My Student Debt

Mo’ money…mo’ problems, said no one, ever.

Another quick thought:

I have been out of school for 3 years (completed all requirements in Dec. 2011). I wasn’t particularly careful with money during my 5 years of schooling, but I wasn’t wasteful either, and I also worked for most of that time. I amassed just over $63,000 in student debt over those 5 years.

I’ve been in the work force for 3 years, and in that time I have spent a total of around 8 months unemployed, 2 of those voluntarily. Since January 2013, I have spent only about 9 weeks not working (of the 5 positions I’ve held, only 1 was a longer term than 6 months). I have recently passed the $20,000 mark in paying off this debt; as of this month, I only owe around $17,000 in loans.

I like to consider myself a success story in terms of reasonably independent adults with a university education who lived away from home during their studies. I know people who are in much better financial positions than me, but I know many more who are far worse off. And I would only tangentially credit my post-secondary education for the jobs I’ve been able to get, I haven’t been paid for any chemistry-related work since I left grad school.

The fact that so far, I am what I think people would consider a success story makes me pretty sad for our society as a whole, and our education system specifically. I would LOVE to work in Chemistry, but that takes years of experience that I cannot get outside of university, and getting that experience by staying in or returning to school would be unavoidably expensive.

I’m fairly confident that if I apply myself, I can expect a base level of success at whatever I choose to do with my life. This inherently takes some risk, something I’m not particularly comfortable with, and something that gets exponentially more complicated the longer life goes on. I don’t want to just float through life on a base level of success in what is handed to me, I would like to do something I am passionate about and achieve real tangible, life-fulfilling levels of success, something that is very hard to do knowing I will spend 4-5 years just getting out of debt from school.

I would love to keep learning my whole life, and I intend to, whether that education is formal or not. I want some freedom to pursue independent creative endeavours and to explore philosophical ideas without worrying about losing what I’ve been working so hard for. I just hope that money cash doesn’t rule everything around me for my entire life. I am still looking forward to starting a family soon.


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