was not too tough for me was that I was good in math. Isn't engineering mostly applied math? I remember reading about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at the age of 7, and they were my heroes, not some dumb ball players. Growing up, I always took things apart to see how they worked. However, I always wanted to be an EE, ever since I picked up a book showing how a radio with vacuum tubes worked, when I was 12. What I wanted as a teenager was not a fast car, but an oscilloscope (No, I did not get one). Abstract math is something else though, of much more elegance and beauty. I loved it, but knew it would be tough making a living. I never had to study that hard with math and physics.

You might wonder that if I was that good, why did I have problems getting into college as I posted in the "Why are people poor" thread, despite my parents' financial problems?

The truth is that I DID get admitted into two tough colleges. Admissions to these were by entrance exams. I was in the top 1% in my HS. That did not count. And SAT-equivalent national test scores were only used for prescreening, as they could not administer the entrance exams to every kid who wanted in. Yes, you could tell that it was not in the US. Each college also had its their own requirements and tests. There was a quota of how many would get admitted each year. Back then, a department like EE would admit 50 students and no more.

Coming here as an immigrant, I had to start over. I had one summer to beef up my English to pass TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in order to get admitted to the nearest state U. Right! English is not my mother tongue. Nor is French. But I started to learn French when I was 8, and English when I was 12. My parents didn't like me sitting around idling during the summers, so sent me off to take language classes.

I was elated that after 4 months in the US, I passed TOEFL with a grade high enough to qualify for graduate level admission, though I only asked to be let in as a freshman. Talk about lucky or what? The money my parents spent on me paid off. It was a good thing that TOEFL was a reading and comprehension test, and did not address verbal communication skills. I would fail badly otherwise, as I learned mostly by reading and did not speak as well. It wasn't until I started working that I learned the swear and curse words.

I did more than other kids, but was it a big deal? When kids are not distracted by sports, TV, and computer games, they can do a lot. And I was forced to, in order to survive.

So, you are going to wonder what my mother tongue is. Is it Korean? Tagalog? Ukrainian? Thai? Tahitian? Farsi? Heh heh heh...

Well, I am still fluent in it, having been to college in my native country. But do you really have the "need to know", as they say in the DoD parlance?
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:06 PM   #66
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Great story NW-Bound, you did well.

What is your mother tounge? You gotta tell us now.....
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:00 PM   #67
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I remember reading about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at the age of 7,

....

Each college also had its their own requirements and tests. There was a quota of how many would get admitted each year. Back then, a department like EE would admit 50 students and no more.

....

So, you are going to wonder what my mother tongue is. Is it Korean? Tagalog? Ukrainian? Thai? Tahitian? Farsi? Heh heh heh...
Wow! You're the first one I hear of that read and liked Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at age 7!!! I would not be surprised if you finished high school at age 14 and college at 17.

As far as your native tongue is concerned, I couldn't guess. The description you gave on college entrance is pretty much the norm in most countries. College entrance in the USA, in my view, is the exception.
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:41 PM   #68
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I think one of the big issues to consider is the actual cost of college nowadays and the ability to pay back huge student loans. You may say "Well I paid my own way so they should pay theirs". The world is different now.
You nailed it. Ding, ding, ding.

When I finished HS in 1967, you could make enough in a month to pay your year's tuition. Another month did books & beer. Today, a 4 month summer job might cover tuition & books, no beer.

We paid for our kids' (and at an out of town school) tuition, books and housing. Beer was on them. They both worked summers & PT. DD actually worked full time one year while attending full time.

We bought a condo where they went and (after DD living there for 5 years post grad) we sold it for a $100K profit. That was blind luck, BTW. In the end, neither we nor the kids paid much, better than a scholarship. Consider it, YMMV.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:17 PM   #69
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Plan A is student loans and some assistance from us (that's what dad did for 5 kids)

Plan B is get some meaningless jjj*b at the state U. (since empoyees get to send thier kids for FREE!)

Plan C is inheritance $$ (this would be necessary if Jr has his sites set some pricey private school).
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:47 PM   #70
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Wow! You're the first one I hear of that read and liked Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at age 7!!! I would not be surprised if you finished high school at age 14 and college at 17.
No, I was no such prodigy. I was just a nerdy kid, who simply wanted to grow up to be a geeky engineer, which I did. What I read was an simply an account of these great inventors in an adolescent book. It was a great motivator for me. I remember now that the book also described the Wright Brothers.

