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Kids' Extracurricular Activities Are Burying Parents Under A Mountain Of Debt

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Replies to: Kids' Extracurricular Activities Are Burying Parents Under A Mountain Of Debt

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,450 Senior Member
    When my kids were little they could do anything they wanted as long as it was offered at school because they were in afterschool care. They went to girl scouts, choir, spelling bee, volleyball, basketball (sometimes those practices were later, at another church, coached by dads who also worked full time).

    I really don't know any kids who only do one sport. Even my one sport kid did other things with her friends like swimming, running, working out. She probably would have done more sports but two of her high schools charged a lot for sports so one didn't just do them for fun.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 970 Member
    @blossom There are, no question, people who are wasting ridiculous amounts of money of ECs for little kids, like $250 leotards for first year ballet kids. Actually, $250 leotards are a dumb idea at any age at any level.

    However, not all ECs are private tennis lessons or horse riding for 6 year olds. Many ECs are cheap or free, even music. Many ECs are associated with schools, so the kids just stay at school, and are picked up late. Others are provided by park districts and local organizations.
    Luckily, as academics, we had the flexibility to juggle our commitments so we could take our kid to dance lessons. However, these were only once a week in 2nd grade, twice at 3rd, three times at fourth, and then they were back to back, so it was never more than 3 times during the week, and once on weekends by the time she was in middle school. But then you find other families and car pool. Our babysitter took her sometimes, etc.

    However, I can say that dance has kept my D healthy and a lot saner than she would have been otherwise. If the trade off was dance or a more expensive college, we would vote for the cheaper college option, no question. In all honesty, I think that her dance experience training and focus were an important part of the characteristics which allowed her to successfully compete for her scholarship. Her social action ECs were why she was tapped for it, but without her years of dance I do not know that she would have won it.

    Of course, unless your kid has been engaged in the activity, AND is benefiting from it, there is no point in investing any time of money. If your kids is their 4th year of dance, and shows little to no interest, before, during, and after the lessons, it's time to do something else. Unless your kid is a prodigy, there is no point in spending thousands of of dollars on any EC. If your kid IS a prodigy, their school/club/etc will find ways to have the kid's expenses taken care of.

    Of course, playing outside is way underrated as an activity that is healthy and can provide all sorts of benefits. I did that a lot as a kid. The reason I went to college to study ecology was the hours and hours I spent chasing lizards in the open space around where I grew up. To follow up on what I found, I reached out to herpetologists, hung out around different people, etc. A kid can also create their own ECs, too.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,095 Senior Member
    edited May 13
    blossom wrote:
    Some people live in neighborhoods where a 7th grader can walk to the public library and others don't. Some people live in a neighborhood where an 8th grader can walk to a corner store for ice cream after school and then play in a park for an hour before heading home- and others don't.

    And some people live in neighborhoods where their kids can walk to school, the library, the corner store, and the park on their own, but still choose not to let their kids do things on their own.
  • CorralenoCorraleno Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    Question: Is there a correlation between not seeing the point of spending a lot (going into debt) on college and not spending a lot on ECs (kids' passions) when the kids are younger? Curious if there are people who have spent a lot on the latter but would balk at the cost of an expensive private. No judgments. If people have, I would be interested in hearing how those people assessed the value proposition of ECs for kids generally -- when do you know it is worth the money?

    Although we didn't go into debt, we did spend a LOT on my son's EC, especially the last two years when he was doing a lot of national and international competitions. But we certainly didn't go into it with an eye towards scholarships, or even recruitment, it was just something he was very focused and passionate about, and I felt that if he was willing to put in the work, then I was willing to provide whatever support he needed to go as far as he could with it. Even if he had chosen not to compete in college, I still wouldn't regret investing the time and money we did, because the personal growth and development, and the amazing experiences he had, were more than worth it.

    When it came to college decisions, he chose a substantial scholarship package (athletic + academic money) at an OOS flagship over several elite private options that would have been full pay. Although lower ranked overall, the school he chose is ranked higher for his major (top 10) than the private options, and he felt that spending an extra $250K+ just for the prestige of an elite name was not worth it. If his choice had been between a full-pay private that was tops in his major, vs a scholarship to a much lower ranked program that did not have the academic resources he wanted, he would have gone with the private, but that choice would still be based on academics, not prestige.
  • privatebankerprivatebanker Registered User Posts: 4,571 Senior Member
    My daughters roommate is a scholarship athlete at a d 1 school. It’s 20 to 30 hours a week minimum. Shorter breaks. Early to school in fall. Leave two weeks after everyone else for acc tournament.

