Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Gives Rich Private School Graduates Hope And Pride

Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Gives Rich Private School Graduates Hope And Pride

One of my biggest worries as a parent is whether I'll mess up my son's life by sending him to private school instead of public school. If you go to private school, there will be much more pressure for you to succeed. For if you end up doing the same thing your public school counterpart does, then what's the point?

The Debate Between Private School And Public School

I'm fortunate enough to have a choice. But sometimes, more choices mean more headaches and possible wrong decisions.

I went to an international private middle school when my parents were stationed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as US foreign service officers. The cultural experience was amazing.

But I was also surrounded by a lot of extremely wealthy kids who had drivers and mansions in the hills. There was a innate aura of privilege that I was apart of which made me lazy.

My friends had parents who either owned successful businesses or held high paying jobs. Many of my friends didn't study very hard because they knew that through their parents' connections, they would get choice jobs after graduation. That, or they'd simply get a job at their parents' company and eventually take over the business.

Public School For High School In America

After four years in Malaysia, I came to the US for high school and attended a public school. Public school is where I learned to become more independent and how to deal with many of life's realities.

In the US, some of my high school friends lived in government housing. I had to fight back against bullies and find ways out of hairy situations more times than I can count.

In high school, I got suspended a couple times for fighting back. Some of the kids I hung out with smoked, drank, and shoplifted. I sometimes did the same.

The cast of characters was much more diverse in public school than in private school. But they were a closer reflection of society once I graduated.

I'd like to think that attending public school is what made me into a gritty person who never backs down from conflict. I want to believe coming from an underdog status helped me fight harder to achieve financial independence.

After college, I always used to carry a chip on my shoulder that motivated me to work harder in banking because I had attended a public university instead of an elite target private institution like many of my colleagues.

Without a financial safety net, for me, it was either drown or swim across the ocean to the promised land.

Democratic Socialist AOC Gives Private School Alumni Hope

After seeing some amazing private grade schools in Honolulu and in the SF Bay Area, I want to send my boy to one of these schools if he feels comfortable. All these schools have wonderful teachers, reputations, and campuses.

Further, these schools have a zero tolerance for bullying. Gosh I can't stand bullies and the parents who allow their children to bully.

But I'm conflicted because I fear that by going to private school, he'll come to believe the private school environment is a true reflection of the real world. With its massive skew towards wealthy families, clearly, the private school demographic is not.

Further, there seems to be a growing distaste for rich and powerful people in America. Hence, the importance of practicing Stealth Wealth.

Developing Grit In Our Children Is Important

Is it appropriate for a parent to take away the development of grit and hunger? Providing a completely sheltered environment feels wrong.

The conflict within me became almost unbearable until I witnessed the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Congresswoman of New York's 14th District.

Say what you will about AOC's policies, she is an incredible success story as the youngest person to win a congressional seat. I know some 28-29 year olds still living at home with the parents trying to figure life out.

As I learned more about her, I discovered that she attended one of the most expensive private universities in America: Boston University. Check out the latest tuition below.

Boston University Tuition Is Outrageous For Average People

Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Gives Rich Private School Graduates Hope And Pride

Boston University costs roughly $70,000 a year to attend + other related expenses equaling another $7,000. One must make roughly $100,000 in gross income a year just to pay for one year at Boston University.

For comparison, Harvard University tuition is approximately $45,000 a year, or $7,800 cheaper than Boston University's tuition.

Very few can comfortably afford such tuition. Even if you have loans and grants, deciding to attend Boston University over higher-ranked Harvard, MIT, or Boston College must mean something.

Growing up in a working-class household, I assume AOC received grants and financial aid to help with college tuition.

Most people would rather attend Harvard University for $7,800 less than Boston University. But of course, only students of legacy donors have a 70%+ chance of getting into Harvard. Students with no wealth or connections only have roughly a 5.9% chance of getting in.

You Can Still Be Relatable To The Middle Class If You Are Rich

So I got to thinking, despite going to one of the most expensive universities in the country that's ranked #42 in US News & World Report, AOC has been able to position herself as a woman of the people.

Not only have the working-class people of New York's 14th district embraced AOC, so has the social media world. AOC is the #2 most popular politician on Twitter after Donald Trump.

I’ve read zero pushback online about AOC going to expensive BU, and neither will you because AOC is an inspiration also for the middle class and poor.

Therefore, AOC's example proves that just because you went to an expensive private university, it doesn't mean you are destined to become the stereotypical spoiled rich kid. Nor does it doom you to end up lazy and unmotivated.

Reputation Management Strategies For Private School Alum

If you are going to spend a fortune on sending your kid to private grade school and/or university or if you are a private school alumni, here are some strategies that may allow you or your kid to thrive like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

1) Embrace your privilege.

The best way to defuse other people's bitterness towards you is to come straight out and recognize your privilege. Acknowledge full-on that you were smart and/or wealthy enough to attend private school. As soon as you point out all your advantages, you've taken away their thunder.

Every time someone attributes any success I have to luck rather than to hard work or risk-taking, I agree with them that most of my success is luck. I then take it a step further and describe how fortunate I am to live in America as an Asian person.

After all, the overrepresentation of Asians at America's top universities must mean that Asians must be extremely lucky in academics.

Because I'm Asian, I'm blessed with nonstop creativity. Further, being Asian gives me incredible endurance. We are the champions of meditating for long periods of time. If I wasn't Asian, I'm not sure I'd be able to publish 3X a week for 10 years in a row on Financial Samurai.

Given only 5.6% of the American population gets to be Asian, I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this select group.

2) Take on student loans to feel the sing.

Whether you need to take on student loans or not, it's best to take on some student loans so you can blend in with the millions of graduates who do have student loans. Of course, don't take on a crazy amount of debt. It has to be enough to notice, but not enough to bring you down.

Student loans are a big problem in America. The $1 trillion+ amount in student loans has now surpassed the amount of revolving credit card debt, the most insidious debt of them all. Even filing for bankruptcy does not absolve you from repaying your student loan.

Student loans have delayed millions of young adults from launching. They're forced to live at home with their parents, take suboptimal jobs, delay buying a house, and delay starting a family.

The median age for starting a family has gotten older, but biology has not adjusted. As a result, many more couples are finding themselves seeing infertility doctors, trying IUI and expensive IVF treatments, and going through countless cycles of hope and heartache.

3) Work minimum wage jobs to appreciate your education and work.

Meanwhile, it's imperative you spend a respectable amount of time working a minimum wage or close to minimum wage service job. By working as a barista, burger flipper, dish washer, driver, bartender, waiter, furniture assembler, gardener etc, you adhere yourself to the common person.

Nobody will be able to say you don't know what it's like to get yelled at while making next to nothing. Instead, you will feel the pride of busting your butt for a living. You will learn humility and never take any progress for granted.

Make no mistake about it. The skyrocketing cost of higher education is hurting the American dream. If you are privileged enough to attend and afford a private school education, it is imperative you do not stick out and blend in.

4) Do something more for society.

One of the saddest things about being rich and smart is that so many rich and smart people end up working at jobs purely for the high pay and prestige. Then they end up depressed and miserable.

Going to work at a tech company to optimize ad tracking seems like such a waste. Creating pitch books at an investment bank to win teenager-targeted tobacco alternative maker Juul's business can't feel very good.

Of course, if you don't come from a wealthy family, by all means, get the highest paying job you can find to get your financials in order. But if you're already rich, then come on now.

Imagine a world where all rich and smart private school kids became teachers, social workers, scientists, doctors or politicians like AOC who want to help the people who've been left behind in this competitive world? That would be pretty amazing.

We don't need more billionaires who hoard more than they could ever spend in a lifetime while residents in their city are starving. Here in San Francisco, we've got 74 billionaires, yet we still have a tremendous homeless problem. What is going on?

Personally, I continue to want to educate the public about money with Financial Samurai. I've been publishing 3-4 times a week every week since 2009. Further, I've got a great book coming out with Penguin Random House entitled, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom.

I strongly believe BTNT will be the best personal finance book on the web.

Buy This Not That Book Best Seller On Amazon

Private School Kids Will Be Fine

If you went to private school or plan to send your kids to private school, I wouldn't worry too much about future backlash as AOC's case demonstrates.

All of our major politicians went to private school, yet millions of working-class people still voted them into office and adore them.

If you can afford to pay private school tuition for your child, go for it. I don't think you'll ever regret spending money on trying to help your child's future.

I want to thank AOC and the American people for shedding light on a very big blind spot of mine.

No longer do I feel guilty about sending my son to private school. The world is full of love for all people, no matter their socioeconomic background.

Related Posts On Private School:

The Evolution Of AOC's Net Worth

Would You Accept $1,000,000 To Go To Public School Over Private School?

