One of the hardest things about college for me has been affording it. Coming to Middlebury has been a dream, but I know my forefathers and future progeny already feel the strain. (You laugh, they cry.) Debt is a real thing that many at Middlebury have to luxury to overlook. Experts all say College debt is GOOD DEBT, yet I say COLLEGE DEBT, is STRESSFUL DEBT until you pay it off in your thirties or forties only to accrue more debt when your children begin their higher education journeys. (Simply thinking about it makes me head spin.) Yet, my parents have told me from day one, “we will pay for you to get the highest degree in your desired field because your education is something that no one can take away.” My grey hairs on the other hand, well those are simply small battle wounds.
Coming to college was an eye opening economic experience. In high school, I was quite frankly oblivious to the financial dedication my parents had to my prowess as a student. My awakening started when I got my first Middlebury tuition bill. My mother held her heart (I believe college bills may have caused her to develop an arrhythmia) and dad said “If that’s where you want to go, we will make the necessary sacrifices.” I was giddy, but I had no idea what the word sacrifice truly meant. It means refinancing the house, it means removing investments, it means dipping into life savings, it means taking on more hours at work and never complaining. When I came to Middlebury, my first mission was to solidify a job. I was so determined, I solidified two.
In October of my freshman year I began receiving bills for minimum payment on my loan. Now mind you this is not to pay back my loan, this is simply trying to tackle the TAXES on my loan. The way the government sees it, if I make minimum payments for the rest of my young adult years, I will be paying them for at least 20 years. Not to mention I will not actually begin paying off my loan until 2016, 4 years after I graduate. When realities like this began to set in, my stress levels rose. Bills are one thing, but in high school you have everything you need right at home: food, clothes, toiletries, school supplies, the family checkbook, are all at arm’s reach. I have always been economical and never really desired many material items (I wore a uniform for basically my whole life). So coming to college was eye opening on just how much living on your own costs. Let’s just give a basic Mastercard example. Buying a ticket home $200
Paying for the monopoly kingpin: Midd-Transit $110 each way, (if you are alone or they just happen to forget you in the airport. -_- )
Checking in luggage, first bag with Jet- blue is FREE (Thank God for small mercies.)
Getting home on the MTA (which has jacked up its prices, so we will say) $7.
Filling up your parent’s car with gas because you desire you use it. $50+…and the list goes on.
Not to mention you have not even left campus for a solid 24 hours yet. In one day alone that is roughly $360 of your hard earned money gone. Money that you never thought twice about because *coughyouhadastudentmetrocardcough* and quite frankly day-to-day costs were not salient before.
(Unlike Mastercard, nothing here is priceless. Except maybe the look on your face when check your bank statement.)
Being a student worker has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my collegiate experience. I have a strong sense of autonomy and I have become much more financially independent from my parents. Although the hours can be taxing and the ultimate sacrifice is sleep, reduced social, personal time, vision (the list goes on, but I digress.) I have truly been afforded the ability to see that the real world is not all about nightly highlighter wars with your sheets, but interpersonal skills that cannot be mastered sitting in a classroom.