Hello sugarcubes, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

We’re all tickled it’s Friday. Good riddance, week! Don’t come back, ya hear?

Haha, let’s get an all-new Ask the Experts panel started by saying hi to the Experts. Hi Experts!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are so cute! From left to right, that’s Andy Williams, Tim Thackaberry, EZ Ed Johnson, Dottie Correll and Lewis Casey. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

Since everyone is going back to school, I wanted to ask the Experts their thoughts on college. I was curious to see what they would say. Here’s this week’s question:

Q. With the sky-high tuition and low availability of jobs, do you think college is worth it these days?

Expert Andy, will you start us off, please?

A. If there was ever a question in my wheelhouse this is it!  Thanks Ms. Liza for teeing me up.

You see, I’m on the board of trustees at Rose-Hulman, my alma mater and the best undergraduate engineering school in the country for 13 years straight as voted upon by our peers and as published annually in the U.S. News and World Report.  As a trustee, we wrestle with this question a lot.  Tuition is indeed going up.  But it is going up faster in public institutions than it is our own.  History suggests that for the past 20+ years tuition has outpaced inflation 2 : 1.  I will not get into how inflation is measured, because that is a farce not counting food costs in inflation, for example.  If I recall, energy costs are also excluded.  I can tell you this:  in 1984 when I went to college, Rose Hulman’s annual cost was close to $15,000.  Now it is $46,000.  That is a 3X increase.  Also, our discount rate is roughly 33%, meaning that roughly 1/3rd of that figure is given out as financial aid.  As I recall, gas in 1984 was about $0.60 a gallon.  Now it is $3.60, a 6X increase.

What cannot be debated is that wages and savings are not increasing commensurate with food costs, energy costs or inflation no matter how you measure it. Consequently, the family burden is increasing dramatically.  As state and federal budgets get slashed as tax revenues fell, public education assistance has fallen dramatically.  Interesting considering our President got elected on the backs of the sub-25 crowd by a dramatic margin.  Yet they are the demographic most affected by these cuts.  Go figure.

Anyhow, what everyone needs to realize is that college is not for everyone.  Steve Jobs was a college dropout.  Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fame) didn’t go or dropped out.  There are countless examples of successful people….really, really successful people not getting a college degree.  Labron James.  The list goes on.  But for those who choose to go to college there is one statistic that should be kept in the forefront of the decision:  starting salary divided by cost/year of college.  Do the math on that statistic if you or one of your children or friends are going to college.  It comes down to an Return on Investment (ROI) decision.  For instance, at Rose Hulman that statistic is roughly 2 : 1.  Starting salary is pretty close to twice the total annual cost of attendance, not including the discount rate.  College-goers need to understand the ROI of their college investment.  Make a good investment decision!  If you want to be a teacher, you may want to get a part-time job and not take on college loan debt because we as a nation grossly underpay our teachers.  In my opinion, a teacher’s salary should be one of the highest around.  Our future rests in their hands every single day, and yet we pay them peanuts.  It’s is one of this country’s most embarrassing facts.

The bottom line is that college is worth it if you can make your ROI something you are comfortable with.  But it should be considered as the answer to this question.  College is of very high value for some and a complete waste of time, money and brain cells for many others.  There are plenty of trades and other well-paying jobs that will put the motivated ahead of the college graduates, especially those who don’t consider their college investment ROI.

A. Despite the ever-increasing tuition and job market, I still believe college is very much a worthwhile investment. I do a fair amount of hiring, and it’s been my experience that people with college degrees have more success than those that don’t. It’s often not about the specific degree they have, but rather about an ability to think critically and an openness to continuous learning. In fact, 24 year old kids right out of school with computer science degrees often struggle mightily as programmers because real world programming bears very little resemblance to what they do in school. (Plus, kids with CS degrees tend to be snotty little buggers who think they know everything and rarely do, but that’s a whole other thing).Things change incredibly quickly in the business world, and if you can’t think critically and learn new skills, you will fail. You don’t necessarily need a college degree to have these skills, but I have noticed a strong correlation between having a degree and possessing these skills.

A. College is worth what you want to get from it. I took classes on subjects that fascinated me or ones that I thought would get me where I wanted to be. I bought only the books I knew I would read. I didn’t worry so much about what grade I might get as much as what I might learn. If I didn’t have a notion of what I wanted out of college, I believe it would have been a waste of time and money.

Having said all that, the parties were great.


