Monday, April 4, 2011
Nana Ponders Lies
There are classic lies: the check is in the mail, my dog ate my homework. There are white lies: Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. So lies can be benign, but they can also be hurtful. Sometimes the hard part is figuring out what’s a lie and what isn’t.
This morning I read a blog written by a fifty-something woman who graduated last May with a BS in Liberal Studies. Several years ago she quit her job, took out a boatload of student loans and returned to college to earn a degree.
In schools around the country there’s a big push for all students to continue their educations beyond high school. There is a lot of government money available to assist students in continuing their educations. Low income students can receive grants that they don’t have to pay back. All students can receive loans. Some loans are subsidized by the government, meaning that the government either covers the interest while the student is actively studying or they receive a lower interest rate.
You don’t need a high school diploma to attend junior college, you only need to be 18 years old. Junior colleges usually require placement tests of all students. Students who don’t meet educational standards are required to take non-credit level courses , at the same cost as college classes, to build skills before taking college-level credit classes.
Because the economy is down, a lot of people have returned to college. They’ve been told that education is the answer. If you want a good job, you have to have a college education. People with college educations earn more money than people who just have a high school diploma. So, the blogger quit her job, that was providing for her middle class lifestyle, got her government subsidized loans and followed her dream to become an educator. Now, several years later she has massive student loan debt and has been unable to find any job since she graduated in May. She has a BS degree but still needs another year of college to complete requirements for a teaching license.
My father’s wife (she’s younger than me, but that’s a story for another day) graduated a year ago with a BS in nursing from a state university. She passed her state boards and is a registered nurse. She had been told that there is a massive shortage of registered nurses. She took out a fortune in student loans and went back to school. Since graduating, she has taken temporary jobs and done home care for elderly patients, but can’t find a full-time position…most hospitals want RNs with experience, and she has only her nursing training experience.
So what do these little stories have to do with lies?
We’ve been lied to. A college education is not an automatic ticket to a good job and high pay. Student loans may enable everyone to attend college, but they also place a huge financial burden on the graduate for years after leaving college. Education is important and it can help you get ahead, but it isn’t a magic pill that will solve all your problems.
It is especially troubling to me to see so many young students taking out loans to cover their living expenses while in college. It’s one thing to have debt to pay tuition, but using government loans to support yourself for four years is a one way ride to massive debt.
If you're considering going back to school because there's a lot of student aid available, make sure that you're ready to actually learn something that is marketable. Even if you're attending school on free money, you need to be receiving value for that money. Learn something. A degree is just a piece of paper and is worthless if you haven't acquired the skills and proficiencies you need to be a good worker....and that is no lie!