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Life Arts

The Educated Debtor

By       Message William Turner     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H4 1/18/11

This is intended for those who are put through the public education system of America. To those wealthy enough to afford tuition to a private institution of learning, quite simply you probably won't be able to identify. This is for those who weren't selected for scholarships because they didn't meet the requirements and those just trying to make it.

From the time we are children in our small, crowded, brightly colored elementary classrooms we are told that there is no other alternative, that we must go to college. "College improves your life" Teachers say to a new batch of snot nosed kids with no higher desires at the time than to go home and watch T.V. Then, moving on into High School, we're simply bombarded with reasons why we must attend college.

Here, if you allow me, I will take a slight branching path from my main ideal. I myself just finished my first semester of college. I was a good student in high school. Slacked off in my senior year simply because I failed to see the point in it. I took a video class my junior year and discovered my true calling. This lead to me becoming a communications major.

Where I come from, a small town in Eastern Kentucky, the test scores were low and ambition was as well. Most kids simply didn't see the need for an education because they could go work in the mines or sell drugs. That was the aspiration for the guys. The girls simply planned on popping out babies, drawing welfare, and clogging Wal-mart up on first of the month, but I digress. My ACT composite score was a 24; I scored a 12 in math, but a 34 and 32 in reading and English, respectively, saving my ass score wise. I only have personal experience with the ACT so I'm going to talk about it next.

After setting up a personal example, I will now explain the reason I wrote this. The minute you take the ACT you are on the road to debt. The first clue is the fact that you have to pay 30$-45$ to take one of the many tests that decide your entire future. A test manufactured by "The ACT Corporation." Imagine that - a corporation making decisions for us. They probably make billions of dollars by selling these tests to high schools and individuals. The reason is because from the time we are capable of cognitive thought we are told we must attend college. The gatekeeper to college is the ACT or SAT. Therefore, logically, we must take one of these tests in order to further our education. This alone doesn't indebt us - not yet anyway; this was just an example of how everything must turn a profit these days.

Moving on. So you've scored above the national average in test scores, you lucky dog you, so now the next step, application. Here's the kicker most colleges charge an application fee, nominal at best, a paltry 75 bucks. Then they look over your grades, test scores, and, god forbid, your face book page. Then they either reject or accept you. Now I'm just getting to the root of it.

My tuition per year is around 13,000$. Its divided into semesters of around 6,500$. My financial aid from both the federal and state government totals in around 3,100$, leaving me, or I should say my parents, to come up with over 3,000$.

Now for another personal example. My dad is the sole earner in my household. He never attended college and makes 48,000$ after taxes annually. While his parenting skills are somewhat questionable at best his ability to do his job and do it well isn't. He's been working in the lumber industry since he was a teenager, and he now buys and sells logs for a sawmill. Wer'e hardly what you would call rich, yet we're not poor either. I would consider us lower middle class. We have enough to make ends meet, yet struggle with things beyond that. So sending a son to college is definitely beyond their means. My mother refuses to allow me to take out a student loan from the banks, as she doesn't want me to be in debt by thousands as soon as I graduate college. I have to say I'm not happy about owing the feds money either, but I know I don't want to take student loans from banks. So in order to pay my first semester my parents took out a 3,000$ loan. So they took the debt for me; they're not happy about it.


Now back to the point. In order to get a job you need a degree. In order to get the degree if you're not rich you need some else's money; this causes you to go into debt. You can't pay off the debt without a job or more money borrowed from elsewhere. Therefore, you are in debt before you've even earned your first real pay from your degree. It's a vicious circle of debt and more debt. The more debt you accrue the more the system owns you. When you're in debt they can control you easier it's perfect; they have you in their bony clutches from the moment you decide to make something of yourself.

Truth is, in order to be good at what one does you don't need a piece of paper stating you went to a university for so many years in order to do your job. Personally, I think the technical part of a communication degree is not worth paying 50,000$ dollars for 4 years. I'd rather pay 10,000 dollars for a 6 week course. The reason education is so expensive is because the qualifications have been so blown out of proportion. I can run a camera, video switcher, editing software, write for production, and set my shot. I learned this in a few days; most of it I I actually learned in High School. It's not that hard; it's certainly not four years worth of knowledge. In order to succeed in your profession you need the skills of your trade Paper doesn't pass skills to you; first hand experience does. Instead of colleges, I'd prefer to have guilds brought back where you could go and apprentice until you gain enough experience to be set loose to practice your craft and earn your way.

My college, which I will not name for fear of expulsion, dropped 400 applicants because they couldn't come up with the money on the deadline. Now I understand the need for money, but the problem is it's become the only thing people focus on. Now I will attempt some math; it's not my best subject as noted above, but I'll try.

My college requires direct payment on certain dates, installments of 1,100 dollars for three months; if you fail to make even one payment you are dropped, regardless. Sort of like the mob, except colleges just crush your future hopes, while the mob breaks your legs (for the first offense.)

If the average total cost to attend college is 13,000$ a year (sans books, but I'm getting to that) and there were 400 dropped applicants.

13k * 400 = 5,200,000$

Fortunately I'm one of the 7000 paying students.

13k * 7K= 91,000,000

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I'm a college student. Majoring in communications. Really i just want to write for television, although I'd could also write political commentary I suppose.

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