I have a close friend whose 17-year-old daughter is going to college to become a high-school band director. Her daughter wants to take out student loans to attend an expensive private school, and tuition alone over four years will cost $100,000. I feel this is a really bad idea, but I don’t know how to talk to her about this.
I’m sure your friend and her family are nice people. But what we’ve got here is a little teenage girl who has her heart set on something, and no one has told her no in a while. You’re getting ready to help introduce a new word into her vocabulary, because what you’ve described to me is stupid.
Listen, I love high school band directors. It just doesn’t make sense to spend over $100,000 on a degree to become one. Most of them make about $30,000 a year, so the return on investment for this kind of thing is terrible. It doesn’t matter if you’re a band director, English teacher or a doughnut shop owner, you need to figure out what you’re going to make versus what you spend to get there.
Make sure you talk to your friend directly, not her daughter. If you do that, you’ll end up branded as mom’s mean friend. Use your relationship and history together to help her see this is a train wreck waiting to happen. My suggestion would be for her daughter to live at home, work, and attend a community college for a couple of years. Then, when she transfers to a four-year school, make sure it’s a state institution and she keeps working.
The trick is to kindly and gently maintain enough influence to guide these two weak people away from a horrible decision. At the same time, you’ve got to be strong enough to call mom out for not stepping up and providing proper guidance. Mommies who don’t try to stop their babies from doing things this dumb are known as bad mommies. People who spend $100,000 to $150,000 to make the kind of money that’s waiting on her daughter are either young and inexperienced, or they’re what are known as fools.
I’m sure you’ll find a nice way to say it, but basically your friend needs to grow a backbone and tell her daughter no.
* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 6 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.