Melanie Lockert wrote a very mature and thoughtful essay about her student-loan debt for Student Loan Hero, a web site on student loan indebtedness. Melanie took out $81,000 to get her postsecondary education: $23,00 for her bachelor's degree and $58,000 for her master's degree.
Melanie took on most of her debt due to her decision to get a master's degree from New York University, one of the most expensive universities on the planet. Remarkably, she was able to pay off all this debt in eight years, but she paid a price for borrowing so much money to get an education.
Melanie gave her readers five pieces of advice about borrowing money to get a graduate education, and her column is well worth reading. In particular, she warned people to be cautious about a decision to go to a "dream school." I am quoting her remarks about that here:
Dream Schools Are Just a Dream
It's not uncommon for people like me, who take on a large amount of debt to go to school, to be met with a certain amount of criticism. I was repeatedly asked why I didn't go to a cheaper school.
My answer? I wanted to go to my dream school. My dream obviously came at a cost, but I was willing to pay the price. I was stubborn and no one could tell me not to pursue my dream. However, I realized the reality of attending my dream school wasn't so dreamy after all. I got a lot out of my education at NYU, but it was a lot harder than I imagined.
Our judgement can be clouded by fantasy — we think a certain school can bring us legitimacy, talent, and clout. But in the end, it's just a school. Consider carefully the cost of your dream school and what price you might pay many years down the road.
Melanie's essay struck home with me because I too made a decision to attend a dream school: Harvard Graduate School of Education. Like Melanie, I came to realize that in the end Harvard was just a school, and a degree from Harvard contained no magic properties for improving my life.
If you are thinking about going to graduate school at an expensive university, I urge you to make a copy of Melanie Lockert's essay and tape it to your refrigerator so you won't lose it. Then read her essay before you drop that graduate-school application in the mail.
Melanie Lockert. Student Loan Problems: What I Wish I Knew Before Borrowing $81,000 for School. Student Loan Hero, November 25, 2015. Accessible at: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loan-problems-wish-knew-before-borrowing-81000/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=blach