Readers, are you impressed with AOC's ability to position herself as a Democratic Socialist after attending Boston University? If you went to an expensive private school or come from a wealthy family, what are some strategies for making yourself be a man or woman of the people? Did you also just realize that nobody really cares if you went to an expensive private school?

About The Author

135 thoughts on “Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Gives Rich Private School Graduates Hope And Pride”

  1. “Take on student loans and work a minimum wage job. Whether you need to take on student loans or not, it’s best to take on some student loans so you can blend in with the millions of graduates who do have student loans.”

    I like the reasoning behind taking a minimum wage job but telling folks, especially young folks, to intentionally take on debt-especially for the purposes of being worried about what people think of you is irresponsible and stupid. It wreaks of insecurity and feeds an insecure mindset. It’s advice I can only imagine a banker would give. Here’s an alternative; pick a school you can afford (maybe 1st 2 years at a community college along with staying at home rather that wasting thousands of dollars on on-campus housing) based on what you make working 20-30 hours a week (studies show these kids get higher grades) and applying for every scholarship you can find. Do this and you’ll avoid significant debt.

    1. Maybe. Nothing is ever really completely stupid. There’s always a positive to a negative situation.

      It is often the mistakes and the hardships and the different perspectives that make people stronger over time.

  2. Mom in Training

    I am a product of both. Private school K through 9 in California then public school in Honolulu. At the time it was the #1 ranked public school in Honolulu. College I did both – public institution for undergrad (full scholarship) and private for graduate school (full sponsor from employer).

    I am not the smartest kid in class, never was. But I do well enough. My children attend private school because they are only children once and it is important to us for the children to have a Biblical foundation early in their learning path. We believe that our responsibility is to raise ethical and responsible adults. They will have a choice to attend public school in 7th grade through 12th. By then there is no controlling what our kids do, we just have to hope that what we’ve instilled in them by 13 years old will be enough to guide their decisions through jr. high and high school.

    Both public and private schools produce talented and bright students. What really matters are the teachers who cross their paths and the people who surround those children as they are growing up.

  3. dude, nice website. i’ll have to check in here a little more often. i’ll give you a little background and my public/private experience. i was a kid from the sticks on the NY/VT border. dad was a prison guard and mom stayed home. that was typical at that time. i don’t think we ever travelled more than 50 miles from home when i grew up and the only real option was the public high school with about 60 grads per year. to make a long story short i was a decent track/x-country athlete (not elite by an means) and pretty bright and got accepted to BU, cornell, and everywhere i applied. i ended up at old dominion for a couple of years on a full ride. it was a good school but norfolk in the 80’s sucked and probably still does. we crashed a couple of parties at w+m and that place looked sweet! there were definitely some dummies at o.d.u. and gigantic classes except for the honors classes. i transferred to one of those elite northeast private schools but was culturally like a fish out of water. it’s not that i wasn’t well accepted but i didn’t relate to the boarding school types, not even the runners. with all that the quality of teaching was much better for my chemistry degree. they really cared that everyone understood the material. i left as a full time student due to wanderlust and finished there as an adult with my employer picking up that expensive tab. if i had to pick a school today i would go to williams.

    1. Pretty exciting actually. Like the promises of Fyre Festival! :)

      I left work in 2012 because I was unwilling to work no more. Does the #GreenNewDeal mean I can go back to work without having to work and still get paid? Who’s got it better than us? Go #USA!

  4. “I know some 28-29 year olds still living at home with the parents trying to figure life out.”

    What happens if this is me? Does that make one a *BAD* or *WORSE* human being as a result? And I did not come from a privilege background, rather something closer to the opposite, and actually ended up hitting walls and limits toward educational opportunities instead of being sent to elite private schools. What happens to the people who did *NOT* hit it well when “younger”? Are they *worse* people for that? If you don’t get to be the top politician then are you a much, much worse human being? Does the *magnitude* make you good or bad, or does what’s in the heart, the motivation, the purity (or lack thereof) of the actions? What would someone in this position need to do to be a *genuinely great* human being? And I am not just, in fact not at all, talking about money. Plenty of people are rich but far from “great”. That’s not what I mean and in fact my query thus kind of divests from what this site is about in this regard. What I mean by it is how to be a truly maximal force for actual good in the world, to be a truly *good person*, *if* that’s what that means or if it does indeed factor in at least, what do you need, to go from where I’m at (also 2 years away from graduating from a no name University on top of that, too, and with mental health issues still being worked on, and also never having properly learned the habit of good discipline and work ethic until just perhaps beginning to rather recently)?

    Nice job on realizing and acknowledging however that this celeb was, indeed, privileged. But the problem here is not appearing to explicate, then, what this should suggest to people who *failed* – for whatever reasons you want to adduce or not as to why – to meet this “standard”. What does it suggest to them? As you say she’s supposed to speak to the “middle class and poor” as well but doesn’t seem to to me, because I haven’t a clue as to how to go that far and nobody else seems to either. It seems almost like magic is required. And if you’re not going to go or it is impossible to go, that far, then there’s no point in bothering with such a person as your “inspiration” when someone significantly less prominent might make a much better one by setting a bar that actually can be reached, and moreover people should not be faulted or considered worse people either because they did *not* have such privileges and thus did *not* do things with similar *magnitude*.


  5. Sam,

    First time here and enjoyed it. I’m a mix of public and private and think I’m smarter than the average bear, however, your bio is a little confusing to me:

    Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 as a way to make sense of the financial crisis. He proceeded to spend the next 13 years after attending…

    my math says it should be 2022 now based on your bio versus 2019. I’ll subscribe for more, thanks for an interesting site.

      1. That’s how it appears when viewing the site on my iPhone. I just checked again and confirmed it’s the same. I do see the difference now while using my work laptop.

        I can send a screen shot of the whole thing if that helps.

  6. Growing up, I attended public schools all over the country. My family was military, so some of those were DoD schools overseas. A DoD overseas teaching assignment was highly sought after in the 1980s, so they tended to attract the best teachers in the country. Coming back stateside, the public school situation was different; I found myself ahead of my peers in most subjects and taking more advanced classes.

    I chose to follow my father’s example and join the military as an officer out of college; I attended one of those “cheap” state universities, but one with a very high reputation in the military community. I remember attending a small gathering for cadets with alumni who had gone on to become leaders in academia and business. One individual had been a fighter pilot, and he described something that has stuck with me to this day; his experience with a particular Harvard grad, whom he fired for not producing results.

    Now my daughter attends public school, and will likely do so until she graduates. She has special needs, and it happens that the private school reputation in that particular educational niche is… not stellar. Which is fine; it just means I need to be her unfair advantage and I can’t hide my parental failings behind a giant pile of cash and iPhones. I don’t worry about people who went to fancy schools, as long as they can pull their weight we’ll get along just fine.

      1. Good question! Alas, he did not related the specifics. I don’t even remember the industry, this happened 20 years ago. Two things I do remember: his anecdote about the Harvard grad and his description of what it was like to fly the F4 Phantom (it was a “hoot”). Education and connections can open doors. It takes initiative to go through them and hard work to stay on the right side of them.

  7. Northwest Islander

    Send a spoiled rich kid to college, public or private, and s/he will likely come out…still a spoiled rich kid. The world will react to him or her accordingly.

    I grew up lower middle class in an urban neighborhood, before gentrification. My schools had gang problems and homeless attendees. I learned to engage with a broad spectrum of humanity and to understand/respect a broad spectrum of human experience. The fancy degrees I learned years later did not strip me of this quality.

    I don’t understand this post at all. Possibly a privilege of my upbringing!

  8. “Further, these schools have a zero tolerance for bullying. Gosh I can’t stand bullies and the parents who allow their children to bully”

    hahahahahaha. Sorry, if you really believe that “zero tolerance” means there will be no bullying, or that bullies will be dealt with harshly in all cases is fantasy.

    Reality is that overt bullying (like physical intimidation, clear social media abuse) will not be tolerated. But frankly, that is become rare due to interventions that happen proactively in most public and private schools. However, more subtle bullying is rampant in both cases. It can take forms you might not notice. Some kids don’t get social invitations, are subtly excluded from playdates, birthday parties, at lunch, on the playground. That behavior can be cruel, and can’t be dictated by the schools.

    Further, you can be guaranteed that the child of a big money donor will be given a much longer leash when they instigate conspicuous or inconspicuous bullying. If there is one constant, it is that people with means are given more latitude for poor behavior.

    I agree there are academic (and other) benefits of private schools, but having a realistic expectation is important, and from what and how you wrote this, I am not sure you do have realistic expectations

    (as background, we have 2 children, 20 and 17 years old, they both went to private pre-school, and public grade and middle schools. My oldest went to a Magnet public high school that was quite restrictive (2-3 students from each of 21 school districts in the county covering ~8000 students his age), and my daughter is at our town’s high quality high school. Despite the quality of our town’s high school, approximately 15% of families -including many of our friends- send their kids to private or parochial high schools instead of our high school, despite tuition of >$50K/year)

    1. Zero tolerance does it mean no bullying. It means zero tolerance. So if the kid is found bullying, he or she is sent to counselors to figure out what’s going on. If the kid and the parents don’t comply, they are booted from the school.

