Today is May 1st – the date that college-bound kids (and their parents) have to put money down on the college of their choice.  These kids have been thinking about where they are going to go to college for somewhere between 18 months and 18 years.  It’s no surprise for most of them that the moment of truth has arrived.  Now, what will they do?

There are lots of good reasons for choosing a college:  academic rigor, geographic desirability, size of undergraduate programs, access to graduate programs, diversity, etc.  But let’s say your child was accepted at a bunch of great schools that have different things going for them.  How should he or she evaluate which is best?  We received an email from our daughter’s college of choice yesterday telling us how to evaluate.  And even if our daughter hadn’t already committed to this school, both practically and emotionally, I hope the email would have tipped the scale for her.

The subject line of the email was: “ROI”.  In the message, the school explained that out of 850 colleges and universities in the United States, it is ranked eleventh for return on investment.  Three paragraphs later, I felt much better that our tuition dollars would be money well-spent.  Basically, the message was:  her education will help her get a job, which is, after all, the end game.

“A thorough assessment of the investment you will make in your son or daughter’s education requires an in-depth look at multiple factors including cost of attendance, the overall educational experience, and the long-term benefits your student will enjoy for years to come.”  Rocket science?  No.  A clear focus on goals?  For sure.  The message explains that on the first day of orientation, and throughout the four years of the rest of college, our daughter will be supported through a career development plan to help her achieve her goals.  The college fosters relationships with employers to ensure placements, and works directly, through one-on-one counselors, with the student-body to develop strategies for finding jobs in these difficult times.  They have a great history of connecting students with valuable internships.  The school brags that last year, 96% of its graduating class was employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.  That sounds pretty good to us.

So, as our graduating seniors are making their deposits today, I hope that they all have a clear sense of their path.  I hope that they are setting themselves on a course for challenge, hard work, growth, and employment.  I hope they know what they are getting in return for their investment, and I hope that for each one of them, whether the “return” is a job or a better understanding of who they are meant to be, that they feel richer for the education.

4 replies on “Getting In: May 1 – National College Enrollment Deposit Day”

  1. This list is very misleading! Number 11 ( Babson) and other business and also engineering schools will show higher average earnings than schools that have strong music conservatories, for example. Plus, the value of an education goes way beyond simply salaries/cost of tuition.

  2. “…get a job, which is the end game.”
    Isn’t there really quite a bit more to it than that? If it were job training you wanted, you could more easily have invested in Eastern Technical School, with a very successful placement office. Auto mechanics, undertakers, and dental hygienists will always find employment.
    I would hope that this charming young lady is expecting a university education to give her mental tools to inspect life and derive some satisfaction from a career that not only pays the bills, but gives her some satisfaction that she has made this a better world. Even if that contribution is only a nicer way to send e-mails, or a better cup of tea; an accomplishment like that is the difference between a “job” and an informed and productive citizen. The higher goal of higher education should be the means to find that better calling, that more suited engagement that will do more than just pay the rent.
    I hope your daughter finds a career that makes her happy, and if so there will be no trouble with the bills.

  3. Point taken, friends. As the product of a good, old-fashioned liberal arts education myself, I am a staunch defender of learning for learning’s sake. My party message has been, “If a person can read, write and reason well, she will always be able to work.” I may be over-reacting or over-compensating for what I perceive to be a pendulum swing away from young adults being self-sufficient, independent, bill-paying citizens. But in all of it, of course, we want our kids to get a rich, inter-disciplinary, expanding education in college. I do observe that our culture seems to have no limit for what it is willing to pay for college, though, and it does not seem balanced against the earning capacity coming out of school. So I am forced to think more practically, in response. That’s all – just keeping it real. Trying to remind our kids that college is only a step in their future, not their entire future, and they have to be thinking in terms of what comes after, too. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

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