Sam The Student #2: Poor and In Debt

Dear Sam the Student:

I don't come from a rich family and I had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to go to college. But now that I'm halfway through, I've already reached $30,000 and I don't know if I can afford to keep going. What's the point of finishing if I'm going to have more debt than a career will pay, and there's not even any guarantee I'll get a job after I graduate?

Signed, Poor and In Debt

Dear Poor and In Debt:

I was in your exact shoes when I was getting my degree: my family couldn't contribute anything, I took out the kind of loans that car buyers usually do, and I constantly had to have a job. By the end of it, I was in debt $50,000.

But as for whether or not you should continue, there are plenty of reasons for both sides of the argument. Getting your degree shows employers you can finish what you started, college grads still have an income edge over non-college grads, and you have a rare first-world opportunity to become highly educated. However, it is expensive and offers no guarantees. One thing I recommend you get on right away is looking for scholarships and grants. It may seem like a big hassle, but think about it from a career perspective: if, in your job, you had the chance to put in one day's work and be rewarded thousands of dollars, would you take it?

Dear Sam the Student:

I can't study. Every time I try and open my books, something else grabs my attention. But when I do manage to get a little focused, nothing I read seems to stick in my head. How am I ever supposed to pass my courses if I can't study longer than 10 minutes?

Signed, Distracted

Dear Distracted:

You're an adult now, so you have to make adult choices. Do you want to pass your courses? Then do whatever it takes to get there. Studying is rarely fun, but not everything in life is supposed to be. What you have to do is find techniques that make it bearable enough to get through, as successful people find a way to keep going even when they don't want to.

Another problem I see in students is they don't study the right way, which you seem to be doing. Studying for an exam is the academic equivalent of training for an athletic event: to get the best possible results, athletes simulate the actual thing as closely as possible, supplementing it with the elements that make that possible. If you're being tested solely on being able to read, then you're studying the right way (but I doubt that's the case.) Instead, study as though you're actually writing the exam, and supplement that with reading and writing skills, efficient research, and critical thinking.

blog comments powered by Disqus