Sugar Daddies, Gap Years & Broken Dreams

Hola, friends. I’m writing today’s post from a hospital waiting room, where my wife is having nose surgery. No, it’s not a nose job — it’s actually surgery to open up her sinuses and hopefully stop her headaches not caused by me. 🙂 Best part of the waiting room? Free wi-fi and bagels. Worst part? “The View” is on the TV, and it’s waaaay too loud.

Lauren writes:

Hi Josh,

I was looking through your blog (which I love!) and browsing various scholarship websites and had a question regarding my qualification for scholarships. I am a Media Arts and Design Major and Multicultural Communication Studies Minor at James Madison University and am about to graduate in May of this year with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

Betcha these two don't have any student loans.

I still have loans I need to pay off and was wondering if there were scholarships available to students of my education level or if they were all for undergraduate students or students pursuing their Masters or Ph. D.

Thanks for your help!

Eh, you’re pretty much out of luck there, Lauren — as far as I know, anyway. Most scholarships are for current or future students, not past students. There are probably some exceptions out there, but not many. My company has given scholarships for 7 years now, and there have been a couple of times where we’ve been so busy that we’ve gotten behind on awarding our scholarships that the winner has actually graduated before we’ve sent them their check — but we still send it. That’s a pretty rare thing, though. Once you’ve graduated, if you want help paying off your college loans, your best option may be a sugar daddy. 🙂

Rachel writes:

Hello Josh!

I’ve come to a certain cross roads. I’ve been accepted into UChicago, and sent in my deposit.

Horns up to Rachel! \m/

I recently found out that it’d be extraordinarily simple to send them an email to defer my enrollment to next year. It seems that a lot of colleges really like for students to have the option of taking a gap year.

I haven’t heard much about those, honestly. Go on…

I hadn’t really considered a gap year – I’ve just been pressing on through my academic studies, thinking that college would just be the next step. But my dad is being stationed in Japan next year, giving me an outstanding opportunity to live cheaply in Japan and have opportunities to explore on my own and through the naval base. I could get a job (teaching English? I’m sure there are a ton of things I could do; however, it may be hard to find something with just a high school diploma) and save up money to cover some college expenses.

All this is true, and they all sound like pretty cool experiences that you might not have the opportunity to do again for some time, if ever. And if you do have a chance to do them again, you won’t have nearly the energy and vitality to enjoy them as you do now at 18 (or however old you are). If U-Chicago’s OK with it, I’m OK with it.

My biggest fears include that some of the scholarships I’ve applied for may not be deferrable to next year, and it seems like it may be hard to get scholarships after having taken a gap year.

Hmmm, good point. Of course, sounds like you haven’t actually won them yet. More of a theoretical question thus far. The toughest choice comes, I’m guessing, if you DO win them, and they’re NOT deferrable. Even then, though,

I’m guessing that if you’re enough of a badass to win a bunch of scholarships with your current resume, then you’ll still be enough of a badass to win just as many next year when you come back with an additional strong year of doing interesting and impressive things in a foreign country.

One thing that works for me is actually UChicago’s policy of not taking more than $9,280 in outside scholarship money, so if I have to give up half my scholarships for a year it honestly isn’t an exorbitant amount of money.


Another fear is that maybe I’d be less prepared for college if I wait a year – but, honestly, I have no idea if it’s sane to predict that.

Well, I wouldn’t go questioning your sanity over it, but I definitely think that an a year abroad will leave you even MORE prepared for college, not less. Even a really tough school like Chicago.

What do you think of gap years, in general? It doesn’t seem to be a concept much explored in the USA.


Well, just generally speaking, it depends on who takes the gap years. If you’re a motivated student for whom there is no question that you’re going to get a college education, then I think they’re great.

My friend Counselor Buddy (that’s not her real name:) is a high school counselor who isn’t hugely in favor of them — but I think she’s usually looking at it from the angle of the students who weren’t terribly motivated to attend college in the first place. She mentions that most of the students she sees who decided to “take a year off” before going to college actually never end up going.

I wouldn’t put you in that category, though. You have a really good plan in place, you’re accepted into one of the top 10 schools in the country — you’re going to be fine if you take that year. I’m envious, actually. Now I sorta want to take a year in Japan myself.
Desiree writes:

Hi Josh,

I read your site often and I could, well I really need some advice! I have a big decision to make and I haven’t been able to make up my mind. Here is the situation.


I currently go to UNLV (University of Nevada Las Vegas) , majoring in elementary education and I have a full ride there with Pell Grant and in-state scholarship. However, I have been accepted to my dream school The University of Iowa. Iowa college of education is 5th in the nation and I love the college feel to the school. I love football and unlike UNLV that is a complete commuter school which has no school pride what so ever Iowa has the college feel that I want.

