In an earlier post, I discussed some of the nightmares I experienced at a public college in Memphis. If I'd had the money at the time, I would have applied to a private college there. Ideally, I would have attended Rhodes College, one of the more elite schools in Memphis which has beautiful Gothic architecture with stained glass windows. I recently looked at Rhodes' website, and although it still seems like a very good school, the costs make me wonder if I really regret not going.
The tuition is $34,000 a year, meaning that a four-year degree at this college costs $136,000. If I had gone to this college, I'd now be wondering what other things I could have done with the money. If it was invested with a 10% return, it would produce $13,600 per year, and as a frugal person, I could live well on that. $136,000 is also enough money to buy a house outright, and would therefore mean not having a rent or mortgage payment each month. Being the single biggest expense in most households, getting rid of this expense is a giant leap towards financial independence.
There's also the question of whether or not it makes sense to pay all that money for an education when the contents of it are available cheaper elsewhere. For the past few months, I've been maintaining a list of free online textbooks on this website, and I'm frequently amazed at how much stuff is out there. If I attended a brick-and-mortar college at this point, I'd feel foolish for spending money on something that I know I can get for free. Not to mention the fact that it's easier to get information online at my own convenience rather than having to go to classes at a set time.
Last but not least, there's always the never-ending supply of college horror stories. My latest find is The Five Year Party, a blog written by a former journalism professor at one of the "party colleges," who gave up after a twelve-year teaching career. His blog is filled with horror stories, and he's also written a book about his experiences. It's well worth a visit if you're considering a brick-and-mortar college.
All in all, I'm glad to be doing college homeschool-style. Although I was never in the position to apply to a private college, I'm beginning to think that it was a blessing in disguise. Amongst other things, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog, and I always enjoy seeing what cheaper alternatives there are to the traditional college experience.