Choosing the College Path

There has been a lot of discussion in the personal finance world in regards to the benefits of a higher education, especially when considering the increasing cost. Some pf bloggers have gone as far as saying a college education is just not worth it. I just wanted to write my own experience in acquiring a higher education. Gathering different perspectives is very important in trying to decide whether it’s worth it to continue with your education or even help your child decide if it’s the right choice for him/her.

My background:

I come from a low income community. My parents immigrated into this country when I was younger and despite having college degrees from their respective country, could not really do the same thing they were doing there here. Why did my parents immigrate? Their country was going through a high unemployment period for young adults at the time, sort of like what’s happening now. My dad has graduated from a top private university, had several years of experience, but still could not find a job that could feed our family. My parents came only temporarily to ride out the storm, but decided to stay after they realized life for their kids (my brother and I) might be better here, even if life for them was harder. So they traded their office jobs in their country to come work in harder conditions in a foreign country.

I definitely went through the “system.”Bilingual classes are never top priority for schools, and many kids get discouraged and often drop out. I was lucky to have my 4th grade teacher notice that I was bright and recommend me to the talented and gifted program. Despite achieving high scores, I was not allowed to join the program because I needed to have 1 year in an all English classroom. I spent fifth grade in an all English classroom; this class was where they put the majority of the problematic kids. My teacher was great and was the only that could handle such a special group. I was finally allowed to join the program in middle school.

Differentiating Myself: I think it was extremely important to separate myself from the crowd. When your peers are all motivated and aspire to go to college, it kinds rubs in you know? As of now, only 2, including myself, have graduated from college from the kids in the bilingual program in my grade. There were about thirty of us. I did spend most of my time in middle school catching up to my peers, and finally in high school I was able to surpass my classmates. I graduated at the top of my class and went to college.

I honestly don’t usually share my struggles with people. Most people think I was just a normal kid who had parents that put her in special classes so she could advance. My husband is definitely one of those kids. He went to one of the best elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Which I think was great!

I definitely think my experience led me to have a higher appreciation for higher education. First, I realized acquiring a higher education was probably the only and easiest way to advance and help my parents. Second, I always had the goal to improve and a higher education of course contributed heavily in accomplishing this goal. College for me was not a party. Yes, I did have fun, but I saw the experience differently from most college kids. Most students see college as a place to explore and find themselves. I definitely saw it that way too, but channeled the exploration and experiences in my field, so that I could advance in my career. Focus is definitely important. I went through both my undergraduate and graduate degree in four years, when it usually takes six years full time.

College has increased my earning potential. Which means I will be able to have and do things that I couldn’t do before. I will outline how I paid for both of my degree and how you can pay for your degree in a later post.

My message is simple. Education is crucial to living a good life. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Persistence and delayed gratification are your best friends!

Why did you go to college? Has it been beneficial? Please share with other readers that might be considering making this leap of faith.

SavvyFinancialLatina

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4 comments

  • Just like you said, going to college increased my income potential. Without it I couldn’t be where I am today.

  • I also came from a low income family, and had to push to get through college financially. Graduate school brought debt, however I earned enough to pay off that debt.

    The students of today face challenges I never faced. With more and more companies requiring 3 years of industrial experience in emerging B.S. level scientists, they graduate straight into the unemployment line.

    Today’s students really need to consider a 5-year plan to take courses integrating business skills into their repertoire. They just might need such skills for self-employment purposes after graduation.

    The Ph.D.s of our age who are currently unemployed due to the off-shoring of jobs realize this all too well. They wish they had taken time to diversify their studies to have something to fall back onto. Many are going back to school to learn business skills, and to pursue alternative careers.

    The thing you mention resounding more so than anything else is the word “bilingual.” This is perhaps the most important skill that student’s can cultivate to place themselves successfully into the global economy. Forget Spanish or French. Students need to study Chinese, Korean and Hindi.

    Keep on writing about this subject. There will be many students who will be grateful to hear what you have to share!

    Dr. Joseph Lennox
    http://www.lennoxtutoring.com

    • A second language is always useful! I would actually disagree with you in regards to Spanish. Spanish has definitely given me an edge when applying to jobs. Latin America is growing and will be the next consumer market to tap. Chinese is also very important, and Korean is a plus. I have not seen any demand in Hindi because India’s main official language is English, and there are over 1,00 dialects.
      Students do face a lot of challenges. I had great opportunities during school to gain real life experiences. It definitely have me an edge when looking for a job.

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