Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Dang. I'm getting old. I took my son to a college fair down in Edison, NJ last week. Fortunately, he's only a high school sophomore, but come on, now. Is it fair that he's old enough to be thinking about college? That I'm old enough to have a son who's old enough to be thinking that way?

First, the joint was jumping. While my kids were on Spring Break, many schools in the metropolitan area were not. Yellow buses ferried hordes of high school students to the college fair. Most of the colleges that were a good fit for Scott were in attendance. Mind you, you won't find an ivy league university or, say, MIT at one of these. That's fine with me, because those places do not offer merit based scholarships, of which Scott would certainly avail himself.

We checked school after school, both private (wait - did you say $52,000/year for tuition, room & board?) and public (wait - did you say $25,000/year for tuition, room & board?). We dropped by my alma mater - Binghamton University (formerly SUNY Binghamton, at least when I attended), and lo and behold, Scott liked it. How funny would that be if he attended the college from which both my wife and I graduated?

For chuckles, we swung by the Cooper Union table. My grandfather graduated from that prestigious NYC institution 80+ years ago with a Civil Engineering degree. While every other booth had loads of pamphlets and signs, and people talking all about what their school had to offer, Cooper Union had one nattily dressed guy, a very small stack of single page pamphlets, some bookmarks, and a mostly empty table. The fellow looked generally bemused to be there. He said nothing about Cooper Union and focused on what courses Scott needed to focus on during his remaining high school years. When Scott mentioned one statistics laden research based analysis course he has now, the Cooper guy blessed Scott with a quote made popular by Mark Twain.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Scott was more than happy to share that with his RBA teachers when he returned to school today. The stats guy was amused, and the science guy told him it was Mark Twain.

Anyway, I may need to sell a kidney to put the kid through college. Of course, that would probably only pay for one year of tuition at a public university.

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