<p>My S was accepted to Bowdoin, we were surprised and pleased, until we saw the financial aid offer. I appealed, to no avail. My dear son loves the place and gets teary (imagine a 6'2" hockey player) every time we talk about what it will take to send him there. We are from the west coast and in the struggling middle class. If we all borrow and scrimp, we can come up with tuition, but he'll be totally on his own for graduate school. Is it worth it? He has offers from other good schools with much better aid.</p>
<p>I'd love to get some perspective on what an elite LAC can do for your kid.</p>
<p>An elite LAC can make it easier to get into a great graduate program.
Most graduate students self-finance, anyway, with a combination of school aid, loans, and TA jobs.
It could be argued that a student who is really happy at their perfect fit school might perform better as an undergrad and be more likely to get to grad school, too.</p>
<p>Every kid I know at Bowdoin loves it. What are the other choices? How much more is your family going to have to come up with to go to Bowdoin?</p>
<p>In my house, the parent plan is a 4 year undergraduate COA at a school. My plan is to send them to the best school for them as long as it was affordable for me. For my daughter, it is an elite LAC such as Bowdin. For my son, it was a large state flagship. I have no plans to finance grad school. I did give my kids a yearly budget of what I can afford. Anything over, they would have to find loans/grants/scholarships. Anything less, I would keep in reserve for them to use for grad school, buying a car, etc. If your son loves Bowdin that much I would try to find a way to make it happen if you can.</p>
<p>I think it depends on what he thinks he might want to do in four years. If he's staying in the NE then Bowdoin has some name recognition. If academically this particular college is significantly better in terms of academic talent and the profs then maybe. If he has equal caliber colleges on his list that are significantly less money then if we were the parents we'd probably say "no."</p>
<p>bopambo - it is really a tough decision when your child loves the school. Is he your only? If not, how do you handle this same thing when child #2 or #3 heads off to college. What about your retirement? Is there a strong second choice at all?
When my son fell in love with a school we sat down and ran through "Finance 101" with him, including his introduction to loan amortization. He made the decisions from there. Luckily we were very fortunate with FA and he will be able to go to his 1st choice but in order to sleep at night, I had to educate him in the hard reality of the financial situation. I tried to be as business like as possible when we did this and take the emotions out of it. In the end, he got it. He knew exactly what the aid needed to be and the reality of how much paying off student loans for 20 years would suck.
Sometimes giving these lessons as a parent is no fun.</p>
<p>"An elite LAC can make it easier to get into a great graduate program."</p>
<p>What is the evidence to support this proposition?</p>
<p>Do you have younger children that will also go to college? Will the Bowdoin costs require you to lower your contribution to retirement funding? Unless you have pensions where the income is more of a certainty, I'd strongly recommend against doing anything that would require you to reduce retirement contributions. Your son will survive not going to Bowdoin. Your retirement may not survive Bowdoin.</p>
<p>Did he apply and get accepted to some other strong hockey schools? (DU, one of the Minnesota schools,...) How were those financial packages? And, even at a number of the colleges, hockey players still have to shell out bucks for things not covered by the team -- costs for club hockey can be thousands a year. Have you included those costs, as well as the high cost of getting between California and Bowdoin at least three times a year?</p>
<p>Kids fall in love a lot. With other kids. With Porsches and Maseritis. And with really expensive colleges. Parents have to provide the reality check -- sometimes more important than the other kind of check.</p>
<p>Put aside the junk science about prestige. What he'd get is an experience and an education.</p>
<p>Grad schools, etc. admissions are grades and test scores and the blunt truth is that if he tests well enough to get into Bowdoin he'll likely test well enough. As for jobs, if we're talking high-end jobs then, for example, at a top tier consultancy a name can help get through a first screen but that's all. Bowdoin is not really that kind of name. It's a good name but let's say a kid from Pomona is also in the resume pool. Both are good schools and in both cases they'd look at the record for measures of achievement. In any event, the various levels of screens are pretty high and few get through. If we're talking ordinary jobs, then I can't see much of a difference as long as the school he attends is reputable and he comes off as smart and engaged and ambitious. </p>
<p>How much is the experience worth? That's your call. And it depends on the experience / education he'd receive elsewhere and how you value that. </p>
<p>Focus on the experience / education and that as a value equation to your family. There is no reason to go into a lot of debt for marginal difference.</p>
<p>Bowdoin is beautiful. For a student who is planning to go to graduate school, it is nice to get through undergraduate school debt free. We had the same struggle last year with different schools and DD followed the money. This year, if she needs money or wants to fly home for the weekend, we aren't scrambling to come up with the cash. She has a lot more flexibility for what she wants to do in the summer; this year, she is doing a language program instead of GETTING A JOB. She will graduate with no debt and no payback--like working for the government to pay back scholarship money. </p>
<p>We have a second child coming along. First child's decision will make it much easier for us to set parameters for the next one. If we only had one child, she would have gone to the top dollar school.</p>
<p>We live in Maryland and I never heard of Bowdoin until we started the college search. It is very regional.</p>
An elite LAC can make it easier to get into a great graduate program.
