Debts and Regrets
Think of your college education as if you’re buying a car. There are thousands of choices to sift through to best suit your needs. You can buy the biggest one, the one with all the nifty gadgets, or maybe the most comfortable fit. One way or another, you’re going to have to find the right balance: something that you can enjoy, that gets you where you need to go, and that is still affordable.
While we all wish that we could buy the dream car stealing all the attention on the showroom floor, most of us accept the reality that we just don’t have the cash. So why not settle for the more reasonable choice, something reliable that won’t break the bank? What about taking the bus? That’s a cheap alternative. Or you could always save up for that dream car later, when you can afford it, right?
It appears that many students fell for that proverbial dream car, with graduates owing nearly $830 billion in student loans, according to FinAid.org. No one should condemn another person for making a financial commitment. That is, unless they can’t follow through with it.
A recent trend in college graduates I know whimpering about their financial woes is not only annoying, but just plain stupid. If you are financially reckless, things will go wrong. Students need to acknowledge from the beginning that they can’t get around paying their dues.
Yes, I attend Eugene Lang College, a school that costs an arm and a leg, but I chose to come here. I made a conscious decision to study here because I think it’s worth it. And I take full responsibility for that, and will be paying off my student loans for years to come. If you’re going to attend a school like Lang, then ready yourself for the debts that you’ll have to pay.
Huffington Post’s “Share Your Story — Majoring In Debt” campaign gives students a platform to share their experiences with student debt and opinions on their education’s worth. While I’m sure some of the people listed grasp these realities from the beginning, the majority of students are anguished, distressed by the weight of the decisions.
“The stress is overwhelming at times. Sometimes I think my only answer is a miracle,” said Sonia Galindo, a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, a contributor to the project.
Northeastern University graduate Kelli Space has launched the website TwoHundredThou.com, which asks for donations to pay for her $200,000 in outstanding debts to the university.
While I’d rather be sympathetic towards Space’s cause, she chose to take out those loans. Nobody is forced to attend expensive universities; it’s a choice.
If education is so horribly expensive, what good does it do to complain about the cost after the fact? Behavior like that only perpetuates the problem: it seems like we’re increasingly apathetic towards education. In England, students have challenged government plans to triple tuition nationwide, staging sit-in demonstrations and mass protests across the country. When will that happen here?
There’s no shortage of alternatives to attending a pricey college. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are 17.5 million students pursuing a post-secondary education, and College Board reports that only six million of those students are enrolled in a community college. We should be able to attend whichever schools we want, but it’s important not to be too idealistic in our decisions.
College has become a cultural obligation in America. We feel compelled to attend the most prestigious university around, but is it really for the sake of education?