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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jan 11, 2024 11:24 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a decision about paying for college, stay-at-home-moms vs work-out-of-the-house moms, options for a UVA early decision reject, and a friend who is negative about a new business.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Donut family: Pay for T10 or go to state for almost free" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Yesterday I discussed a thread that was about "dead zone" families who are families in the top 3-10 percent of income but struggle with admissions to elite colleges because they are beat out by the top 1 percent. Sometimes, however, children from those families, and families just below them in income level, do get accepted. Those families often face a separate issue. They are too wealthy to be awarded financial aid but don't have the financial resources to pay expensive tuitions out of pocket. These families are often referred to as "donut hole families". The original poster says that her daughter has been accepted to a top 10 university but has been awarded minimal financial aid. It will cost them about $60k per year  for her to attend the university. In constrast, she can go to the University of Maryland-College Park for a third of that. The family has limited retirements savings, currently rents, and has been saving for a downpayment on a house. They have about $200k household income. The original poster's daughter plans to study something in the arts but is otherwise undecided. The original poster wants her daughter to have the best degree possible, but also wants to prioritize retirement savings. There are of course a variety of opinions about which option is best, otherwise this would not have been such an active thread. One view is represented very succinctly by a poster who wrote, "[t]he way to set her up as well as possible is to minimize both loans and the chance that she will have to support her destitute parents in retirement." With this in mind, UMD or a comparable option would be the best choice. But, others argue for the value of a degree from a top 10 university and suggest pursuing that option even if it requires taking out loans. That view is very much in the minority, however. Several posters question the original poster's financial planning and prior financial decisions. Others question the value of an arts degree. Quite a few posters point out that the daughter will probably need to attend graduate school. Therefore, the undergraduate school is not that important. The original poster's plight highlights one characteristic of financial aid calculations that continually irks me. She has $250k sitting in a savings account to be used as a downpayment for a house. From a school's point of view, that is tuition money and, therefore, offsets need for financial aid. As a result the original poster is being punished for saving. Had she spent that money on a house last year — or even blown it over a wild week in Las Vegas — her daughter would be in a stronger position for financial aid calculations.

The next most active thread was posted in the "General Parenting Discussion" forum. Titled, "It seems SAHM & working mom live in different world", the original poster is bothered by a neighbor who is a stay-at-home-mom. The neighbor does not understand why the original poster, who works fulltime, sends her kids to beforecare, aftercare, and summer camps. The original poster is upset enough that she doesn't think she can be friends with the neighbor. DCUM used to have almost constant stay-at-home-mom versus work-out-of-the-house-mom fights. While such threads are not uncommon these days, they don't get the traction that they used to. This thread seems to be an exception. Several posters question whether both beforecare and aftercare are necessary and suggest that the original poster and her husband might stagger their schedules so that one of the childcare sessions could be eliminated. Similarly, some posters suggest this has less to do with having a job and more a failure of time management on the original poster's behalf. In a follow-up post, the original poster expressed concern that her neighbor might be judging her, but it appears that the original poster might be guilty of being somewhat judgemental herself. This causes several posters to wonder if the real issue might not be the original poster doubting her own life choices. One new wrinkle in this thread that makes it different than traditional stay-at-home vs work-out-of-the-house throw-downs is the advent of working from home. Prior to the pandemic, long commutes to and from work would have increased the need for before and after care. But, the original poster's husband works from home and she has a hybrid schedule. This causes those responding to be much less understanding of need for the extra care. It appears that the original poster abandoned the thread after the first page and other posters preceded to get in fights with each other. The thread is currently at 12 pages with most of the pages consisting of insults to the original poster that she doesn't seem to be around to read and unrelated bickering. As these threads go, this is far from the worst that I've seen but it certainly has the potential to get considerably worse.

The third most active thread yesterday was titled, "Any uva ED rejects who got into better/icy schools during RD?" and was posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Before reading this thread, I spent a considerable amount of time wondering what an "icy" school might be. It turns out that was a typo and the original poster meant "Ivy". I have discussed a number of threads that dealt with the topic of early decision college admissions. This type of application, that can only be used for one school and requires that the student commit to attending if accepted, is often seen as the best avenue for admission to a student's top school choice. However, what happens when ED doesn't work out? That's the problem that the original poster's daughter is facing. The original poster listed other universities to which her daughter has also applied, though mostly through regular admissions which might be much more competitive. Her daughter has been accepted by the University of Pittsburgh, though she appears to be hoping for a higher-ranked school. In a recent blog post I suggested that many of this forum's posters would love to participate in a fantasy college admissions league. This thread is almost an example of that idea in action. Posters review the original poster's daughter's statistics, including grade point average, SAT score, extracurricular activities, and the fact that she attends a Fairfax County Public Schools high school and offered assessments about her opportunities. Several posters were certain that the daughter had no chance of acceptance at an Ivy League school, though nearly everyone agreed that she would have several good options from which to choose. Several of those posting made such obvious errors in their posts that even I was capable of recognizing them. Posters repeatedly misstated the admissions procedures of various schools. A poster — who may be the forum's yield protection obsessive — suggested that the original poster's daughter was rejected by the University of Virginia due to yield protection. Yield protection is really not applicable to ED so that theory is unlikely. In addition to yield protection, nearly all of the forum's traditional bugaboos, including "test optional" and "grade inflation", were brought into the discussion. There also seems to be a poster who shows up in nearly every thread promoting Vanderbilt University. It didn't take long for most of the discussion to lose touch with the original poster's kid and simply become a fight about admissions in general. Had this discussion been happening in a bar, I could easily see someone getting punched. One poster made it clear that the only way you were getting test scores away from him was to pry them from his cold, dead hands. Test scores appear to be the only item with which that poster can distinguish one person from another.

I will skip the next most active thread, the one about disappointment with both Trump and Biden, because I've discussed it already. Therefore, the last thread that I will go over today was one posted in the "Off-Topic" forum and titled, "I told my friend about the business I’m starting and she crapped all over it". The original poster explains that she, her husband, and her brother have started a small business which, at this point, is really more of a hobby. However, they hope that it will grow into something more. The original poster told her friend about the business and the friend launched into a long diatribe about things the original poster is doing wrong and why the business is unlikely to succeed. The original poster told her friend that she didn't want to talk about it anymore and her friend apologized, but didn't accept that what she said was wrong. The original poster doesn't know how to respond to her friend who she says doesn't know anything about their business but acts like she knows more than the original poster. This is really a relationship topic and I should probably move the thread. But, some posters distinguish between romantic relationships which they understand belong in the relationship forum and platonic friendships which many posters seem to believe belong elsewhere. At any rate, many of those responding suggest that the original poster simply accept the apology and move on with the relationship. One poster argues that the friend has done the original poster a favor because learning to deal with bad advice and negativity is part of running a successful business. Others contended that the original poster would do best by succeeding with the business and rubbing her friend's face in it. But the original poster is not receptive to any of these ideas because she expects her friends to root for her rather than criticizing. A number of posters argued that the friend might have been correct about what she was saying, especially if the business in question is a multi-level marketing venture. The original poster denied that it is an MLM and clarifies that it is cybersecurity related. Others side with the original poster with one poster comparing the friend to loudmouth sports fans who think they know more than the team manager and do nothing but criticize what is happening rather than enjoying the game.

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