Oct 7, 2009

Student Life Student Debt

Lately I've been nitpicking my finances more than usual. It's come from realizing that I've been out of university for a year and a half now, and despite making strides to balance my income, the fact that I'm still living out of my parents basement to tackle my student debt is a considerable hiccup.

Maybe I should be clear that claiming the basement has still allowed me to live relatively separate from my folks, and to be extra clear, it's not as though they're cooking me dinner or doing my laundry. No, coming back home after university was more or less my only (realistic) option. Student living had resulted in some moderate student debt that at the time seemed too overwhelming to even tackle. If there is a bright side to my griping, it's that this situation has allowed me to repay thousands to my student loans, the bank, and my folks since being back.

This week I'd been searching out apartments to tempt myself with rediscovering the freedom that comes from having a place of your own. While my job is secure, the ability to make some extra income with my promo editing is still there, escaping my basement suite seems foolish. I hate admitting this to myself, because nothing seems as tempting right now.

I got into this problem by being too impulsive and clinging to an old goal of what I thought I could get out of university. When I ditched school after 6 years (2 of which I had to borrow money to pay for) I had to settle with the reality that one way or another I was going to have to find a way to give that money back - which is obvious, but funny how you don't let that weigh on you when the checks come in.

The issue here is that I'm not just saving to pay back debt, I'm saving to take my real shot at editing in either Calgary or Vancouver next year. It's because of this that I had to retract my plans of considering a place of my own. It's not just the cost of getting the apartment, it's the loss of money for the real goal. The basement is allowing me to pad my bank account while making more generous contributions to my debt. Understanding and seeing this balance evolve into the more flexible situation it is now has been a significant lesson in itself. It's the point of this post.

With student life comes student debt. In one way or another there is a sacrifice you're making, be it your money, time, or the other potential opportunities that may have been passed up in the course of your education. An education that you start to realize happens outside of the classroom more than in it.

I was 24 when I left school, next summer when I plan on moving I'll be 26. It's taken this long just to put myself in the position of taking another risky leap - of actually establishing myself somewhere with long term career (editing/production) potential. That shift in thinking when you realize what growing up actually requires is a kick. For all the sacrifice, it is nice to have a level head about things again - I can actually see myself merging into the lane I've been aiming for.

Was your student debt worth it?


Anonymous said...

No! Hey weren't you in some of my classes?

Truth is, in my fourth year project I wanted to answer that very question, for myself and many others. Sadly there is no real clear cut answer. The University will through all sorts of stats in your face about how great they are but my own research showed how flawed these very stats were. Among many other issues revolving around University. Someday I would like to revisit my 16 hours of footage and recreate a more questioning project and then use it to get a real show to hopefully help out 18 year olds who don't have a clue. Opps did I spoil issue 1.

Editing Luke said...

It's certainly a trade off. I'm just happy that I only acquired 2 years of debt, I know a lot of people racked up a lot more.

And no, we weren't in 400 together because I took a year out of production and then took my 400 courses the following year. So I never saw your final project, seems like a fairly relevant topic for a project though.

Kath Lockett said...

The debt never feels worth it - and I can say this being an Aussie who got a free university education in the late 1980s before the government introduced fees.

Going back for a grad diploma a few years later (for high school English teaching quals), saddled me with a debt that took a couple of years to pay.

Yes, it was annoying and fees certainly stop people such as the newly-retired or those just curious to learn something new from attending uni, but the experience is worth it. The crappy jobs we all did as students mean that you really value a decent salary and job responsibilities when you get them.

Editing Luke said...

I agree with you Kath that experience is worth it. I personally value what I experienced at uni in and out of the classroom to be significant in shaping what I wanted to do with my life.

There is a huge disconnect in some ways though, especially when the financial sacrifice for the average person means selling yourself to any position just to give the money back and get a fresh start. It's a dilemma, lot's of pros and cons.