  9. Public/private, ivy league /state U. That all matters very little compared to engaged, loving parents whose goal is raising moral and prepared adults. Great parents aren’t raising children, they are growing them into responsible adults. Your son is a fortunate one because he has focused parents, as did my kids. Where they go to school, not that important as your success and character demonstrates quite well.

  10. Whenever I see the picture of AOC either here or on TV, it keeps reminding me the communists are coming.

    1. Agreed. It is amazing how people never learn. I heard old Bernie Sanders was accosted recently flying first class – life is nice as a socialist. In the USSR, nobody had anything, at least the plebs, while the politically connected had access to international capital and perqs and lived large in comparison while the black market / barter town overtook the formal economy as the poor regular folks struggled to feed themselves…old Orwell was right, totalitarianism comes from the left not the right and not all animals are equal as some are more equal than others under the Communist yoke….sound familiar, Venezuela? Oh wait, it will be different next time. :)

  11. I found the apologetics in this article annoyingly opportunistic. Please do yourself a favor and stop denying that you were ever going to do anything but send your child to private school. Worrywarts will always minimize risk taking (i.e. rolling the dice with the public school system) and you sir are a worrywart.

  12. They are just hugely different – first time somewhat on your own for kids, having to navigate food and shared spaces with other people. It can be very stressful for everyone. In this regard, private vs public colleges tend to be the same. Plus, private colleges aren’t known for being better at educating as is thought to be the case with private lower schools – often times, private unis are just religious or single gender, or their private status can be tied back to one of those things.

    I don’t think any path to higher ed is better or worse, I think the public v private debate is just location dependent.

    In VA, there are places where the public schools are definitely better than the private ones. There is also a private school that costs more than my law school in terms of tuition, and the kids that go there do not fare well later in life for lack of ever having to actually do something themselves. Yet all the wealthy Richmonders continue to send their kids to what is truly a magnificent facility thinking it better prepares them – only to have their kids go to the exact same schools as the kids from the public high school they shunned. And this is another factor, VA’s higher ed schools are so good that there is no reason to go private except for the 2 factors listed above for in state schooling.

    Public v private really just boils down to how well the state is currently funding education where you are and which type of school helps your kid best, but I do think there is something to be said about the way public schools (usually the bigger ones like hs) expose kids to different income levels, and I think that is important.

    For me, I did public grade school and uni, then private law school. There was a distinct bubble of private kids at both college & law school who had no connection to the real word. In both, there were also private kids who were very grounded and thoughtful about their opportunities. Both my public undergrad and private law school experiences were identical to what I would have had at a private uni or public law school.

    1. Wealthy Richmonders, tell me more! Is that where you’re from? I think one of the Choose FI podcast hosts when to U of Richmond. Is that considered a rich person school?

      Give it and I wanted to save myself and my parents money, I always just looked at the University of Virginia, James Madison, Mary Washington, and The College of William and Mary.

      I never considered private school because the cost was literally eight times greater at the time. The college of William and Mary cost $2800 a year in tuition.

      1. I find it interesting that Virginia has SUCH good schools given that’s where the majority of our government workers/Congressmen live. Once again, they choose to reap the rewards of the taxpayers money. Just not fair…

  13. Not sure if you meant it this way with all the tongue-and-cheek, but you can’t really compare private K-12 outcomes to private university. If you didn’t go private for some part of K-12, then you aren’t really a “private school kid” with all that term implies; there is just too much of a difference in terms of insulation from the real world.

    P.S. Go tribe!

    1. There are plenty of upscale towns in which the schools are exactly like private schools — it’s just that the property owners in the town are paying the tuition, and keeping their property values up at the same time.

      Private is a state of mind.

    2. Go Tribe!

      What are some reasons why one cannot compare private grade school and private college? What is the difference between comparing private grade school to public grade school and private college to public college?

      Do you think it’s better to go to private grade school and then public college or vice versa?

  14. Just out of curiosity what does being Asian have to do with being creative or endurance? Couldn’t we say the same for Africans? Or was that more a tongue in cheek joke that didn’t translate over text medium well?

    Either way my hope is to move and buy a home in the best school district in SD and then send my kid to public school until college. Best way to save money and still get a good quality education!

    1. Not sure, because I can only speak for myself as an Asian person. There must be something to being Asian given the highest income levels in America are by Asians and the Harvard lawsuit detailed much higher SAT test scores necessary for Asians to get in, even though there are already 4-5X more Asians at Harvard compared to the national average of Asians in America (20-25% vs 5.6%).

      What would you attribute to these facts to if not for genetics? Everybody can work hard, so that’s not a competitive advantage. So perhaps the endurance claim I’ve made is a fallacy.

      What race are you? And what do you think are some of the competitive advantages of your race?

      And yes, I’m being a little facetious because I believe all people are equal but with unequal opportunity.


      1. You sound like an Asian supremacist. :) Luckily you can get away with it. If and when you have a second child, you will cast aside your indoctrination that genetics don’t matter and everyone has the same innate abilities across the board. While environment plays a role, genetics play a larger role in cognitive and behavioral traits…the science is speaking and can only be silenced by the modern day Church of the Left for a finite period of time. While people should be valued equally, and we should strive to give everyone the same starting point, pretending everyone has the same innate capabilities is patently absurd. The probability of all human abilities being distributed evenly across populations that have been evolving for tens of thousands of years in different environments is about as unlikely mathematically as the bible being literally true. Just because there are small average differences resulting in large disparities at the tails – e.g. Caltech, the only truly egalitarian school left in the USA, being 40% North Asian and the NBA being 80% African/African-American – does not mean we have to hate each other for these differences. Just embrace the diversity!!! :) Check out Steve Hsu blog if you dare.

      2. Independence Engineered


        I’m Asian, but really don’t attribute mentioned stats or characteristics with my race, but rather my upbringing.

        Anyways good to know you were being a bit facetious.

  15. Ooops – It wasn’t private all the way. They went private from preschool all the way to
    High School, they both graduated from State Universities and one is an Industrial Engineer and now works for a Pharmaceutical Company and the other is now a Software engineer.

    On Being soft – they don’t have that attitude like you and I have, ” an eye for an eye”

    1. Did you feel all that down that they went to a public university after spending so many years in private school?

      I’ll always remember the funny quote I read in Bloomberg about the angst parents have spending a fortune in Manhattan grade school. The quote was something like this “ after years of paying $50,000 a year in grade school tuition, Little Johnny ends up at Penn State instead of U Penn.”

      1. No, not at all since I gave both boys choice of going private or public and they chose public.

        Private High School was a total waste of money. My basic premise was to give them a good foundation, but when it came High School time, we didn’t have any choice since
        we were in a lousy school district.

        1. Good to hear and good to know. So you’re saying that by the time your kids were 14 years old, they could differentiate between right and wrong and already had a good foundation. Therefore, going to a private high school was not as important because their work ethic and intelligence was already established?

  16. I went to private grade school. I also went to public middle and high school. I graduated from a boarding high school. I went to a private university. That’s a pretty unique mixture.

    My takeaway was that kids have to become exposed to a public school environment at some point. And college doesn’t count. If they do not have this exposure then they will live their lives in a bubble.

    Further, having discussed this with friends, having contemplated where to send my kids, and also having a wife who worked in education and admissions at a high end private school, I am not convinced private school is worth the price. There are public schools I would not want my children to attend but they will be (and some already are) in a public school that I really like.

  17. Sam. Well done on creating buzz. If you chose another person as an example on this subject there would have been much fewer comments. I would guess 99% of your readers get sick to their stomach just seeing her picture. I can only expect a future article on Pelosi and another random subject that’s close to your ideals. You just need to weave the story so that it somehow correlates….. Maybe a risk taking example by using a controversial character to create buzz to advance the comments or views on a webpage while risk loosing some readers? Just an idea…… .

    1. Sam may have more insight into his readership’s politics via analytics but I would guess it’s an even split politically, just like everything in the US kind of is. Be careful to not assume anybody who pays attention to their financial well-being shares the same politics as you.

      And god I hope you’re wrong about there being more political posts here in the future just for the sake of clicks. One of the main things I like about this site is that the articles are typically factual and address personal improvements you can make to your finances in the context of those facts. It’s not about voting in or out this politician. Those things are beyond any individual’s control (unless you’re a billionaire and can buy and sell politicians). The best thing you can do is analyze the current climate and adjust your positions accordingly, regardless of who is in power, what the tax rates are, etc.

      Just my 2 cents. It ain’t my site.

