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The consequences of student debt

Gerrit

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Hi dropouts,

Like many people I have a student debt. I say like many people because it makes me feel better. It makes me feel better about a really dumb mistake I made after high school. I was dumb enough to follow the standard path without question, dumb enough to create an incredible amount of debt, without actually looking at what the returns would be.
In my country there is a law that obliges companies that lent you money to always clearly display: "Let op, geld lenen kost geld" translation: Beware: Borrowing money costs money. But because going to college doesn't directly mean borrowing money from the colleges you're looking into, you will never see that sign on any college website or brochure. You will probably not encounter it in your entire search for the school that will give you the perfect future. And no one really mentions it. And absolutely no one speaks about alternative opportunities for education. College's are our modern day temples. You go to them for wisdom and what the priest... I mean a professor says is the holy truth.

Our society is developing a system of control in a way never done before, well maybe by the Catholic Church in the dark ages, but still. True, we're not chained because of a skin color. We are probably not going to starve and physical abuse is mostly an exception and our diverse believes are not (yet) a reason for being burned at the stake.
But our minds are enslaved and numbed by debt. Ironically enough the Harvard priest of economy Sendhil Mullainathan found that poverty and debt cost people so much mental strain that it costs them 13 IQ points on average. (See article).
The creation of debt combined with the diploma inflation is going to create a new "well educated" group of people living under this strain of poverty. These people will work their asses off in jobs they don't like, making money for someone else, while in the mean time paying off their student debts and most likely creating other debts. Because we learned in college debt is normal. Why would we not borrow money to buy a car... or a TV... or the new iPhone.

Four out of ten people under 30 have student debt in the US. Almost half of that age group has student debt! We get pushed from one oppressive situation to another.
Primary, middle and high school tell us exactly what to do. We then make one decision, we decide which college we will go to (and in the Netherlands we declare a major directly) and the next four to eight years are spend listening to old men and women who haven't worked a day in their lives in the fields they're blabbering about. You fill in a few forms for which you get a letter (or in our case a number) in return and you celebrate when you are done. Then you go work for someone who will give you some money in return for, once again being told what to do. And there is no way out because there is a debt that needs to be paid.
This does not create or promote creativity, innovation or independence. This does not make the general population smarter and in conclusion it creates a society that is not nearly as smart, creative or innovative as it could be.
No matter how much we congratulate ourselves with the current technological progress, we are not nearly as far as we could be. But more important than that, we are not nearly as free as we should be.

No we will most likely have to work longer than any generation before us. Not that I mind work, I am lucky enough to have found a passion. But the knowledge itself shows that we are not really making that much progress as a society. We are merely changing skin. We look like a fresh new animal, but we still just live to pay our overlords.

Now this sounds depressing as hell, and it is. But lucky for us, we do live in a time were tech has developed very far. We just need to utilize its potential. We can ameliorate our situation by self-education and self-promotion. We can follow a ton of free or cheap courses online or offline. We can do internships, apprenticeships and more and build our own portfolio websites to display how awesome we've become. And we can show these options to others so they do not have to say "like many people I have a student debt".
 

Brad

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#5
You're not alone. I still struggle with the sheer lack of thought of my past decision to going to university.
I've come a long way but unfortunately wasn't switched on enough to see it for the scam it was at the time :(
 

Gerrit

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You're not alone. I still struggle with the sheer lack of thought of my past decision to going to university.
I've come a long way but unfortunately wasn't switched on enough to see it for the scam it was at the time :(
I think you touch upon the exact problem here. I wasn't switched on for a long time. 3 years of college before I realized it. and another 3 before I realized what I actually wanted. I'm pretty sure our current system is what switches us off. The strict following of rules and curriculums is mind numbing and leaves no room for your mind to explore.

What/when did you switch on? And did you find something that drives you now?
 

Brad

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#7
Same here — 3 years for me, I stayed with it another year to finish (fell for the sunk cost fallacy). Then taught for another 2 years (yeah it was a teaching degree which makes it all the more ironic).

I discovered unschooling while teaching and just couldn't reconcile my personal values with controlling and coercing kids so I bailed. Found an awesome self-directed learning and apprenticeship program called Praxis and started working at a digital marketing startup.

I love it — definitely drives me. I'm always learning and implementing new and interesting things. No longer harming and hampering kids which is 10/10 for my soul. No more coming home and going straight to bed because I can't live with myself :)

EDIT: I definitely agree re: curriculum, plus the implicit lessons like hoop jumping, asking for permission etc play a large role
 

Gerrit

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I love your story man! I know a lot of people who will ignore the problem just because they have put so much effort in already. You got out! Good for you man! I’ve heard great things about Praxis and I love their concept. I hope initiatives like theirs will pop up all over the world and make it hard on colleges.
 
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#9
Love this! Definitely can say that I fell into the sunk cost fallacy as well. Student debt kicks me in the butt every month.

Also, I'd love this to be on the blog! I'm going to send you a message. :)
 

Kylon

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#11
You're not alone. I still struggle with the sheer lack of thought of my past decision to going to university.
I've come a long way but unfortunately wasn't switched on enough to see it for the scam it was at the time :(
I can relate to this. When my wife and I were first married we weren't "switched on" enough and she continued to work towards her degree...mostly because we thought it was needed. I had already dropped out and we thought at least one of us should have a degree. Long story short, she has a degree in health and wellness and we're paying off $60,000 worth of student loans...but she owns two successful health related businesses that we built without utilizing her degree in any way. It's a painful and expensive lesson to learn!
 

Gerrit

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Casually enjoying the free BEng degree Scotland paid for over here... not to make you guys jealous or anything... ;)
Well any free education has a right to exist. Then it’s just a matter of looking for the best free education and how to spend your time during that education as useful as possible. My major I wouldn’t do again even if it was free. But that was also a poor choice on my end at that time.
 

Brad

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Daaamn, I should consider myself lucky I got away with only ~$20k USD of debt. Though not quite as good as free.

Completely agree though Gerrit. I wouldn't do mine again even if the university paid me the tuition cost.