We Know the Costs, but are Ivy League Educations Worth it?

For the most part, the past few years have meant contracts with several financial-based clients who require my attention to be focused on Wall Street, Jamie Dimon and the rise and fall of the American credit card. While I’m no financial whiz, nothing gives me greater pleasure than knocking Jamie Dimon down a notch or two when his narcissistic declarations get in the way of the big picture. And his narcissism is what I hope ultimately brings him down – but that’s for another post.

The next week is my “calm before the storm”. April 15 is creeping up on us and there are several big reports everyone’s waiting on from the government. That, along with the upcoming presidential elections and the highly anticipated ruling from the Supreme Court on Obamacare, is sure to make this summer quite interesting. For now, though, or at least, for the next week, it’s all about catching up on Rolling Stone, Cosmo and all those episodes of the Brady Bunch I’ve been careful to not delete from the DVR. And don’t judge me.

I couldn’t wait to read Janet Reitman’s piece in Rolling Stone, “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses“. This, of course, has to do with Andrew Lohse, a former Dartmouth frat boy who was also the editor of the student paper, The Dartmouth. He decided to open the doors to those secretive hazing episodes that has resulted in the deaths of several kids across the country. I’m always amazed that a group of college kids can keep the lid on their secret lives in the fraternity while the U.S. government can’t figure out how to keep Julian Assange quiet. Again, though, that’s for another post.

As Reitman tells the story, images of rather disgusting behaviors begin to surface. The things these kids are willing to do is disturbing and begs the question “Why?” I understand the obligatory answers: to belong, to be part of something greater, to be a “bro” – I get all of that; but seriously? As Lohse describes in his editorial, “I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beer poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks… among other abuses,” Who in God’s name would want to be a part of that brotherhood when the family you come from has the resources to send you to Dartmouth?

Here’s where I was able to link the incredulous story told by Reitman and Lohse. Earlier this week, the government released its own alarming report. In one of my recent posts for a client, here’s how I broke it down:

Did you know there is more than one trillion dollars owed in student loans? And did you know that figure continues to grow to the tune of almost $60 billion each month? It’s true. It’s also true that the delinquency rate is rapidly approaching the 30% mark. Of course, there are a lot of dynamics at play. The job market continues to struggle and college graduates are coming out of college with their degrees and no jobs to go into.

The icing on the cake is the realization that today’s college graduates are entering a job market where only 46% of the nation’s 18-24 year olds are employed. It hasn’t been this low since 1948, when the government began keeping up with the numbers. An ivy league degree isn’t really giving these young people an advantage. Unless you’re in New York or DC, or are willing to move out of the country, my guess is that noble Harvard or Dartmouth degree, while impressive, won’t amount to much, especially considering employers who see these educations on a resume will immediately dismiss the candidate because he knows his company can’t afford the applicant.

So, basically, we have a lot of frat boys who went to great lengths to “belong” to their brotherhood while gaining their ivy leave educations. Unfortunately, they’re going to struggle once those glory days are behind them and they realize that big bank or law firm that Daddy once ran is now in jeopardy. In hindsight, I wonder if it will occur to them that not only did all those vomit omelets do little more than place them in a so-called family that would allow that to happen, but that they’re also competing with people they never thought they would have to battle for a job. You know – the ones who took a bit more realistic approach to their futures and “settled” for a state university.

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