Monday, May 17, 2010

Show Me the Money Part 4

In a report I had to submit for our 10 year ISAS evaluation, I was asked to identify 5 challenges that we will all face in college admissions over the next stretch of Casady life. Here is what I enumerated:

· Affordability issues in post-Fannie Mae economic climate

· Depreciating value of undergraduate degree

· Greater regionalization in post-9/11 era

· Student selection of soft academic programs in fear of low grade point

· Monetary lifestyle choices that undervalue education

You will notice that the majority of our challenges ahead involve finances.

Looking closer, you will notice that 2 of the 3 are challenges beyond our control.

Like the golf ball size hail that blasted the Village and Nichols Hills like artillery shells on Sunday.

A thin financial portfolio.

Tuition hikes.

Corporate job cuts.

It's no wonder then why more families are taking a calculated, conservative, economically-centered approach to the college admission search.

It's not uncommon then, when we are discussing colleges, that I can literally see the geometric graph in mom and dad's mind, where the X axis represents the COS ("Cost of School" = tuition, room and board, books, travel expenses), and the Y axis represents the ROI ("Return on Investment" = job securement and salary cap). It makes perfect sense to do this exercise for those reasons.

However, 1 out of the 3 challenges we face is within our control.

This has to do entirely with our "purchasing choices" - a term I learned taking Dave Ramsey's Money Make Over class. What Ramsey helped me understand is that how we spend our money ultimately reveals what we both value and don't value. If, for example, I choose to buy Silas a really nice sports car when he turns 16, earning major "cool dad points", and possibly securing him a date for prom, as opposed to investing that money in a 529 Plan, which would probably result in a temporary but massive Dow Jones drop in "cool dad points" - what ultimately does that reveal about my personal value system?

So in the final analysis, I want to encourage you to focus your energies on what you can control. I certainly hope to do this both for Silas and our daughter, Olive. I truly want them to know that when it comes to their education, I was willing to "put my money where my mouth was".