Tuesday, February 03, 2004

A loan is a terrible thing to waste

On the way home tonight, I heard a PSA on Sirius for the United Negro College Fund. The PSA featured a guy who wanted to be a teacher, but didn't have the money to go to college. Thus, he is a sandwich delivery guy. It was tagged, of course, with the "a mind is a terrible thing to waste" line.

Now, I have no problem with the United Negro College Fund. If a group wants to work toward sending negroes to college, more power to them. And if group wants to work to send white kids, Asian kids, one-legged lesbians or whatever to college, I say go for it.

But this notion that money is, in itself, an obstacle to college is absolute, complete horseshit. And I'm pretty sick of hearing it.

My family had no money to send me to college. My wife's family had no money to send her to college. Most of my friends also were not presented with a "college fund" when they graduated high school.

I got no scholarships, and by the time I graduated high school, I was working part-time jobs to help support my family. Yet an LSU diploma hangs on my wall (or would hang on my wall if I could find the thing and were inclined to hang such a thing on my wall).

How could this be? Why am I not delivering sandwiches for a living?

See, there are these things called student loans. And there's this thing called "working your way through school." I borrowed as much as I could to help me pay for college. I couldn't have borrowed enough to go to a private school, true, but I managed to pay my way through a big public college.

Would I have preferred to not leave college in debt? Sure. Would it have been easier to get ahead in my career with an Ivy League degree somebody else paid for? No doubt.

But that's life in what I like to call the real world. You do what you have to do to get where you want to be.

I'd be a lot more inclined to support a college fund that focused on students who have demonstrated family hardships such as disabled parents they have to care for, or even for teenage single mothers.

But that's not the message.

The guy in the UNCF PSA wanted to be a teacher, and he spends his breaks between sandwich deliveries teaching kids math. But it's so, so sad that he just didn't have money to go to college.

Again, horseshit. Pull up SallieMae and find out how to borrow money to better yourself. If you can't borrow enough to pay all of your costs, get a damn job.


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