      1. Ian, do you think this is a political post? Because I don’t talk politics in this post. It’s all about private school versus public school and the decision process.

        If you think this is a political post, can you point out some of the sentences or reasoning as to why? Thanks

        1. No I don’t. I think it’s a smart post and likely to generate traffic because AOC is such an internet phenomenon now. I was merely responding to the previous commenter who suggested more controversial/political posts (any mention of Pelosi IS inherently political) would be a good thing.

          As I said, I love that you examine and pick apart topics based on the facts. The facts are AOC hustled and played her cards well. We can all learn something from that.

          1. Cool. It’s understandable that the comments can dissolve into political opinions give I talk about AOC.

            I really enjoy looking at current events and details to try and we’ve together and interesting story with some real world conclusions and insights.

            The comments here are pretty respectful and insightful for the most part. But once you go to Facebook or somewhere, the comments get quite heated b/c people just read the headlines and don’t give the content much thought.

            1. You may not care about politics, but politics cares about you. There are large political ramifications for those of us in the FIRE, or DIRE, communities. :) The power to tax, after all, is the power to destroy…in particular an individual’s financial future.

  18. Interesting observations – except – what’s the point of going to any kind of school since the World will end in 12 years.

    The good thing is that it will be a Nirvannah for those years with free everything AND no school!

  19. Great article Sam and I imagine you’ll show your kid this article when he graduates from college. What a lucky one to have a father as thoughtful as you when it comes to selecting the education! I went to public schools for grade school, private liberal arts school for undergrad and high-ranking public for grad school. All I could say is I’m grateful for everything I learned and experienced during both my public and private schooling experience. One thing you should absolutely consider is where your son will be happy. Some kids love competition while some thrive in more collaborative environments typical of small schools/classes. I personally could have gone to a big public university for undergrad but I know I would suffer in a 200-people classroom, whereas the small class environment I got at my undergrad school helped me become a more confident and articulate speaker. I’m not sure I like your using the phrase “reputation management”. However, I agree with you that as long as we consider ourselves privileged, we should all occasionally do things that keep us close to reality. Maybe the world would be a better place if our leaders all decided to do that for parts of the year but who am I to dictate what they do :) ?

    1. Good stuff.

      I wanted to go to a smaller school for undergrad to have smaller classroom settings. I knew that if I went to a large U, I’d just slack off more.

      Better to go to a large U for grad school to take advantage of the large alumni base, yet still have the small intimate setting e.g. UC Berkeley b-school.

      I love reputation management, especially for folks who still have to work for a living. You get much farther with a better rep!

  20. Hey dude.. we both went to TAS in the 80s in Taipei.

    At least for me, when I moved back to the States, I attended public school in a rural town in Texas, and then quality of education went way down.. (moved to different states after that).

    All of my “older” kids went to public school because I didn’t have the financial means back then.. they are all doing alright now – they had to be resilient though through the public school system.. they have many stories to tell…

    My “younger” kids… now that I have the financial means, why not? What will it hurt if I send one or more of them to private as long as I can…? Maybe all those stories the “older” kids told me made me make this decision.

    Just my point of view…

    1. How many kids do you got?

      As someone who went to TAS in the 80s, did you attend the Shilin campus? I really miss that one. The new campus is foreign to me and brings no memories.

      1. 5 kids.

        I went to the one in Tienmou, near TYPA (park & rec). I haven’t been back since. I was only in like the 4th and 5th grade when I was there.

  21. Sounds like our childhood were very similar. I also went to a private school in Asia and got shipped out here to good ole U.S.A. at 12 and attended public schools. Man, was it not only
    a huge culture shock but I soon learned very fast what a “dog eat dog world” this was. Stood up to the bullies and racist alot too.

    Fast forward 20 years, sent my 2 boys to private schools since I did not want them to see a lot of the things I saw growing up and am glad they turned out fine and now have successful careers, BUT, I can still see private schools made them soft.

    1. Sounds like we had the exact same childhood. Dog eat dog world for sure. I developed this, “If you f*ck with me, I will f*ck you up!” attitude.

      In what ways specifically, did private school make your boys soft? Can you share where they went to college and what they do for a living?

      I think so long as we aren’t buying them a car, a house, and paying for everything, our kids should turn out ok. We have to teach them the value of money.

  22. A lot of people don’t seem to know that private universities are very active price discriminators. Of course, they will say they are giving a scholarship rather than a discount but it amounts to the same thing. The average tuition paid by students at the top private universities is only a fraction of the “sticker price”. It’s the marginal student who just squeaks in from a wealthy family who pays the full price. If you are academically strong and come from a poor family then it will likely be cheaper to go to Harvard than to a state university. OTOH Boston U has a smaller endowment and more students than Harvard. The typical student at BU probably pays more tuition than at Harvard. Boston University was the first private school I went to. I did my PhD there. I went to public grade schools, undergrad, and masters. I later taught at BU for a couple of years. I also was a professor at another US private university. There they gave free tuition to anyone from the local town who could qualify to enter. I think the average student there paid about a 1/3 of the “sticker price” at the time. Now I work at a public university in Australia.

  23. Sam, you are far too subtle sometimes. Many of your readers don’t realize the heavy doses of humour, irony and satire you inject in many of these types of “culture” posts and read them literally.

    You must smile at some of the ridiculous comments.

    Well done, as always.

  24. When I saw the title of this post, I knew it was going to controversial. The comments certainly haven’t disappointed. Kudos for allowing conflicting opinions.

    It seems the gist of your post is that AOC’s background gives “rich private school graduates” hope, not (necessarily) her policies and politics.

    I don’t entirely agree with her politics – I’m pretty much the opposite of a socialist. I don’t think her proposed 70% tax rate will have it’s intended effect (raise revenue) but rather make those people who earn more than the $10 million jump through hoops to lower their taxable income below the $10 million threshold, regardless of the fact it’s “only” a marginal tax rate.

    There have been a few things she’s said or tweeted that I’ve agreed with, but I just went through her Twitter feed and couldn’t find any.

    1. The post isnt about her political views at all, more so that the working class and the poor have embraced her despite she going to one of the most expensive private schools in the world.

      Given this embrace, it provides private school alumni and parents of private school kids relief from angry mobs so long as they stay humble and do good with their lives.

      I want our society to come together and understand each other more. With more understanding comes more love. And more love is always great.

      I’m sure some people will get upset reading the title or missing some of the nuances. But for those who can consume the article with an open mind and with deep thought, I think it helps highlight many many things.

  25. FS, this was fantastic to read! You checked all the boxes. I will be smiling all day, thank you.

  26. I think the public vs. private schools debate changes based on your location. I live in the Chicago suburbs. We moved from a developing area (low taxes, poor schools), to an established community (high taxes, good schools). Since our public schools are really good, we send our kids there. I’m happy with the education they’ve received. I have one still in high school, one in college at Wisconsin, and one at college at University of Illinois. Both public schools, but highly ranked, and still relatively affordable.

    I consider education an investment. I base it on the quality of education offered, but I definitely consider the cost. Sending a child to an expensive, poorly ranked school doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    1. Illinois is the 2nd highest tax paying state…all of our schools should be WAY WAY better for what we are paying. I’m not buying that the schools in IL are good. They’re just OK for the tax base they’re getting.

  27. The Alchemist

    Tee hee hee hee…. wicked, Sam. Absolutely wicked. Your cheek must be aching, what with your tongue being stuffed so firmly therein. Bravo!!

  28. I live in a highly ranked school district(and pay property that pay for the great public school) but switched both kids to Waldorf because I feel the traditional public school and common core just creates busy work and caters mostly to 1 learning type (rote memorization ) and standardized tests. Stanford did a long study of Waldorf and found it exceeded traditional education too. (Some public school have tried to include Waldorf methods in their school)

    My wife and I both went to public school.

    When i talked to local high school teacher they tell me that the kids from the Waldorf school almost always have amazing critical thinking, thinking outside the box, and find public school effortless. Also many of the public high school valedictorians are from Waldorf background.

    I was more interested in the type of learning my kids are learning and character building. Kids of all socioeconomic come to our Waldorf school and the choice is because parents want a different type of learning. Kids learn in different ways and the public school method just forces every child into the same box with outdated standardized testing methods. So many founders drop of of school because they didn’t fit in the “box”.

    I think most people when they look back of college it was the life experience and friends that college provided and not necessarily the curriculum (unless you were becoming a doctor or engineer)

  29. siliconvalleyscrooge

    Socialism is not about pride. Socialism preaches theft. You work, I eat.

    How much of your income am I entitled to?

    Abraham Lincoln fought the civil war to end slavery, which shares the core tenet of theft with Socialism.

    1. To be fair, sometimes socialism is about stealing (taking) from someone else and giving it to someone who is determined to “need” it more.

      So it could also be “you work, they eat.”

