Happy Monday to all of you, even though I’ll admit, Monday isn’t usually anything either one of us are probably ever happy about, other than when it’s over. I haven’t got much sleep the last couple of nights, so I’m grouchy (more so than usual, even), and so I’ve picked the perkiest and most positive-sounding emails out of the stack today to try and get me out of this funk.
Kicking off today is Alexandra, a girl from my home state of South Dakota.
Well, it depends on whether you’re sure about being a science teacher yet or not. You know, it really boils down to whether the additional expense of attending Augie (as it’s known in these parts) is worth the loan payments you’ll be making, and that’s true regardless of your profession. I don’t know anything about the pre-med program there, but if its graduates have an astronomically high acceptance rate into top-flight med schools — then you probably want to make sure you’re done with those doctor aspirations before transferring out.
One thing is certain: you definitely don’t need an expensive degree to get a teaching job. I know this for certain, and since I’m from South Dakota too, I also know it’s true HERE in our state. Black Hills State University in Spearfish has been churning out teachers for decades, and it’s a very cheap school.
So yeah, if you’re pretty certain that you want to be a teacher, my best advice is to get the hell out of any expensive private school, like, yesterday. My next best advice is, before you leave Sioux Falls, eat at A Taste of India over by the convention center. That place has the best Indian food in the state (which I know isn’t saying a lot, but still…). 🙂
Oh yeah — I don’t think teacher are looked down upon, really. I mean, certainly no one gets more lip service than teachers — not even cops or firefighters or soldiers. But if you mean why are their salaries what they are, it’s because there are lots of applicants for most teaching jobs, and education degrees aren’t extremely difficult to come by (so there will be more entering the work force all the time). Mostly it’s economics; supply exceeds demand.
Next, Joel, a frequent commenter here on GMS:
Hi Josh – I am so grateful for ALL your GREAT tips and advice! It is incredibly helpful. I’m sure I speak for many hopeful scholarship applicants when I say how much I appreciate you taking the time to share from your heart and experience. Seriously – thanks!
I like Joel already. You’re welcome!
Question about “Not sending info you weren’t asked for…” – how do you recommend dealing w/ scholarships which ALLOW you to send extra material, but say it is “OPTIONAL”? This is extremely confusing. For example, the Carpe Diem Scholarship http://www.carpediemfoundation.org is based upon Community Service. Yet they say if you’d like (optional), you may send dvds w/ drama performances, art portfolios, poetry, etc. I am confused.
That one’s easy enough — if it’s optional, go for it. If they want to let you send supporting materials that, in all likelihood, the other applicants aren’t going to send, then by all means, put the pedal to the metal and mow down your competition. Be sure, though, that they’re actually “supporting materials” and not just extra crap; make sure that anything you include in your packet really has value, is excellent work, and may show the judges something that your other materials won’t.
Ifalana from New York writes:
Hey, I’m from a small quaint town in New York in the lower Hudson Valley called Nyack. There’s a community college near Nyack that is “known” as the “high school failure’s route” by all the kids who attend Nyack High School.
The kids who say that are dumbasses don’t know any better. It’s not their fault, I guess; they’re young and easily convinced by billion-dollar universities that the “true college experience” of a four-year university with a giant university center and three dozen dorms and a Division 1 sports program is superior to any other higher education choice. However, it makes excellent financial sense in a great majority of cases to do your first two years of college at a community college. You get the same basic courses at a tiny fraction of the cost.
This college (RCC) is in fact a very good school though and I know a few people who have gone there and transfered to more “prestigious schools”. My family isn’t very blessed financially and my mother makes just about $38, 000-$40,000 a year, she holds down two jobs and takes care of fours kids. All my older siblings (I am the youngest…) have gone to some kind of college and in turn have MARRED her credit with student loans that have yet to be paid off.
I’m a fairly good student (high B’s) and I’ve recently got accepted into two schools (SUNY Binghamton and SUNY Geneseo). I applied for financial aid and basically it comes down to this, paying roughly $1000 some odd dollars out of pocket for Binghamton (which is a bit bigger than Geneseo and is a bit more recognized than Geneseo) or paying roughly $5000 out of pocket to attend Geneseo (I was accepted into a program at Geneseo that helps high school kids transfer well into college, I was also accepted into their EOP program).
