Tag Archives: student debt

College — The Myth

The Right College = The Right Life = Success. Attending the right college has become as much a part of the American Dream as owning your own home.

Attending the right college has been marketed as the ticket to status and the good life. For some, what has gotten lost along the way is that college is simply a path to independence, a place to learn skills that enable you to support yourself financially and otherwise.

The “enable you to support yourself” is the part left out of the slick brochures along with the joy of paying interest on your interest.

Nobody cares
Unless you want to partner in a ritzy law firm, nobody cares where you went to college or what grades you got.

Can you do the job? Can you get along with your co-workers? Can you solve problems? Can you show up on time?

The June 28, 2016 Consumer Reports cover story, Student Debt — Lives on Hold and articles, reference material, and graphic organizers are a must read for every would be college student and their parents. As state funding for colleges and universities has drastically declined, a generation of college graduates face a lifetime of chasing their college debt and forgoing home ownership and perhaps even parenthood.

One of the Consumer Reports articles explains how college loans are structured in such a way that it makes them harder to pay off than mortgages.

Real-life economics
Every high school student should have a unit on real-life economics.

  • Assets
  • Budgets
  • Careers
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Investments
  • Real Estate
  • Take home pay
  • Taxes
  • Tax loopholes

College is an investment
Whatever debt is to be assumed should be evaluated against prospective salaries and demand for prospective careers. Those statistics are more readily available than ever.

Creating your Career
The price of turbocharged academics is less time to learn critical soft skills such as collaboration and presentation. The amount of time needed to memorize reams of information, prep for SATs and ACTs, and push oneself to do college-level work as a high-school sophomore, not to mention turbo-charged sports and activities leaves little time for introspection.

Some teens and young adults learn from watching positive role models or intuitively understand the keys to developing a career and creating opportunities:

  • Figure out where your strengths meets your interests
  • Build your network
  • Learn how to learn from real life, from mistakes
  • Learn how to listen

Ignorance regarding academic intelligence
If your pipes burst, you don’t want someone who can write an essay on the merits of copper vs. PEX pipes, you want someone who can fix your pipes. There are all kinds of intelligence, yet we seem to glorify only academic intelligence, which is basically linguistic intelligence and mathematical reasoning.

There are definitely advantages from graduating from a prestigious university, but it’s simply not feasible for everyone.

If one can let go of the quest for status, there are more options than most students realize. Some junior colleges not only offer pathways to state colleges for a fraction of the cost, but offer reasonably priced vocational certifications for in demand careers such as ultrasound technician, nursing, fire science, HVAC, and welding.

Many state colleges offer a smorgasbord of degree options and heavily discount in- state tuition. For those considering a military career, there are ROTC scholarships, and many corporations offer tuition reimbursement.

What color is your parachute?
The trick is figuring out what comes naturally to you that also captivates you (most of the time). There’s tedium at times in every job. Two good resources are What Color is Your Parachute for Teens and bigfuture.collegeboard.org.

Buyer Beware
The August 2016 Consumer Reports cover reported, “42 million people owe $1.3 million in student debt.” Here are some links that capture the stories of some of those hard-working young adults who unfortunately bought into the myth and became student debt slaves. Some end up working two low-paying jobs to pay interest compounded on interest and never making a dent in their balance.

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