      They key aspect here is that it is rarely ever the socialist who has to sacrifice anything. If you decide to give someone money or food to eat, that’s entirely up to you.

  30. Martial arts Mama

    This post is so obnoxious and judgmental. You really do stereotype all private school attendees as being rich and spoiled, in this post and previous others, although I tried to overlook it. I think it all depends on which private school you attend, as there are both good ones and bad ones, just like public schools.

    I attended both public and private schools, and found that the private school kids work just as hard as public school kids, if not more. Even at my private high school which is considered the most elite school in the nation, I had to compete harder than ever with these ‘spoiled rich kids’ on an academic, athletic and social level.

    And unlike what you think, most of these kids received some form of financial aid, as did I, since I came from a low-income single parent household. Yes, there were children who were the offspring of the world’s most famous leaders and the wealthiest scions, but admission into the top colleges from my high school was even harder given the cutthroat competition at the school and the sheer number of talented kids in class, on the soccer fields, and in the musical groups. I had to fight tooth and nail to get into any Ivy-league after high school. I then went to a public school for grad school for my Master’s, and could not believe the lack of talent and drive among the vast majority of students.

    You clearly have a chip on your shoulder about your own school background and so-called lack of privilege, even though you came from a 2-parent middle-class household who did not even apply to private college. The irony is that your own child is truly one of the wealthy and spoiled, as both of his parents stay home full-time and have a 7-figure net worth or more. Sad to unfollow since I found most of your content to be excellent.

    1. Sorry to see you go. You have shared some great comments in the past.

      One of my points of this post was to help smart, wealthy, and privileged people to NOT feel so much guilt for having such a huge head start in life. But to realize there is plenty of respect and love in this world for them, as AOC’s rise to congress has shown.

      AOC’s ascendency has helped eradicate my own guilt for wanting to send my boy to private school, and for that, I’m grateful.

      As one commenter on FB said best, “Don’t apologize for being able to provide more for your children than what you had. You can’t teach “grit”. You can hope you raised a decent, kind human being who will contribute positively to the world. We all have our own story, your readers should respect yours.”

      AOC is also an inspiration to the middle class and poor that anything is possible. 28 years old and beating out a multi-term incumbent for congress? Now that’s impressive.

      I’ll leave you with another reader comment responding to those taken aback by this article:

      “This post was mostly about how to deal with the stigmatization that comes along with private schools. And it DEFINITELY does. It doesn’t paint AOC or private schools in a bad light at all. It speaks to what people can/should do with and about their privilege.

      The reaction here from private school grads does more to reinforce what he’s saying – that you struggle with conflict and judgment, that you have been shielded from grit and criticism.”

      1. The reason AOC won was predominately due to 1) usage of racial identity politics to exploit the significant racial demographic shift in the incumbent’s district, and 2) promising the world to voters with funding TBD but presumably by means of other people’s money. Democracy is mob rule, which is why the founding fathers established the country as a constitutional republic with voting rights to be limited to those with skin in the game. Once those without means, i.e. the “takers”, exceed those with means, i.e. the “makers”, the mob can legally vote to confiscate, i.e. steal, the wealth of others. AOC is just the first toll of the bell, there will be blood!

        1. Whatever the case may be, you can’t take away her grit and hustle. Grit and hustle is underrated. Intelligence is overrated. Communication skills is underrated.

          She won, so she wins. Got to respect that.

          1. As Einstein once said, only 2 things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and he wasn’t sure about the former. I agree IQ is overrated and EQ is underrated, no doubt about that…those of us a few standard deviations to the far right of the bell curve are most probably an evolutionary dead end…we live in a true idiocracy. Go Sandy! :)

            1. Two standard deviations – that’s it? In the US alone, all in, there are about 7,000,000 people in from of you. That’s a pretty long line.

      2. “AOC is also an inspiration to the middle class and poor that anything is possible. 28 years old and beating out a multi-term incumbent for congress? Now that’s impressive.”

        I’d like to chime in on this one because I am a “poorer” individual and thus I would take issue with this comment of yours that she “inspires” such people, at least if taken with a universal quantifier on the front instead of being qualified to an extent as to the scope of people in those groups to which it applies (a “some” might be useful there). “Poor and middle-class” is an *incredibly* broad label. There isn’t one single thing that each and every person in any such huge socio-demographic group, can be reliably said to share except perhaps being human and whatever the trait is that defines the group, and that includes how they will or won’t react to “symbols” like this congressperson.

        For me, the reaction has been very taxing, as given the vagaries of how my mind has been conditioned by circumstance (plus some actual mental disorders on top of that, too), it makes me feel like I’m either a worthless failure or at the very least like I will never amount to anything significant in terms of being a genuine force for actual good and change in the world. I say this because I am about the same age (28 years old) but still live at home with parents and moreover am attending a no-name state college, and even before that I was entirely home- and self-schooled instead of having been schooled in the formal school system whether it was either a private or a public institution. And I have imagined wanting to play a major role in fixing world issues, but I do not see any road to that from here. And mentioning her age doesn’t help because that for me, the years when that would have mattered – have been *missed* in this regard and it makes me actually regretful. Were I to ever get to a similar level, it would by simple necessity be at a further age like 30s or even 40s, and if one is going to celebrate their “youth”, then the corollary of that is that if you did *not* do it so “young”, then you’re a worse or less worthwhile person and moreover given the *fact* also that privilege contributes substantially to having the *ability* to do it at younger ages, it is also implying that your worth as a human being is a sizeable function of your privilege. If this is wrong or errant, I’d like to hear a rebuttal to it.

        (And kind of in a weirdly ironic way, it is precisely because she *is* about the same age that she *doesn’t* make for as good an “inspiration” because to do that I would have needed to see her at a considerably *younger* age when it could have been more of an influence away from the rather more noxious ones, although then again given some of the texture of my thinking especially in those days I can’t necessarily say it would have helped there, either, but I suspect nonetheless it might still have had a better chance at such. Thus I’d have to actually be considerably *younger* than I am now.)

        Just thought I’d say that. One thing that really gets me is people claiming that they can speak for a whole group, even one they may have a connection to, when they truly can’t. Just as you can’t fault all poor as being “lazy” as the conservatives like to do, and you can’t fault all rich/privileged as being “spoiled and entitled” as some might like to do, you likewise also are very limited when it comes to making many other universal, especially judgmental, claims, even ones that may have an ostensibly “positive” judgment as much as those with a negative judgment. It’s just like how that I’ve also looked into issues like racial justice and noted how that, say, some seem to take issue with Black people or other “minority”/”of color” people disagreeing with the notion of systematic racism or having a more “conservative” outlook, calling them “Uncle Toms” and “sellouts” and so forth in at least some cases. I want to point out that by bringing this up, I am not taking a stand on who is right or not in that but rather that I also see those kinds of sentiments as having a rather similar effect insofar as it comes to removing room for disagreement or diversity of opinion within the groups in question. Moreover, even if an opinion is shared by a large majority, that dose not mean that nonetheless the entire group can be treated that way to the exclusion of those who disagree.

        Instead, we would do much better contemplating nuance. It’s one thing to propose policy addressing the statistical/systematic needs of particular groups, it’s quite another, though, to hold an expectation of all individuals within that group.

        And second-to-last, I think we should quit putting so much emphasis on age and other such uncontrollables because the fact is so many of us *DON’T* get to do that and yet by pushing it we’re pushing the notion that if you’re NOT young like that, then your achievement is pointless or simply not worth very much. Never mind that the older person might have had more hurdles to surmount or ones which have a longer surmounting time [dealing with all of a significantly deficient socialization, lack of formal school curriculum attendance, AND mental health issues on top of it, and ESPECIALLY the socialization problem as if anything the one resource more important than time, money, education, ‘IQ points’/’talent’ or anything else is “PEOPLE” and indeed, you say it in a post above that “intelligence is overrated” and “communication skills are *underrated*”. I agree GREATLY with that statement.]. Or that they are a slower climber which is simply genetics. Or anything else. You don’t know.

        Finally, “anything’s possible” should go in the dust bin. Right now it is absolutely *im*possible for me or anyone else at the same age who is not already to become a Congressperson at 28 years old if for nothing else than the simple fact of nothing more than that when the next Congressional election goes off, I will be 30 years old (year 2020). I am popping my head right now.

        ADD: Though, I guess not quite “finally”. I just saw this – that you mentioned to those taking issue “that you struggle with conflict and judgment, that you have been shielded from grit and criticism.” Interestingly, even though I’m NOT a “private school graduate”, I would nonetheless think I could partially agree. Namely with conflict/judgment and lacking grit. Particularly that I had received a lot of negative judgment. But also not “shielded” from criticism, I *ate* too *much*, taking it way deep down into heart. I am also not sure that, looking at myself and my *deficiency* in this area, grit cannot be taught. It is possible it might not entirely be “teachable”, but at the same time I also think that it can be *inspired*, and I know I lacked that suitable inspiration at the right years. Had I known what I know now about what I needed to do in the past 24 years AND what I wanted, I think I would have potentially had at least *some* more “grit”… To inspire grit for me would have taken someone who actually knew me well enough to see what I could and could not do and also to emphasize *why* I needed to bear with these hard “menial” tasks if I wanted to get there and to not let me look for easy solutions/ways out. That’s another kind of privilege.