    And none of the super perks like the holy trinity. Football basketball or men’s ice hockey.

    It’s a drag. Even if you love it.
  • CorralenoCorraleno Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    @privatebanker D1 sports are definitely a big commitment, but many top athletes train that many hours anyway, and they're used to juggling training, competition travel, and academics. Plenty of other students work part-time jobs while attending college, and there aren't many p/t jobs that will pay an 18 yr old anywhere from $25/hr to $100/hr, tax-free, to do something they love. (Plus athletes get "paid" even when they're sick or injured, unlike hourly employees.) There are definitely disadvantages, too, but for many kids the advantages significantly outweigh the disadvantages.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,450 Senior Member
    It's not tax free if it pays for room and board (which my daughter's did). I agree it was the best 'job' she could have had as a 17 year old and allowed her to go to the college of her choice.

    There are perks just like the football and basketball players receive - clothing, snacks, shoes, work out times at the gym, activities like community service. My daughter's boyfriend was also an athlete. I don't think I ever saw him in clothing that wasn't given to him by his coach - sweats and jackets and 1000 t-shirts.
  • CorralenoCorraleno Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    @twoinanddone That's true, any portion of the scholarship that goes towards R&B gets taxed. But the $140K or so that covers tuition/fees/books is tax-free, along with a lot of free clothes and equipment (S gets at least $1000 worth of Nike swag every year, x 4 years), free food, free tutoring if needed, etc. Not to mention all the "free" coaching, training, and travel that we used to have to pay for out of pocket!
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 6,046 Senior Member
    Son started an unusual and expensive EC in second grade. Once a week we had to go straight from school to the EC, eating dinner on the road and returning home at bedtime, all with his little sisters in tow. The commitment became greater as his training progressed.

    He's now a business owner, doing exactly what he started training for at the age of 8. I don't think he can imagine himself doing anything else. I've wondered what he'd be doing today if way back then we'd decided it was too much, which would have been a perfectly reasonable decision.
  • GKUnionGKUnion Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    My daughters roommate is a scholarship athlete at a d 1 school. It’s 20 to 30 hours a week minimum. Shorter breaks. Early to school in fall. Leave two weeks after everyone else for ACC Tournament.
    Corraleno wrote:
    D1 sports are definitely a big commitment, but many top athletes train that many hours anyway, and they're used to juggling training, competition travel, and academics.

    S22 is already living this life, as is our family, because he’s too young to drive.

    A normal week of training and competition includes 9.5 hours on the field, 2-4 hours in the gym and 10-13 hours of travel time(21.5-26.5 total hours per week). The last two weeks were anomalies because his team traveled a great distance by bus so he was gone from early Friday afternoon until very late Sunday night. Ironically, when he travels with the team we get to stream his game, but we, as parent, essentially get a free weekend to get other things done.

    He/we can’t always vacation when and where we’d like. It requires very advanced planning to work around his 10+ month schedule.

    If he were to make a D1 squad 3 years from now I’m confident he would be adequately equipped to acclimate to the training and travel requirements while maintaining his academic standards.

    Once he gets to college I’ll have so much free time I may get a second job...
  • bgbg4usbgbg4us Registered User Posts: 1,163 Senior Member
    just today neighborhood kid got a "likely letter" or whatever for a major sport at a HYPS school. Kid is phenomenal athlete; and smart. kid has played three different varsity sports in HS, never on any major travel teams, parents absolutely haven't gone broke, but is Very Athletic, and Smart. Parents are in disbelief!!!! and Thrilled!!!!! my point: pure athleticism and smarts can go a long ways. Practice, training and hard work all go into it as well.
  • TanbikoTanbiko Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    He probably just passed academic pre-read and got a promise of a likely letter as the actual LL cannot be issued before October 1st of the Senior year and it requires submission of a full application. (S procedures may be different).
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,450 Senior Member
    Stanford is a 'regular' D1 school and the student commits, academically, on the early signing date. They can issue any type of admission letter they like, but no scholarships until early signing date.

    I don't think the Ivies do early reads until July 1.
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