Are Student Loans Stunting Our Maturity?

As I sit here on my parent’s couch over Easter break listening to Steve Angello’s Essential Mix at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night… I begin to foresee my future.

**Fast forward 6 months. Diane is sitting on her parent’s couch on a Friday night eating a box of Cheez-itz alone with her dog, watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall or some other movie she has already seen 7 times previously.**

Let me start this off by saying I am both optimistic and greatly excited for my “future” in the “real world”; however, I can’t help but notice all of these drawbacks that may trip me as I attempt to leap into adulthood, forcing me to fall flat on my face. And so, it becomes easier to sit on the sidelines under the protection of adolescence than to take the step forward. However, I would argue that it is not only easier, it is almost becoming necessary for young adults to remain “stuck” as children for a longer period of time. And for that, I blame the expenses of college.

To elaborate, why do I foresee my future as spending countless Friday nights sitting on my parent’s couch? Because I don’t see myself being able to financially afford moving out of my parent’s house for <undocumented period of time>. And when I am home, I am boring. Suburbia isn’t exactly the party-scene of America…

Why won’t I move into a city? Oh, I’d love to! However the expenses of city-living and my student loans loathe each other, and I feel as though there would be a lot of tension in the apartment if all three of us attempted to live together. And since I’ve been with my student loans longer, I chose them as my premier roommate.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Student loans= living at home=not living in city= boring social life. 

And so I will remain stuck (luckily stuck, but stuck nonetheless) in my parent’s house, with a refrigerator full with food, Mom’s home-cooked dinners, and free Wi-Fi/cable (‘free’ meaning I personally don’t have to pay for it…)

These are all basic necessities as well as luxuries that I am SO thankful for- Thank GOD I have parents that will let their liberal-arts-degreed daughter mooch off of their Wi-Fi and Cheez-its until she gets a decent job and can start to afford both student loans and a crappy studio apartment with 6 other roommates in some unappealing area of some city some where.

However, as more and more college graduates are forced to move back home due to this vicious cycle of post-college-poorness, are their maturity levels being stunted?

I feel as though having this luxury of ‘home’ will only start to inhibit my attempts to ‘grow up’. I won’t have to budget myself or even my time for food and other basic amenities. College has spent its last four years attempting to teach me how to survive on my own, yanno with a meal plan but it still tried- yet will all that go to waste the more time I spend at home post-grad? Will I start to regress to my high school dependancies?

It is difficult to learn how to grow up until you fully submerge yourself into the life of an adult, and living at home prevents you from doing so.

When looking at past generations, they were moving out, getting married, having children well before or around my age of 22. WHAT. I cannot even imagine that lifestyle. Sure, our generation seems to focus more on careers and so that could be why all of this marriage-nonsense is getting pushed back for us, but could it also be because we simply cannot afford it? That education costs so much that we spend a good amount of our early twenties just coping with the idea of how to pay for food/housing/bills/etc on top of our loans?

I am so grateful that I have a place to live after graduation come May, but my only concern is that the more time I spend at home, the less I will grow up, that the financial burden of student loans forcing me to stay home will stunt my urge to mature into a fully functioning adult. That it will be too easy to be my parent’s little girl using their Wi-Fi and eating their entire boxes of Cheez-its in one sitting…

As much as I love calling my parent’s house my home, as much as I love coming home on the holidays, and as much as I am not ready to leave it quite yet- I hope one day soon I am ready to, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

To summarize, I want this home to be a place I *can* come back to, not one I *have* to because of the pressures of student loans.

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What Not To Ask A College Senior

Here’s a tip to adults, children, high school students, underclassman, elders, basically anyone other than a college senior: The most ANNOYING question you can ask a senior in college is “What are you doing after graduation?”

Do you think we know that? Even if we do have plans, do you think we want to discuss life-after-college with you? Or even THINK about life after college?

Alright, I’m generalizing a bit right now because there are those lucky fellas majoring in finance or something who have had job offers since they were freshmen, and those who somehow have the biggest savings account in the world despite attending a $50k/year private university and are back-packing Asia for a TBA amount of time after graduation, but as for a good portion of us: WE.DO.NOT.KNOW.WHAT.WE.ARE.DOING.COME.MAY.

I realized how much this question bothered me personally today when my neighbor came into my house as I was sitting in my pajama pants at about 1 PM and trolling the interwebz and began asking me questions about post-grad.

*Smiling politely* “I’m not sure yet.”

Neighbor: “What do you mean you’re not sure….? What are you going to do? What can you do?”

Sir, I don’t know what about the phrase “I’m not sure yet” you did not comprehend, but I am not sure yet. I do not know. I have no idea. Is that clear?

Apparently not, because this conversation proceeded the same way for about 5-10 more minutes until I progressively got more aggressive with my answers “I DON’T KNOW!” and my dad chimed in “How about this new moulding on the wall…?” directing the subject away from my pathetic lack of future plans towards our lovely living room decor.

Thanks Dad. Always there to save the day.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy thinking about or even discussing the future, but my future is wide open right now. I am focusing on deadlines for volunteer programs, job searching, internships, places to live, etc in my free time alone.

It seems as though many of my classmates are doing the same over this winter break.

Every time I talk to a fellow-senior, they are in the middle of applying to graduate school, or finishing up a resume, or writing a personal statement for a volunteer program. And the phrase “the uncertainty of my future” comes up almost daily in conversation with them.

We are all uncertain. We are all young. We are in our early twenties. Why do we need to know what what we are doing after graduation? Why do we need to know where we will be a year from now?

We don’t. And we won’t. We are still figuring ourselves out. We are still mid-applications and mid-deadlines and mid-confused.

Let us be. Let us figure ourselves out. Let us be overwhelmed with our possibilities. Why is there so much pressure on us that we need to know who we are supposed to be as a post-grad?

If you are asking us “What are you doing after graduation?” to be nice or out of general interest: that’s fine. But when we say “I’m not sure yet”, let it go. Let us explore and let us figure it out. Give us advice, sure. But don’t be disappointed with our acceptance of the fact that the future is wide open to us.

And for the love of God do not, NOT relentlessly ask us over and over again expecting a different answer. (That’s a sign of insanity according to Einstein. So who’s the unstable one now!?)

But be aware that by asking us “What are you doing after graduation?” you are forcing us to live in the future. It’s my last semester in college. I’ll figure it all out on my own time within this semester, but for now, I’m going to focus on living it up these last few months of freedom I have left. When I’m not physically working on those deadlines and applications, I’d prefer to not have to think or talk about them. I’d rather think or talk about that upcoming concert or the wonderful friends I’ve spent the last four years of college with.

So if I, or any other college senior politely responds “I’m not sure yet”, take a hint that we don’t want to discuss post-graduation plans with you. Not now, not until we have it figured out.