On College Choice

Stephen Kreider Yorder & Isaac Yoder:

When we get lots of reader email, we know we’ve struck a chord. College choice is clearly a chord.
After our column discussing how much college is worth — and my plan to narrow my search to small liberal-arts schools — many readers agreed with us that getting the best-fitting education is the top priority.
Marina E. Marra from Tucson, Ariz., writes that her son, like me, “was very concerned about spending his parents’ money for a degree that can be purchased for less elsewhere. I, too, advised him that it is his job to be accepted at the best school possible with the best education and it is my job to figure out how to pay for it.” She adds: “There is an intangible element that isn’t apparent in a cost/benefit comparison among colleges, something that can be found only at smaller liberal-arts colleges.”
Others held that price should be a top consideration. “YES — Price DOES Matter!,” writes Pat Diamond, also of Tucson. “I can’t understand why either of you would consider going into debt for a college education when there’s the option of a perfectly good state university system that would provide an education equal to that of a small expensive elite liberal-arts college.”
An expensive education is fine if I know what I plan to do with it, writes Robert Lowrie of Georgetown, Texas. “To spend $48,000/year, and then not know what he’s going to do with the B.A. degree after four years, is insanity,” he says, suggesting that I “look into getting [my] bachelor’s degree at a less expensive state university, and then enter a small, probably more prestigious and expensive school for [my] graduate studies.”