    2. It must be exhausting to have so much outrage with so much privilege.

      Did you even read the article? Your response clearly shows a lack of awareness that Sam is providing.

      I hope you aren’t as critical and judge mental to your children as you are here.

      1. Martial arts Mama

        You know nothing about me. Did I even mention I had kids? Clearly you are not who you pretend to be. Whose comment is totally judgmental and pointless?

        I HAVE read the article as well as most of Sam’s other articles, While I admire his knowledge base and hustle, he clearly does have a beef with private school grads regardless of their own personal background and accomplishments. The fact that he quotes another reader as saying that all private school grads have been “shielded from grit and criticism” is so judgmental and ridiculous. How can he say this about an entire group of people without knowing their individual stories?

        I’m sure Sam is an incredibly loving parent, hence the fact that he works hard and stays home full time. And like almost every other parent, he wants to give his child all the advantages he has worked for.

        But the irony is that his son is going to be lumped into the “spoiled and wealthy’ group despite whatever his son accomplishes on his own in the future. He will ironically be judged by people just like his own father (and people like YOU) who assume that with all of the privilege that he was born with, that clearly he lacked grit and was just lazy and lucky.

        1. My hope is to change that narrative to help my son and parents who might face the same judgement. It’s strange to me that you are taking the exact opposite stance. Not sure why you don’t believe me either.

          Check out the last paragraph and an excerpt from my post:

          So I got to thinking, despite going to one of the most expensive universities in the country that’s ranked #42 in US News & World Report, AOC has been able to position herself as a woman of the people.

          Not only have the working-class people of New York’s 14th district embraced AOC, so has the social media world. AOC is the #2 most popular politician on Twitter after Donald Trump.

          I’ve read zero pushback online about AOC going to expensive BU, and neither will you because AOC is an inspiration also for the middle class and poor.

          Therefore, AOC’s example proves that just because you went to an expensive private university, it doesn’t mean you are destined to become the stereotypical spoiled rich kid. Nor does it doom you to end up lazy and unmotivated.

          1. But she is the example of lazy and unmotivated. She is asking the rich to pay for the poor. She is okay taking the high salary she makes now, if true socialist tell her to donate that back to the people.

            1. I think Sam is saying she has shown a lot of hustle in her own life by winning an election that nobody thought she could win, beating an incumbent that was set to become the replacement for Nancy Pelosi in the democratic party.

              The rich are not paying for the poor. The majority of tax payers are the middle class and they are the ones who suffer because they cannot take advantage of the tax advantages of the super rich, nor the welfare provisions of the super poor. It is the middle class that bears the brunt of every policy – whether it is increases in taxation, housing costs, education for their kids etc.

              The last Trump tax deduction went mostly to millionaires and corporations to the tune of 17.3 billion dollars. Middle class American say about $30 per pay cheque. So $360 a year.

              Meanwhile, housing, education, prices of everything is going up. That’s why people are angry and messages like AOC’s resonate. They are working hard, they are hustling and yet there are no fruits.

              Go to somewhere like Virginia where the opium crisis has decimated the community because of the lax legislation made by governments that are in the pockets of corporations and corporate pac money and you can understand why people are angry.

              They’re not asking for a handout. They’re asking for the basic protections.

              Also, AOC comes from middle class. She hustled to get where she is. She was campaigning for a year well before the election. She found a new voter base that came out and voted for her. She leveraged the fact that Joe Crowley didn’t know the area he represented and had not been legislating to their benefit as the basis of her platform. She mobilized people to volunteer for her and knock on doors.

              That’s hardly someone who is lazy and unmotivated.

        2. Very well. But it does seem like something is bothering you in your life to lash out like this. Read the other comments. You’re clearly in the minority here about getting upset and not seeing some valid points. Most people here see different angles of the article and also find some humor as well in the ironies.

          If you don’t have children, maybe it is exactly because you don’t have children that you cannot connect and calmly consume this article? As a parent, this struggle of trying to provide for your child the best you can is real. Non-parents have A harder, or impossible time comprehending.

          Maybe ask your parents how they felt during this process to get some more perspective.

          Final question: if you are not a rich private school graduate, why are you being so defensive and offensive?

    3. Umm, your reaction is clearly demonstrating the guilt Sam is trying to eradicate for those who went to elite private schools.

      Not sure pointing out how Sam has a chip on his shoulder when he says he has a chip on his shoulder and talks about his conflict of being able to send his son to private school, while he went to public school is a revelation.

      Are you missing the entire point of the article? If so, the irony might be on you since you said you got scholarships and went to Harvard.

      No Blogger will miss a reader who is easily triggered and just reads headlines instead of substance.

  31. Enjoyed the article…AOC and Trump are both symbols of the frustrations that are building…ignore them at our own peril…

    the other way to diffuse the expensive private school aura is to say you got a scholarship

    Still pains my statistical sensibilities to see that 70% donor+legacy statistic. Where is that from? Are you just adding the legacy admit rate and the donor admit rate? Doesn’t that assume they are mutually exclusive? Think like a trader!

      1. Ugh, I don’t know why I keep getting sucked back into this but…

        It looks like your stats are coming from the Arcidiacono report that Harvard commissioned. I see in Table A.2 the 33.6% admit rate for legacy, the 42.2% rate for “Director’s List” (aka donor list), 86% for recruited athlete, 46.7% for children of faculty.

        Are you getting 70% for legacy children donors by adding together the 33.6% and the 42.2%? If so, that doesn’t make sense…if someone is a recruited athlete and a legacy, would that make them 86%+33.6% = 119.6% likely to get in? At best, the odds would be 1 – (1-33.6%)x(1-42.2%) = 62% likely to get in. But, that assumes donors and legacies are mutually exclusive, which is not likely, also in theory some percentage of the director’s list might be students the dean met during his travels that impressed him. Maybe 50-60% I would say….I guess if they gave a building, it would probably go up to 95% though, haha.

        Man, I feel like I just wrote a quora post and I didn’t even get to put a plug for my blog in here…

  32. A Caring Mom

    My daughter has been attending private kindergarten now for almost 6 months. After experiencing firsthand what a private education provides, my husband and I can’t imagine sending her back to public school, at least during her elementary years. It’s been that different and that awesome.

    She’s constantly challenged, she loves learning, her teachers (two teachers for a class of 20, music teacher, Spanish teacher, PE teacher in addition to all her enrichment after school teachers) are so engaged, the availability of nurses on a daily basis, the level of parental involvement and the overall activities and learning environment they provide have made me a true believer of private schools.

    Yes, there are famous celebrities’ kids in her class but there are also some kids from hard working middle to upper class families. She has no idea who comes from a famous family because nobody at the school gives those children any special recognition or treatment. Having uniforms is a huge perk.

    I know you love your son tremendously. All of us parents do. We want what’s best. After touring public schools and private schools, you will get a sense of the difference between the two. If you can afford it, which I know you can, the choice is almost very clear.

    I get it that private school may not necessarily guarantee that bullying won’t happen, but based on what I’ve experienced and seen so far, because of the smaller classes and teacher to student ratio, kids are being more carefully watched and supervised. Yes, the pool of kids may not accurately reflect what’s in our society today, but our kids can witness and experience that outside of school through trips, church, outings, drives, etc… and quite honestly, don’t we want to shield our kids from some of life’s hardships until they’re at least in junior high…?

    My daughter has recently asked me how much school costs and that she doesn’t want to pay money to go to school. I cringe whenever she asks how much school costs. I don’t want her to worry about the financial aspect of it because I know the experience she’s getting far surpasses that of public school.

    Yes, paying all this tuition may not guarantee admission to an elite college, but if it can help her to gain more confidence, more happiness, a “better” childhood experience to tackle the world later on… I’m ok with it.

    Private schools pay more attention to what they serve for lunch, clean the bathrooms with utmost care and attention, have nurses available the moment any child falls or injures themselves, have opportunities for kids to discover their talents by the wide variety of classes/after school programs, provide before and after care from 7am-6pm, emphasize diversity (at least in her private school), and teaches them to improve their critically thinking etc…

    I was just like you. Debating whether to go the public or private route. When push came to shove, I couldn’t send her to a public school, because I wanted what I thought was best for her. If celebrities are willing to pay the money to give them the best, I wanted to do so too…although of course, it’s super expensive and that money could go towards real estate.

