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Topic #4
We paid over $100,000 for what?




I was talking to a couple of co-workers about debt incurred due to the college "education". One person had the gall to complain about a $4500 student loan that they were paying off. Another talked about "how lucky he was" because his parents footed the bill.
Screw them. I spent over $45,000 dollars to get where I am today. Lordy that's depressing.
For those of you in the studio audience who can't see what Avery is doing right now, he's hanging his head in despair. Wait! He's getting up… and he's walking over to the kitchen… opening up the fridge… he seems to be getting something out… it's… YES! it's a beer. Now he's muttering something black helicopters, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Association and the government conspiracy binding both of them together. Ok, he's coming back
Sorry about that… but sometimes the thought of how much money I have spent for my "education" just really pisses me off.
You see, Janet and I never got any sort of financial support from our parents when it came to our schooling. It's funny, even though I wish I wasn't paying $300 per month (just for MY loans&#41, I'm happy that I didn't have to worry about my parents when I went to school.
You see, the above mentioned co-worker whose college tuition was subsidised by his parents had a really sucky college experience. He had to maintain a certain GPA, and had to major in a certain subject in order to get the funding. No partying, no drinking, no fun at all… and if he was ever caught breaking the "rules" he would lose his cash and have to drop out. Either that or just get a job. Regardless, he decided to spend those four years living like a monk… living in the dorm, eating cafeteria food, and not learning the most important lesson that a young person should learn while in college.
I never lived in a dorm (except that month when I lived in Janet's dorm when she was a Freshman at Hartt School of Music and I was a Junior in High School&#41… I only ate cafeteria food occasionally… and since I didn't have any rules imposed on me, I made up my rules as I went along.
When I was in college, I was married… I worked a full-time job, and I still went to school. It taught me how to multitask… it taught me how to fend for myself. It taught me not to even consider moving home to mommy and daddy.
And how did I come out? I have held good jobs ever since I left college. I graduated with the College's Senior Creative Writing award, two years younger than anyone else in my graduating class… and I did it my way (Props to the Chairman of the Board on that one&#41.
So, what am I paying off for the next 30 years? I'm paying off the start of my life. I'd rather pay that off instead of paying off some stupid Bachelors Degree.

When I was suffering through high school, everyone told me to just "stick it out and wait for college".  When I was suffering through college, I heard "don't worry, a couple more years and you'll have a great career."  A few months into my first entry-level job it was all about "starting at the bottom and working up the corporate ladder."  It has now been four years since I graduated from college and all I can say is "Where's my refund?"

During the span of five years I attended four different colleges, searching for that perfect college experience I'd been hearing about from all of my guidance counselors since the eighth grade. Needless to say, I never found the stimulating education, the intellectual comraderie, or the beginnings of the career path that's supposed to fall into place somewhere along the line.

Because Avery & I were married, we enrolled as "independent" students. This meant that because we were working and going to school without any (zero&#41 financial help from our parents, we were able to qualify for the maximum loan amount allowed for each semester. We had no choice at the time — it was either take the debt or drop out altogether. We knew it was adding up, but we figured that by spending the money for school now, we'd have enough to pay off the loans when we got the kind of job that a Bachelor's Degree would help us get later.

The day that I opened the letter that listed our student loan consolidation options, I felt like someone had pushed me in the stomach. With the salaries that we were making right out of school, we literally had no choice but to take the longest payoff plan available – 30 years. At this rate, we owed $40,000 in principal…and $60,000 in interest. Keep in mind that for the most part the schools we attended were state schools, not expensive "concept colleges" or Ivy League schools.

Four years later, it's still a struggle to pay those loans. My "career path" looks more like trampled brush and a few broken twigs.  The liberal arts degree which was supposed to make me more "marketable" in the workforce now just makes me look like I couldn't decide on a major.

I did have some favorable educational experiences, but it just wasn't worth the $100,000 price tag.  The higher education spokespeople will tell you that reading classic literature, sketching fruit bowls, and taking a couple semesters of a foreign language will help you become a well-rounded individual. Odysseus, however, is not going to help me figure out office politics and my appreciation of art won't help me with my networking skills.

Right now all I want is my money back.

Posted in Topics of the Week (1990s).

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