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Samantha Hillstrom, Part 2 (Now with less swearing!)

Reader Margaret stopped by and left a comment re my rant about CNN’s Samantha Hillstrom’s blog post the other day. Find Hillstrom’s initial post here, and my initial rant here. WARNING: Gratuitous profanity.

Margaret said:

She posted an update. Calm down. Also, stop swearing. I don’t want to donate money to someone that tells people to fuck off. Good luck to you.

She also included a link to Samantha’s follow up to her post, found here.

My reply:

First off, Margaret, as always, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate you taking the time. As I mentioned in the course of my initial rant, the purpose of me writing it was to calm me down. And it worked. It wasn’t intended as some sort of savvy discussion of Samantha’s ideas, it was intended to allow me to dispense with the frustration that had been building up in me after reading her post.

Secondly, to this point, no one has donated anything to me. I don’t really expect anyone to in the future either. Any donations given would be purely a side benefit, at this point, of allowing me a venue for the release of tension and anxiety caused by the disastrous direction our country is headed. I’m sorry the profanity upset you, it’s certainly not the way I speak in the “real world.” Having said that, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not going to censor myself on my own blog over fears that you’re not going to donate.

Now – to Samantha’s recent update.

She starts out:

“Let me make something very clear. In no way am I looking for a bailout. I completely accept the amount of student debt I gave myself by attending a private college in New York City. It was my choice and one that I made understanding I would be leaving with debt to pay off. I do not expect to be bailed out, but what I do expect is to have the same conditions on my loan agreements and repayment plan as homeowners in America.”

This is a blatant lie. In her initial post, Samantha said, referring to people with outstanding student loans: “Where is our bailout?” This sounds like “looking for a bailout” to me. But I give her credit for admitting that this was her choice, to attend an expensive private school in NYC.

However, she then goes on to say:

“Right now, you can purchase a house at a fixed rate of 5% with a 30-year repayment. Yet, I have student loans that have variable interest rates and only 12 years to pay them off. That’s not right.”

Student loans are not housing loans, Samantha. Most educations in this country do not cost anyway near the price of a home. You shouldn’t need 30 years to pay off the cost of a four-year education. The only reason your education was as expensive as it was was because you made the afore-mentioned choice to go to a private school in New York City. As you just admitted, this was your choice.

She continues:

“How is it that the banks get a bailout and student loans holders can’t even get forgiveness when they go into a low paying job or when they serve their communities? We didn’t all strive to be doctors, lawyers or investment bankers earning high wages.”

Again, Samantha, people make a choice to go into a low paying job or “serve their communities.” This is a free market (kinda). People are going to get paid based on their skill set. If a student chooses to go to college and get an education that will only allow them to get a job in a low-paying field, they shouldn’t expect to get paid a big salary. To do so is idiotic. I majored in English in college. I never expected to get a big time salary somewhere with an English degree. Therefore, I didn’t load myself down with debt. If someone wants to go into social services or teaching or something else that “serves their community,” they should plan on not getting paid a lot of money.

Samantha claims to have always had the dream of a career in television. If that’s the case, she should have known that her dream career wasn’t going to pay her a lot, especially in the beginning. She should have known that accruing an enormous debt coming out of college wouldn’t work. For $115,000, she could have gotten an education in any number of fields at any number of cheaper schools that would have gotten her any number of much higher paying jobs. She chose not to. Samantha made the choice to not become a doctor, lawyer or investment banker. Instead, she chose to follow her dream. She should have known the consequences.

Samantha continues:

“As a result of the government bailouts, I’ve noticed a general sentiment in our country where everyone lacks sympathy for those who made poor decisions and then expect a handout when it fails. I get that and I share the same distaste. “

You’re damn right about that “general sentiment” Samantha. But I’d categorize it more as an “outright disgust.” It’s called life, and it ain’t fair.

“However, I regret the notion that attending the college of my choice and choosing my dream career was a poor decision.”

You “regret the notion?” What does that mean? Perhaps you mean you “disagree with the notion?” Or you think that it’s unfortunate that people have the notion? But it’s hard to argue with the fact that your choice was a piss-poor one. And now people expect you to deal with that bad decision. I’ve made plenty of bad decisions in my life, and I’ve dealt with every single one of them. It’s called being an adult.

