Tag Archives: Reform

Broke College Students

12 Aug

By: Sara Goff

While being a “broke college student” may be cliché, it is certainly the grim reality for myself and most of my friends.  We cram our days full of classes, internships, and the “extra-curricular” activities we’re promised will boost the competitiveness of our resumes.  Yet, the time we are able to dedicate to our part-time jobs results in rather dismal paychecks—despite our exhaustive efforts to act like productive members of society.

What happened to the days when people “worked themselves through college waiting tables?”  Now that’s a cliché I would readily embrace.   But oh, how times have changed.  Let’s break it down, shall we?

College students are advised to spend at least two hours per week “studying “ for each hour we spend in class.1  This fall, I will spend roughly 15 hours per week in class; therefore I should study somewhere around 30 hours per week.   Class + studying = 45 hours of my week.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults (yes—that includes us college kids) should sleep for 7-9 hours each night.2 (LOL, right?)  Theoretically, I should be asleep for about 49 hours per week.

Now, let’s  just assume that us college kids all have the opportunity to work  a “full-time” job—at a part-time pay rate, of course, because who are we kidding—we don’t have degrees and are essentially worthless except to provide ungrateful heathens with overly-processed sustenance or fold clothes at Abercrombie.  Imagine working 40 hours per week for $10/hour. While in college.  Oh wait—taxes. Make that $9/hour.

Hmm. That plan equates to about $360 a week (over $17,000 annually) and 34 hours of free time every week!  Seems legit…until you consider the typical expenses incurred by college students:

As an Ohio resident, attending The Ohio State University costs me an average of $5,085 per semester.  Eager to obtain my degree, I make use of summer term as well.   In 2013, I will spend around $15,000 on my education. (not including my study abroad trip to Florence—I am told that cross-cultural experience is particularly valuable on a resume, and Italy is awesome)

To live within reasonable proximity to campus, my rent and bills total around $620/month—approximately $7,500 per year.

So, tuition and living expenses alone sum around $25,000—already way above the $17,000 I would earn if I spent 40 hours a week at work.  And I haven’t bought books or food…

What’s a girl to do?  “Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents” suggests Mitt Romney.3

HA.  Since it’s pretty unrealistic to ask my parents, a retired flight-attendant and a disabled Vietnam veteran, for $25k a year, I am obligated to hit up Sallie Mae to fund the difference.  Moreover, I’m expected to delight in their offer of 11% interest and repayment deferral until I graduate.

Despite bitching about my incessant state of student-status-induced poverty, I don’t want it to go without recognition that I am eminently grateful (although, I’m not quite sure to who) for the opportunity to study what I love at one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.  HOWEVER COMMA I am both intrigued and annoyed by the financial burden that this endeavor places on myself and my peers.  It is unrealistic to expect aspiring students to earn money for tuition while simultaneously immersing in a collegiate-level education;  It is equally impractical to expect parents to fully fund their children’s post-secondary education.  Finally, the current amount of outstanding student loan debt, somewhere between $900 billion and $1 trillion, is downright haphazard.4

To reiterate, educational expenses need re-evaluation—because college simply costs too much. And, someone needs to implement a more pragmatic way for students to finance post-secondary education—because Mittens’ plan won’t work.

And that, folks, is why I will go to law school!

1. http://www.sbcc.edu/counselingcenter/newstudentadvising/academicslife.php

2. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwUAQmvHqyg

4. http://www.asa.org/policy/resources/stats/