There was no mechanism for a kid to jump a class back then, or I ever heard of one. There were no placement tests whatsoever. In secondary high schools, students were allowed some choices, some leaning more towards math/physics, others to biology, or literature and languages. There were some elective course works somewhat similar to what Alan described. There was not a bewildering choice of classes like in the US. Kids were thrown into classrooms according to their age, and that was that. Some struggled to stay afloat. Others got bored with the curriculum and sneaked Les Misérables into class to read.

Thinking back, there was no way I could pass high school then at 14. What would a nerdy scrawny kid know about philosophy, literature, world history, or such "grown up" subjects taught to 17-yr olds?

I spent a lot of time at 15 reading and rereading a reference book (in French of course) about the theory of the transistor. I remember that I could not understand the use of complex numbers in h-parameter network formulas. Of course not, as that is usually taught in a junior-level college class.

To study for college entrance exams, most kids took additional preparatory classes offered by private schools, outside of their normal schools. Yes, this is still the way it is done in many countries. I remember that some of the math materials (calculus and physics) we used to study were past entrance exams given by top French Universities like École Polytechnique or École Normale Supérieure.

I slowly got to like the US system better. A student is given so many chances to try and try again. The entry barrier seems lower, but in the end, the real test is when one enters the work force, and then it continues through his life. The old system I grew up in was too rigid, and in many ways placed too much emphasis on rote learning.


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What is your mother tongue? You gotta tell us now.....
Thanks. But I have spilled more "beans" than I ever thought I should. Please give me some time.

By the way, I bragged earlier about being able to remember that I read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at a young age, not really understanding it, but then remembering having read it much later when I reread it. I first read it as a translation in my native language, then ran across it again when I came here. I did not learn English until 12. However, I did read Tintin and various Franco-Belgian comics in French much earlier. It was part of the language education my parents wanted to give me.
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:29 PM   #71
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How can they start their own FIRE if they begin their careers 50K-100K in debt.
The same way anyone else who is not subsidized by his parents does. If he goes to university, he chooses a field of study that can amortize that loan. If he goes to trade school, he shops wisely for his trade, and gets training that will get a union stamp of approval in a field likely to remain in high demand.

In general an auto mechanic buys his tools. If a career won't amortize the training, the young person should get a different career or a cheaper route to the original one.

Who but guilt ridden parents would pay these atrocious private school or out state tuitions? A little market discipline might go a long way toward bringing higher education back to earth.

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Old 01-14-2010, 11:38 PM   #72
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Who but guilt ridden parents would pay these atrocious private school or out state tuitions? A little market discipline might go a long way toward bringing higher education back to earth.

Ha

Ouch! Gee Ha, DW and I always felt good about helping DS through an out of state school he very much wanted to attend. It was a bit of a sacrifice. We paid the tuition, room and board. He co-op'd and used that income to pay for books and personal expenses. He met his DW (chem eng and mom of our 3 grand kids) there and so far has had a successful/enjoyable career as a mech eng. We thought this was all good. Do we have to be guilt ridden? That sounds like a bummer. Wish you hadn't told us since in this case ignorance was bliss.
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:46 AM   #73
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Ouch! Gee Ha, DW and I always felt good about helping DS through an out of state school he very much wanted to attend. It was a bit of a sacrifice. We paid the tuition, room and board. He co-op'd and used that income to pay for books and personal expenses. He met his DW (chem eng and mom of our 3 grand kids) there and so far has had a successful/enjoyable career as a mech eng. We thought this was all good. Do we have to be guilt ridden? That sounds like a bummer. Wish you hadn't told us since in this case ignorance was bliss.
I apologize. I was both incorrect and wrong to say that. Some parents are acting out of guilt, or a desire for ongoing control. I am too observant not to realize that. But clearly many are acting from much more altruistic motives also. There are actually many reasons why parents might pay for their children's education. It is complex in many ways.

It does surprise me that so many who are very strict with their own spending are so generous with their kids when it comes to university, though not necessarily as applied to other things. And I do feel that preparation for a career should be self-amortizing, but as long as the beneficiaries are as frugal as the parents have been it should just pass forward over time.

