October 22, 2009

Private School Blues & What is a High IQ Worth Anyway

A dear friend and I had a long discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of private school. The premise of this discussion was whether private schools offer a real and significant advantage over public schools.

It is a timely question. Both of us have children attending private schools. Both of us are public school graduates. Both of us have done ok for ourselves professionally. We may not be wildly successful and or bathed in wealth, but we are ok.

As responsible parents we are interested in doing everything that we can to help our children. Education is of paramount importance to us. We want our kids to have the best that they can possibly get. Material things can be taken from you, but a good education stays with you forever.

There is no disagreement between us about this. The real question that we struggle with is the financial aspect of paying for school. It is a significant sum and one that you cannot ignore, at least we can't. So we sit there and ask ourselves how to truly evaluate our investment in the kids' education.

Private school tuition requires making sacrifices. In concept I haven't any issue with doing so to help my children.Why would I. In reality though it has been a rough road at times and a weight upon my shoulders. It means that I have to put off retiring for a while.

It is kind of funny. At 25 I put money into my 401k without really thinking about. I did it because I knew that it was smart, but retirement was so far off I couldn't picture. At 40 I think about it differently. I am much more conscious of the passage of time.

Don't get me wrong I don't mind making sacrifices for the children, provided that they make sense. Private school doesn't just impact my retirement. I can't take the family on some of the vacations we would like to go on. I have a more modest home than I would otherwise own.

At the moment I am comfortable with my decision because the local public school is absolutely abysmal and moving hasn't been a viable option. But this is a marathon. The dark haired beauty is in kindergarten. Her brother is in third grade.

It won't be that long before it will be time to worry about a Bar Mitzvah, let alone the Bat Mitzvah that will follow.

Circling back a moment I look at private school and I ask myself what is necessary to help my children be successful in life. On a side note it is probably worth taking time to establish what the definition of success is. I posit that this is subjective and that there isn't necessarily going to be a uniform agreement about that.

For the purpose of this post I'll say that success is doing something that you find to be fulfilling.Ideally that thing is something that pays the bills. If you love your work life is much easier, but that is a different topic.

I am reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The book delves into success and why some people attain it and others do not. It is an interesting book and one that I am enjoying. He spends time discussing how it is that certain people become superstars in their field and why others do not.

Thus far three things have really caught my attention:

1) Natural ability isn't enough. Sometimes you just have to be good enough.
2) Luck and opportunity have a real impact.
3) It takes about ten thousand hours to become an expert in a particular field/task.

Got to get back to work. More on this later.

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