Can we be really honest for just a minute? I have a question for you.
Are you a poser?
I’m guessing most of you know what a poser is, but if not, here’s what Google says…
So by Google’s definition, I’m guessing we’re all posers from time to time. Honestly, who doesn’t try to use money to impress others in some way or another? We buy clothes that may be just a little out of our price range. We drive nicer cars than we can afford so we lease them or take out loans. We buy dinner for our friends knowing that it’s going hurt later. Heck, even our cell phones say something about our status so we pay whatever we have to for them even if it costs us an arm and a leg.
Impressing other people isn’t cheap.
Sometimes we even feel such a strong need to impress others that we do it at great financial harm to ourselves. Take college selection for example.
As students start looking at colleges and begin to decide where they want to go, they have to process a lot of important school information: location, transportation, degrees offered, tuition costs, room and board costs, financial aid packages, work opportunities, etc.
The Elusive Prestige
Of course these are all really important and really smart things to be thinking about. But here’s the deal, 18 year olds aren’t only thinking about those things. If you’re going to college soon, chances are you’re thinking about less tangible, less quantifiable things; things like the culture of the school, the “fun-factor”, and how prestigious the school is.
A lot of high school seniors (and their families especially) are really concerned about that last one; prestige. Again, we turn to Google…
Prestige is really, really important to a lot of students and their families when choosing a college. It’s as if certain colleges seem to be able to offer a higher level of esteem, respect, and status to their graduates. Highly esteemed colleges produce better quality graduates that are more desirable in the marketplace, right?
Certainly if employers knew you went to one of these highly respected schools they would be much more likely to offer you a job over the common shmuck that went to the community college down the road, right… right?
Well, probably not.
Honestly, employers are really not all that concerned with where you went to college. There are of course some careers that are an exception to this rule, but they are certainly not the norm. The truth is after you graduate college the only person who cares about where you went to school is you.
“Only the Best” Mentality
You’ve probably heard that you have to get into the best possible school that you can. This is taught to students all the time from teachers, counselors, and family members. Let me be the first to tell you, It’s not true. It sounds great but its horrible advice.
Better advice would be that you have to get into the best possible school you can realistically afford and that offers the best return on investment.
Just because you get accept to a prestigious school doesn’t mean you can afford it. It also doesn’t mean you should take out a life time of student loans to go there.
You really have to think these things through.
The kindergarten teacher who graduated with $150,000 in student loans isn’t going to be getting paid any better than the teacher who graduated with $10,000 in student loans. Remember, the only person who cares where you went to school is you.
So before you decide to sign on the dotted line and agree to take out a massive student loan in order to get into that super cool school, think about your motives. Who are you really trying to impress? Is their brief and passing admiration worth it? How super cool will it be when you have to pay $600 a month in student loans until you’re 40? How prestigious will it be when you have to move back into your parent’s basement after graduation because you’re broke?
Think about it. That’s all I’m asking.
As a guy who graduated from a rather expensive private university with a degree in education, I feel like I have a pretty decent understanding of this whole idea of getting a good return on investment for a college degree. I learned the hard way though. I spent too much plain and simple. I didn’t learn that until years later though.
So tell me your story. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Comment below to share.