THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Guess What? College Doesn't Entitle One To A Nice Car And Better Lifestyle
It seems we've taught "borrow first, work later."
Aaron Webber, a fellow opinion writer for TheLatest.com, wrote a thought-provoking piece entitled Rich Millennial, Poor Millennial in which he discussed the disparity in savings between millennials.
Aaron's column called to mind conversations I've had with my 26-year-old millennial daughter in the past few years.
For three years after undergrad, my daughter worked as a teacher in an urban high school in Atlanta. As a teacher and three-sport coach she lived in a nice part of the city and was still able to save enough money to cover her living expenses for the next two years when she returned to graduate school.
How did she save that much money? It is well known that Atlanta is an affordable city, so that is a key factor for which she and Atlantan's are fortunate. Teaching and coaching were very time consuming, and she's a little frugal (no stranger to a thrift store) so other than two conservative trips abroad in three years, she didn't spend much money on social life.
The two biggest factors differentiating her from many of her peers were lack of student debt and no car payment. Many of her peers pay an average of $700 on those two loans. In a day when most states have very reputable and somewhat affordable university systems, I do not understand the vast level of undergraduate debt.
Even with in-state tuition incentives, housing and expenses add up for an undergraduate residence experience, and fortunately, there are loans available. But, it seems people use loans as the first line of payment. I am shocked at the number of college students living in great campus housing who don't even have a part-time job. So we teach our students to borrow first and work later?
So now let's talk about Dori. Dori is not my daughter. Dori is the 2007 Hyundai named after Ellen Degeneres' character Dori in Finding Nemo. This little blue car, always referred to as Dori, was purchased by us in 2007. She's a little worn at ten-years-old but is the perfect car for a young adult living in the city. Better yet, shes paid for with the added bonus of cheap insurance.
Working 20 hours per week in undergrad, while still experiencing everything Washington DC and college had to offer, along with academic scholarships (a result of hard work), enabled my daughter to graduate debt free. Savings from her first job, along with scholarships (from undergrad record) and working numerous jobs while in grad school are providing for a debt-free graduate school experience.
Yes, my daughter has grown up with some other advantages, but the biggest contributor to her avoidance of debt is her hard work both in the classroom and out and her willingness to drive an older car.
Parents need to better instill a "work more now, borrow less" attitude as well as teaching that graduating from college doesn't entitle one to a new car and nicer lifestyle.
Thousands of former college students here in Arizona are getting their student loan debt forgiven.