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Insecure Parents and Ivy League Degrees

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male graduate being congratulated by his father

In this season of grads and dads, I’ll admit that if any of my three children had followed their father’s example and chosen to study at Yale, I would have somehow scraped together the money to pay for it.

As it happens, they made other plans: graduating from a distinguished state university (University of Washington) or an excellent religious institution (Yeshiva University). The cost, less than one-fourth the burden of Ivy League tuition, raises questions of why so many families pay big money for that extra layer of prestige. In a new book, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni argues that $60,000 a year to attend institutions like Yale doesn’t pay off in educational or career terms.

But parenting is such a worrisome challenge that blue-chip degrees for your children can offer reassurance that you’ve done something right. Ultimately, character and goodness are far better indicators of success in life and parenting than Ivy League bragging rights.

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