Some parents are obsessed with getting their children into top-ranked schools, no matter the cost. However, you can save a lot of money by understanding what truly leads to the best outcomes for your children.
The good news is that the very best arguments against focusing exclusively on the most expensive colleges’ net price are summarized in an invaluable report published by Challenge Success, a highly regarded non-profit affiliated with Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. The report summarizes well regarded research that obliterates these two beliefs:
First, schools with higher U.S. News & World Report rankings and higher rejection rates are the only schools worth attending.
Second, students must attend highly selective schools because they are the only ones that can bestow “the golden tickets”: excellent, high-paying careers.
In the words of the report: Rankings are problematic. The Challenge Success report also looked at what does matter in terms of having a successful college outcome. It nicely summarized a much published survey conducted by Gallup and Purdue in 2014 that indicated that the key to happiness in graduates’ lives and careers is not the college they attended, but their level of engagement at whatever school they ended up attending.
The Gallup-Purdue results illustrated that the more engaged the student was, as measured by six factors, the more likely they will be successful in their life. Those six factors include:
- I had at least one professor at college who made me excited about learning.
- My professors cared about me as a person.
- I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams.
- I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete.
- I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom.
- I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations while attending college.
We’re definitely not suggesting that families must avoid prestigious schools, but we do not think these institutions are worth going into deeper debt for paying full price when there are many schools that will offer merit scholarships, like some of the ones on the Gallup Poll. Families will never know what kind of aid their child could receive — and how much money they can save — if they don’t look past the Ivy League schools and the ranking darlings.
Related: How to Calculate a College’s ROI
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