I loved being a student at Indiana University. Yes, I had too much fun there, but what I mostly think about when I look back on my college years was the sincere joy that I had being a student. While IU is known for their esteemed Kelly School of Business, I had a fantastic education with the exception of a a few average professors in their Liberal Arts program, as an English major with a concentration in creative writing. I also minored in French and History. It was a trifecta of subjects that were extremely stimulating for me.

In a recent conversation over Ethiopian dinner with two of my best girlfriends on Valentine’s Day, they both emphatically reminded me that I’m someone that always like to be mentally stimulated. And it’s true! In October of 2017, I successfully gained a staffing industry related certification as a Certified Personnel Consultant, through the National Association of Personnel Services. It was a positive experience that required me to sit down, study and learn.

As I’m writing this now in my usual Starbucks, I look around mildly envious at the DePaul students studying and going through their work books. I’ve also seen a few post graduates studying here for their various Master’s Programs. While I don’t miss the irrelevant electives of undergrad (I’m looking at you, finite mathematics/astronomy), I do miss having the mission to garner a degree in a field of study that I’m passionate about. A lot of my candidates that are Executive Assistants have Master’s degrees. A lot of our clients have MBAs from premiere universities as well. I want to have my own.

I know the only feasible option for me if I were to broach a Master’s program, would be a MFA in Creative Writing. My understanding is that it would include a two year program, whether online or onsite (or both?), and a final thesis, which for me would be a novel or a book of short stories. You may ask, why can’t you just be disciplined enough to do this on your own? Well, I could, except part of the joy is having professionals or like minded individuals specialized in creative writing helping to guide me and critique my work. And as I mentioned, I loved being a student and that factor is a huge draw for me.

For example, my creative writing coursework at Indiana University taught me that I am adept with language and creating detailed imagery. Characterization? Decent. Developing and forwarding a plot? Yikes! These are areas I was incredibly weak in and that’s fairly problematic if you’re writing stories of any length! And in the last several years since graduating, I’ve been more focused on creating a liveable existence, after crashing and burning from New York City, coming back to Chicagoland, broke with my tail between my legs. Now that I’m feeling more comfortable about my livelihood, I’m naturally looking for more stimulation as is my pattern.

This is all to say, even if I were to look into an online program requiring 15-20 hours a week so I can still be focused on my career in staffing, why would I do it with the enormous price tag that comes with it? I wouldn’t want to chintz on a mediocre school program, but the good ones like Northwestern University can cost upwards of $50,000! I even used FAFSA’s calculator for this hypothetical program to estimate what financial aid I could qualify for. Much to my disappointment, it estimated that I could get coverage up to $20,000, leaving me with a whopping $30,000 to make payments on. The idea of deferral is counter to my nature. I’m extremely proactive when it comes to paying my bills, so $30,000 concerns me greatly as a monthly expense.

Additionally, I can fully admit that an MFA in Creative Writing is not the most applicable when it comes to the world of professional services, whereas an MBA seems to be a must these days. My business writing skills are already solid, so I don’t need to pay for that. This would be solely a passion “project” for lack of a better word. But it would be exorbitantly expensive. And this is just for a Master’s program! The amount of student debt for undergrads is insane.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Benjamin Franklin

Perhaps back then it was, Ben, but students are now the ones paying the government interest in order to be mildly successful in life. When my father retired in 2003 (he’s older than most of my peers’ fathers), he had saved a large chunk of change for my college education as well as my brother’s. By the time I entered college in 2008, his savings only covered one year of my tuition!

According to Student Loan Hero, “Among the Class of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $29,800, including both private and federal debt. Meanwhile, 14% of their parents took out an average of $35,600 in federal Parent PLUS loans.”

So you can imagine why my interest in an MFA seems almost seems self-indulgent given the current landscape. I’m not saying I won’t do this program later in life; I can assure you I will. But my hopes for the moment are dashed.

What are your thoughts?

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One thought on “Continuing Education or Personal Debt?

  1. Alice Freeman says:

    Megaroo!!!! Take a longer view, Please!!!

    1-your Mom paid off her obligation for Bill & your education & if she can, you can

    2- do not do ‘on-line’. Your human interaction is critical to your stimulation & excitement! Figure this out…. start slow- you don’t have to dive in head on… take an evening class , meet new people, challenge yourself & ‘pay as you go & you’ll never owe.’

    3- don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today… this could be your next Big Win!!!! I believe it is!!!!!!

    4- 🖋📚

    Love you Al

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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