Another “School vs. Money” Question of the Day

On Instagram stardom vs. elementary school.

Photo credit: Nick Amoscato, CC BY 2.0.

Last month, we discussed whether a talented young athlete like Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky should go to college (on a full scholarship) or maximize her immediate income potential by going pro:

I looked over all of the comments, and about twice as many Billfolders said that a person in Ledecky’s situation should go to college. One of you noted that she’s in a pretty privileged financial situation either way, which makes the decision if not easy, at least less risky.

How about the young person in this scenario? Should she go to school, or should her mother continue pulling her out of class to take advantage of modeling and brand opportunities?

The day prior, the principal had sat down with Ms. Vasquez to discuss the ongoing problem of pulling her daughter, Haileigh, out of class early. Ms. Vasquez had agreed not to do it, but here she was, ready to sweep Haileigh away any moment.
She ushered Haileigh to the bathroom and parked her in their usual corner between the air vents and stalls. She began Haileigh’s transformation process. They needed to prepare for a Crayola-sponsored shoot that afternoon. About a year ago, companies like McDonald’s, Kind, Amazon and Polaroid started calling Ms. Vasquez to ask for sponsorship opportunities, paying to have Haileigh promote their products in her Instagram feed. She puts the money into Haileigh’s trust fund.

Seven-year-old Haileigh is an Instagram star, and that’s where this story takes an interesting turn, because if you removed the word “Instagram,” it might be just another example of a child model trying to balance a normal life with photo shoots and product placements. But “Instagram star” doesn’t feel real, yet, and so you get these questions like “why is her mother pulling her out of school?”

I’m finding myself falling on the side of “get those Instagram dollars while you can,” first because that trust fund could easily become a college fund, and second because she’s young enough that time out of class might not be that big of a deal? (I am ready for you to tell me that I’m wrong—but when I was seven years old, I remember thinking that school was interesting, but it also had a lot of wasted time in it.)

What about you?