However, I would need to take out a 13,000 private loan per year to go there. My mom is not willing to take out the Parent Plus loan. When I graduate from Iowa and get my teaching license in that state my degree would be accepted in more states than in Nevada. That and if you only go to college once shouldn’t you get the college feeling that you really want? Is it worth it to go into debt for Iowa, or should I just stick it out at UNLV? I need to make my decision by May 8th and I am seriously stressed out.


Hi there, Desiree. Man, this whole free-ride vs. dream school thing keeps coming up and up and up. 🙂 I’m going to refer you to what I’ve said to three other students in similar situations: Alex, Nancy and Elizabeth. Speaking very generally I like free rides because I think that school choice is much less important to your future success than people make it out to be, while at the same time, student loan debt is much MORE significant than people make it out to be.

However, I can’t feel what you feel about Iowa and how much of a dream it truly is for you to go there, so I can’t authoritatively tell you that you must trash the idea of going there. I can only lay out what I see as the facts and comparisons that should govern your decision. Those three posts lay ’em out pretty well, I think (and whatever I missed, the 300+ comments surely adressed).

OK, my wife’s out of surgery and doing well, so I’m off to sit with her while the drugs wear off. Back tomorrow with more viewer mail.

Also, if you’re reading this as someone who’s graduated or will be graduating soon enough that you’re really not applying for any more scholarships, you may be interested in our sister site,

It’s basically just like this site, except I talk about fixing up your resumes (instead of essays/applications) so that you can get a job (instead of scholarships).

17 thoughts on “Sugar Daddies, Gap Years & Broken Dreams”

  1. “Once you?ve graduated, if you want help paying off your college loans, your best option may be a sugar daddy.”

    Well, that was pretty offensive. That’s right, all we ladies need to get out of debt is a rich old man who pays off our loans in exchange for sex. 😛

  2. Rachel-

    Taking that year off might be a great experience for you as JudgeJosh mentioned already. Have you looking into a study abroad in Japan? Maybe something that is offered by Chicago or even something that would keep you connected with your education some how? I think that sometimes its really hard to trust one’s own self. Many times I will say, “I will do that at a later time” or “I will always be committed to that” and then there is nothing that keeps me connected to that commitment and so I just forget about it. But, definitely regret it later! To avoid “regrets” I try and force myself to do what I know is right for me– but that is only because I really know myself and that’s how I function.

    This may not be the case for you- but just make sure you won’t forget about college!

    Good Luck with all your endeavors.

  3. Desiree-

    There was one of the thing you said about Iowa College that should play an important factor in making your decision. You mentioned that Iowa College will give you a degree that is accepted in many states. You are going to have to think about the benefits of that– Will there ever come a time where you will HAVE to move out of a state? Will there ever come a time where you will move out of state because you want to? Will there ever come a time where you will not find a job in Nevada and will have to look in another state?

    I’m not very familiar with teaching degrees and what states require of teachers and their degrees, but from what you are saying it might be an important part of Iowa College you may want to consider. If any of the answers to the above questions are yes, you then need to ask yourself, “should I dish out that $13, 000 now, and benefit later by having more flexibility with the extent of my degree?” If the answer to that is yes- I say go for it! After all, if you are going to go to college to make money later, you want to make sure that the money is going to follow you, where ever life may lead you.

    Good Luck with all your endeavors.

  4. “Once you?ve graduated, if you want help paying off your college loans, your best option may be a sugar daddy.” Seriously?

    thanks for letting us know that while people like you give advices on scholarships, you are thinking that women are not above being gold-diggers. thanks.

  5. What do I do after school? How do I find out about consolidating loans? are all loans consolidatable (if thats a word) and how does that work? I’m really scared because I havent been keeping the best track of my loans these past few years so I would have to ask my school for a list of loans that I have used with the school. After I do that what would I do. How will that affect my loans when I graduate and the 6 months deffered thing? thank you!

  6. No. Not seriously. Seems pretty obvious that the entire “sugar daddy” theme was tongue-in-cheek. If anyone is really offended by this, you’re welcome to check around the other posts on the site and see if you still think my only advice to females is to marry rich.

  7. Wasn’t getting a real job and paying off her loans the whole point of Lauryn’s degree?

    I thought Josh was very kind. She seems to have missed the part where someone, somewhere, with a JOB is paying money into the scholarship pool so that worthy students can become educated, gainfully employed taxpayers. I was a bit offended by her attitude towards the economics of the whole thing.

    Josh- you could have dragged out the old adage about the first thing an Arts grad asks anyone: “Do you want fries with that?”

  8. Wow. I’m a female and I thought the “sugar daddy” comment was funny… Pair it with the picture posted of Hugh Heffner and the fake n’ bake twins, it was obviously not to be taken seriously… Honestly girls how are we supposed to be considered equal if we we act as though our skin is paper thin. Context people, it’s an important thing.

