I’ve had a few moments lately where I started thinking about what I was thinking, and how I came to think that way. It has little to do with the school’s name on my diploma or how much it cost me. It has everything to do with the supervisors and professors who taught me there. Obviously the university hired the professors and paid them, then I in-turn gave them all my money. So thank you University of West Georgia. But really….a degree in Speech-Language Pathology is a 2 year mentor-ship, littered with independent studying and sleepless nights. Conveniently located on a campus where everyone else is just as mentor-dependent.
The quality of a mentor does not directly correlate with the amount of debt you have to incur in order to achieve a degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
My tuition was under $4,000 per semester, for a total of 6 semesters. That’s $24,000 total. I had a graduate assistantship for 4 semesters which paid my tuition and gave me a stipend that covered the difference. The last 2 semesters I worked full time at night and on weekends at a fabric store, which helped covered the cost. I took out one small $7,000 loan to live off of for 7 months. Real life people.
Did I go to a world-renowned university? No. Did my professors have their names engraved on ASHA’s Gold club list (not real, btw)? Not that I’m aware of. But I professors and supervisors that made me exactly the SLP I am today. They were practicing SLPs, who worked nights and weekends like me as an SLP, in addition to being a professor. They were practicing what they preached. And I took notes like a freak.
2014: Semi-debt free. Educated. Employed. Thriving. In Alaska.
Now, before you break out your pitchforks, those of you who went to those world-renowned universities, I’m sure you are equally educated, hopefully employed, and thriving – if not more so. I’m not saying those universities don’t give you an edge in the field on ground-breaking research. You may have studied under some of the greats – I’m a little jealous. Maybe that’s where this post is coming from in some aspects. But mostly, this post is coming from those of you still in debt from selecting a university where the cost was overwhelming.
At the time, you think it’s worth it. And maybe it is. But debt is so debilitating. Even a small amount of debt. When a reader emails to ask how they should select the universities they apply to, my honest reply is to look into cost. I’m sorry, but you aren’t guaranteed grants and assistantships. You never know about debt forgiveness later on down the road. Maybe you don’t want to work in the places you can get your debt forgiven. What if something happens and you can’t? But then again, if you are only accepted to a university that is out-of-state and will cost close to $10,000 + a semester, what would you do? Or if you options are both equally expensive, what do you do?
I know there are some SLPs out there still paying off their debt. I realize I’m an exception to the debt rule, but shouldn’t it factor in? At least a little bit? What would I feel like if I graduated with $30,000 worth of debt? I don’t know. Maybe I’m the wrong person to write this post. But debt matters to me. And I just want it to be something you think about as you are accepted to universities across the U.S.
Cheers from Alaska.