Is an Ivy League Education Worth It?

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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“What’s an Ivy League gal like you doing with an Alabama boy like him?”

Freshman Book.jpg

Huh, was he talking to me? 


This is why I don’t go out to bars.


Some guys have no filter when they drink.


After a “productive” day of shopping with Jill who is home for Fall break, we stopped by the local sports bar to meet Andrew who was watching college football with a friend.


Par for the course, Andrew had met some new “friends,” including a professional who was obviously very proud about his own Ivy League education.


I didn’t bother to mention that Andrew grew up in Virginia and attended UVA. He is not a native Alabama boy. We met in law school at the University of Alabama.


With a daughter now off at college and another child close behind, the subject of a college education has been the subject of much discussion the past couple of years in our house.


I think Andrew and I have a fairly unique perspective having both attended what many people consider prestigious colleges.


Dartmouth was expensive when I attended 25 years ago ($30 grand/year at the time, much more now). I only recently paid off my student loans.


Was the education worth it? I cannot unequivocably say yes.


I met a lot of great friends in college, though I’m sure I would’ve made great friends at another (less expensive) college.


I did get a great education, though I’m sure I would’ve gotten a great education at another (less expensive) college.


I went onto law school (did I mention that I met Andrew there?) and passed the Florida Bar and became a practicing lawyer. 


And, here I am, with my own law practice loving what I do. 


And you know what? 


NO ONE ever asks me where I went to college. 


If anything, we talk about Alabama football.


I suppose if I wanted to work on Wall Street or go into politics, then my Ivy League attendance could possibly provide me with the connections to give me a boost in that direction.


Andrew and I have stressed to our kids that they can get a great education at virtually any college if they apply themselves.


And frankly, we are just not willing to go into debt again to send our kids to college. Nor do we want our kids to come out of college with student loan debt like I did.


With college costs skyrocketing (UVA out of state & Dartmouth are both $65K/year all in), our family is choosing the practical route.


We are grateful and fortunate that Jill received a four year full tuition scholarship to Alabama (believe you me, however, there are lots of other college expenses besides tuition!).


And with the money Jill is saving us in college costs, we’ll likely be in a position to help her out with grad school.


And you know what, Jill is receiving a kick-butt education in the business college there. She currently plans to go onto law school and if she does, frankly no one is probably going to care where she attended undergrad anyway.


I’m a very practical person. I try (though not always successfully my husband will tell you) to look at the big picture and base planning decisions from there.


*****Practicality is how I approach Family Succession Planning in my practice. What is my client trying to accomplish? Once we determine the end goal, we make practical planning decisions that will result in that goal coming to pass in the most economical way possible.*****


If Jill wants to go to law school, she needs to graduate from college with decent (preferably good) grades and do well on her LSAT test. Most law schools really don’t care where their students finished their undergrad.


So why go into a bunch of debt just to advance anyway (debt or not) to the next step in the proverbial game of Life?


Here’s some loving food for thought for my fellow parents who are stressed out about where their kids will go to college.


Your kids will get a great education wherever they go if they apply themselves. They don’t have to go to an Ivy League school, UVA, or an expensive private college.


Hey, if they get a scholarship to attend those places or have a rich uncle willing to pay for their college, then more power to them.


But it’s not the end of the world to not attend a “brand name” university with a price tag to match. 


And frankly, in today’s economy, I would challenge you that it’s just plain silly to incur $200,000 or more in student loan debt (yes, we know attorneys entering the work force with that much student loan debt).


At least that’s my unsolicited two cents worth. Happy Monday!


Kristen “Not an Ivy League Snob” Marks


P.S. Check out our Facebook Live broadcasts each ‪Tuesday at 11:00am on our Facebook page. Tomorrow I’ll be teaching parents how to leave their special needs needs children an inheritance without inadvertently jeopardizing their public assistance benefits. Mark your calendars and bookmark our Facebook page now.

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