    But as someone said, private school is investing in your child at a time when they need it the most. Money and prestige is not the answer to everything including happiness. And private school may not be the solution to happiness either but…I’m willing to make that financial investment just in case it makes that slight difference.

    1. I always get a good laugh reading stuff like this. I refused to let my parents send me to private school. My sister went and lots of her friends had nice coke addictions from all their money and it in turn set my sister off on the wrong foot.

      Me, I went to public schools but rode the enriched and AP classes all the way through got full rides to undergrad and grad school (company paid on the second). And at 26 my gf and I are self made millionaires. You’re kidding yourself if you think a private will make that much of a difference, my buddies at the private schools paid hundreds of thousands had lower grades than me didn’t get full rides to school most didn’t graduate in 4 years and had lower starting salaries at the prestigious company I am at.. and only got their interviews because I helped them – due to being my friends and then giving my recommendations to the hiring managers. Many tend to be above average students but on the lower end of the top side. As my coworker that went to Purdue and Yale said, “Yale on average has better students but Purdue has better top students”. So to think you need others to motivate you is laughable. You motivate yourself to succeed or you don’t. How is their self made fire? I was charging people to work at 5 years old, I took myself to school since first grade just walking and told my parents I could handle it all (and I did). I came home and did homework to be he best since first grade and my parents were able to work long hours to be the best at their job. By 4th grade I managed the family budget because I wanted to not because I was asked. I scolded wasteful spending (like my sisters private school ironically). And here I am years later still the top at work and in my finances and own multiple successful companies in my 20s etc.

      So don’t believe private is a have to have. Is it nice, it could be but to think public is terrible is laughable. I say this as someone who has attended and got into every top school about. I’ve been to state schools to MIT on my resume… and I attribute it to hard work and not much else. My parents loved me and encouraged me to do what I wanted to be happy that was all I needed. Their nod of approval. Love your kids and be supportive, go to their events be social with their friends and their friends family (regardless of socioeconomic background) and they’ll turn out all right.

      1. zachary brewer

        “I was charging people to work at 5 years old, I took myself to school since first grade just walking and told my parents I could handle it all (and I did). I came home and did homework to be he best since first grade and my parents were able to work long hours to be the best at their job. By 4th grade I managed the family budget because I wanted to not because I was asked.”


  33. I will not question the quantity, cost, of a private school in terms of dollars. I will question the quality of the ideas the education produced.

  34. BU grad here, many many years before AOC was there. However, I will dispute your point on affordability based on my own experience, no comment on what the math might look like today. BU at the time was between 35k and 40k a year and the University of California system was at 16k. I am a 1st gen college student, my parents were/are firmly middle class. My financial aid package from BU was a mix of grants & loans cutting my overall cost to attend BU to 12K. My offer from the UC system was 2k in work study, no grants, no loans. The math was simple especially combined with the kind of wanderlust that only a 17 year old has.

    Oh and I worked at a convenience store to pay for my own spending money during my time at BU. Grit and budgeting was born from my refusal to ask my family for more support and an average of $50/week for groceries, incidentals, clothes and the occasional adult beverage.

    The right school for each kid doesn’t’ have a set of black and white rules attached. I continue to focus my financial goals toward the ability to make whatever decision is right for my kid, even if he wants to follow mom to BU.

    1. LOVE it! My daughter attending BU as we speak…. fingers crossed. We’ve worked hard for her to be there. So far so good!

      1. Best wishes to her! BU and Boston as a city are life changing to get to spend your early adult years in. You are giving your daughter an amazing gift. Was just visiting with my Goddaughter over alumni weekend and can’t say enough about how much the school reinvests in their programs. Go Terriers!

        1. Must be so fun to go to school in or near a major city. All we had was sleepy Colonial Williamsburg at William & Mary. But it did make for a nice cozy atmosphere were a lot of students develop a great relationship staying on the beautiful campus.

          I love going back to school as an alumni. I just wish it was a direct flight to Williamsburg from San Francisco!

          1. I would have worked at Colonial Williamsburg in a hot minute over the convenience store! Every school has unique advantages over others, thankfully we have so many options for our kids to choose from.

  35. Christine Minasian

    As a parent that is sending our daughter to Boston University currently…your article was great! Yes, BU is expensive but so are a lot of other colleges out there now. We are upper middle class and have worked hard to give our kids the best education for our area. We did send our kids to private high schools. We experienced with all the budget cuts in the educational system in our country- private schools were better. Our kids were surrounded by some kids that were wealthy but also most receive assistance from fundraising, donations, etc. The caliber of students from the private schools were more driven we’ve seen due to the investment from the parents- therefore the crowd mentality “pushed” our kids to excel. As far as BU…our daughter really was driven to attend due to the city location and the global teaching efforts within the whole institution. Our kids often thank us for sending them to private high schools by the way…so we must have done something right! Everyone just does the best they can as parents.

    1. Great to hear!

      “Everyone just does the best they can as parents.”

      I so agree with this. There is so much second-guessing as to whether we’re doing the right thing as parents. And as you and other readers can tell, I have this and less debate in my head that I put into my articles about what I should do. So it really helps to read other parents’ perspectives.

      Good luck to you and your family!

  36. If AOC’s vision were to become reality, it won’t matter what type of school the kids were to attend, public or private. Knowing that most of the fruits of your labor would be taken away by the govt via heavy taxation, ambition would dry up and and the desire to excel would disappear.

      1. I have my own thoughts on AOC, but they are not very flattering, so I’ll keep them to myself. Your article pointed out that there is a backlash against the “wealthy” fueled by people like AOC, but the masses are jumping onboard.

        I don’t believe they will stop at 70% marginal tax rates on income above $10M. It just doesn’t generate that much money – projections have it at $72B per year. The deficit in 2018 alone was $780B and is projected to be $985B in 2019. The money generated through the AOC tax changes doesn’t even fill the difference between 2018 and 2019.

        From an investment standpoint, I think this means enjoy the low tax rates of today, and expect them to rise significantly in the future, especially on higher income earners. Go with Roths, or find other ways to reduce ordinary income. I think we are about 2 years away from a significant shift.

        1. The ten million figure is ‘the camel’s nose’ (a metaphor for a situation where the permitting of a small, seemingly innocuous act will open the door for larger, clearly undesirable actions). Ten years later the new number will be $300k which would envelop a large portion of S-corps (self employed with 3 or more employees)…

            1. Also another precursor to more gov’t greed with no benefit. I can guarantee the definition of “Super Wealthy” would change over time if this is enacted. I certainly hope it is NOT.

              I am amazed at stupidity of the masses to fall for snake oil salesmen like Bernie, AOC and Pocahontas.

            2. Warren’s so unoriginal. She straight up stole that idea from, let me check my notes, DONALD TRUMP.

              She did add her own twist on it to make it a bit less extreme, though. Trump wanted a 14.25% “net worth tax” on individuals and trusts worth $10 million or more back in 1999.

      2. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” – Margaret Thatcher. What happens when 70% @ $10 million isn’t enough? You know this Sam – tongue in cheek indeed.

          1. Mr. Hobo Millionaire

            I never thought too much about taxes, until I started my own company and making a lot more money. I know some may think “whoa is me”, but when you reach the point that you’re paying the IRS over 100K per year in taxes (more than what I earned when I was employed), it’s a staggering amount of money.

        1. Hi. I’m someone who’ll be paying six figures in taxes for 2018. I’m also an air force veteran. I’d much rather my $100k+ go help poor kids get a three squares and a good education than get sucked down an F35’s fuel tubes or get “donated” to a warzone in the form of steel and high explosives. I’d MUCH rather see the government “inefficiently” use my tax contribution to fully fund something like universal pre-k education than see it being used to pay for military adventures while lowering taxes on the billionaires of this country so they can run private foundations addressing pet causes. We individually may or may not like AOCs policies, but A) historically there is zero evidence that a 70% marginal tax rate will hurt economic growth and B) I can assure you that engaging in multi-decade wars while cutting taxes on the wealthy is a certifiably f&*%ed way to run a country.

      3. Sarkis Chobanian

        Precisely how the income tax started Sam. Only the “rich” had to pay when it was implemented. How did that turn out?

    1. It used to be higher and the country functioned just fine. In fact, just look at the rates under Eisenhower, a period of phenomenal growth.

      Not saying I support the plan, but the doom and gloom from some folks is probably unwarranted.

  37. I attended BU from 2000-2004 and my parents had no money (still the case). There were some rich kids in my circle but mostly not. If you weren’t rich you didn’t pay anywhere close to those tuition prices. That’s actually the tactic these schools take by jacking up prices. Rich people will pay ANY price but poor people still tend to pay a lower price, so the net to the school is greater, subsidized by the rich.

    Good on AOC for accomplishing what she has before 30. At her age I was just graduating from professional school!

    Professional school is where tuition prices are real and you get the BIG student loans.

