“I want to be a doctor when I grow up.” “I want to be a teacher when I grow up.” “I want to be a lawyer when I grow up.” “I want to be a nurse when I grow up.” What do these occupations have in common? A college degree.
We tell our children that they can be whatever they dream to be but the TRUTH of the matter is college is too expensive. Each year tuition cost and fees go up. This TRUTH is killing the dreams of many who have expressed the desire to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc. If a prospective student decides to live at home, they are still hit with fees to support the college and its’ administrations dream to make the college even bigger. What about that child’s’ dream to make a difference in the world? Instead of being a nurse or doctor, the young person can only afford a C.N.A. certificate. Instead of becoming a lawyer the dreamer may only be able to afford a paralegal certificate or diploma program. Instead of becoming that teacher, becoming a paraprofessional may be as far as the financial support will stretch.
President Obama has proposed two years of community college to be free thus making higher education more accessible to “those willing to work for it.” I am all for this but for some, it may take more than two years to obtain that degree or certificate. I know many folks who graduated from college after 5 or 6 years and have built enormous debt from students loans that they cannot pay back because there are no jobs in their degree area. Further, should some find a job in the degree field, the pay is barely enough to get by, let alone pay a student loan back. SO WHAT CAN ONE DO? Good question. I wish that I had an answer.
My desire and dream has always been to become an author of children’s stories. Having little to no connections in this area, working in the library and with special education students became my means of financial support. I enjoyed working in the library as well as working with special needs children but neither were my first choice. I have accrued a considerable student loan debt that I had hope would have been paid for through a work forgiveness program. Unfortunately, it is only offered to teachers. So here I sit with a B.A. degree in English with a minor in library science and a great deal of student loan debt and no job. Oh yes through the years I have made multiple efforts to bring the debt down but when you are working in a job that is paying barely above minimum wage, passing this debt onto the next generation is a real possibility. WHAT AM I SAYING? Think long and hard before you pursue a college degree. Look at the job market to see what occupations have longevity. Certificate programs can prepare potential employees for manufacturing positions that pay good salaries or wages. There are still too many people with degrees and no job.
Should you decide to attend college, make sure that you have thought it through completely. Be certain that once you finish, you will be able to pay those loans back and do it immediately after graduation. We know that some form of higher education is necessary but the question is “is the result worth the cost. Have a fun filled funkadelic Friday.