Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fees at Carleton College, my alma mater

Academic Tuition Fees 2010-2011
Tuition: $41,076
Student Activity Fee: $228
Room: $5,676
20 Meal Plan (full board): $5,130
Total Due: $52,110

Absurd. If anyone asked for advice, I'd advise them to go elsewhere. Carleton is a fine school, but it's not worth $52000/year. A state school like Minnesota or Wisconsin would be about 1/3rd of that. I couldn't begin to justify the additional expense of going private.

Ann says: There are only three reasons to go private these days: 1) to get the name on the diploma, 2) choosing a network of friends, 3) being able to graduate in four years instead of 5-6. None of those are worth the $172,500 $224,600 (my math was wrong) Carleton or other high-end privates will cost to get through. (That's assuming 4 years at 5% tuition growth per year--when I was in school, the average increase was 8%.) Grinnell's 4-year cost at 5% growth per year is currently: $203,700.

If a student really has their heart set on a private, they should do a 2-year AB, then transfer in. Even that isn't worth it--especially if you have a soft major. And if you want to do a hard major like math, science, or engineering, you're better off with the larger facilities and opportunities of a state school anyway.

I come down on the side that young adults should walk away from school for a few years to decide what they want to do with their lives. Spending time being aimless at college, and spending a fortune doing it, really doesn't make any sense. You should only go to college these days if you have a real, concrete goal that requires a specific degree. (As long as you don't want to be yet another lawyer!)