In light of Occupy Wall Street and GOP politicking, I feel like maybe I should say something. I type too quickly to warrant wasting a piece of paper and some ink to make one of those cool little signs, so here I go.
I am a 25-year-old college graduate. I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Student Affairs. When I graduate, my student debt will be roughly equivalent to one year’s salary at the entry-level in my field of choice. According to Dr. Rick Settersten, that’s good. My borrowing is in line with what I hope to do.
I have two credit cards, one that still carries a fairly high balance because of some paycheck problems and moving costs from last year, but it’s not out of control. I like to travel because it helps me stay well-balanced and psychologically happy. My debt here is not out of line with my personal well-being. I blame no one but myself and my dreams.
When I graduate from my Master’s program, I intend to downsize my material possessions as much as possible. The old clothes I hang on to can better benefit others–and they’re pretty stylish, too, if I must say so myself. I hate moving because I inherited complete sets of dishes and pots and pans and kitchen utensils from my mother. The boxes are heavy, but I know I won’t have to replace those sets. I dream of someday registering for newer sets if and when I ever find someone willing to marry me, but on my own, I get by.
Someday, I will probably inherit my family’s house in East Wenatchee. I recognize this is sheer luck because I grew up an only child. This house will surely help me either pursue my dream of owning a cabin on a lake somewhere or a vacation home or even just help with the down payment on the perfect house wherever and whenever I decided to stop renting. Not everyone has a failsafe like this, though.
I have health insurance, for now. I have health insurance because I work a .49FTE position at my school. My job pays for my tuition and my housing, too. I still took out loans because I know myself. I am fairly healthy now, but I have a small handful of prescriptions that without insurance would be hard to come by. I am afraid to shop for an individual plan because the last time I did, the ones I could afford made me choose between preventative care (including annual screenings for cervical cancer, breast cancer, etc.) and prescription coverage. I don’t want to think about what would happen if I became very sick, and the possibility is there because I was a formula-fed baby. My immune system isn’t as good as my peers’. This was actually my own fault, too, because as a baby, I refused to breast feed. (Wrap your head around that, new moms.)
I have bills to pay, and my smartphone keeps me up-to-date at work on the fly. It keeps me connected with those I love, and it is worth the extra dollars every month to me. I blame no one but myself for that.
I know when I move out of my residence hall, I will want an animal to keep me company. Her bills will also be paid for by me. People will judge me if I get an animal, though, because I’m choosing to talk about my finances. (I doubt the same people would judge me if I got married and had a baby in the same time frame. Why is that?)
I am already looking for a full-time job in my field. If I can’t find one because the market is over-saturated with outstanding student affairs graduates and seasoned professionals, I will look for a customer service job or something similar. I am not above positions like that, and I know I am qualified for what I’m looking at as an alternative plan. However, if I don’t have insurance and I’m paying through the nose to cover prescriptions and doctor’s visits and other preventative services, don’t expect me to keep quiet about it.
I don’t have a partner to support me. My mother isn’t rich. I’m doing this on my own, but it would be nice to know that others who have succeeded want me to do well, as well. I want to know that our priorities are in providing good public education at all levels. Voters in my home state failed to approve school levies–while approving the privatization of liquor sales. It’s good to know we would rather have cheap booze than smart teachers, innovative programs, and smart students who can contribute back to their community </sarcasm>.
And on that note, moving student loans to the states? States can’t even agree to keep subsidizing their public colleges and universities.
Also, I know you’re thinking it. “But they say I need to go to college to get a job.”
Not true. We need to invest more time in programs that allow people to pursue relevant interests, develop the right skills, and get into the workforce. Ideas? Career counseling courses at the high school level need to be bolstered. Gap years and service years need to become staple–give prospective students time to contemplate where they will fit into society. How many times does a college student change his or her major? Vocational and technical schools, too–those exist for a very good reason.
I don’t know what percentage I fall into. I know one thing: I’m not wealthy. But if I was, I would spend all my time advocating for better public educational systems and better career services for all and finding ways to make us healthier and and and… I would do what it takes to pay it forward so the next dreamers don’t end up bitter and jaded.
My name is Ardith, and I am 0.000000319838% of the American population. (According to the US Census website.)
Even so, I have the power to be great and to do something great because of the people who have supported me. Not everyone is that lucky. Shouldn’t we all be?
I’m not sure there was a very clear point in that, but I needed to write.