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  • chereesca

    In Illinois, we've also seen a severe reduction in student aid in addition to the reduction in federal subsidized loans. My niece, a freshman in college, had to take out a private loan which she got from Discover Student Loans. I was appalled to see the details (unfortunately after she signed). She'd taken out an $8,000 loan which would be $20,000 after repayment with interest and no opportunity to pay earlier to avoid the interest. It's maddening how institutions are taking advantage of these students who are new to managing their personal finances. In America, without a college education, there are very few opportunities for future financial stability. These kids have no choice but to take out loans and start their adult lives shackled by debt.

  • Arifah Rahaman-Aronson

    I'm dealing with this subject as I have twin 14 year old boys. High School is pushing college very hard. I've had this conversation with several people and it's starting to feel like a conspiracy. I'm being real with them, that many colleges aren't preparing graduates for real world communications. We are already a global market and learning to interact, negotiate with others is probably 50% of the education they will need. So we have to get that elsewhere. I don't know what my answer but college is becoming less appealing since they will start their future with debt well into 6 figures. That's insane. We're headed in the wrong direction.

    • Paris Marron

      I have a Master's degree and hefty student loan debt to go along with it. While I completely value the experience and education I received at college, I think about college much differently now.

      Now that my brother is college age and my stepson is about to graduate high school, I am really encouraging them to think about their intentions with college. What do they want to study? Will the career path they will pursue after college outweigh the the debt they will graduate with? Is there a job market for their major (i.e. not just studying anthropology because it's interesting, and thinking about whether their job will be automated/downsized by technology in the next 10 years - think journalism a decade ago)? Do they even really know what the day in/day out of that job looks like?

      I know that they feel too young to make the decisions about what they want to do for the rest of their life now, and think the answer will come in college. It may. Or even if they 'know' now, they may change their mind. But I think colleges do a very poor job guiding people into majors that will pay off, and providing real world job skills like you mentioned such as communication, interacting with others, negotiating, heck, even just showing up on time.

      I am encouraging my brother and stepson to find people in the field they think they might want to work and to shadow people early on. Get internships. Interview people in the field. Do research ... And if they found something they think they really want to do, then crunch numbers. How can they make it work? And I don't just mean student loans. Live with your parents or RA in the dorms to keep your cost of living down. Get a part-time job. Don't take out the maximum loans. Look at the real cost of loans and estimate what your payments (and how long you'll be paying them off) when you graduate. THEN, they can make an informed decision. But I certainly don't take college as a given anymore.

      • Arifah Rahaman-Aronson's good to hear your perspective. I'm encouraging them both to shadow others. With my connections I know they would learn a lot more...I think they need some summer positions to explore. I'm really pushing traveling through Europe and not making decisions yet.

        You raise such good points. The good thing is we're being conscious with the dialogue. I think this system of education is going to cause more harm to itself that they can anticipate. They are thinking from a corporate perspective...that's the problem. It has to crumble. So it's good we're shining the light on the issues.

        Good luck to you and your family.

    • Tom Maybrier

      I think it's great that you're telling them this now. I think US teens often aren't adequately prepared.

      At these prices, higher education is a luxury good, yet we still treat it as normal to begin one's life under the burden of obscene amounts of debt.

      I believe the idea of a college degree as "necessary" for everyone is unhelpful and even dangerous. The college industrial complex has done an excellent job convincing teens and their parents that knowledge work requires a degree when that is just not true.

      I've been working professionally for 6+ years in a field that I enjoy without any college education, so I know it can be done. There was no roadmap or cultural narrative to follow and while that worked for me I know it won't work for everyone.

      Young adults need to spend their first years of independence building expertise in a relevant field and developing the soft skills and professionalism that business (and life, really) requires but higher education is not the only option and I hope as a society we stop acting like it is.

      Best of luck to your family.

      • Arifah Rahaman-Aronson

        I didn't finish my degree. The way schools are designed just doesn't work for my personality. I recently told my children that and they were shocked. I've been very successful with my career. This talk on education has been ongoing for the last year and will continue. I've been encouraging them to take time to 'discover themselves' and go explore the world. I think this is far more important.

        There's so much more to gain from being open to experience. That's been my life. Opportunity needs to be recognized and you can't see it if you're living in a 'track'.

        I'm also quite frustrated with schools making them think about their future lives...what they should be doing at 25-30, when they are barely 15.

        Thank you...and glad to read about your success.

    • Jelena Woehr

      So true! I didn't do a traditional college experience -- not by choice, but circumstances compelled a change of plans -- and I'm now so glad to be debt-free aside from my mortgage. I did finish a Bachelor's Degree via CSU's global (online) program and took two years of courses for an Associate's concurrent with high school, but never spent a day on a traditional campus. I learned so much more from starting work at 19 in my field. Except for engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc., I think it's really wise to work a few years and decide about college AFTER deciding about a career. Cuts down on six-figure debt for something you decide you don't want to do after all!

      • Arifah Rahaman-Aronson

        I'm hands on too and visual. The setting just doesn't work for me and I didn't finish. One of my sons is much like me so we're talking through this. I agree they need to pause before college. I'm encouraging them to travel and even work abroad. There's so much they can't know and have no clue as to what's out there.

        They were shocked with the numbers which is good. Just think what you can do with your life if you took $100,000+ and invested in yourself through different means verses college? Maybe I should write about that. Oh my goodness, my mind just exploded with possibility.

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        I WISH I had taken extra time before I went to a college. I think my work experience alone taught me way more than going to a private university. Looking back, I wish I had taken community college courses and MOOCs and travelled before investing in school.

        • Arifah Rahaman-Aronson

          I wish I traveled too. I think on what I would have learned and seen...I wish.

      • Tom Maybrier

        Excellent point.

        My first startup was at 19 and it was huge eye-opener for me.

        I wasn't capable of fully understanding the financial ramifications of the debt I was considering at 17. I'm not sure any teenager is.