Most nights this past year of college, my roommate would arrive home late at night after a shift at work only to lock herself in her room, switch on an episode of Friends, and get started on homework. She would stay up for hours on her laptop until going to sleep only to begin the same cycle the next day. She would get up, leave for class, go to work, and then come home, exhausted, to accomplish projects still undone.
She hated her job. But it was the best way to make sure rent got paid, so she persevered. Since she worked at a grocery store, she was always coming home with items marked down on clearance. It was the best way to stock the kitchen while paying as little as possible. After all, she had enough bills to pay.
Millennials are now attending college at a higher rate than any other generation. People my age hope college will create opportunities for them, and in many ways it does. Those of us who get our degree make more per hour than those who don’t. We’ve got a better chance of getting into that job interview.
But we’ve also got a higher chance of going broke in the process. The average American student leaves college with $33,000 in debt, which makes the possibility of walking into the real world, jobless, terrifying. At a four-year public school like Ball State University, the average rate of tuition and fees has risen 17 percent in the past five years, and that doesn’t account for the added costs of room and board, books, and transportation. Food insecurity is a growing problem for college students nationwide, and the surmounting debt we face often leads us back to our parents following college.
So when we find ways to save money, we take it. “The Way We Live” section of Ball Bearings explains how this changing role of college and economics impacts how we live and why we won’t leave.