<p>And a top LAC can make it harder to get into a great graduate program. Doubt it? Talk to a student coming out of a top LAC with middle-of-the pack grades and see what his or her options are.</p>
<p>Bowdoin is a wonderful school. I work with quite a few graduates. They are very intelligent, well-educated people and liked their experiences there. Bowdoin boasts a few high-profile graduates such as the guy who started Netflix. My sister lives near the campus, and we've visited quite a few times. Brunswick is a nice college town.</p>
<p>I would say that in general Bowdoin is certainly worth the money, but you have to take your family's situation into consideration. Other posters have made excellent points. Best of luck to your son!</p>
<p>This discussion is really helpful! Thanks. He is our last child, the first is 10 years older and went to a great little LAC in the midwest on scholarships, but only wanted that school. This one has multiple choices Tufts, Colby, BC honors, Macalester, Whitman, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. We've put enough aside that he'd be debt free attending any of the rest and we'd survive retirement. Unfortunately we were going by that, "you'll know when it feels right" advice. When we went to admitted student's day I told him not to get emotionally involved until I'd talked to financial aid. Was I dumb. We had a great plan until we got to this bridge.</p>
<p>When you say borrow and scrimp, exactly how much borrowing and scrimping are you talking about. There's a big difference between graduating with 10,000 in loans and 50,000 in loans. Would the borrowing be yours or your son's or both?</p>
<p>I told mine that going to the $$ would impact her inheritance. We were looking at about a $200K difference over four years.</p>
<p>What are the FA packages in comparison to Bowdoin from Colby, Macalaster, BC and Tufts?</p>
<p>He's got great, great choices other than Bowdoin, and if all of them are more affordable for your family than Bowdoin is, then I'd put Bowdoin off the table. I've seen too many kids decide that the only college worth loving is one their parents can't really afford. I really hope you don't handicap your financial future (and his) by taking on more than your family can reasonably manage while still preparing for retirement.</p>
<p>And I'd have to say that outside of the Northeast (and perhaps even in the Northeast), BC, Tufts and Berkeley have a LOT more name recognition than Bowdoin does.</p>
This one has multiple choices Tufts, Colby, BC honors, Macalester, Whitman, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. We've put enough aside that he'd be debt free attending any of the rest and we'd survive retirement.
<p>Up until this line, I was thinking "Yes - Bowdoin is special. Bowdoin is worth it." But now I have to ask "That much more special than Tufts? Than Macalester? Than Berkeley?"</p>
<p>All these schools are special. If, in fact, he's developed an emotional bond with the only school on that list that puts you into debt and impacts your retirement, then that's not reasonable. He can have the quality of experience (and the quality of hockey) he's seeking at a number of these schools. And if the cost differential is truly significant, I think he should select one of the others.</p>
<p>Bowdoin is a wonderful school, but your son has a raft of great -- and very different -- choices. Did he visit any of the other schools? Have you tried to tease out what it is about Bowdoin that makes it so magical to him, and have you tried to help him evaluate which of his choices might share many of those "magical" qualities? Off the cuff, Bowdoin and Colby have a great deal in common. And Tufts, while not rural, is certainly LAC-esque and located in the Northeast.</p>