Paying Thousands to Get Your Kid into an Elite Private School, or to Get Yourself a Job

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There’s been a fundamental shift in how people are spending money; unnecessary expenditures on things like pricey, high-end children’s clothing are out of favor. What may be replacing those “treats” are mini-splurges, on things like donuts, fast food, and a night out at the movies. That’s not to say all hefty expenses—ones that seem absurd to the middle class right about now—have disappeared.

Witness the rise of the private school admissions consultant, whom some parents pay $450 an hour to help get their kid into an elite school. The NY Times reports on the trend.

Meanwhile, eager job hunters have been known to spend thousands to employment firms that claim they’ll help them land high-paying gigs. The takeaway: A lot of these firms do little more than polish a resume and offer tips on networking and cold-calling (tips that almost everyone knows nowadays)—and then they collect as much as $8,250 from the desperate job seekers.

Regardless, these sorts of expenses can easily be justified, I suppose: They’re intended as investments, for either the student’s long-term goals, or for one’s own career. They’re not splurges along the lines of a Hummer or a $150 dress for your baby girl. Are they worth it? That first depends on whether they even help the student get admitted, or help the job seeker start collecting a salary again.