If I had $10mm, I would still be careful about underwriting school. I have seen so many family conflicts that to me at least appear to come from a child wanting to study whatever he or she wants, and the parent who is laying out $20,000 to $60,000 per year wanting the child to study what the parent wants. The parents who are after all paying the bills feel pretty strongly as of course so does the student.

I also read many of the posts, such as those from the million dollar thread, and I can't help but feel that for many at least paying for university educations for several children might not be the safest use of funds.

Ha
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:38 AM   #74
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I apologize.
Whoa......... I forgot to put those winkie - winkie dealies at the end of my post. NO apology necessary. I thought you knew my strange humor by now...... I didn't really think you meant all parents that sent their kids to out of state or private schools were guilt ridden.

Actually your observations are right on. Although, as you say, probably apply to many, not all, parents.

DW and I were products of the Chicago Public School system. No, not the modern "charter schools" and all that crap system of today. Rather the system of the 60's where I majored in rolling a pack of Lucky Strikes up in my tee shirt sleeve......... And we were first generation college grads. (Actually, first generation high school grads as well.) We both worked lots and lots of hours to get through college, DW at some really crappy cafeteria jobs. We were both kind of surprised when we graduated on time and wound up with degrees.

So when DS did a little better with the grades and test scores and was interested in engineering, we let him pick the school (after campus visits, etc.) which was Purdue. He wanted to co-op (true co-op, not intern or summer job) which allowed him to cover all personal expenses and buy a car. We picked up the rest which, at the time, was affordable out of current income. He did have a National Merit schlorship which helped too. I think it was $2k/yr.

As I said, so far, so good. Paying his way didn't turn him into a lazy bum, ungrateful spoiled brat or anything similar. The co-op experience was good for him too. If DW and/or I had known more about college/university shopping and technical careers at the time, we'd probably have found a cheaper way for him to get where he wanted to go. But we didn't, so off he went to an out of state school with mom and dad footing the bulk of the bill.

There was no compelling guilt influencing us then and we really don't feel guilty about it now. (And, again, I was completely kidding saying we did feel guilty after you brought it up! )

But, I could give you examples of friends/relatives who spent money they couldn't afford on childrens' educations that weren't realistically planned, didn't work out and the money was basically flushed. I'll spare you the long, sad stories but just say they back up your points.
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Old 01-15-2010, 10:40 AM   #75
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Thanks. But I have spilled more "beans" than I ever thought I should. Please give me some time.
Bonjour NW-Bound.

Like you, I am a product of the French education system. Did you go through the "Math Sup/Math Spé" prep classes? (For US readers who may not familiar be with the French system: in France, if one wants to get into an elite school ["grandes écoles", literally "great schools"], one has to go through a very, very tough entrance exam. And practically 100% of those who take the exam spend 2 grueling years preparing for it).

I also prefer the US university system, as it allows for more flexibility and creativity. But I think that the French middle school and high school systems -at least in the late 60s and early 70s- are more rigorous than their US counterparts today.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:30 PM   #76
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When I attended college back when the earth was cooling it was actually possible to work during the summer and then part-time during the school year and cover tuition and room and board at a state university. In fact, tuition was much less than the cost of room and board. That's all changed and it would have been and continues to be impossible for them to ever earn enough money on their own to pay for school.

I don't regret for a second paying for either of my kids to attend a state university (although one has pretty much a free ride for tuition but has a year to go). My son who graduated a couple of years ago with an engineering degree was able to buy a house while many of his friends are struggling with student loans and will be for years.
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Old 01-15-2010, 06:53 PM   #77
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Bonjour NW-Bound.

Like you, I am a product of the French education system. Did you go through the "Math Sup/Math Spé" prep classes? (For US readers who may not familiar be with the French system: in France, if one wants to get into an elite school ["grandes écoles", literally "great schools"], one has to go through a very, very tough entrance exam. And practically 100% of those who take the exam spend 2 grueling years preparing for it).

I also prefer the US university system, as it allows for more flexibility and creativity. But I think that the French middle school and high school systems -at least in the late 60s and early 70s- are more rigorous than their US counterparts today.
Hi,

I am sure you know more about the French education system than I do, because I had to look up "Math Sup/Math Spé" to see what it was about.

