Appearances are deceiving. What do think of when you imagine yourself (if you're a high school junior or senior) or your son or daughter (if you're the parent of a high schooler) going to college? Maybe your fantasy involves strolling well-manicured lawns that fill the spaces between imposing Gothic-looking buildings. Your visions may also include cheering crowds inside football stadiums on crisp, sunny fall days, or deafening field house throngs urging their basketball stars on to yet another come-from-behind win. Oh, and don't forget those long, gorgeous, towering-tree-lined sidewalks that connect all those stunning buildings, like a kind of concrete circulatory system. Some picturesque scenarios, eh?
Coming farther down to earth, though, maybe you also imagine what I call The Money Monster, those tuition bills that would visit your mailbox twice a year. Every year, parents all over this land hear the beating of its wings, usually in August and December. Then, on what was a normal trip to get the mail, it's spotted, perched menacingly atop the mailbox, waiting to be fed with your money!