letters to myself: a rant on student loans

Dear Nicole at the age of 17 trying to decide what college to go to,

I understand the pressure in high school to get into a good college. I remember all too well the feeling of wanting to LEAVE Winslow and be something. I know you feel as though you absolutely have to go to a small liberal arts school because you don't want to go where everyone else goes and you care too much about what your diploma says. However, if you could listen to my advice, I would tell you, it isn't worth it. A state school is JUST as good if not better because you won't come out with thousands of dollars in loans. I promise no one will think less of you for going to UMO or USM. AND you really don't know what you want to do anyway so why spend $40,000 a year? I also promise that you will make new friends at these schools and won't necessarily get lumped in with who you went to high school with. Seriously, please just go to a state school for a year or two while you figure it out- or for all 4 years- it honestly does. not. matter. where you go to undergrad.

Nicole at age 30

Dear Nicole at the age of 23/24 about to head to law school,

don't go.
seriously- chalk up your application fee to a little financial hit that will save you thousands upon thousands in the future.
I know you THINK you want to be a lawyer.
But, reflect for a minute.
Do you want to go to law school to prove something?
Do you want to go to law school to show everyone that you can be smart and serious?
Are you ready to give 3 years of your life and sanity just to prove that you aren't some small town girl - but a strong woman with an education?

Guess what? Nobody is paying attention to that.
Guess what else? Everyone who matters already knows you're smart.
You love helping people right?
You love working with kids/young adults?

Here is an idea- go get your masters. I bet you would be an amazing counselor. Or teacher. And you know what? I bet you'd be happy.

If you go to law school, you'll spend 3 years feeling like it was a mistake that they let you in.
You will seriously feel like the dumbest person in the world.
You will develop serious anxiety and panic attack problems (sound like fun?).
The only good you will take from law school (besides several people you meet) will be the time you spent working at the Legal Clinic. And even with that, it will only reaffirm how much you like working with people, young adults, and helping people get their lives on track.

If you go to law school, you will come out owing more than some people have in a mortgage on a home.
You then won't be able to find a job.
You then will be seriously and scarily unemployed for a significant amount of time.
You then will discover you don't want to be a lawyer, but even with your pretty serious degree (JD is nothing to sneeze at, folks) you will find no jobs. Everyone will assume that you must want to be a lawyer. Everyone will tell you that you are overqualified.
Your self esteem will plummet.

So, don't go.
I promise you'll figure your life out without law school. I promise you'll be happier, have more money in your pocket, feel like YOU and be doing something you love.

just think about it.

Nicole at age 30


Serena said...

Oh god, can I relate to this. I almost don't know what to say because I feel for you so deeply!

After toying with the idea of law school, I decided that while law school wasn't for me, I did want to get my masters. So I did. I went to grad school and I loved it. And of course I went to a very expensive school because god forbid I get this degree from a state school. And of course I took out a million loans because paying them off in the future didn't seem like it would be that big a deal.

And then I graduated, and started applying to jobs that I really really wanted. The problem was, these jobs, apparently, preferred that I have a PHD instead of a MA. And better yet, these jobs paid so little that there was no possible way that I could pay off $60k + in loans with the measly salary they were offering.

So because I needed to start paying off this soul crushing mountain of debt, I took a job that I had no interest in other than the salary. So now I'm in a job that pays me fairly well, but that I like less than the job I had before deciding to go to grad school, and it fucking sucks.

All of this is to say... I feel your pain.

Erin D. said...

Hey smarty pants. To me you are that girl that had a dream and worked her ass off to chase it.

& things that they should teach us in school: follow your heart, follow your passion and then you'll find what you love to do.

B said...

cross out nicole, write in "chantal," put that in the mail and send it on over to California! oh wait! can you get in your time machine and do that about 4 years ago?! Great! Thanks!

Lexi said...

I feel like this is me, writing this post. ha. I never thought that with a JD, applying to more creative, non-law jobs, you'd be told over and over and over again, you're overqualified and that that would somehow make you feel less qualified. How's it going now? Any job leads?