CA Money vs Midwest Money, & “Relative Wealth” at U Michigan

Another columnist wrote a candid and widely read response about her own family's finances, and what she believes is the main distinction between people who are wealthy and those who are struggling.

Renting in a Megacity Is a New Lifestyle Phase

Now that millions of more Americans routinely attend college, we've realized we can recreate some of the best parts of it and keep them going indefinitely. Why not?

“When Leon dies, Bard will perhaps die as well”

In this Gawker polemic against Bard college, an expensive liberal arts school author Leah Finnegan attended for two years before transferring to a public university in the South, Finnegan argues that the fates of eccentric, longstanding college president Leon Botstein and the college itself are linked: “When Leon dies, Bard will perhaps die as well.” In other words, she suggests that Bard, like so many non-profits, suffers from Founder’s Syndrome.

Founder’s Syndrome occurs when a single individual or a small group of individuals bring an organization through tough times (a start-up, a growth spurt, a financial collapse, etc.). Often these sorts of situations require a strong passionate personality – someone who can make fast decisions and motivate people to action.Once those rough times are over, however, the decision-making needs of the organization change, requiring mechanisms for shared responsibility and authority. It is when those decision-making mechanisms don’t change, regardless of growth and changes on the program side, that Founder’s Syndrome becomes an issue. We see this most frequently with organizations that have grown from a mom-and-pop operation to a $12 million community powerhouse, while decisions are still made as if the founders are gathered around someone’s living room, desperately trying to hold things together.

Founder’s Syndrome isn’t necessarily about the actual founder of an organization. The central figure could be the person who took over from the founder. It could be someone who took over in a time of crisis, and led the organization to clear waters. Or it could just be someone who has been at the helm forever. The “founder” could be the CEO. Or it could be a board member, or a handful of board members who have either been there since the beginning or have ridden the organization through tough times.

But the main symptom of Founder’s Syndrome is that decisions are not made collectively. Most decisions are simply made by the “founder.” All other parties merely rubber stamp what the founder suggests. There is generally strong resistance to any change in that decision-making, where the Founder might lose his/her total control of the organization. Boards of these organizations usually don’t govern, but instead “approve” what the founder suggests. Planning isn’t done collectively, but by the founder. And plans / ideas that do NOT come from the founder usually don’t go very far.

Partly because Leon “hates money,” Finnegan argues, Leon’s school, despite tuition hikes, is hanging on by a thread. 

How Low-Income Students Do College

For a while now, wealthy and top-tier colleges have been in the news for trying to attract low-income students and also for failing to attract — and retain — that same population.

Just under 15 percent of the undergraduates at the country’s 50 wealthiest colleges received Pell Grants in 2008-9, the most recent year for which national data are available. That percentage hasn’t changed much from 2004-5, around the time that elite institutions focused their attention on the issue. And Pell Grant students are still significantly less represented at the wealthiest colleges than they are at public and nonprofit four-year colleges nation­wide, where grant recipients accounted for roughly 26 percent of students in 2008-9.

Individual colleges among the wealthiest have made gains in enrolling Pell Grant students, who generally come from families with annual incomes of less than $40,000. But others have lost ground. …

Among the 50 wealthiest colleges, the share of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants in 2008-9 ranges from 5.7 percent at Washington University in St. Louis to 30.7 percent at UCLA.

These well-off colleges educate a small slice of the country’s undergraduates. Still, the choices they make can set the tone for admissions and financial-aid policies across the country.

Since 2008-09, of course, schools have continued to make adjustments. Did they help? Well, in 2012, the Times reported that “affluent students have an advantage and the gap is widening.” So, no. 

Ranking the Ivies by the Only Measure That Matters: Caprice

Yale and Harvard and Princeton, oh my! They have so much money, each of the Ivy League schools. How much money? Enough to sink a ship, or to launch one. And, according to the WSJ, some of them handle that money better than others.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, Yale University earned a return of 20.2% on its endowment, easily topping the 15.4% gain reported by Harvard University. Yale’s performance was the best among the eight Ivy League schools, while Harvard’s was the worst. The rout was the fourth victory in a row over Harvard for David Swensen, who manages Yale’s $23.9 billion endowment, and his eighth in the past decade, according to data compiled by Charles A. Skorina & Co., a university-endowment recruiting firm. Yale now has nearly twice the number of investment wins over the past three decades as its Massachusetts rival, though Harvard’s endowment remains the largest among U.S. universities, at $36.4 billion.

Good job, bulldogs! But how do the Ivies stand in the popular imagination? Forget how rich they are; how warmly do we feel toward them? What’s their Q rating? If we can arbitrarily and capriciously rank New England states, surely we can do the same for the Elite Eight New England/Mid-Atlantic universities, right? Right!

Harvard: Too Rich to Be a Nonprofit?

Have you heard about Harvard's latest donation? It is for 350 MILLION DOLLARS and is the third biggest gift in the storied history of people giving their money to universities and having dorms named after them. This time the guy is naming the entire School of Public Health after his dad. Seems fair! Also seems like a good time to postulate about the purpose of non-profits beyond their technical definition, non? Annie Lowrey writes for The Daily Intelligencer arguing from, among other reasons, a utilitarian standpoint (Annie!) that Harvard is officially way too rich to be one.

The Cost of Figuring Out a Guy Isn’t Right

I know that traditional wisdom dictates I’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before I find the right person. Do I have the patience for this? Yes. Does my wallet? I’m not sure.

Counselor, World Traveler, Wrangler of Young Jews: A Hiring History

I was in my bed in that slim space between being awake and asleep when I realized I was in my 30’s and hadn’t been to grad school yet.

The Value of College, in Chart Form

Maybe you don’t need yet more proof that going to graduating from college is a wise financial decision. But these charts are so pretty! And informative:

In her first year after college, the college grad is earning $40.405, while the high school grad, even with four years in the workplace, is only earning $33,245. (In other words, that college education is paying off from day one.) That’s not to say the high school graduate’s four years’ headstart means nothing: It takes until 15 years after high-school graduation — more than a decade after college graduation — for the college grad’s lifetime earnings to finally overtake those of the high-school grad. At that point, the college grad is earning $71,839 per year, while the high-school grad is earning only 60% of that sum — just $43,045. …

[E]ven after accounting for the cost of college, the median college graduate will have total earnings, 18 years after graduation, greater than 75% of high-school graduates.

It’s an especially sweet deal if you’re a dude. The fellas start making more out of the gate and never stop.

The fan chart of male against female earnings for four-year college graduates is, if anything, even scarier. It demonstrates that men, over the course of their careers, consistently earn more than 75% of women with equal educational attainment.

Here’s the best/worst factoid of all:

What’s more important in terms of earnings — being a science graduate, or being a man? The answer: being a man. Here’s the chart of male arts graduates versus female science graduates: the male arts graduates clearly do better. And that’s not because the women aren’t working: the chart only shows the salaries of full-time female employees.