Is there a budget for college touring travel?
I often wonder how the rest of the world seems to cruise through these expensive times, seemingly without a care. How is it everyone else appears to have so much more money? We work hard at professional jobs, and are pretty conservative with saving and planning. But, I’ll say it, there is still a budget! So, when I listen to the really sweet, intelligent father whom I’m speaking with at a cocktail party, and he is describing the next three summer weekends with his rising senior daughter — one to Miami, one to Colorado, and one to New Orleans — I think, “Jeez, I wish I were your daughter!”
It begs the question, is there a budget for college touring travel, or should there be? Is the college investment just so huge that a few grand on the front end for sightseeing trips is just insignificant? Nothing more than a rounding error? Will we take our children wherever they want to go, no matter how far or how many schools are on the list? Truth is, I just don’t know. So far, we have taken two road trips to New England. And stayed with family at most of our stops. Cheap. But this is our first child, and she is making it easy. No interest in the West Coast, or the deep South. Her first filter for the college search is geography – “New England, please.”
So, even though we know we’ll travel a relatively easy road with this child in terms of college touring, we can still find something to worry about. She has siblings! What makes sense? What is reasonable? Should we refuse to fly or drive to the really unlikely “reach” schools? Or does that telegraph that we don’t have any confidence in our child’s ability to get in there? Should we tell him/her it doesn’t make sense to spend time and money (both finite resources in our lives) going to the schools that are utter “safeties”, where they are unlikely to attend? Or does that telegraph the message that that school isn’t good enough?
I’m working myself into a pitch! Perhaps I should just take a deep breath, and remember it will all be okay. Perhaps I should accept that there need not be a formula for everything in life, and maybe we’ll wing it, child by child. Perhaps the answer will be driven by the disposable income at any given time. If you have an answer, please, comment.