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Investing in College

Investing in College

A Guide for the Perplexed

Malcolm Getz

ISBN 9780674030466

Publication date: 12/15/2008

College education is one of the most important investments a family will make. But between the viewbooks, websites, insider gossip, and magazine rankings, students and their worried parents face a dizzying array of options. What do the rankings really mean? Is it wise to choose the most prestigious school a student can get into? What are the payoffs of higher education, and, by the way, how do we pay for them?

In a unique approach to these conundrums, an economist and award-winning teacher walks readers through the opportunities, risks, and rewards of heading off to college. Warning against the pitfalls of numerical rankings, Malcolm Getz poses questions to guide a student toward not necessarily the best college but the right one. Famous professors suggest quality--but do they teach undergraduates? Are smaller classes always better? When is a state university the best deal around?

In a concise overview of decades of research, Getz reviews findings on the long-term returns of college education in different careers, from law to engineering, from nursing to financial management. Sorting through personal, professional, and institutional variables, he helps families determine when paying $40,000 a year might make sense, and when it merely buys an expensive rear window decal. He breaks down the formidable admissions game into strategies to improve the odds of acceptance, and he offers tips on tax breaks, subsidized loans, federal grants, 529 accounts, merit scholarships, and much more.

Shrewd and sensible, Investing in College is an invaluable resource and a beacon of sanity for college-bound students and the families who support them.


  • This is one of the most sensible guides to the college admissions process ever written, with a grasp of the money issues that no previous guide has had. Parents who worry about the rising price tag of college, who wonder what they are getting for their dollar, who want to know if College X is a better buy than College Y, will find Getz's well-supported arguments and data wonderfully revealing. But beware: he proves that for some of these good questions, there are no good answers, unless you are clairvoyant and can predict exactly what your child will be doing ten years after securing that expensive degree.

    —Jay Mathews, author of Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That Is Best for You


  • Malcolm Getz is Associate Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 5-1/8 x 7-15/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press