Taking student loans was the best decision I ever made
- Student loans can leave young people thousands of dollars in debt, with the average borrower getting more than $37,000 to pay off.
- Despite the costs, student loans are a worthwhile investment if that education leads to a good career and good income down the road.
- I took out student loans and it was the best decision I made – here’s why.
Every time I read about crippling student loan debt, I feel a little twinge in the back of my neck. On the one hand, I know how painful it is to be trapped under a mountain of debt – I graduated with nearly $70,000 in student loans.
On the other hand, I do not regret having taken out loans to finance my studies. It’s not like I don’t understand how in debt I am – I’ve been reporting on student loans and higher education for over a year for work. It’s just that I see these loans as a necessary investment for me and my career.
I’m a first-generation college student and my whole life, until I graduated from high school, was about getting into college. I had an idea in mind of what it would be like when I got there: I would read (and understand) novels by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, I would have philosophical debates with my group of new friends, and I would contemplate the merits of a two-party political system.
Above all, I wanted a diploma. It was the only thing I could see as the difference between having to work an endless series of part-time retail jobs in a small town (which I didn’t want) and having a successful career – even though I couldn’t see what it would look like yet. College was the golden ticket to a life where I had the freedom to choose how I lived.
I was worried about the costs
It didn’t help that I grew up with a somewhat negative relationship with money. My dad worked multiple jobs while I was growing up, and I could feel the waves of stress that swept through our home when money was tight. So, knowing from countless hours of research that four years of college could cost upwards of $200,000, I insisted on paying it all all the way through high school.
Over time, and I saw all the hidden expenses associated with college, I also worried about paying for flights home, food outside the dining hall, the occasional night out with friends and opportunities rich kids never had to think about. twice, like going to a job interview in town and looking good.
Taking out student loans didn’t seem like a choice to me — it was imperative, a reality. I always knew that I should make sacrifices and work hard for my education. And I thought the debt would finally be justified.
With the exception of my first semester, I always worked at least two part-time jobs alongside a full course load to be able to afford my new life in Boston. Of course, my near-minimum-wage jobs couldn’t cover everything. So I ended up racking up a few thousand dollars in credit card debt over those four years, on top of my loans. But I was so grateful to be there.
University allowed me to build my career
Going to college gave me the space I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, to get internships, and to build relationships that allowed me to get paying gigs later. .
I may never have put my “Introduction to Archaeology” knowledge into practice, but I was able to knock “Archaeologist/Indiana Jones” off my list of dream careers. And I appreciate that I was able to make a list that had room for bold careers like that.
If I hadn’t gone to college, I might have come to realize that I wanted to be a writer. But I don’t think I’ll be where I am now, or even close to it.
This does not mean that my career is going perfectly or that my student loan repayments have gone smoothly. I was fired from my first post-graduate job a week before last Thanksgiving, and it took me almost six months to get any real traction as a freelance journalist. But I work in an industry where this kind of instability is common. And after covering student loans as a journalist, I’m fortunate to know how to manage my debts with confidence, even when money is tight.
Student loans can be an oppressive force, a force that can keep you from doing what you want to do and living the way you want to live. And predicting how much debt you will graduate with can be a difficult task. (Based on my freshman aid program, I thought I’d graduate with about $35,000 in loans and ended up with nearly double that). with debt.
I don’t regret my student loans. And I don’t think it’s fair to say to people like me, those who would be the first in their family to go to college and who don’t come from the money, that this opportunity – which has long been presented as a surefire route to ascent mobility — is not a good option.