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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Cost Of Getting Into College: Is It Worth It?



What does it take to get your child into college and how much does it cost? Jennifer Moses, an author and mom, describes the lengths and expenses she went to in order to help her twins get accepted to top-tier schools. Here’s the rundown:

Army of SAT and ACT tutors $125/week
Fees for standardized tests $522
Cost of Applications $1,133
Traveling costs to
visit prospective colleges
College application counselor $700
TOTAL Admission to
top-tier college


The formula worked, and Jennifer’s children were able to get into the schools of their choice, but was it worth it? And is the system fair to less-advantaged families? Jennifer Moses, author of “Food and Whine: Confessions of a New Millennium Mom,” joins us to discuss the issue.

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  • Aaron Seidman

    All the evidence with which I am familiar shows that what one gets out of college is more dependent on the student than the college. My own experience teaching undergraduates convinced me that what is important is not the prestige of the college but the extent to which it matches the personality of the student. Where there is a good fit, I predict the student will do fine.

    • Alternative

      Thank you Mr. Seidman. I flunked the SATs. I went to a Community College, then a 4 year state college, then graduate school in Colorado. I identified the best professors and squeezed everything I could out of them. I am living proof that you can be successful if you try, and it’s not where you go, it’s how hard you work.

      With respect to Marianna, your argument is well stated. I just think, and I seem to be supported by some other responders, that this was the wrong guest for this topic. The guest seemed to have lots of money to toss around, and she really doesn’t appear to represent the majority of the US population.

    • Annette

      My daughter worked very hard on college admissions, but it was mostly that hard work which made the difference. She took the SATs twice and improved her score 200 points by studying long hours with a book and no expensive tutors. She was accepted at every college to which she applied including an Ivy League school and two highly prestigious schools. She received over $10,000 in independent scholarships. She earned 30 college credits before starting her first year of college. Where did she end up? A state university with the best program in her chosen field. It was NOT about costs or prestige, it was about good fit. It was the results of hard work, not throwing money at the situation. Three years later, was it the right decision? Absolutely.

  • spud

    Whine. That pretty much sums up that pointless story.

    The guest complains about a reprehensible system that she is entirely responsible for through her reprehensible actions.

  • Another Kind of Mom

    This woman has to be one of the most annoying and unhelpful voices on college plans for kids I’ve ever heard. What a ridiculous and indulgent mother to let her “Twin B,” or whatever, dictate how she spends her self-proclaimed “pile of money”. She doesn’t speak for most of us parents when it comes to this topic. There have been a number of recent studies that refute every point she so abrasively makes. New Millennium mom? Blech.

  • Alternative

    Your guest (Jennifer) is way off base. We live in a small central Mass town. It has a mixed socio-economic population. We are fortunate to have great schools and dedicated teachers. My wife and I are also fortunate to have bright kids, but we nurtured that by reading to them from the time they were about 4 – 8 weeks old and staying involved in their education. We are pretty well off, but that had nothing to do with the colleges they got into. One is attending WPI, and one will be attending UNE in the health sciences. Both received substantial scholarships. There were no SAT prep classes and not much travel. Parents need to look for where you can get your bang for the buck, and you don’t have to go to Harvard, Stanford, Purdue, or even snobby UConn to be successful. Jennifer, you sound like a wacko to me.

    • Marianna

      I think Ms. Moses was illustrating just how competitive the college application process has become. It’s way different from when I was in undergrad, which was 30+ years ago! The pressure on the kids is ridiculous, beginning in preschool! With the cost of a college education escalating over the past couple of decades parents feel that they have to make the best investment they can afford (e.g., private schools, tutors, community service and leadership opportunities) now, and hope their child(ren) do well enough to earn college scholarships. More and more of the cost burden is placed on the student and/or parents because state legislators have slashed the percentage of the cost the public is contributing. Ms. Moses was correct when she stated that college is skewed toward the wealthy. This does not jibe with the alleged attitude of this country that a college education should be available to everyone.

  • Marianna

    I, too, am the mother of 17-year-old twins applying to colleges, so I was very interested to hear what Ms. Moses had to say. While my husband and I have not spent quite as much as Ms. Moses and her husband, we have invested a lot in the process. It is extremely time-consuming!! My kids have each applied to 6 different colleges, and are still waiting to hear from half of them. In the end, they will probably attend the schools offering the best scholarships/financial aid. Wish us luck!

  • Still unsure

    As the Mother of now college juniors twins, we also played the game. When my husband and I went to school in the 70′s, there were different rules. We each took the SAT once, in fact, I thought that you could only take it once. I only applied to two schools. My girls who attended a college prep private school each took the ACT (we live in the deep south) 3 times, I finally said no more ACT. They each applied to 7 or 8 schools. I lost count. We visited several schools. They were highly influenced by their peers and their school as to playing this game. They also received large scholarship offers from several schools and took advantage of them. Was it too much, probably. However, we did win the game. Now, my son is a high school junior and he’s taken the ACT once and visited an out of state school already. My current plans are one more ACT and a visit to an in-state school. He doesn’t seem to be as influenced by others as they were. We’ll see next year at this time.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPKS3HUGQBPILPIU7IVZSHGXLI Robert_N

    Higher education can certainly be a good value (with some regional and institutional variation) if it’s even remotely affordable. But it does seem like more people are going into debt for it, and becoming that much more vulnerable to financial damage during times of poor economic or personal health.

  • AVM

    A waste of good air time. The mom seems pretty impressed with herself. The only thing I wanted to know she refused to tell us — where the twins will go to college.

  • Madascurry

    Bottomline, for those of us that are not well off – we have no choice but to work hard and see what options come our way. The rich always have and always will have more options let’s be real. I appreciate her for being honest. My daughter has worked very hard, got accepted to all her schools, very good schools – but for a middle-class family whose income has plummeted with the economy its still hard getting fin-aid – we are still hopeful for scholarships!

  • Calm

    What I get from this piece and the cogent comments is that hard work pays off. We all know this time-tested maxim but it bears repeating…endlessly! Also, if one has a lot of money, spending some on college apps will (as the speaker intimated) make little difference to one’s financial health but it MIGHT make a difference in what college accepts your child. It will CERTAINLY diminish any potential guilt that one didn’t do enough for one’s child.

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