Evening, fellas (that’s a gender-neutral term on this blog). I’m going to keep it short and sweet today, since a) I’m home alone this weekend minus kids or wife and am going to try to spend it some other way than glued to this computer like I do every other day, and b) it’s Friday, and Friday night is time to relax, not drown yourself in scholarship-related stressors. So read this quickly, and begone with ye!
Thought I’d wrap up the whole Elizabeth Goes to Harvard and Nancy Goes to Maryland situation here (read those posts if you haven’t already). We got literally hundreds of great comments from every possible point of view, and again I thank everyone for their comments. There’s a lot of things you can choose to do in a day, and I appreciate it a ton when one of those things you choose to do is to comment on this site.
There are some good summary takeaways from these discussions (although they’re not over, and will continue to rage on in the comments section, I’m sure). Here’s the situation boiled down to its essence:
- When it comes down to it, you’re on your own. Not to be too ominous there, but it’s true. Me and 100 other commenters from this little online peanut gallery can give you our thoughts on any question you ask, but it all comes down to what’s going to make you happiest, and you know that better than anyone else ever will.
- Ask yourself WHY your dreams are what they are. Following your dreams can take you great places and lead to unsurpassed happiness; following flawed or misguided ones can leave you in a world of hurt. Before jumping off a mountain to follow them, make sure you’ve really taken the time to evaluate WHY you want something, and if all your assumptions about your dreams are sound. In these examples, we’ve heard Elizabeth and Nancy both talk about expensive private schools being their “dream schools.” And of course, I hope that if they attend those schools, that their experiences are more “dream” than “reality check.” But do your homework extensively before you decide. Forewarned is forearmed.
- Understand the life-altering nature of debt (or lack thereof). The effects of student-loan debt are almost universally underestimated by the students who use them to finance college. Also, students almost universally overestimate the ability of a large salary to vanquish that debt. That’s natural; it’s hard to understand something you haven’t experienced. So ask others (preferably those who took out somewhere near the amount of loans you’ll need to take out) what they think, and how the loan payments affect their lives. Some will tell you it’s no big deal. That’s my case, personally. I took about $28,000 over undergrad and grad school (or thereabouts), and the payments were never that big of a deal. Others will tell you they’ve been devastated by loan payments that they can’t afford to make on the salaries their degrees have produced. Long story short: Just know what you’re getting into.
- Don’t half-ass it. This is my best advice for life in general, not just school, but everything. We’ll stick to school here, though. If you go the expensive private-school route, go all the way. Elizabeth, make all the high-level Harvard connections you can possibly make and bleed that prestigious degree for all it’s worth. On the other hand: Nancy, if you go to Maryland, bust your ASS in school and decide right now that you will learn as much or more as any other student over at Johns Hopkins who’s in the same program as you are.Don’t forget how many people believe in you! I’ve got a few hundred on this blog who believe in both of you and we don’t even KNOW you! 🙂
It’s all up to you, folks. Put your head down, trample the weak and hurdle the dead. A good thought for a Friday night.
Have a good weekend!