This is very similar to the conversations we had last week with Elizabeth and Nancy. I can’t quite tell if you’re considering the community college in your plans or just the two SUNY schools, but if you want my advice, I’d do the first two years at community college, then transfer into whatever SUNY school has the better pre-med program. Your first two years of college are usually basic courses anyway whose content doesn’t vary a great deal: the “101” versions of psych, sociology, micro and macroeconomics, math, composition, etc. at a large university and a community college cover basically the same material.
I agree that you should save the big loan debts for med school. Also, I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you say that you’ll need someone to stay atop you and help keep you on track, but if that’s the case, better do it quickly, during those early years. Once you get to your junior year of college and beyond, you’ll need to be able to motivate your own self to do the required work. Not to mention med school, which will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not prepared and motivated! Good luck!
Elizabeth from — well, I’m not sure where Elizabeth is from, actually — writes:
Hello Mr. Barsch, my name is Elizabeth and I am currently a high school senior. I am really grateful for all the advice you have been giving for the past several weeks about college and scholarships and I am hoping you can help me in my situation. Over the past few weeks I have been trying to make a decision about where to attend college. I applied to several state schools and got into all of them, but I also applied to several top schools such as Duke University. My dream school is Duke University and fortunately for me I got in.
The problem is that although I got in my parents say I cannot attend Duke because although I received some financial aid from them I didn’t receive enough that would allow me to not have to take out loans and end up in debt. Since they don’t want me to attend Duke I am most likely going to attend a public state university which is much cheaper than Duke.
I’m guessing by your word choice that your parents really aren’t giving “advice” so much as they are “laying down the law” and telling you that you CAN’T go. Just an assumption here, too, but I assume that’s because they’re footing the bill.
The thing is, if I attend a state university I will probably regret not going to Duke for a long time especially since Duke has more programs geared to what I am interested in than the state school. Although some people have given me the advice that I could just go to Duke for grad school, I just don’t feel it would be the same or have the same meaning to me. So in essence I am asking would it better if I went to the state school because it is cheaper or should I try and lobby my parents to allow me to go to Duke because it has what I want despite the debt I may accrue?
Well, a couple things:
1) I don’t know the exact situation here with your parents and how much control they actually have over this process. But let’s say they’re in control (or you’re allowing them to be) — then sure, why not lobby them to let you do what you want? That can’t hurt anything.
2) If they’re in control of the pursestrings and are saying they won’t pay if you don’t go to a state school, then you really have two choices: a) do what they want you to do, or b) go where you want and assume the burden of paying for the education yourself. Which I know will be difficult given the fact that the government isn’t going to waive your EFC just because Mom and Dad withdraw their financial support.
3) If you’re asking whether their argument makes sense: Sure it does, it makes great financial sense, but that’s not the only question. If it’s your dream to go there, then, like I said last week, you have to ask yourself a) why is it my dream?, and b) am I willing to pay big bucks for my dream? However you answer those questions will determine what you do.
You know, my most general advice in these situations, when someone has a dream of going to a private and prestigious school, is to try and ignore the “prestige” factor and instead focus on the actual advantage realized from attending such a school. There’s imagined prestige and there’s real prestige. Do you want to impress your old high school classmates over holiday breaks or pick up women at a bar? Or do you want to get into a top-flight graduate school or a significantly more lucrative job? Some schools are good for the former, and some are good for the latter (and also the former at the same time, I’m guessing).
It boils down to this: price and value are not the same thing. Some things cost very little and are worth even less; other things are extremely expensive, but worth every penny. Still other things are very expensive, and turn out to deliver little if any additional value over lower-priced products. And the product here is an education.
Where does Duke fall for you? Only you can determine this, because it’s different for everyone. I would say, though, that the first chunk of “value” to dissintegrate with respect to expensive private colleges is that of perceived social prestige. Just be aware of that.
That’s all for today, people. I’ll be back tomorrow with more questions and answers. I’m in a little bit better mood, but I gotta admit, not much. I still need a nap. See you tomorrow!