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Ask Dave

Is the Pedigree Worth It?

Donna says her first child has been accepted to a school that costs about $52,000 a year. Donna could return to work to pay for it, but is that a good plan?

QUESTION: Donna in New York City says her first child is heading to college in September. He’s been accepted to an expensive school that costs about $52,000 a year. Donna and her husband are short on what they’ve saved for his college. Donna could return to work to pay for it, but is that a good plan? Dave thinks he needs to know what he’s going to study before attending this school.

ANSWER: If he doesn’t know what he wants to do, we can figure that crap out at the community college. Fifty-two thousand a year to find myself—I don’t think so. Unless he can tell you exactly what he wants to study and that going to this particular very expensive school has some kind of return on investment in the marketplace in that particular field of study. Let’s pretend he wants to be a nurse. No need to go to $52,000 a year to be a nurse. You’re completely marketable at a state school as a nurse.

You have to study something where the prestige of this school actually matters, and truthfully, that’s about 3% of the jobs. Mostly, it doesn’t matter. How many times have you ever seen anybody get hired because of where they went to school? Very seldom.

What you’ve got to consider is, within the average state school, there are groups of students that he does need to gravitate toward. I’m not against this, but you didn’t call me up and say you’ve got $5 million extra to blow on kids’ education. You’re going to go back to work and bust it so he can get a degree at this place, and he doesn’t even know what he wants to do. There’s no way Dave Ramsey’s doing that deal, and I’m all about education, but I’m not about pedigrees. About 3% of the jobs care where you went to school. I’ve never gone to a doctor and asked them where they went to school.