How much education can you afford?

I don’t usually discuss education, though I feel strongly about the subject, but as a college student who isn’t exactly rolling in cash, this topic had to be written about.

ThinkProgress (a “news” site that always leaves me wondering exactly how many “glaucoma” patients they have on staff*) has apparently taken issue with something that Romney said recently (surprise, surprise…not). Specifically they had a problem with this part of his speech on the 27th in Virginia.

I think this is a land of opportunity for every single person, every single citizen of this great nation. And I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot. They get as much education as they can afford and with their time they’re able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot of realizing their dreams.

Oh I get what they think they are upset about, but honestly they are just looking for a reason to dislike Romney. If they were paying any attention to his record they would know they were being ridiculous, but really…if a website posts an article named “Four Reasons Why The Court’s Decision To Uphold Obamacare Is Good News For The Economy” they aren’t really trying to be taken seriously anymore.

But I digress.

People are trying to make this statement look like Romney doesn’t care about the poor and don’t want them to get an education, but that’s just ridiculous!

This is the comparison they are making. God, I hope I’m never this stupid.

See the key word here is “afford” and that word doesn’t mean what you think it means.**

The definition of afford:

1. To be able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect.

2. To be able to meet the expense of; have or be able to spare the price of.

When you bring this term into a conversation of “can I afford this 60″ flat screen TV” it actually means “Do I have this money in my bank account right now?” Or “Will I be able to pay this off with the job I have?”

When you are talking about something such as a smart investment opportunity or education, the question becomes “can I spare the money right now for the pay off later?”

When I went back to school I weighed the cost very carefully. I was very aware of the amount I would have to take out in federal and private loans and I considered whether I could afford the cost and then decided that I couldn’t afford to not return to school.

Then, of course, you run into people *cough99%’scough* who complain that they spent SO much money that they couldn’t afford on their education and now they can’t find jobs and they can’t pay back all those loans they took out while getting degrees in Underwater Basket-weaving and Canadian Studies and Music Therapy. (Those last two are actual degrees…I sincerely hope that the first one is not.) Or perhaps one of these other, equally pointless and wasteful, degrees.

Can these people afford to get these degrees? (Well clearly they couldn’t, or they wouldn’t have been camping out in New York City, protesting other people’s better college choices). The only people who could afford that sort of degree would be someone like Paris Hilton, with outrageous amounts of family money (and even Paris isn’t that stupid, she, to my knowledge, never went to college. Instead she just started her own companies and became successful…without college, imagine that.) Instead maybe they should have gone to get a degree in something that could help them get a good career. Instead of dicking around in Women’s Studies majors, maybe they should have gone to nursing school. Instead of majoring in Religion (sorry Dylan***) maybe they should have gone to Business school or at the very least gotten a teaching degree.

Yes, I’m aware that the cost of college is outrageous, but you can only blame the government for that. You can’t blame them for your stupid choice of major, but youcanblame the government for subsidizing every stupid degree that colleges make available.

Wait, you say, I had to get a college degree to get a good job.

Bullshit. I’ve had good paying, full time jobs, that never once cared about whether I had a degree or not. You either haven’t looked in the right place, or you are looking for a job you will “enjoy”. I will admit, those full time jobs were boring as hell and I hate them, but I was also independent and made plenty of money to do whatever I wanted after paying my rent and saving a little.

But, you say, I want a job I will enjoy. I want a career, so I have to get a degree because those jobs won’t hire me without a degree.

Once again, blame the government and the subsidization of colleges. 50 years ago, people got college degrees for jobs that needed serious training. Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, (some) Scientists. General jobs didn’t all come with a “those without college degree need not apply” disclaimer. The government subsidized and then degrees, the likes of which wouldneverget you a job, began popping up all over the place just to reel in the students.

So even if your broke can you ‘afford’ college? Well that depends on whether you have a plan and whether you know what degree to get to carry out that plan and whether you are willing to do the work to become successful. If you have those three things anyone can afford to go to college, that’s what Romney meant.


*No offense to those people I know who have LEGITIMATE pain management issues that are helped by a little mary-jane, but I think it’s clear this stuff (or whatever they are taking) is not helping the writer’s at ThinkProgress to ‘progress’ anywhere but the snack food aisle.

**Sort of like how the word “fair” and “equal” have somehow gained new, interesting, twisted definitions for liberals.

***That is what my brother majored in…