1. Not considering the return on investment
Education is like any other investment — i.e., there are good ones and bad ones. Aside from your house, this is probably the second biggest investment you will be making. The problem was that my heart was set on going to an Ivy League school, and I stupidly turned down full scholarship to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (a top notch school). In short, I was young and irresponsible with money (my parents’ money). If I went to Ann Arbor instead I would have saved them about $20,000 a year (after scholarship and financial aids), and that was in 1991. If I had instead saved and invested that money, it would be worth about $265,000 today (at modest 8% annualized gain).
Was my Ivy League education worth $265,000? Definitely not! I do not think I would make any less money today, if I had gone to Ann Arbor.
Is it really?
I agree that on one level (i.e., I spend X; I then earn Y; if Y GT X, happy, else unhappy) one might think of it as an “investment”. Comparing the IVY to a STATE is more difficult than it seems.
One reason that immediately leaps to my mind is that this is not a “repeatable event”. Probability theory is built up around roulette wheels, dice, and cards. The student is a UNIQUE (i.e., a unique individual with free will). Selection of a college isn’t a repeatable event. As a high school senior in the US you only get one choice. And, it’s destructive. You don’t get to rewind the VCR as in the movie “groundhog day” and get to run repeated trials.
Another reason is that your experience colors everything — every single blessed thing — you do after that point. Your perceptions, your thinking, heck even your speech and the words you use are different. And, it “labels” you to other people. You’ll always be the “Ivy League” guy.
So static analysis is pointless.
In the cited case, you can’t even assume that the mythical 265k — and it is mythical because it exists no where in your own mind — no where — would have been “saved and invested”.
You can’t even be sure that where you have to chosen STATE over IVY, that on the first day of school, as you were crossing from the bus stop to the campus — cause in your mythical dream you’d have saved money on a car and taken the bus — that crossing the street you were hit by the big dump truck. (Hey if you can imagine a “college student saving money” then I can make “runaway dump trucks” materialize as well!)
Nope, that is why they are called “decisions”. One choice precludes (“cide” means to cut) all the others. You come to that proverbial fork in the road and you do a Yogi Berra taking one. Peck advices taking “the one less traveled”. You will never know in this lifetime what would have been if you’d gone down the other one. It’s all guesswork and speculation.
It’s a question philosophers have struggled with like forever. Duh! It’s really easy. The one you took was by definition the “best” one. Unless your were deluded, high, or defrauded, then you chose the one that your perceived “best” at the time. “Right” is left to the Intelligent Designer to decide.
So, I’d that the premise is flawed. Education is different and unlike other investments.
Interesting exercise though.
I don’t know if my Mom’s money and my time was well-spent by my education? Hope so. But, I don’t “know”!
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