Americans currently owe $1.56 trillion in student loan debt. With the price of tuition going up and a society that normalizes high school graduates going into debt to pursue a career, I have no reason to believe that this problem is going to end anytime soon. As a college student, I have seen firsthand the insane costs of tuition and understand the challenge of funding my education.
The last semester of my senior year was cut short due to COVID-19. I still had classes, but the amount of time I spent on classwork went down exponentially, so I was able to work about 30 hours per week.
While I was able to work and save more, I found myself in a predicament—I had very little scholarship money, and I still wanted to go to the University of Arkansas. I had also promised myself and a few of my mentors that I would not go into debt for an undergraduate degree, especially in political science or journalism.
Being in this challenging situation, I looked to join the Army National Guard to eventually receive funding for college. With this idea in mind, I reached out to a recruiter while I continued to work full-time at a small business.
After months of talking to the recruiter, I realized that my medical history would likely disqualify me. This threw another wrench in my plan. I had deferred, or outright turned down, the few scholarships I did have, thinking that I would be going to boot camp. However, during this time, I still refused to take out a penny in student loans and continued to work full-time for the rest of the semester.
In early December, I looked at the cost of the University of Arkansas and finally conceded that I could not pay for my education if I started there. So I swallowed my pride and enrolled in my local community college, where I paid for my first semester entirely in cash from the job I had been working.
While taking classes, I continued to work 30-to-35 hours a week, and occasionally going down 25 if I had a significant assignment due. Working has made it possible for me to pay for at least the following three semesters of my college career, and that is before I add scholarships I have now earned or may earn in the future.
While college may be expensive, it is still possible to go without taking out loans. I didn’t choose the most efficient route or the route that gave me the best social life. I decided to work hard so that I can invest the money I earn in my education. The last year of my life has been one of the busiest, most stressful, and most rewarding. I have had to manage my time more than most of my peers, but I know that the hard work now will save me tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of pain in the future.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.