Economy crushes dream school plans

Kristine Gill

My mom always told my sister and I we could grow up to do anything. (She might have been delusional.) She told us not to think about money when we picked a college, that we should choose the best college for us and worry about paying for it later.

She wasn’t the only mom who did that, and tons of kids like me picked a college without stressing about the price tag. But with the state of the economy, the price tag factor now weighs a little more in that decision.

Seventy-one percent of high school guidance counselors who responded to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling this year noted an increase in the number of students who chose more affordable colleges as opposed to their dream schools. That’s not to say those kids wouldn’t have opted for a cheaper school even in the best of economic times, but it’s still significant.

If you’re going to be a senior this fall like me, you will have paid the same tuition price all four years of your college education. Think about it – we’re some lucky dogs. Kids in other states have had to pay more and more each year, but our governor has spared us of that burden with his statewide tuition freeze.

With that said, we’ve been paying the same ridiculously high tuition rate all four years. Students in Ohio happen to be paying rates that are the third highest in the nation.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably currently enrolled at Kent State and this doesn’t really affect you. Maybe you’ve already forgone your dream school and are extremely bitter these days. Maybe grandma’s recent death eliminated your financial concerns and you’re currently enrolled at four universities. Even if this trend isn’t affecting you now, it’s still important.

It’s important because somewhere there is a kid named Bob who was going to go to Johns Hopkins University to cure cancer. But because of this damn economy, we’re going to die premature and painful deaths thanks to some common illness that Bob would have cured.

If only Bob’s parents had been able to pay his way. If only Bob had flipped a few more burgers. If only the price of gas hadn’t been so high while Bob’s parents were trying to save. If only Bob had sold his organs for his room and board fee.

I think in order to save our children the pain of choosing a community college over Harvard, we should start saving now. No one knows what the economy will be like in the future, so save, save, save. Maybe by the time our kids are making the big college decision, we’ll have saved enough.

Then, surrounded by candlelight at our makeshift dining room table in the dingy corner of the abandoned building we’ve called home since graduating from Kent State, we’ll open acceptance letters from dozens of prestigious universities that have chosen our children. Won’t that feel good?

Start saving now, though, because in the meantime, thanks to Bob and the economy, we’re all going to die of cancer.

Kristine Gill is a senior newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].