Recently, a Discover Student Loans survey was released that shows parents of college-age children are worried about having enough money to pay for college and 77% of those parents say they plan on helping their child – down from 81% last year.
I am someone who did not go to college, at the ripe old age of 18 I was positively burned out on school and learning; on top of that, I wasn’t provided a college fund by my parents. Higher education was never memorably discussed, I didn’t receive all that much encouragement and even though I applied to a couple schools and was accepted, I didn’t know how I would pay for anything.
I had a job throughout high school so I could have money of my own, but at the end of my senior year I started to grasp the cost of college; the tuition, books, housing, meal plans, and my brain immediately shut down the idea. If I went to college, I would have to work full time to support myself and pay for my education. I held a high B GPA so financial aid wouldn’t be great and when I reviewed the terms, my father made too much to be eligible for significant aid.
The school I applied to and was most interested in was across state, so I would have to move, find housing and a job in an unfamiliar place. I could stay at home and go somewhere closer but my hourly wage was around $6–how was I going to make that work? I couldn’t imagine paying for school with my job at the local deli running lottery numbers and making sandwiches. I was terrified of debt, the numbers presented to me were overwhelming and I refused to entertain the idea of paying that much for school.
That was back in 2001. I can’t imagine what the numbers look like now.
I have been in the thick of searching for a new job for a month and a half now and I fully believe that because I don’t have some sort of college degree on my resume, whether it’s relevant to the position or not, I’m not getting any call-backs. I’ve looked into going back to school (community college), but the fields I am interested in do not allow for flexible scheduling and I can’t give up my full time job, nor can I switch to part-time. The careers I’ve researched all require a Bachelor’s Degree and four years seems like a long time to a 31-year-old.
Do I regret skipping college back in 2001? At times I do. After all, I’d be done by now, but when I’ve heard the stories about the amount of debt that young people have gone into for school, sadly, I feel as though I’ve dodged a bullet. For now, because of the time and the price tag, I still can’t swing college. Should I reconsider and make more of an effort? Have you found your college experience to be a wise investment or a waste of money? I’m very curious to know if a degree has helped you snag that job, get a salary boost or improve your life in other ways.
I was sent a link to a calculator that tells you the value of a four year college education in today’s dollars so you can look at it as an investment. I entered in the information requested and used Penn State since that’s the predominant institution around and hit calculate! Apparently going to college at my age is like someone handing me $377,728 so I should see it as a worthwhile venture into my future. I’ll tell you what–you hand me $377,728 now and I will enroll tomorrow.