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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reed College and Me, My Children: The Usual Ambivalence

I have lots of plans for blog posts. Then I get sidetracked by something in the news. Today, as is my wont, I was reading the New York Times online and saw this headline: College in Need Closes Door To Needy Students. So I clicked and, of course, it was my college: Reed.

Reed is a school that inspires conflicted feelings. Indeed,these feelings are welling up as I type. Those who have been reading me for a while may recall that I have written on other sorts of ambivalence as well: mainly, that I have children who are as intellectually curious as I was, but that I simply cannot afford to send them to a private liberal arts college without severely affecting all of our futures. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say that Mr. FS (also a Reed alum, though we got together in grad school) and I together make little more than one English teacher--Robert Knapp--whose salary is mentioned in a comment.

I was comforted by the fact that my feelings are shared by some commenters: one mom
lamented, as I do, her inabilty to offer her children the same kind of education she got; others (rightly) note that you can get a great education anywhere. Read comment 114 for more details on the last.

I have a lot more to say, but I'm getting overwhelmed by those conflicting feelings mentioned above. Once again, let's retreat to the safety of numbers:

Talbots stock: $4.86
Edmund Andrews's Busted: Amazon rank 13,594
**Interesting note: my blog is mentioned in one of the comments on a review! Also, all of the 5-star reviewers have written only a single review--on this book--which suggests to me that these might be acquaintances (at least one owns up to this).

And, of immediate interest and benefit to me and mine, sugar is on sale for $1.79 for 4 pounds. Mr. FS needs some for his frugal homemade sportsdrink (for which, see his post with recipe). At least one thing is under control around here.


Duchesse said...

If someone is convinced, based on whatever evidence or experience, that his or her child will benefit from a college that costs 50K a year, they will try to do it. And I hope they receive the exceptional experience they expect.

From the comments, a lot of people aren't convinced, and a few even suggest that skilled trades offer a better future than a four-year degree.

The Colin Diver quote "... I keep trying to say, We are in the education business" says it all for me.

If education is a 'business', I must be an informed, knowledgeable, value-conscious consumer who knows what features my child and I want and what my price point is.

Also, I don't have time to find the source but a profile of Jobs said he dropped out, hung around the campus and audited courses without paying tuition. That's another way to do it.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--I think I've decided that it isn't really worth it--and that makes me sad.

Steve Jobs and I overlapped for a year. I did not know him. Rumor was that he was involved in rigging the pay phones to return all the change that was put in.

La Belette Rouge said...

Reed college is mentioned in the Gladwell book I wrote about today. Unhappily, Reed didn't come out looking too good in it. It's too bad as I have always imagined Reed as the Sarah Lawrence of the PNW which has give me a soft spot for it.

Suzy said...

It's been a while since I've been in college(1990) so I'm a little bit confused. What do intellectual curiosity and a private liberal arts college have to do with each other? (I majored in science and private school wasn't a necessity at all for me)Are private schools more 'artistic' or something?

Almost every job requires a degree to get in the door yet most of what was paid for my degree wasn't needed for the major nor for the job I perform. My degree cost twice as much due to the non-major classes required for the degree and luckily I got out before even more requirements went into place.

You pretty much have to have a scholarship, go into huge-mongous debt, or get a job first to pay for college nowadays. Sad state of affairs.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Belette--Thanks for stopping by. I am in awe of your writing. I read the Gladwell book a while ago (skimmed, actually); as I recall, the point about that guy was that he--unlike Bill Gates--lacked the upper-middle class skills that help in dealing with institutions and bureaucracy. I'll take another look.

@Suzy--Thank you for pointing to the emperor's new clothes! I just have a soft spot for the kind of intense experiences offered by liberal arts colleges. You can have the same experiences at big schools--it's just more difficult.