Wednesday’s Parent: Savvy shoppers have an advantage in the college process

Savvy shoppers have an advantage but no guarantees in the college process. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Savvy shoppers have an advantage but no guarantees in the college process. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

From shopping for food staples to procuring college diplomas, parents and students do better when they are conscientious consumers. It’s about understanding needs, assessing quality and matching budget. For big or little ticket purchases, savvy shoppers know to look beyond the marketing and research the product. As for the higher education choice, buyer beware because there are no warranties or guarantees.

I asked this classic question in a former article:

Is college a love match or a consumer purchase?

meaning If the goal is to find the best pick out of several thousand possibilities, should students look for student-college chemistry or search for a smart consumer purchase? The problem is the brain’s logic may not be in balance with the heart’s choice, especially when brand names are involved. And brand names usually come with a premium price.

A fascinating lesson in brand name economics from the Library of Economics and Liberty phrased this question:

(T)he question is not whether consumers are ignorant or irrational when they pay a higher price for a brand-name product, but whether they are paying too much for the additional quality assurance brand names necessarily provide.

Students or parents may want a brand name school. Name recognition in the market place, association with quality, and bragging rights are powerful lures. But “generic” brands offer something special, too. Students may receive an equally great education at a better price. Also, just because families are not familiar with a particular college, doesn’t mean it lacks a good reputation among its peers, graduates, employers, local area, region and those in the know.

It takes a lot more effort to dig deeper and learn about a school’s uniqueness, programs and opportunities. Knowing that successful graduates come from a wide variety of colleges can motivate the process to look beyond the amenities of luxury dorm rooms, brand names and fancy stadiums to find the place that will lead to best chance for student success during and after college. Maybe that’s a brand name or maybe it isn’t. Savvy consumers will take the time to find out.

Take a moment to reread the “Get selfish” part of Wednesday’s Parent: 5 fantastic tips to refine a college list. Connect with your inner consumer to find your college deal and read how value is based on what the student has done to maximize his higher education opportunities and make every college dollar count wherever he attends in Discover your college warranty

Read Suzanne’s post: A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Suzanne and I host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Except this month, we are hosting an open mic night on Wednesday, December 17. Bring your questions and comments about college prep over the holidays! 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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