Thursday, 06 February 2014 00:00
When I was a kid growing up in Queens I was a big fan of four letter words. I employed them so often that I felt like a connoisseur of the dark art of bad words. And a Catholic school kid to boot .
It of course had its drawbacks. For example, when my mother would overhear a conversation that was peppered with the aforementioned words, that was a problem. I can remember doing time in my room on numerous occasions and in one instance having my mouth washed out with soap. The good old days.
But as time has gone by I have come to the conclusion that those other very versatile words should take a back seat to the one four letter word that can impact your life more than all the other three combined. And that word is debt. Especially when it is attached to our kids or ourselves as college debt.
I am a big believer in the value of a college degree. But at what price? I know a college education was the difference between success and failure for me and most of my contemporaries growing up but I can’t think of a more onerous position than being loaded down with undergraduate debt on graduation day. Should graduation day be a celebration of hard work and success or a wake up call for the seeming never-ending payments to the bank?
This is important because the very nature of the higher education is changing rapidly. Why are we paying for the ever expanding brick and mortar campus, with all its personnel expenses, when the future of education may be more digital than traditional?
As parents, the discussions we have with our college-bound kids should include the issues of cost, and how this could impact them for many years to come. And this is just for undergraduate school. In today’s world, the real money is made in graduate school.
And who’s going to pay for that?
We should not allow the search for the “dream school” to turn into a recurring monthly nightmare.