Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Halving Your College Costs, Part 2

I was floored a year ago when I realized my oldest son wouldn't be heading off to a four-year university like we'd planned. I was more than floored - devastated is a more accurate word. I'd spent years preparing him for just that outcome and I felt betrayed. What use was all that schooling without the crowning glory of a four-year degree?

My son had a terrific SAT score, got great grades, and got scholarships everywhere he applied. The issue was where he applied - to US universities. We didn't take into consideration the cost of being an "international" student because we are US citizens, even though we live in Canada. While his scholarships covered the regular part of tuition, they didn't cover the "foreign" part, and after adding in transportation, etc., we couldn't swing it.

Why not take out a loan?

I was leery of saddling a graduate with thousands of dollars of debt, and now I'm thrilled we didn't pursue that route. For one thing, upon attending general ed classes at the local college, my son realized he was sick to death of school and wanted to get to work. For another, the stats today for college grads are horrible. Instead of a traditional four-year education, incurring debt and putting off work for four years, my son essentially pursued an apprenticeship with my husband and learned computer programming at home. He co-produced an online game with my husband that just entered open Beta testing and will be launched soon. He's mastered a number of programming languages and has experienced first hand the process from beginning to end of how to create and market a game.

Am I against college? Certainly not.

I am, however, far more pro other types of learning than I was before. While before I felt that going to college was the "destination", now I feel that education is a tool to help you get to a destination. Higher learning has a cost and the current model isn't cost-effective.

Much more on this later....

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