Thursday, July 12, 2012

Students Disheartened: the Commoner's Reality on College

  College.  Is it worth it anymore? Is it a worthy investment?  Is it worth the years of burdening debt and strife?  Give me some good reasons why I should stay in college.  Give any of us any really good reason to continue pursuing a college education other than the same and lame excuse of, "it will get you places" or "you need it to get where you want to be."  Where I want to be is not stressed out with no job worrying about how I'm going to pay student loans back to investors who charge rediculous interest and won't ever leave me  alone until I'm in my retiring age.  Do you really think that's what I want? If so, I think your version of my reality is a bit scued, or at least lacking knowledge.

  Like most of the popluation my age, I am in college, aspiring to transcend my upbringing and make something of myself that is seen as worthy of respect.  According to our over-domesticated society, going to college and "getting and education" is the surest way to attain that goal.  We are pushed to our breaking point to make and keep good grades, get involved with all sorts of clubs and organizations that will bring recognition on a resume, told to start learning how to work while maintaining an academic life, and then encouraged to make sure we have a well-rounded social life.  All of this - just to get ahead of a percentage of the crowd. 

  Now what does it take to be able to participate in these "life-changing" events?  MONEY.  I cannot stand money.  As a college student, I'm sure most can relate when I say that money is the root of all evil when it comes to school (however I do understand that the verse reference says that the love of money is the root of all evil).  Yes, because of money, we get to go to school and  get a "well-rounded education" - but it is also because of that same money that we suffer a lifetime of student debt, grief while finding a job that take an over-qualified candidate, and hesitance to settle down and start a family. 

  Student loans are the primary source of financial aid for students today.  There are grants and scholarships available to those who meet certain standards, and yet those who fall just slightly below the line are the ones who need those opportunities the most.  However, all those students qualify for are student loans - and man are those are big debbie downer. 

  Decades ago, young adults were able to enroll and go to colleges and universities for a very reasonable price; think about how much you would pay for a used car off the lot - that's how much you would have to pay for a four year college, IF that.  Now, instituations will charge anywhere from between $15,000 and $70,000 per year JUST to go to school and get an education.  On top of that, there are more college students graduating each year than there are job opportunites of any sort available to them once they leave the stage.  The amount of student loan debt used by college students each year are higher than the amount of credit card debt in the entire United States.  And since 1978, college tuition has gone up by over 900%!  That is rediculous!  What exactly do college institutions need that much money for?  Sure, you need to pay professors, and keep up your landscape, and kind of pay attention to the rooming facilities, but that much?????? For real?????? 

  This is unfortunately the reality I have to look at.  My parents cannot help me in any way, and because of certain family situations, I do not qualify for as much government aid as I possibly could.  My lifeline to college is this: if grants and scholarships can't pay for my $26,000 tuition fee, then I have to figure out a way to take care of it.  What is that way, you might ask? Student loans.  Why is it that in the three years I have been in college, tuition at my own school has gone up three different times?  Because the Board of my school decided to make some "great" changes and decisions that MOST of our student popluation were against.  Because these "wonderful" and "spectacular" ideas have been put into place, our tuition has gone up to help pay for it.  Really?  And it is so disheartening to learn that certain scholarships have stopped being funded because the state doesn't think that it's necessary for students to use anymore.  I have lost 2 scholarships for that exact reason.  All you hear from the state and government is that it is important for all students to attend college, and they encourage all of us to go by luring us into the freshmen year of college.  They do a really good job at making it possible for most students go for their freshmen year; after that, they kind of dump us on the side of the road and say, "Now fend for yourself," smile, and drive off.  Nobody really cares about any of us making it through all four years of school. 

  This blog is partly a rant of my own, and partly informative.  I speak from experience in the light of having to deal with the stress that money bring when it comes to school.  There is nothing wrong with going to a school that is affordable - even if it's not the flashiest school out there.  I encourage all of you soon-to-be college students to really consider the path you have in front of you.  I encourage you to follow where you are called to and work diligently once you get there so that you cannot be blamed for any disheartening circumstance you come to.  I encourage everyone else to support students you know - yes, morally, emotionally, and with prayer and petition - but consider giving financially as well.  Don't drain your pockets, but words of 'good luck' only go so far when the people you bid luck to fall into a whirlwind of mental and emotional stress from the unknown of what college is really all about. 
  If you would like to read complete statistics about college tuition and education, you can read this blog - it is very informative and adds to my point.  Understand that I am not trying to encourage by-passing college as an option in life, nor am I encouraging anyone to quit it.  I am not quitting, I'm hanging in there.  But I do encourage everyone to seriously consider whether what they're doing is worth all the money, burden and stress we'll have to deal with to pursue it.  Our economy is not getting any better, and all of the crap from this recession is going to be falling into the hands of our generation - are you willing to take the less traveled route? Or are you willing to take the more complicated route? Tricky choice.


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