Students graduating with college debt is the topic of “A Steep Climb for Indebted College Grads” in the May 26, 2009 issue of Business Week magazine. It tells of the horror stories of students graduating with mountains of college debt… $50,000; $75,000; $100,000 in debt before they ever get a job. This is insane!
Towards the end of the article, there is a story of one young woman who graduated with $160,000 in private loans alone… just for her bachelor’s degree. I assume she probably has at least another $15,000 in public loans on top of that. This has got to stop! At least she had the maturity to say “I have to deal with the consequences.”
There are two demons to blame for this astronomical rise in student debt.
First… students really have no understanding of debt and what it does to you. A few years ago, I was in a conversation with a student who asked me if $100,000 is a lot of money to borrow. I had to do a double take at the question alone. We need to better educate students on the nature of money. Honestly, I think Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki should be required reading in every high school. I would be in far better shape if that book was available to me 25 years ago.
Second… the ideal of the “Best” college is killing our kids. Students and parents alike have this perverse idea that there is only one “best” school for them, or only a handful. Typically, this handful of schools comes out of some beauty pageant list, such as the “Best Colleges” issue of US News and World Report. Students have got the idea that if they don’t get into one of only a small selection of colleges, then their future is shot. Then when they do get into that one college, they put the rest of their life in hock to pay for it.
NEWSFLASH – There is no “Best” college. There is only the best colleges for you. Notice that colleges is plural, not singular.
This expectation of only one or two schools are the right schools is absurd and must come to an end. There are over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States. It is a very easy process to find 6 to 10 very good fit schools for any student at a bare minimum. And these schools will not break the bank when the student graduates.
I challenge all of the parents, students, guidance counselors and teachers reading this article to take a stand against these two pervasive problems.