Sunday, April 26, 2009

Debt Free in DC...

In my last post, I wrote this illustrious blog about attending Columbia and achieving my dreams. Indeed, I visited the school, fell in love with the program, the city and the people, etc. I was all set to go, until I received an e-mail from the University of Maryland- College Park, offering me a full ride.

While everyone else was happy for me, and saying “Girl, You got good problems,” I was emotional wreck. Columbia is my dream school, but it also comes with a 70K price tag on top of my undergraduate loans which, together, would average out at about 100k and that is not including interest.

Is the program worth 70K? Yep. The School administers the freakin’ Pulitzer Prize. The Alumni network is a beast. The actual program is standard, up to date and on point. NYC is their laboratory, and some of the best and brightest in the field walk through their doors regularly. (sigh)

However, there are some pretty heavy negatives simply because of the price tag.
1) Journalist in general start out making 30-40k, maybe 45k with a masters and experience. The median salary for a person with 10-15 years of experience is around 50 k. Thus, I will have that loan for the rest of my life.
2) Journalism is a field where you don’t “need” a masters degree to get into the field, it’s all about your talent and network. There is a large chance that I could go to Columbia and end up in a field other than journalism, simply because I have to pay back this huge debt.

Furthermore, the University of Maryland isn’t bad.
1) Free ride means, I don’t have to worry about how I am going to eat, pay rent, etc.
2) I don’t have to work which leaves time for internships, networking and study time.
3) When I graduate, I can take a low paying job to get experience with out worrying about the debt.
4) My boss is friends with the President of the University. Only great things can come of it. Lol
5) I am really talented so I can thrive at any school, especially Maryland because I am debt free.
6) To be in DC, during the Obama administration!!!! Super, Super, Super cool. lol

This week I had to make a big girl decision. Choosing between what I need vs want. For a week straight, I did everything I could to try to leverage Maryland for Columbia and they weren’t having it. Endowments are down, and this economy has done a number on everyone including our distinguished educational establishments.

Then I took a poll and overwhelmingly, everyone said “Go to Maryland.” Grudgingly, I agree.

Sigh… Looks like I’ll be debt free in D.C. (((SMILE)))

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Dream Conferred

Like many of the students who come in my office daily, I come from humble beginnings. I am the oldest of five children, and eleven grandchildren. I carry the weight of more than just me.

And I ain't sayin' we was from the projects
But everytime I want it, layaway or a deposit
My dad'll say "When you see clothes close your eyelids"
~"Champion," K.West, The Graduation

As a result I have had to work tirelessly, to achieve my dreams and expand my possibilities of making them happen.

You see, if you ever wanted to ever be anything
There'd always be somebody that shoot down any dream
~"Bring Me Down," K.West, Late Registration

So many times, I have been told to give up my dream of becoming a leading journalist and settle at this job of mine. My family flipped out when I decided not to major in a science and instead pursue a career in journalism. I was told I was dumb, and I was criticized for choosing a career that would lead to no where. I love the field but have had a difficult time breaking in.

But they're gonna have to take my life 'fore they take my drive
'cause when I was barely living, that's what kept me alive
Just the thought that maybe it could be better than what we at at this time
Make it out of this grind, 'fore I'm out of my mind

~"Bring Me Down," K.West, Late Registration

At times when I am having a particularly difficult day at work (which is often), I’d turn to the motivating sounds of Kanye West and dreamed of my spaceship.

You can't fathom my love dude
Lock yourself in a room doin' five beats a day for three summers
That's a different world like Kree Summers
I deserve to do these numbers
The kid that made that deserves that Maybach
So many records in my basement
I'm just waitin' on my spaceship, blaow
~"Spaceship," K,West, The College Dropout

In the month of March, I received a fleet of spaceships. One after another, admissions acceptance letters from the schools in which I applied, beamed into my e-mail account, while others, landed in my mail box.

I was accepted into the following journalism schools: Michigan State, Syracuse University, University of Maryland-College Park, and Columbia University. I am wait-listed at NYU and Northwestern.

Never in a million years did I image I would be admitted into all of those schools, ESPECIALLY Columbia. I needed one spaceship, and I got four. I am so excited.

Forgive me if I sound boastful, but I am a first generation college graduate. I went to a hood high school (of which I am proud of, with out my school I would not be where I am today), and then managed to go on CAL and complete.

And now, I get to attend the top journalism school in the country. Me, little ole me. I am so ready to go and learn everything I possibly can. I promised myself that if I got into a school, I will work hard and make the most of experience and by golly I will.

If you have a dream, MAKE IT HAPPEN, simply because you can.