Moderator Liza here. Expert Dottie turned 87 this week, and she’s having far too much fun in “real life” to be here with us today. Happy Birthday, sweet lady! You are a National Treasure and I’m glad you’re enjoying your family time. You are missed, obviously, but we all understand it’s for good reason!

Readers, if you’d like to send birthday greetings to Dottie, you can leave them in the comments section and I’ll forward them to her.

For now, let’s admire her adorableness:


And move on to Expert Lewis. Lewis, is college worth the cost?


Ha der missus high fulton collage educted girl

Whoo nedds a book learning wastttte of time

Hell klife will taught sho every ting that you will never need

You tink that I gottes to the lever of smartzz

Thaat I at buy gooing to some fancy dancy schol

Ta only schol dat I gones to was the Schol of Hard Knocks and I wents to some of dos classes several time3s

I rember one or twice ridden on the back Joes truck just standing ther admiiring the scenalre

I didnt recone that beer bottle toad out the window would fly upside my head or tat the road would be so hard

Third time I learneed to duck

And tat time with the saw was not my fault, Billies leg is almost bettet tat cane helps him a lot

Im a big fan of my gramps saying “Boy your as dumb as a bags of rock”

Alwayss make me proud when he say tat.

So Miss prissy smarty pants who neds that sillyass book learning

Dumb as rocks, Dumb as rocks, Yeah dumb as rocks

So if you ever ask me where I got my smarts

I say you I work hard, I let never nothing stop me, I try lots of things some I like some I like not

People say no,

I say yes only me can stop me

People say no

You say yes only you can stop you

College Ok

But to this day when they say you as Dumb as rocks

I pull out my pocket ful of rocks

Look at tem, smile and say “Yea Ok”

Haha, that was awesome!

I enjoyed all of your answers, very thoughtful, very interesting. You fellas are alright!

Let’s send out some more birthday wishes to Expert Dottie – hurray for another year!

I’d like to thank the gentlemen for being with us today, thanks guys!

That does it for this week’s Ask the Experts panel. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Up next, the answer to last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Let’s see how you answered:

Janis Louise Wright wrote, “Do you know what this plant is? Janis Wright”

Janis, that’s not a guess! I emailed you – no, I didn’t get your photo, so I can’t help you ID your plant. Can you resend it?

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Fake. Worth fake bees, which makes sense as any self respecting real bee would die of pure, unadulterated, shame if it was caught anywhere near that…”

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “Laughably fake.”

Charlie Hebert wrote, “Gonna go with Fake! (Hi Liza! I’m alive. Had some major major surgery with more to come. Will update you as soon as I find your Email addy. Regards..)”

CHARLIE!!!!!! I’ve missed you so! I’m pretty sure I still have your email.

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “As fake as they come!”

Joseph Brenner wrote, “Faker than fake.”

Tom from Midwestern Jungle wrote, “Fake!”

That’s six votes fake, zero votes real.

What’s the correct answer?

Maybe this photo will shed light:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Aaaaahhhhhhhh! My eyes! My eyes, I can’t seeeeeeeeee!

I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation on why someone would spend money on something so pointless, but I’m not aware of what that explanation would be. Or why it has sat untouched for years, gathering swells of dust.


Fake plants are so ugly! Real plants are so much better.

Claude, you were first with the correct answer, which makes you the best answerer. Well done! For being so speedy, you’ve earned the following title: “The Firstest, Fastest, Most Masterfully, Best Dressed, Well Mannered, of High Moral Compass, Eagle Eyed, Superawesomest, GGGGGGGrandest Champion of the Houseplant Blog Universe plus 13 square miles.”

So for example, if you’re at the flea market this weekend and you meet someone new, you should introduce yourself as Claude The Firstest, Fastest, Most Masterfully, Best Dressed, Well Mannered, of High Moral Compass, Eagle Eyed, Superawesomest, GGGGGGGrandest Champion of the Houseplant Blog Universe plus 13 square miles. I’m sure it’ll lead to lifelong bonds.

Congratulations, you may multiply all the prizes by ruby red toast.

Everyone’s a winner this week. To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like to award you all the following prizes: Two August evenings, a serenade, ornamental grass, five silver knuckles, three glittered frogs, a college education, 14 1/2 bonus points, salsa, seven festivities, four mountain sunrises, a voucher for a free ride, fall flowers, and one extravagant CONGRATULATIONS!

Good job, and thanks for playing!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this plant real or fake?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, August 29th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

I’ll be back tomorrow, hope to see you here.