David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | [email protected]

Unreal Estate

The other day some famous people bought a $190 million house. Not being up-to-date on the California real estate market, I am in no position to suggest what homes might have been available in the $180 million range. And don’t even get me started on what kind of ramshackle dwelling could be had for a lousy $170 million.

I wish the famous people every happiness in their new digs. The purchase and the fact that it came to my attention–living contentedly under a rock as I do–got me thinking about college admissions and where our beloved children end up studying. I know. I know. A sparrow burps in the next county over and I think of college admissions. After 40 years of doing this work, pretty much everything makes me think of college admissions.

The wealthy people in their new house – – I assume it’s a new house, I mean who pays $190 million for a used house? – – also made me reflect on famous athletes. About whom much is known. Chances are you know a lot about the quarterback on your local sports team. Whether you are an avid fan with season tickets for generations or rabidly opposed to a sport that has been associated with traumatic brain injury, you likely know where the famous athlete went to college, to whom the famous athlete is married, how much the famous athlete paid for his house. With a few clicks, you could also find out if the famous athlete had dinner at a fancy restaurant last Saturday and if he subsequently attended a party, gala, or nightclub.

Whereas I bet you have only the vaguest notion and don’t particularly care where your doctor went to college. None of my readers know where the pilot of a recent airplane trip went to college. I wish my clients would ask me where I went to college—Go Badgers!–but no one ever does.

It would only be fair to point out that I am aware of where one of my older son’s most brilliant medical school colleagues—now an orthopedic surgeon—went to college. He attended Arizona State University, a school that admits 85% of its applicants, basically everyone. At the risk of belaboring the point, the smartest kid in a recent University of Florida medical school class was an undergraduate at a university whose admission essay prompt reads, “do you now or have you in the past possessed in your body or do you know someone in whose body there is now or has ever been a spleen?”

But I’m not just harping on my quotidian “who you are matters more than where you go“ refrain. I’m hoping you will ponder with me, “how much is enough?“ 

If your child is a capable student, hard-working and bright, then their attending a “top” school will not matter. It could be argued that the difference between a school with a single digit admission ratio and a school that accepts virtually every qualified applicant is vanity. Your kid will end up with the same admission offers to graduate school, the same job as an adult, provide you with the same number of grandchildren whether they attend Old Bricke University or Schmendrick State. You might even save a sizable chunk of the $350,000 that the highly rejective school might charge you for tuition, room and board, insurance, textbooks, root beer, pizza, and a pump to blow up a volleyball because you can’t find an institution of higher learning in the United States in 2024 that doesn’t have sand volleyball courts dotting the campus.

In case you saved that kind of money you, would only need $189–something million more dollars to buy the house of the famous people should they decide to move someplace bigger or more expensive.

And speaking of fantasy, I’m going to spend some time thinking of how much good could be done for the world–meals provided for un-domiciled folks, medicines for people who can’t afford them–if I lived in a one million dollar house and had $189 million extra dollars to contribute to folks in need.

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David Altshuler 2

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Copyright © David Altshuler 1980 – 2024    |    Miami, FL • Charlotte, NC     |    (305) 978-8917    |    [email protected]