    1. Christine Minasian

      My daughter attends BU currently…please tell me the tuition is worth it!! So far…we are happy as she is EXTREMELY happy there. Any advice? She is a Finance with a minor in Econ. major.

      1. That’s awesome to hear that you and she are happy with it. I have no complaints with my time there. I think the quality of the education was much higher than the reputation the school has (or at least had when I was there). I think one of the things that held down the reputation was the BU college of general studies (CGS) AKA “crayons glue and scissors.” This was a division of the school where if you didn’t have the SATs, grades, etc, but you could pay the tuition, you would likely be accepted. If you did well you could then transfer to other colleges within the University. A good friend of mine who spent his high school years in private school on drugs ended up in CGS. He cleaned up his act, got excellent grades thereafter, and is now an interventional radiologist making BANK.

        I would say BU prepares you really well for either the real world or pursuing more education. When I entered professional school I definitely had a leg up on the other students, and I ultimately graduated at the top of my class. My friends at BU have mostly all succeeded in their own ways. Not all financially but not all of them had financial goals in the first place.

        1. I would agree about the education being much higher than it’s reputation- her professors have all been amazing so far! She studied at the BU London campus and loved it. You are right about the CGS program- she did NOT want to be in that for the reasons you mention so she’s worked hard in the business school. Thanks!!!

  38. chris manning

    We tried the private route with our 3 kids and found the public schools to be superior in our area. The teachers were mainly from top notch public universities in CA and resources were much more available for extra programs like computer tech and art, etc.
    Working hard isn’t an “Asian thing” Sam, as my wife and I are highly trained medical professionals, and both came from nothing. Its a burning desire to be successful, accomplish something while helping others, and its starts very young. I do like your messages about being humble.
    When I hear about the “elite” schools in the East coast such as Harvard, Princeton, and Colombia, it makes me laugh. Nothing could be harder or more “elite” than admittance to our outstanding Universities in CA such as UCLA, Berkeley, UC San Diego, Davis, etc.
    Having been to both public (undergrad) and private (med school), I would recommend an outstanding public education for your child every time. Developing a work ethic and a giving heart is what matters, not where you go to school. Cheers

  39. Love this post and I’m happy that AOC helped you to an about face. Indeed, there are a mighty minority of folks who have attended private schools and have remained grounded/focused/philanthropy people. I’m one of them. Grew up in a single parent home, worked my ass off to earn a scholarship to the prestigious Peddie School in NJ and went on to UPenn for undergrad (followed by grad school).

    I certainly knew the rich kids who played around and ended up being just fine, if not better off than I, because of their leg up. But, they aren’t the same kind of person – I’m proud of that. The outcome is in part on the parents and the kid themselves. Your child will be fine!

    All you need to do is focus on exposing him to reality, and enforcing a practice of giving back and open mindedness. Thanks as always for your posts!

  40. I have three grown children, and one of the three attended private middle and high school. We sent him there because his best friend was attending, and he begged us, (not a very good reason, I admit). It did have smaller classes, but honestly, the academics were no better than our public school. The other two attended our local public high school, in a very highly ranked school district. Honestly, I think the education and programs available at the public school were better. The oldest graduated at the top of his class and attended Yale. We had no connections, he got in on his merit. The youngest attended Cornell- doing well in grad school now. The middle child who attended the private school is doing well, but I attribute his success to his drive and ambition, and not to his private school education.

      1. He attended Lehigh for a year,(a top school as well), but had a relapse with a chronic illness, so he had to transfer home and attend the local state university, which he tolerated for 3 years. He just had a passion for the music industry, and developed an amazing resume. Now in LA doing very well in the “biz”. Oldest working in a hedge fund, youngest in med school. I think we were lucky to live in an amazing public school district , so we had choices. And we pushed are kids a bit, and were able to give them a lot of outside opportunities, doing internships in NYC (which cost a lot),sending them to summer academic programs etc. etc.

  41. My son who was always a great public school student ended up going the an international school in Shanghai, China for his last 2 years of high school when my husband was sent to work there.

    In speaking with teachers there they mentioned that the parents had very high expectations for their children, as did the students themselves. The school leadership set the bar high and there were virtually no behavior problems.

    My son came away from that experience feeling that his public school peers were lazy. I know it’s not the same as in the states, but my son felt it was the b3tnthing that ever happened to him.

    1. Good to hear. Studying abroad was great. I really enjoyed the international community and perspective. I’d like to go on a similar adventure, but I need to convince my wife first :)

      Did you enjoy your time in Shanghai?

  42. Hi Sam
    I am not sure if this is tongue in cheek or not. To have AOC lecture me about my “privilege” is insufferable. I am a military brat, public school (elemetary high school college med school fellowship) grad.

    1. Seriously, I was so angry when AOC went on TV and said “Hey, Magoo is a real jerk.” How horrible of her.

  43. I was a product of both public and private school (private grades 10-12) and it was almost the opposite experience for me.

    In public school I coasted because I was pretty much the smartest kid in the class (valedictorian for 8th grade/middle school). I didn’t have to study at all and would essentially develop incredibly bad habits. I was offered to skip a grade 2x but didn’t because my dad thought it would be better to develop socially with my same age classmates.

    Then in 10th grade, after my dad died, my mom and moved to California and she put me in a high ranked private high school. I found myself competiting with some really smart people and dropped in class rank from #1 to probably mid 20s (out of a class of 130 or so). But because of the bad habits in public school prior I developed I still didn’t really push myself and coasted (carried through college as well where I would only pull an all nighter the night before). Only when I got to medical school was the amount of information so overwhelming that I couldn’t learn it the night before did I actually have to study on a daily basis.

    My daughter in private school definitely has not been exposed to public school environment for long. In her current school there is the honor system and kids leave expensive laptops, cell phones, etc all over the place and no one takes it. My daughter has left some expensive stuff overnight or over the weekend and it is pretty much there when she gets it. I told her this is not how the real world works and she needs to develop more careful habits because if she leaves something of value in public expect it to be swiped quickly.

    1. Mr. Hobo Millionaire

      XRV, The best thing you can do for your kids is to teach them about the “real world”. If you don’t teach them, the world will… and the world doesn’t do it lovingly.

      1. That is so true… the real world is BRUTAL. The sooner we get to experience the real world, the better.

        It is going to be a huge shock if people don’t recognize the realities of life early on.

        Public school really give me this shock early own.

  44. I went to both public and private schools, though enjoyed my experience at the former more. My private school experience consisted primarily of those out-of-touch kids who came from families of immense wealth (several heirs to oil and gas companies, a food packaging company heiress, and multiple children with doctors and/or lawyers for parents). Many of them were certainly intelligent and capable of making their own fortunes, however they certainly enjoyed driving their $40,000 cars to secure their own fortunes.

    However, some of them fell into the same trap you mention above regarding the lack of hard work given the ease with which their connections or family could land them a cush job at graduation. In fact, there was a common phrase to describe this low bar they set for themselves: ““D” is for “degree””.

    It represented their stated desire of getting some rubber stamped degree to justify to their later-subordinates that they, too, were college graduates. The families had to put some hurdles between their children walking to the front of the line to claim their prize after all. Never mind the quality of their accomplishment.

    However, as I write all of this, some of the hardest working people I’ve met come from money. They weren’t touched by the wealth bug, and they practice stealth wealth. You’d never know a handful of them have trust funds yet still strive to improve their lives through hard work and determination to get ahead on their own merit. Money financed their superior education but also enabled them to garner more credentials and establish signals of their amazing character.

    I guess it ultimately depends on the person and how they’re raised. Whether in private schools or not, the privileged can still learn the value of hard work (maybe at a minimum wage job as you suggest) and how to be humble.

    1. D is for degree! Never heard of that! Good one.

      I’m hoping a big part of a person’s work ethic and nature is from nurture. I’d like to think that being a good parent helps. But I won’t know until my boy grows up.

  45. I went to both public and private schools. I loved my time at the private high school (yes there were some very rich kids there, majority were well behaved) and also loved the public college I attended. As an adult, I haven’t paid much attention to what type of school people went to. I don’t typically ask people where they went. Funny enough I’ve met several people who attended a well known private university in NorCal who took it upon themselves to let me know where they went to school within the first few minutes of meeting them.

    If my son ends up attending private school, which is my preference, I plan to do volunteer work and travel with him to different parts of the world and the country throughout his childhood to help him realize just how big the world is and how differently people live. My hope is this will help him develop a sense of gratitude for what he has, learn to respect people of all backgrounds and appreciate different cultures, environments and lifestyles.

    1. Yes, the great joke about how you know where someone went to an elite university is that they’ll tell you within the first couple of sentences! It’s so hilarious. But they are usually on the younger side without much post college substance yet.

      Great idea seeing the world! I hope more of us can. Learning a second language well helps too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *