I am a 1st-generation college grad completing my senior year as we speak… literally (I’m sitting in Ancient Philosophy). I grew up in a home, much like many of you, where I was not only encouraged to go to college, but was expected to. And here I am sitting through hours on hours of lectures of material I will literally never use again. Now to be clear, I am a Philosophy major. So to the average thinker, the stuff I am reading literally doesn’t apply to 98% of the population and I completely agree. But I am not writing about my philosophy classes, I am writing about college. Is it worth it? Is college worth the four-to-six years it takes to get an undergraduate degree? Is college worth the social experience or the relationships?
To give you a little perspective on where I am, I have been working in the career I want to go into for nearly two years now, part-time. Upon completion of my undergrad my position becomes full-time.
With that being said, I want to be the best I can be at what I have decided to do. A few weeks ago I made the mistake (I call it a mistake because it was a waste of time) of looking into getting a graduate degree that I believed would further empower me to complete what I wanted to get done. The degree isn’t necessary for my career but was just a desire of mine to be more effective. Everything looked good until I realized tuition was going to put me thirty to forty thousand dollars in debt. I know, there are ways of this paid for but that is ridiculous!
I have been blessed as an undergrad to keep my college debt around $5,000. I never thought I would call owing someone $5,000 dollars “a blessing.” But after hearing story after story of people getting stuck in 40, 50, 60 thousand dollars worth of debt to get a degree that is going to land them 55k a year maybe, it just didn’t seem smart to me. Now, I recognize that some careers require sacrifice and sometimes that sacrifice takes hold of our finances for a season. If someone can get out with their M.D. with less than 200k in school loans, that is a win in my book. But the difference is they are going to have the ability to pay back that debt within a reasonable time frame. It is is not difficult to live off of 50k a year while you are using your other 100k to repay your debts for a couple years. However, when your salary isn’t that great to start with, starting life with a $50,000 burden over your head doesn’t seem like a good start to me. People are winding up with 30-year plans to pay back their school loans. That doesn’t sound appealing to me. If you are going to pay big money for your education, use wisdom when you make these decisions.
As most of you know, money isn’t everything. Jesus said “where your treasure is your heart will be also.” Don’t let your treasures determine where your heart is, let your heart determine where your treasures are. Some of you will do whatever it takes to achieve your goal, I appreciate and respect that. My desire here is not to attack your dreams but to challenge the ‘undecided’ 18-year old to think about the decisions that they are making today and how they could affect their future before they sign that big note that chains them up for 30 years. I don’t write to persuade you one way or the other but rather to get you to ask yourself the questions.
I will soon discuss careers, dreaming, and living out who we are created to be.