Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To Go To College or Not To Go To College

When you were in high school, did you feel like you had options when you graduated?  I didn't.  I was expected to go to college.  That's just what everyone did after high school.  If you didn't, you were a failure.
Nobody explained to me at any point, as a teenager, how expensive it is to go to college. No one explained to me that "Financial Aid" really meant LOANS that will take the rest of my life to pay off!
I was at most a mediocre high school student.  I'm shocked that I graduated.  I passed most of my classes in high school, but that's about it.  I got A's in all of my music classes and drama classes, and that's probably what kept me afloat as a student.  It's probably the only reason I stayed in school, to participate in those activities. 
Even though there are hundreds upon hundreds of colleges, I only applied to one.  My drama teacher had graduated from Indiana State University.  He had taken his students there every year for their Theater and Drama Day.  That was my exposure to the school.  As soon as I found out that they had a music degree, I knew that's where I was going.  No one encouraged me to check anything else out.  Luckily, I got into the school and into the music department.  Maybe they took everyone with a pulse at that time.  All I knew I wanted to do was sing!
After my first two years of college, I realized how much debt I was getting into, but as a Dialysis patient on the transplant waiting list, I had to keep going to school.  That way, I could stay on my mom's insurance.  By the time I was in my third year of college, I figured out, I have a passion for doing hair.  I could have gone to a two year or less trade school and been licensed to do hair!
With all of my health issues, and again, the fact that I'm a mediocre student at best, it took me six and a half years to finish my course work.  With my internship, that turned it into seven years.  I got loans every single year to survive.
Right now, my college loan debt is around $48,000.  That does not include the credit cards that I charged my college books and groceries to. I am slowly working to pay off all of that debt.  In 2004, my father's reaction to my debt was, "Declare Bankruptcy!  It's the only way you are going to survive!" Well, I didn't do that.  I'm slowly working my way out of debt.  It's going to take some time, but it's happening.  
I almost feel duped as a teenager, being told, the only way to make it in life is to go to college! No one once ever said to me, "Hey, did you know there are trade schools with two year degrees?" or "Maybe you shouldn't get yourself in that much debt.  College is really expensive!"    
Would I have listened to any of these comments at the time?
These days, are teenagers told how much it costs to go to college?  Is "Financial Aid" really explained to them in a manor that says, this is more debt?

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