Going into debt: my story (abridged version)

I’ve been thinking a lot about student loan repayment since I started my research about how it works, and while I don’ t have another “gripping” (ha!) installment of SLR information for you today, I wanted to share what’s been on my mind.

I keep remembering a conversation I had with a beloved political science professor during my last semester of undergrad.  This was that professor that would really engage conversations, and argue and force you to think things through.  I mean, luckily most of my professors were “liberal” in their belief that students should think critically and come to their own conclusions about things.  I’m pretty sure that most days my professors thought I was completely insane and laughed at my ridiculousness and then went home and prayed for my soul… Other majors at my conservative religious private school were not so lucky, and doctrine/dogma was heaped upon them.  Not me.  Praise God for the liberal arts: for the weird, history-challenging, rhyme-busting men and women who taught me to think.  Unfortunately this specific professor tended to get the brunt of my crazy arguments, the ones I hadn’t thought through and that often made absolutely no sense — the ones where I struggled against the church and its oftentimes ridiculous approach to politics.

While sitting in his office to discuss my law school plans, I was explaining how excited I was to have been accepted into my future law school alma mater in Washington, D.C.  It went something like this:

Me:  I think I’m going to go to DC.  It’s where I want to be.  It’s the kind of school I want to go to.

Beloved Professor (BP):  I see.  How are you going to pay for that?

Me:  Loans.  

BP:  [eyebrow raises]

Me:  No, seriously, it’s how you pay for law school.  They don’t give scholarships like they do in college, because everyone is supposed to have a  stellar academic record.  I’m getting a half-tuition discount and that will be enough.  

BP:  What about living expenses?  It’s expensive to live in D.C.  

Me:  It will be fine; I’ll get a roommate.  [I did get a roommate.]  I’ll make it work. 

BP:  You should probably reconsider how you feel about the University of Tennessee’s program.  Isn’t it a lot cheaper?  [Yes, only $12,000/year after my scholarships were taken out. . .  But I had attended a sample class there and I’d hated it.  No one had raised their hands when the professor had asked questions.  Students spent more time on Facebook than on class discussion.  If only I’d known that’s what every law school is like in those mass classrooms.]  

Me:  Look Dr. ——, stop killing my dreams.  I think this is really what I’m supposed to do.  Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts and have a little faith!  This is where I need to be.  

BP:  Okay, I hear you, but I just want to be certain you are being realistic.  These loans aren’t just going to disappear. . .

I remember this conversation vividly, although the details of what he said and what I said are completely made up.  Who knows what we really talked about.  What I remember is that by the time the conversation was over, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to go to DC and live this experience.  And I remember being sad that this dream wouldn’t be easy to pay for, and that the people who cared about my future couldn’t be as excited as I was about this opportunity to soak up learning because they could also see how hard it would be to pay for.

I learned that my commitment to following this inner direction [God’s will? Hard to say, but maybe so… Actually, I really do think so, but I’m not always sure how to tell] was stronger than my fear of debt.  

And now that I did it, and it’s over, and I’m paying for it, it is hard.  Not impossible,  certainly not easy, but a worthy sacrifice for a working, thinking, useful brain that can look at shenanigans, spot the real questions, and try to answer them.   

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  1. Open and Exposed « pinkbriefcase

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