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21 and $200k in Debt

But it will all be worth it…

Being born in the 90’s is glamorized by the media in 2016. We had all the good television shows, all the great fashion statements, and we even had the best pop singers and boy bands of all time, (Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys). We saw the end of the CD generation and the start of the iPhone and Smartphone generation and everything around us was quickly changing and adapting to our technology-obsessed world. One thing that never changed for us for as long as I can remember is the whole concept of going to college after high school. In kindergarten, I knew I had to go to school until I graduated high school; and since I wanted to become a teacher, I had to further my education after that. Going away to a four year college was always in my plan and my friends’ plans as well.

Just like any high school senior, I started college searching and attending many tours in the fall of 2012. By this time, I grew out of the dream of becoming a teacher and picked up an interest in becoming a business student. I checked out all the business schools in the area and did not even think to look at the prices. My priorities at 17 were: 1. Get out of my hometown, (maybe out of state, but not too far). 2. Live on my own and meet new people. 3. Live on a pretty campus.

I was only 17 at the time and my mind was not focused on how much money I am going to pay on student loans six months after I graduate. My mind was more focused on getting into the best school I can, doing the best I can in that school, and getting a great job out of it. My friends were all going away to college. Some were going across the country, and some were going a couple states away. I knew I had to go away to a four year college and I had no desire to go to a community college for the first couple of years.

While running for President, Governor John Kasich visited Bryant University and spoke in front of hundreds of students, faculty, and people of the Smithfield community. The speech was powerful until he made a negative remark about financial aid while telling the students at Bryant University that we should have attended a community college before coming to this amazing, but costly school. I was infuriated because not only did he blame us for choosing to go away for our freshman year, but he did not give anyone a chance to explain why people did not attend a community college prior to a four year institution. You can’t tell a 17 year old where or where not to go to college. Some 17 year olds choose to go away to college and some choose to go to a community college to figure out what they want to do. Stress is filling the teenager’s mind during this important milestone and advice is being thrown around everywhere.

So, next time someone brings up high tuition costs or college tips, I suggest to listen to their advice but always do what you want to do. You will have to learn to make your own decisions and you have to be able to deal with them throughout your life. College will absolutely benefit in the long run. After all the stress and the long days of writing papers and studying for tests. There will be sleepless nights and tears and paychecks that turn into student loan checks but eventually, those decisions made at 17 will all be worth it!

Kristen Smith

Bryant University 2017

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