Students suffer ‘major’ expenses to achieve career goals


Breyanna Tripp

Sophomore architecture major Mary Stiger works on class work in the architecture studio Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Breyanna Tripp

Mary Stiger has a spreadsheet to prove how expensive her major is.

Stiger, a sophomore architect major, spent more than $1,200 on supplies last year. She worked 50 hours a week, 200 hours a month and two jobs just to afford to stay in her major.

“I knew I was going to have to pay for supplies, but I didn’t realize how expensive it was going to be,” Stiger said. “I remember I called my dad on the first day of school, and I was like ‘I don’t know what to do, I don’t have any money.’ I also pay my own tuition, so I had just paid my tuition bill, and I came to school and they’re like, ‘I hope you brought your credit cards.’ I borrowed money from my dad for the first couple weeks of school.”

Now, Stiger said it was worth it because architecture is the degree she wants. To get the most out of it, she knows she has to spend the money.

Stiger is one of many students who said they spent hundreds — even thousands — of dollars for supplies required for their major. Even though students have to pay for these supplies on top of regular tuition expenses, they still feel it is worth it to work in their desired fields.

Architecture, fashion and nursing are only three of the majors at Kent State that require students to spend extra money to cover their supply costs.

“You got to do what you got to do,” Stiger said about paying for additional supplies to work in her major.

Nadya Kozinets, an assistant professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State, said the school encourages students to do their own research to find the best deals.

“We give them the option that they can go to different printing shops, somewhere where you can get a discount if we bring a group of students instead of going there singularly, alone,” Kozinets said. “Look and research more and see what’s available and not only go and use the resources that our university has. You have to do your research and not just rely on what the university provides you with.”

Sophomore architecture major Zachary Skwara said he spent about $1,000 on supplies the first week of summer studio, a 10-week accelerated program for architecture students.

“Through that time you pretty much have to buy all of your equipment in the first couple weeks, while paying for school and all of that stuff,” Skwara said. “We don’t really get time to accumulate equipment. We have to have it there in the beginning, so it’s pretty expensive.”

Fashion students in both design and merchandising concentrations also spend hundreds for class supplies. Linda Ohrn-McDaniel, an associate professor in the School of Fashion, said they try to give their students suggestions on where to look to find the best supplies.

“I would say to be open and always looking. Look where their hometown is,” Orhn-McDaniel said. “Try to find a variety of places. Jo-Ann’s [JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores] is the only place we have close, and that is not always the best alternative.”

Junior fashion design major Vanessa Robins said her passion to be in the fashion industry helps her cope with spending money on supplies.

“The three years I’ve been here, I have spent about $600,” Robins said. “Sometimes it annoys me, but it is not a bad thing. You get to pick out what you want. The longer I’ve been in this major, I have realized that buying quality stuff saves you money because you don’t have to keep rebuying it. It’s easier to spend more because you only have to spend it that one time.”

Freshman fashion merchandising major Rayelle Rankins is enrolled in two classes this semester that require supplies like computer software and fabrics other than textbooks: Fashion Visuals and Fashion Technology.

“I have probably spent somewhere between $400 and $500 on my two classes combined,” Rankins said. “We have to continuously buy supplies when we run out and material for mood boards and outfits for my visuals class this semester. For my tech class, I have spent around $120 for Adobe products and then around $20 for supplies and printing to put my projects together.”

Rankins said she has had three projects so far this semester and has spent about $30 to $35 on each project.

“I figured because I was going into merchandising, I was not going to need to spend money on art supplies and fabric, but with visuals, you are constantly paying for things,” Rankins said. “Also, knowing someone with a car or a way to get to a fabric store is helpful or else you won’t have a way to get materials for your projects. If I had known, I might have saved more or really pushed for finding a job because I am always needing new materials for the class.”

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Telayne Keith said she wishes the cost of her supplies was a part of the program cost.

“I paid for most of my supplies.” Keith said. “If I didn’t get paid that week, and I knew I had a project coming up, sometimes I would ask my mom. But a lot of times, I would just try to make due with what I had. A lot of that stuff did come out of my paycheck, and I get minimum wage, and I only work about 15 hours a week. ”

Nursing students also incur costs of supplies they must have once they are accepted into Kent State’s well-known program.

“So the first year is your freshman year; you just take your prerequisites and then your second year, once you get in the program, over the summer you have to start buying all of your supplies,” junior nursing major Karla Santiago said.

Santiago said she had to buy a variety of items such as two pairs of scrubs that cost her about $190, her shoes that cost about $50, a required testing program that cost about $400 and a software program for her iPad that costed her about $300. These are just a few of the items Santiago had to purchase.

“There are little minor things you need to buy.” Santiago said. “So, for an example, you have to be CPR certified, so CPR classes can range from $25 to $50; you have to renew that every two years. You also need a background check, a federal and a state background check and that can cost around $200.”

Santiago said she worked as a Flash Guide for two summers to pay for her supplies.

“I took out a little loan just to finish covering everything up.” Santiago said. “One thing I did is I made a list of everything that I needed to buy. I wouldn’t buy all at one time; I would, like, throughout the summer buy some little things that way it doesn’t get to you that much.”

Sophomore nursing major Mariah Fornataro said she also did not realize how much she would have to pay for nursing supplies, which cost her about $1,000.

“Just know that you do have to pay for those. But it is worth it in the end because it’s not like you have to pay for it every year.” Fornataro said. “Just save for it when you get in and know that there is all of these costs.”

Contact Breyanna Tripp at [email protected].