Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Eye's Not On the Ivy League


With having completed a BS and MS degree in Business Finance (BS) and Management Information Systems (MS) and attending private schools throughout most of my educational career, you would think I'd want to go to an Ivy League School. Or even make sure my kids (three of which who are already in college) to attend one.



WHY? Well Here it goes....


When I was planning my college career, I wanted to go to an IVY LEAGUE school because that was a place where you could show the world that you are 'smart' and you could 'network'.

Well, after a lot of college visits, those schools to me were missing a VERY IMPORTANT INGREDIENT.

The investment in my success!

As a non-traditional student who was paying her own way through school with scholarships, multiple part-time jobs, and grants, these schools seemed to offer everything but the one thing I needed. Support.

Many students of whom you NEVER HEAR about have started off at prestigious universities, only, to leave with a TON OF DEBT, DISCOURAGED and suicidal feelings as though they are a failure. Yes, it happens at many universities, but more so at these more 'competitive' places.


Nope. Not if you are not already connected or belong to a wealthy family.

Also, does going to an IVY LEAGUE guarantee wealth? status? a job? NOPE.

However, if you plan to have a career in politics, law, international affairs or business, then attending an IVY LEAGUE may gain you the NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES that can give you a BOOST.

Ask Your Student These Questions

1) Does this school offer a Major that your or your child CANNOT GET ANYWHERE ELSE for cheaper?

2) Does the intended course of study guarantee the COST VS BENEFITS of attending an IVY LEAGUE and paying those prices. Meaning if you pay $50K a year for a degree, will you be making $50K a year when you graduate?

3) What are the conditions of the FREE RIDE scholarships and ARE THEY OFFERING MEASURES for you to succeed. What are the ways you can LOSE that FREE RIDE via no longer playing sports, slipping grades, health status or change in major or goals.

4) Does the environment encourage you to be able to FIT IN SOCIALLY? (in my case HECK NO I am an African American and a FEMALE that came from a POOR family - that would've been a recipe for disaster for me).

5) Are the Faculty and staff supportive of students or get a kick out of UNNECESSARY RIGOR. Yep, you heard it. Just because a university has a 'Difficult Curriculum' it DOES NOT guarantee preparation for a JOB or CAREER. Real life career and College 'career' learning ARE TWO DIFFERENT things. Just because you have a degree - does not mean you will EVER use any of that information.


1) Offer you an environment (for your cost) that makes sure that you are SUCCESSFUL in reaching your academic and career goals while providing a HEALTHY environment for doing so. The COLLEGE SHOULD SERVICE THE STUDENT. The student is their biggest customer base - don't ever forget it. You are buying a service from an institution that will gain you completion in a degree. If that school won't help you get there - don't waste your money.

2) A support team that is available and able to help you navigate through this environment.

3) A recovery option, to recover from any setbacks like bad grades, bad choices and yet still be able to retake a class, find support assistance, or be mentored.


Then you haven't gotten what you PAID FOR, now have you.

FAST-FORWARD with My kids

1) Made them research their field of study and chosen careers to see if the (a) Place where you get your degree matters (b) Cost of the degree equals the benefits of your salary and opportunities (c) Does the school have a great support system (d) Does the demographics compliment your race, sex, social interest (e) Is it safe, compare local crime rates with on campus offenses

2) Plan for 'Worst Case Scenario'. Like if you (a) lost scholarship and had to pay yourself - is it still affordable to you or your parents (b) got pregnant (yeah, many girls do their first 2 years) could you still attend or have a place to live or have support (c) changed your major - will you lose all your credits

3) Evaluation of Support Systems (a) tutoring for free (b) career services and internship relationships with well known companies

4) Research Professors by checking Rate My Professor.

5) Research student body by checking on review sites for colleges.

6) Research Credit Transfers so if it doesn't work out - you can still plan and move forward.


Scenario with my oldest Son: 
(1) Wanted to go to Stevensons (29K-46K a YEAR!) - went to local Community College then Towson University and finished at University of MD, University College. Changed major 6 times

(2) got AA degree and CLEP credit and took 2 remedial Math classes after Accuplacer (college entry math and english exam)

(3) total cost of college for both AA and BS was $41,000 (scholarships, CLEPs) and lived on campus 1 year

(4) Finished both degrees in 4.5 yrs (took winter classes)

(5) Outcome: Both an Associates and Bachelors for the price of 1 year at an expensive college. And still has a great job.

Well my son had originally wanted to go to Stevenson (cost $38K a year). After doing his research he decided on Towson University. After going there for most of his Jr and Sr year, he had to transfer if he wanted to move with us to another state. He was able to easily transfer his credits to an online college. He now has a degree from University of Maryland, University College and is working for a well known medical insurance company as a Database Analyst.

Scenario with oldest Daughter: 
(1) Wanted to go to Johns Hopkins (50-65K) - went to local Community College then transferred to Towson University. Changed major 3 times.

(2) got AA degree using CLEP credit and an accelerated start (no remedial classes needed. Started in Pre-Calc and English Comp)

(3) Total Cost for both AA and BS was $27,000 (scholarships and CLEPs)

(4) Finished both degrees in 3.5 years (took summer and winter classes)

(5) Outcome: Both an Associates and Bachelors for the price of 1 year at an expensive college. And still has a great job.  Pursuing Master's Degree that is paid for by her new company.

My daughter originally wanted to be a Dermatologist, then changed her major several times until she found a major that combined all of her interest. However, after her research and interviewing some students that she knew that had got to John's Hopkins, she figured it wasn't diverse enough socially for her. That to her was a deciding factor along with the fact that her Dean at Towson University was very helpful and really offered a wonderful support system for students in her major. She was eligible for a scholarship, but it was still more expensive than the university she went to.


Make sure you are getting what you really want from the 'experience' of college. 


  1. I love the research breakdown and the questions you asked are a great start. Of course the end is my favorite. What's the overall plan? Be warm, fed and clothed.

  2. This is a great article. I look forward to sharing it with my teens. Thanks for your thought-provoking ideas.

  3. A fascinating read. I was very lucky that UK students were 100% government funded back when I did my undergraduate law degree at Oxford (I even got my rent paid!). But I still suffered being a first generation college-goer from a poor background. Support was missing, but at least I didn't leave in masses of debt.

    It sounds like your children have made excellent choices and done very well. I wish it were easier to change course here. Teens have to decide when they are 17 the one subject they want to study for the full 3-4 years of uni, which is far too early in my opinion. (And probably why I ended up spending years studying for a legal career I later abandoned!)


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