A couple of weeks ago, I opened a letter from my mom to find a $10 Trader Joe’s gift card nestled inside. I was touched, grateful, and excited about the possibilities—the same way I would have reacted to an Anthropologie or Sephora gift card in the past. In my mom’s note, she wrote, “Buy something decadent.” I’d been good-naturedly complaining about the amount of oatmeal I’d been eating.
My heart was broken 13 times during my senior year of high school. The first time was when my boyfriend of a year and a half cheated on me with my best friend. The next 12 times occurred within the space of two weeks as I received my college decision letters.
It’s the holiday season again, which means it’s that time of year when universities try to raise more money from their alumni. Every year around this time, I start getting a call every day from an unknown number. At first, I ignore it, thinking it’s a wrong number. But I eventually realize that it’s someone calling from one of the universities I’ve attended and that they are not going to stop until they talk to an actual person.
It’s rare to hear stories about college students taking out private student loans from a lender like Sallie Mae and then beating them in court after being hounded and sued for money after defaulting on the loans. I was able to lock-in low interest rates on the private student loans I took out, but Stefanie Gray wasn’t able to get a cosigner on her loans (both her parents passed away when she was younger) and was given “credit card-like interest rates.” That was the beginning of Gray’s troubles, but this story has a happy ending.
The only place that has more free food than Costco is college. I’m not kidding—if you know where to look, you can get at least one meal a day at no cost. Since I’m now on a serious, serious budget, I’m taking full advantage of this phenomenon and mooching as much as possible.
Now that millions of more Americans routinely attend college, we’ve realized we can recreate some of the best parts of it and keep them going indefinitely. Why not?