Dear High School Senior,
I hope you’re ready to live off of Ramen Noodles and Arizona Iced Tea until you’re sixty because student loans are f***ing ridiculous! The average student loan debt in 2018 was $37,000, and that is before you add interest, and only IF you don’t go out of state or to a private university. The cost of a 4-year college degree has become so outrageous that many graduating students are considering ditching the whole college plan altogether.
We are living in a time where the basic college degree doesn’t have anything to do with a decent income anymore. Many of my former bosses and friends didn’t even fill out a single college application and they make more money than my mom who has a master’s degree. Because the cost of a college degree has become some far beyond what could be considered as reasonable, my generation is considering whether or not college is really worth the financial strain.
There are months that I am so strapped on cash that I wonder if the decision to go to school was worth the financial stress. I look at the amount of interest that is added to my loans and it feels like for every step I take, I am pushed back two more. Student loans are one of the main causes of financial stress There are a lot of people that didn’t even want to go to college in the first place.
The fact that most millennial college graduates will be paying off their student loans for decades should, frankly, be illegal. If I had not received my associates degree through dual enrollment in high school, I would be so far into student loan debt that I wouldn’t even know where to begin to get out of it. I even struggled with whether or not I wanted to go further into debt to continue my education. Is a master’s program worth the financial hole that I would be digging myself further into?
A college degree is not a guarantee that you are qualified for a job. Yes, it is good to have for certain careers, but let’s be honest. An employer cares less about our academic background than your skill set, qualification, and job experience. No one but your parents care about your academic achievements.
Traditional college isn’t for everyone and there are much more affordable options than taking out loans for school; i.e trade schools, community colleges, online school, joining the military, etc. Many people hated school and never would consider going back. We are at a point where the traditional college degree is almost worthless. Decades ago, a four-year college degree would provide you with a larger salary, better job employment, and more security. Most Baccalaureate graduates wind up working minimum-wage jobs or unemployed if they’re not lucky enough to secure a job after graduation, and they could be stuck in that limbo for a long time.
Some people find great success whether a college degree was achieved or not. Success isn’t measured by the number of letters you have at the end of your name. It is measured by your persistence, work ethic, and by what you as an individual define success. Success is not something that is achieved by a piece of paper worth $40,000. It is measured by the person and their accomplishments.
I leave you with a few pieces of advice. REALLY consider whether or not college is the right thing for you. If so, be smart with your student loans. Check the interest rates, and do as much research as you can. Also, don’t spend your financial aid refund on something stupid like I did. $300 concert tickets are not smart investments!
Whatever you decide, own that decision and make sure it is 100% your own. Student loans are your responsibility, and yours alone. If decide that getting f**ked by student loans, make sure its worth it. I know that for me it was.
Danielle Spera, B.A. (Currently $28,000 in student loan debt)
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