How much should college cost?
Recently, Reddit posted an excellent thread in their Life Pro Tips forum. For those of you unfamiliar with Reddit, it is known as the “Front Page of the Internet” and is essentially a site that aggregates web content, news, and discussions. The material is user-generated and with hundreds of thousands of sub-reddits, nearly every topic imaginable has its dedicated following. The thread referenced above breaks down the reasons for keeping higher education costs in check. If a student’s family is wealthy and money literally is no object, then this blog post can be ignored in its entirety. However, most students aren’t given a blank check to attend any school they choose and they should be more deliberate and methodical about their choices. Is it really worth the equivalent of a mortgage to get an undergraduate degree?
Students should care about the opportunity cost of their choices and the time it will take to pay off their debt. Of course state of the art student centers with climbing walls and spas are attractive, but are the memories of sitting in a hot tub in your residence hall going to ease the pain of writing student loan checks decades later? Universities try to assuage the sticker shock of attendance by highlighting campus perks and flashy extras (the recent “campus concierge” trend, for example), but students should care far more about the institutions’ graduation/placement stats, alumni networking/investment, and size/culture/location of the campus when evaluating their college list. After all, as one Redditor commented: “Don’t go to school in Nebraska if your long term goal is to work in artist representation/legal affairs for the music industry; go to school in LA or NY.” Ultimately, students will make the most of their experience if they feel at home on campus and are able to capitalize on the resources available. But, if too much debt is the cost of a degree, students may have trouble affording a real home after graduation.
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