I kinda think the opposite is true. My parents couldn't afford to help pay my college at all, but if they had I would have felt a huge burden to do well. Since I was paying for it myself, I felt more like a customer. If I wanted to skip class or skate by with a C, it was no one's business but mine because I was paying for it.
On the flip side, I was probably more inclined to buy used books and supplies than I would have been if my parents paid for it. Also, I felt more freedom to choose my classes and major. If they had been footing the bill, I would have felt obligated to study what they wanted me to (law).
I'm another one with a similar anecdote. My parents did
pay for all my tuition, room, board, books, and food (state school, lived away from home, but same state). But I had to earn my own spending money. At the time, I always felt like I had to work that much harder, because I didn't want to disappoint them. I knew they were giving me a ton of money, and probably couldn't have afforded to do so if I had siblings. It's been over 10 years since I graduated, but I distinctly remember feeling that I'd probably have lower grades if I was paying myself.
My wife's parents were/are pretty wealthy, and sent her to a private out of state school. She loved
the experience, made a lot of great lifelong friends, etc. So she wants the same for our kids, i.e. basically an open checkbook policy. I'm pushing for a compromise where we agree to cap our contribution at the cost of a degree from a state university.
I found the discussion about "is a college degree really necessary" quite intriguing. I'm in my mid-30s, and my parents are in their late 50s. From my parents' perspective, a college degree was a huge
deal to them. I can only imagine that that sentiment is shared by many people of their generation---many of whom are still working and in hiring manager positions. My dad always used to tell me that when he first entered the workforce (fresh out of college), his peers (most of whom didn't have a degree) expected him to know everything
because he did have a degree. Growing up, there was always the expectation that I would go to college--it wasn't even questioned.
Another thing I've noticed: at my previous job (huge Fortune 100 manufacturing company), nobody in my area would even be considered for a position without a college degree. That was the policy. Furthermore, people with a Master's degree immediately got a pay bump. That place also did tuition reimbursement, so before I left, I actually started working on my MBA (I was single at the time, nearly free tuition and a pay increase, why not?).
At the company I'm at now, not only are people without degrees not considered, but generally the degree needs to be from a highly-ranked university (MIT, Stanford, CMU, etc). I was able to lift this restriction for a few positions that we needed to fill. So I interviewed a fair number of people that either had no degree or only associates degrees or had certifications from technical schools and the like. I hate to sound elitist, but eventually I stopped even bringing those people in, because they were consistently lower-quality candidates. I know it's a single anecdotal experience, but that's what I saw.
On the other hand, back at my previous company, I worked with someone for whom I have a ton of respect. He did have a bachelor's degree, but not from a "prestigious" school (budget state school). Yet he was super smart, highly motivated, great communicator, and an all-around pleasure to work with or just shoot the breeze. He left BigMegaCorp shortly after I did to start his own business. Last I talked to him, he was doing well and enjoying life.
So I often ask myself, if I owned my own business and needed to hire people, what would I do? The problem is, if you've ever been in a position to solicit resumes, you'll receive so many it practically becomes a full-time job to simply review them. It would be literally impossible to do an in-person interview for even 1/10th of applicants. At former BigCorp, I participated in a college recruiting career fair. I can't remember how many resumes we actually collected, but I remember sitting in a room with three or four others, and spending hours
just doing a first-pass on the resumes, i.e. pruning the pile of 100s down to a manageable pile of dozens that we'd actually take the time to look at more closely.
Another random observation: my degree was in Computer Science. I feel I learned a ton getting my degree, and am certainly better at my job because of it. Virtually everything in my degree can be easily learned via the web and/or library. But back then, I know I lacked the discipline to study and practice everything (in terms of depth and breadth) included in my degree. Even now, I might struggle with completing such an effort without an external structure in place. But that's just talking about my "core" classes, i.e. the real guts of my CS degree. I took a few forced electives that were moderately interesting, but I don't think they've helped me in any way in my post-college life. In that respect, it's kind of like money wasted---why force me to pay tuition on classes that have no real relevance to my degree?
Now, while in college, I did an "application sequence" in MIS (management information systems). In short, I basically took a bunch of classes offered by the business college, i.e. classes that would be part of a curriculum for MBA types. At the time, the information was at best marginally interesting, but mostly seemed like a lot of crap---just a bunch of fancy terms for simple stuff (think Dilbert
). But when I started working at BigCorp, I actually saw the relevance of that information.
My take was that the whole MBA "ecosystem" would probably best served by experience first
, then formal learning. At least for me personally, it was hard to relate to the information presented in those business classes, and therefore hard to get it to sink in. But once I'd been in the "real world" and actually practiced some of that, it made a lot more sense.
My point is, it seems like the standard order of things---school, then work---probably doesn't make sense for all fields. It definitely made sense for me with regards to computer science. But it broke down with business classes. Again, just my personal experience, but it seems reasonable that this would apply to many fields out there; that is, perhaps some real-world experience should come before formal book learning.