What working my way up has taught me
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in all these years spent getting degrees, it’s that it’s not always what you know -- networking is huge. In the end, I’ve gotten almost every job I’ve ever had through someone I know. The department chair who gave me my job in the computer lab and my teaching stints later recommended me for a position at a local pharmaceutical company whose manager she knew -- the manager had gone through the same community-college program I had.
I landed that job. My new boss recommended I complete a bachelor’s degree in management to help me advance in my career working with computers in the pharmaceutical industry. She told me about a 14-month program at Mount Olive College, which cost about $11,000 at the time. I enrolled and I was spending about $600 a month on tuition out of my paycheck without taking out any student loans. But I wasn’t saving anything, and I was putting everything I wanted on my credit card. Only a few months from turning 26 and while working full time, I earned my bachelor’s degree in May 1999.
That was the first graduation ceremony where I walked across the stage to get my diploma, and I was proud. My uncle was also there, and I think he was even more excited for me than I was.
In the end, I’d finally committed to college because I’d paid for it. Ironic, isn’t it? I found I put much more effort into the classes that I paid for myself than I ever put into the ones that were paid for. When my tuition was coming out of my pocket, I went to school every day, did my homework and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
Today, college is a huge expense, and many parents wrestle with how much to give their kids to get there. Is my story a cautionary tale? I’m not sure. But it is amazing to me how much you focus when you pay for something yourself. Maybe that’s not true for everyone, but for me, it was a big motivator.
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I have 3 kids, 21, 17, 15. 21 year old is in the Navy and currently deployed. He is building his own scholarship. After 3 years active duty he will get pretty much a full ride into any state school he can get into.
17 year old is thinking about it. I told him and his 15 year old sister, that while they are in school they can live at home rent free. They need to pay for their own classes. Community college is 1/3 the cost of state schools and don't need to pay for room and board. ALL credits are guaranteed to transfer to the 4 year school. Getting a degree can be done without going deep into debt.
I did it back in the 80's and it can still be done today. I paid for all my own classes and completed my BA in 4 years with 120 hours (minimum numbers to complete). My youngest brother had his classes paid for by our parents and it took him 6 years and he had 175 hours. You need to have your own skin in the game.
it isn't fair to compare what you did in the 80s to today, see "Cost Of College Degree In U.S. Has Increased 1,120 Percent In 30 Years, Report Says" (). The pay for that job you had isn't 10x greater now...
Not to fully excuse the daughter, but it sounds like the parents dropped the ball as far as preparing their child for adulthood.
Two things I don't get: How did the so-called guardian of the trust just let her do whatever she wanted with it, and does an 18 year old really not think they have to attend classes? Both my kids went to college, the first, between scholarships and basic student loans, didn't need our help to get his Masters (and he's been employed in his field since the day he got that Masters, all student loans paid off several years ago); the other while smart was not a great student in HS, so she did two years at a very affordable community college, with the promise that if she did well we would help with whatever university she transferred to for her Bachelors. BTW, knowing that not all CC credits are transferrable, she made sure the University would accept credits from the CC before starting there. She buckled down, made Deans List and Two Year College Honor Society, got a decent scholarship from the University when she transferred AND enough of a scholarship from the Honor Society to help pay for textbooks, so we kept our side of the bargain and took a parent loan in addition to her taking the federal student loans. She graduated Cum Laude, was accepted into a very tough Doctorate program in the health field, for which she had to take out huge loans, and is now working in her field and paying down those loans. We're paying the parent loans, but feel like we got value for our money.
My point is that you can't say all kids should pay for college on their own since every kid is different. If someone is helping pay, or there is a trust, someone should oversee how that money is spent with the understanding that if the kid doesn't hold up their end of the bargain by attending classes and getting good grades, all deals are off. While colleges will tell you they can't share grades etc with parents/guardians, they actually can - the student just has to file a FERPA form giving them permission to share information; parents can also require the student to give them their passwords to their student portal so they can check on progress themselves. While some ppl may think this is an invasion of a student's privacy, to me its a fair price to pay for help with tuition. If an 18 year old is really as clueless as the author of this piece seems to have been, then maybe a gap year is in order.
18 yrs ago I met a small business owner who became a client of the tiny accounting firm I started( I was making $40k a year in the firm). 7 yrs later I bought his small business. Now, it's 11 years since then. Last yr I made almost $1 million in salary from that business. I've never made less than $500k a year since I purchased it 11 yrs ago. This is an example of "networking". If I wouldn't have done the cold calling and referrals I never would have met this person because he was a total stranger up till then.
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