No, our HS and universities were all taught in our native language. Though foreign languages were taught in HS, the mastery-level of most students was not that great, though significantly better than most American students' knowledge of French, Spanish, or German. I happened to know French and English better than most because of my parents' insistence that we kids learned both for job opportunities. They sent me to language schools whenever I had some free time. They didn't believe in kids with too much free time.

As you piqued my curiosity about the French grandes écoles, I searched and found this link about these preparatory schools.

Wapedia - Wiki: Classe preparatoire aux grandes écoles

Apparently, gaining entrance to these grande écoles places one at the junior level already. After 3 years, the students are awarded a Master degree. So, the two years spent in Math Sup/Math Spé are after and beyond the 12th grade and counted as part of the college education.

It was not the case with our system. It still took us 4 years in our colleges to get a Bachelor degree. The preparatory classes were extra-curricular, and taken during the 12th grade. These simply reinforced what was in the normal course load and perhaps went a bit deeper.

The college entrance exams I took supposedly covered only the official 12th grade curriculum. However, these were not the same as the typical US classes. For example, the standard curriculum in Math covered

* Calculus, up to simple ordinary differential equations
* Analytic Geometry, mostly 2-D, plus some 3D conic sections
* Abstract Algebra, Introduction to Group, Field, Vector Space Theory

In Physics we learned Static Electricity, Magnetism, Optics, which was pretty much the same as freshman physics here in the US.

In Chemistry we learned Organic Chemistry (which I hated), as Inorganic Chemistry was covered in earlier grades.

So, generally the material was the same as freshman college classes here. Back then, a freshman in these tough colleges would be ready to tackle Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, Theory of Numbers, Analytic Geometry generalized to N dimensions, and more Physics but of the sophomore level here.

From reading the link I provided above, it appears that the French exams were more grueling than what I went through. Only one college exam I took included an oral exam, and it was only a formality; they already down selected from tens of thousands down to 50, and why would they throw any of those poor kids out? By the way, there was no college tuition, and the students even got a small stipend. Now, that was nice, and like the French system!

By the way, I remember being told that some of our college math course works were based on Rudin's textbooks, which I did not have. I always assumed that Rudin was French, but upon coming here, found out that he was Walter Rudin, of European origin but an American Mathematics Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and his textbooks were renown.

Back to the entrance exams, many countries still have rigorous college entrance exams for the tougher schools. It causes premature aging to the youngsters, both physically and mentally. This, I can attest to.

PS. FireDreamer stomped off a few days ago. He certainly could tell us more about the French education system. Now, I really wonder what is taught in HS there. Should I visit a HS there next time I am in France and ask to see their textbooks?
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:54 PM   #78
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Now, I really wonder what is taught in HS there. Should I visit a HS there next time I am in France and ask to see their textbooks?
I also wonder how much it has changed from my days... One thing which I found rather astounding, from talking to a French high-school teacher who retired in the US: when grading a written paper (good old rédactions or dissertations), teachers are not to grade on poor grammar and spelling. So theoretically, you could have a good grade if you submitted a well-argued paper, even though your spelling was atrocious!
If you happen to read French internet discussion boards today, you'd probably cringe at the number of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes there. It's a far cry from our days (I'm 52), when a teacher would rake us over the coals for messing up the ending of a past participle...
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:10 PM   #79
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We are doing a similar approach to the OP, we have put away enough in prepaid tuition so that each of our two high schoolers can obtain a college degree fully paid if they stay local. That is, they would need to do at least one year at our local community college and the remaining three at one of two very good local state university with a wide variety of degree options. If they want to go off and pay for increased tuition and / or room and board then they will have to come up with the difference.

I personally think it is crazy for parents to put themselves in debt or risk their retirement security by paying 30k a year for Sam or Sally to go to private school. I could kind of see it, if the private school was some kind of path to untold riches, but time after time I meet kids that dumped 30 -40k a year and came out with a RN degree or Business degree or Teaching degree etc... etc... from the private school and winds up with the same quality of job and pay as the kid who went to community college and a four year 4k state school.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:42 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by Mickslick View Post

I personally think it is crazy for parents to put themselves in debt or risk their retirement security by paying 30k a year for Sam or Sally to go to private school.
So you're saying that if parents have sound economic plans that don't put them in debt or risk their retirement security, then it's fine to send Sam or Sally to private school?
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