  9. Hello,

    I am a drama student at the University of Toronto. I have been accepted into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) – one of the most prestigious acting schools in Britain. I am trying to get together the money to go there but I have an extremely long way to go. I haven’t been able to find any scholarships or grants offered to students wishing to study theatre. Do you know of any? Does anyone have any suggestions of whom I might wright to for funding?

  10. The sugar daddy comment brings up a good point. Men and some women condone men choosing women based on attractiveness. No man every asked out a women that he thought was ugly and smart! However, most men and women condemn women for choosing men with money.
    Sounds like a double standard to me!

  11. These reactions to the “sugar daddy” comment are really silly if you ask me. I am pretty sick and tired of all this P/C. Please learn to appreciate sarcasm and allow some humor into your life!

  12. hello there i think i have applied for this scholarship thingy even since b4 started the st George’s University and i am now finishing up a yr in nursing school to meet my finances is impossible cuz i pay $4400 EC a yr FOR TUITION there are few part time jobs here and i live wayyy on the western side of the c ountry and d university is in the south of the island any advice would be greatly appreciated. thanks

  13. For Rachel, I would totally go for visiting Japan! Having the opportunity to experience another country and culture at little to no expense to you doesn’t come to many often! If you can, see if the university has a study abroad program you can do. That way, if you already have financial aid from the school, you don’t have to lose it – and you can get your education started while having an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience! And who knows? Maybe you’ll get even MORE financial aid from being in a study abroad program. Plus, living there (especially if you can learn the language!) can look good on your resume depending on how you sell it. You can work there, do community work, do photography, just participate in the national festivals and interact with people, etc. So many possibilities! Get it, girl!

  14. Sophia, I’m with you. Krista, I appreciate a lot of humor, but one does not need to be base in order to be funny. Josh, I understand your point and your attempt to be funny. However, I would like you to consider the ones for whom you are writing. No one is favorably impressed by one’s vocabulary when it includes foul language. I doubt that you would recommend these college students (or soon-to-be college students) go into a job interview or some sort of interview with a professor, etc., demonstrating one’s command of bad language. You are helping to set a standard for how other speak. Understanding that bad language is used by many does not necessitate that we do so ourselves. I am disturbed by your lack of professionalism in many of the post by your inclusion of offensive words. I don’t mean one has to be snooty or prim and proper or humorless. Just have a little respect and please try not to use language that others may find offensive, even if those words are often in your personal conversation vocabulary.

  15. Wow, you guys need to chill out. You cant go around making sure that you are not going to offended anyone by what you say. Its gunna happen. Get over it. I thought it was hilarious when he said badass, and “Drop it on me girlfriend.” He’s professional the rest of the time but little things like that make the articles even more interesting, for me at least. I really cant say there was any “foul language.” As if college students don’t already know enough…

  16. Seriously? People, PLEASE!!! Stop making a big deal out of Barsch’s use of “badass” or “sugar daddy.” You made a “huffy puffy” comment when you need to focus on what the man is SAYING! Most of you are acting like stuck-up, prudish pansies; and don’t even realize you’re probably acting like your parents would! I think Barsch is trying to be “hip” and in the “now” even if it is “off” but who cares the man gives excellent advice. Sheesh!

  17. Ok first off take the year and go to Japan. Who knows if or when you will have an opportunity to travel aboard without having to pay for it. The experience will be good for you, it will give you a boarder life prespective, etc…

    Secondly, if the college you are attending doesn’t give you the experience you want look around. There are different colleges/universities out there for a reason. A full rides is wonderful, wish I had one, but if the college limits what you can do once you graduate then take that into consideration. If possible do the free ride school for two years and then transfer to the dream school. You’ll save a couple years of tuition and still, ultimately, get to have the college experience you long for.

    Last… Ok the sugar-daddy comment is offensive, but funny. Unfortunately for us females it is still ok for men to be insulting at our expense. Josh, you never suggest the guys find themselves a nice cougar to mooch off of–because an older women with some hot young guy is offensive to you. But to again, yes you’ve done it before, that the best choice for us females is to become prostitutes is beneath even an English major like you. You are after all dealing largely with high school students that seek your advice. As a female student that was told by a councilor that she would be better off just becoming a “working girl” since I am atrractive then wasting time going to college I can tell you just how insulting your sugar daddy assumption is to those of us not blessed with a penis in a male dominated world.

    The comment is a huge insult to us as females, and a glaring pointing out of your lack of education. To deliberately insult half your readers for a cheap/lazy joke belittles you Josh as much as the women you direct it at.

    We read your blog to learn not be put down. It is sad that after the times we have brought up the offensive in your routine insulting nature towmards females that you have chosen to ignore it. I think what those that had a negative comment about the sugar daddy thing are asking is why is your humour only at our expense?

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