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live a cool life and be in debt

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““Education is not just career preparation,” says the dean.”
…but we haven’t any idea what, so make-up your own excuse. [Cui]

Misty Scary

Walking around Reed College, where the sticker price is nearly $50,000 a year, students speak eloquently about education’s spiritual and intellectual rewards. One student dropped a potentially lucrative major in physics for classics. Another casually used the word “telos” in describing the purpose of college and her growth as a thinker. All downplayed any financial rewards.

“But almost none of the students encountered on a recent misty morning on the Portland, Ore., campus had to worry about money anyway. Either they would not incur debt, or their parents would take care of it.

“Anna Baker is an exception. An art-history major, she says she will probably accumulate $100,000 in loans by the time she graduates. “It’s really scary, and I try not to think about the debt, and I also don’t think that I am ever going to have a high-paying job.” She could have gone to one of the University of California campuses for the in-state rate, but she does not regret her decision. “I feel like I have become this Reedie who is a critical thinker, who questions things—maybe to a bad degree,” she says. “I would rather live a cool life and be in debt than worry about money constantly.””

Oy vey!

Anna, it’s not only your bloated college agenda and gradeflation; it’s the corrupted content (learning) in your degree program, the massive opportunity costs (time,) and crushing money and credit costs. Eh! No worries, babe. You’ll have a cool life, for sure.


How To Make-up For Lost Time

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Time is a measure that cannot be personally repeated or replaced. Once used, it’s gone. As time goes on, it becomes personally more and more valuable.

We have two options to re-gain our time:

  1. money, which buys another’s time with their service to us, and
  2. education, which transfers knowledge to our skills development, and our mental, emotional, and spiritual enrichment.

I’ve known many very wealthy and many very poor, those with extensive education and those with no education, at all. If there is one admirable character trait in that population, it is the noble man, woman and child. Personal nobility in this post is  virtue, worthy of purchase – but, not at any expense.

Essentially, if we do not have enough money for the education we want, we will need to spend time.

It’s how we expend that time, that is the test of value.


College At Any Cost

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US One Million Dollar BillAre you buying your college education right?

If you choose the college option:

  • Is it a specific education plan, for a specific job, and a known, verifiable career-track?
  • Can you really count on a job upon graduation? Or, is it just a guess – an opinion?
  • Is it a reasonable cost in
    • time,
    • money,
    • risk, and
    • opportunity

Or, are you earning a college degree for it’s noble value?

  • Will this college experience make you better, for a lifetime?
  • Will your status or station in life improve?
  • Will you become attractive, more sensitive, more meaningful?
  • Can you name those actual, valuable, enduring benefits?
  • Is it a reasonable cost in
    • time,
    • money,
    • risk, and
    • opportunity

And, why pay those costs, at that particular chosen college? Does it really make a difference where and how you get your learning?

Example Extremis.

See this from a recent Wall Street Journal Q&A

Q: My husband and I earn over $270,000 together. Our modest mortgage will be paid off in about six years and we’re almost debt-free. We have more than $400,000 saved for retirement, which is not nearly enough. We’re in our mid-50s; my husband doesn’t want to retire ever, but I’d like to switch to lower-paying, more rewarding work soon and downsize to a modern apartment.

But tuition for our only child’s college is $53,000 a year. We’ve paid for one year, but need to borrow at least $25,000 a year to pay for the next three. Should we take out equity against our house, borrow through the PLUS loan program, or sell the house and rent?

ProfessorDad: Not having all of the financial detail, we assume tuition is only one part of the true cost of college.

Using the College Costs Calculator, the “real costs of college” – not only tuition, is probably $410,000 for the four years – it could be considerably more – if the student does not complete the degree program, in the required four years. Apparently, the “average” college BA or lightweight BS degree program is actually completed in 5 years. In this instance, that brings the bachelor’s degree tab, to at least $500,000.

Does that seem reasonable?

Think.

It’s in our best interests, to evaluate the reality of these expenses. View these extraordinary costs against the potential of unemployment of either or both parents, their value of personal debt-freedom, the real worth of a bachelor’s degree from a no-name college, and the graduate’s real potential for paying his way, once graduated.

The parents are already aware they have underfunded their retirement – the mother wants “to switch to lower-paying, more rewarding work soon and downsize to a modern apartment” which may help the couple’s savings effort – but, conflicts with the college costs over-burden.

Suggestion.

Downsize the kid, now – as soon as possible.

Folks, tell your son today:

Son, there’s been a death in the family. Our wallet died last night. We’re awfully sorry to tell you like this – but, Uncle Wallet died empty.

We all have to adjust – along with this terrible economy, we are having to lop-off spending of all kinds. We have become born-again frugal savers.

Now, since you are an adult, and because we want the best for you, we have figured-out your part in this situation.

We want you to start acting on this list today, dear boy.”

  1. withdraw from the high-cost, low value college,
  2. live at home, with us, and
  3. get job – any job to pay room & board, live frugal,
  4. pay for your CLEP or DANTES testing units, through the third year of college, and
  5. take the last year of college, online,
  6. graduate with a job-career plan, then
  7. live at home while saving every penny,
  8. pay for your room & board, and
  9. leave home once the career track has started, then annually
  10. thank God for your parents, that have set you straight for self-discipline and maturity.

Meeting Challenges Creatively

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Change Your Brain, Change Your Body

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Health Brain

Dr. Amen’s book is highly recommended – it is not a “diet” book. It’s a thinking person’s book – meant to be read, often.

“Daniel Amen continually demonstrates why he is truly one of the most original thinkers in medicine today. As he correctly points out in his newest book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, the brain is the integration center that ultimately controls not only the way we think and feel but also the way we look. More important, he provides the dietary advice that has been clinically demonstrated to improve brain function. If you want to optimize your life, this book is a must-read.”

—BARRY SEARS, Ph.D., author of The Zone


Price Is What You Pay

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A reader asks about the price of a liberal arts education.

College bought right is 90% Less - No Debt!

Is a college degree really worth the price?

In my opinion, there are definitely low or negative returns, assuming that a single year at a private college is $50,000.

Does it really need to cost $50,000 per year to give someone a liberal arts education?

I don’t think so.

Also, colleges have strayed far from their original mission of providing a solid education in science, mathematics, literature, history and philosophy. Today, they list a large variety of interdisciplinary courses: these include questionable studies of the visual arts (video, movie and TV production, etc.)

It’s disturbing to see the construction of grand sports pavilions, stadiums, research facilities, high-value dormitories, etc. Wonder who pays for all of this excess? Mostly the student, with some help from the endowments.

So, yes, a liberal arts education is worth it, but you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for the college excursions into grandiosity.

The answer is no Bachelor of Arts or lightweight Bachelor of Science is worth more than $20,000 for the entire four years expenses. Depending on the College Costs Calculator, that’s a 90% discount – with a whole lot more value.

How is that possible?


Knowledge Tempered By Experience

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Take this to heart – consider the consequences of each.

Price Is What You Pay,

Cost Is What You Spend,

Value Is What You Receive,

Worth Is What It Brings,

Wealth Is What You Keep,

Life Is What You Give.

- Professor Dad’s view (and, no apologies to Warren Buffett)


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