Ah, that wonderful, life-changing piece of paper. You know, the one that’s bestowed upon you after four (or eight) years of hell. You held down a job, partied a
lot little, and still managed to graduate magna cum laude. It’s a big deal, because you’re the first in your family to not just go to college, but actually finish it.
You’d think this would be the proudest moment of your life, right? But no, instead of celebrating, you’re calculating. Calculating the number of hours you have to spend job searching, the number of interviews you need to go on before that six month deferment is up, and Uncle Sam starts asking for his cut. And if it’s an advanced degree, forget about it. All those loans that were in forbearance? Those “pay me” letters will come the WEEK AFTER you complete that last class, faster than you can add that “MBA” to your name. It makes you wonder: after all of that hard work, what exactly do you have to show for?
- …this will keep me warm
The average student loan debt in the U.S. is about $25,000. And that’s just the average. I know people with twice as much, even triple that amount, paying between $500 to $1,000 amount for their loans. Most entry-level jobs, even with a degree, don’t start at six figures, so graduates are virtually living in poverty.
I thought of people I know who didn’t go to college, and whether their debt situation was any better. For the most part, they have no college experience, so of course they didn’t have to take out loans. As a result, they have virtually little to no student loan debt, and most don’t even have credit cards. I know people who work at Dunkin Donuts and bring home about $35k a year, which isn’t much, but after you factor in the fact that they have NO STUDENT LOAN DEBT, sometimes their take home pay is more than that of their well-educated peers!
I think my biggest fear is that it won’t get any better. The cost of education is rising rapidly, but the amount of available jobs isn’t. We’re already a nation of debt; what happens when no one can pay for it all?
Listen. I’m not telling you that your degree is worthless. College graduates, although they’re living at home, have an unemployment rate of a little over 4%. It can be even lower with for those who major in actual career fields, not just the four-year liberal arts degree (so choose your major wisely). At the end of the day, you may have acquired a hole in your pocket, but you can never trade the experiences you had (Greek, anyone?) and the people you met..even if it cost you $40k a year to meet them. And even if you don’t ever manage to pay off those loans, at least you know you’ll always have your degrees to keep you warm…right?