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Question 2

Do you think that your college education was a good investment?

I take a philosophical stance on things that are in the past: I shouldn’t spend too much energy fretting

about what cannot be changed. However, that doesn’t stop me from making some general observations:

1. My tuition was likely more than double what it would have been if I had stayed in-state.

2. There was a lack of information provided to me in high school about the benefits of staying in-state.

Photo prompt #2: A picture from graduation.

If I had stayed in Vermont for college, my world-view would probably not have grown, I would have had a very small social circle, and would probably be stuck having to think more about my family and hometown versus a whole new world. Socially speaking, I believe I made a good investment.

The Political Science program at Western New England College looked strong, and the school did not go out of its way to be highly competitive as other schools did. When I’m competing, my capacity to perform plummets. It isn’t worth the stress if I’m going to do poorly. But the choice was also biased, in that the school was the same one my late-father attended. We toured the school and he thought it was beautiful.

I was officially under pressure to attend.

The ticket price was $40,000, and my parents were divorced school teachers. Scholarships helped a little, but, please, when your own high school writes you off as “not college material” and institutionally makes you believe that you aren’t cut out for tertiary education, you probably aren’t getting any of those massive scholarships people brag about. For the record, my high school gave me a $300 scholarship. Another student going to the same college got a lot more than I did. Probably because he excelled at sports. I’m not sure.

So, what about college life itself?

In college, my eyes were opened to the pretty awesome world of everything that wasn’t in the small town I grew up in. A movie theater was now two miles away, not twenty. High-speed internet and cell service was everywhere, and did not require a ten minute drive into town. Okay, my standards were low. I joined lots of clubs, made a lot of friends, actually studied, and did better than in high school in just about every respect.

And classes? Never had one with more than thirty students. Most of the time there were fifteen, maybe twenty. This is very important, as I really doubt I would have actually learned very much if I was forced into huge lecture halls and was learning more from TAs than professors.

What would I change? Nothing. Not one decision. College was a lot of ups and downs and expensive classes, but it was still a learning experience quite unlike any other, and it wasn’t at a colossal university. I don’t believe in changing the past. Sure, maybe some tweaks to cost here and there, but I “found myself” at school.

As for going forward,  this is where I get topical — a massive theme in my posts has been how the last sixteen months since graduation have revolved around my father’s declining health and his passing.

In the last few weeks, since this project with WBUR began, a couple things have changed. One, I now live with my girlfriend in our own apartment. We’re going strong, and just after our move the battle with my father’s life insurance company finally concluded. I was awarded the full amount of the policy plus interest. Now, here I sit, debt free, and turning the page in a more significant way.

September 17th marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s passing, and the 18th is the day I see the last student-loan payment I’ll ever have to write for my undergraduate education cashed. It’s been an interesting week. This is where I seriously begin thinking about graduate school, and stop having to think about sitting in the same tiny space twenty-four hours a day.

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