“In 2006, the federal government cut aid to students including Stafford Loans, Pell Grants and work study options, leaving many people with no other option than to take out a student loan.”

This is ludicrous. There were plenty of options. Most obvious would be the option to put your dreams on hold and not go to college. It’s not a right, Samantha. Another option, one previously stated, would be the military. Or to get a job and *gasp* pay for college as you go.

“Many people said I should have attended a state school and then I wouldn’t have been in this mess. Last time I checked state schools weren’t drastically cheaper and I didn’t come from a financial situation where I could have afforded any school without a loan.”

Yes, state schools are drastically cheaper than your school, Samantha. Most state schools run somewhere between $6,000 to $10,000 a year. That’s drastically cheaper. But the second part of that assertion is what really bothers me. You “didn’t come from a financial situation where I could have afforded any school without a loan.” Again, there are numerous options in this situation. Don’t go to college. Get a job. The military. But the last of these options should be “go to a really expensive private school in the most expensive city in the country, entirely on loans.” That’s a dumb choice, Samantha.

She then lays out the sacrifices that she’s currently making to try to pay off her loan herself, which are commendable. Good for her. I applaud her, sincerely, for making these sacrifices. But then at the end of the paragraph detailing her sacrifices, she tacks on the laughable

This is my choice and I’m not complaining. (emphasis mine)

You’re not complaining?! You’ve been complaining for two straight posts now. You finished off your initial post with this:

“Does that mean that I chose to live a life of struggle, wondering how I am going to pay my rent, afford the basics of living and still stay in my chosen career field…all while putting up with high interest rates and an amount of debt that brings me to tears?”

That sounds a hell of a lot like complaining to me. And the rest of the statement is just insulting.

“However, we are taught to follow our dreams and I didn’t push my way through high school to attend a community college because that was the only thing I could afford.”

As I mentioned in my last post on this, we’ve all got dream. Some are attainable, some aren’t. Again, knowing the difference is part of being a responsible adult. You “pushed” your way through high school to take on massive amounts of unaffordable debt? Is that a good choice, Samantha?

“We need to stand up as a country and demand that student loan interest rates are lowered and college is more affordable. We should be free to go to any school we want and get a degree in our dream field. Let’s fix this problem and give students the freedom to attend the college of their choice and graduate with the ability to pay off their student loans in a responsible manner.”

Good grief. No, Samantha, this isn’t how the world works. You are not free to go to any school you want. That’s insane. If everyone was free to go to any school they wanted, we would all go to Harvard or Yale or something. That’s just dumb.

And if everyone was free to get a degree in their “dream field,” there would be nothing but a nation of waiters with degrees in “being an astronaut.” The vast, vast majority of people in this country are not working, and will never work, in their “dream field.” It’s just not realistic. Again, grow up.

She finishes with this doozy:

“We are in a financial crisis right now and the student loan repayment process isn’t reflecting that.”

Actually, Samantha, I’m not in a financial crisis. Many other people in this country aren’t in a financial crisis. You’re in a financial crisis, largely because you made stupid, uninformed, rash decisions and put yourself in a massive hole of debt. I’m certainly not rolling in dough, but I can support myself and pay for my continuing education to get a better job down the road specifically because I made responsible choices.

Samantha’s larger point is that our country needs to talk about the state of our educational system, the ridiculous cost of higher education, and the student loan system as a whole.

I couldn’t agree more. I think college in this country is hideously overpriced, largely because people like Samantha think that a higher education is a right that everyone is entitled to. It’s not. A quality higher education is a relatively scarce commodity, like a good doctor, or a flawless gem, and therefore it costs a lot of money.

But when the government starts telling people that everyone is entitled to a good education, or quality health care, or emeralds, then one or both of two things is going to happen.

A) The quality of all of those things are going to drop
B) The price of those things is going to skyrocket

That is, if everyone is getting a college education, college educations are going to become more expensive because there are fewer professors around to provide those educations, so schools will have to pay them more to attract and keep them, and the quality of those professors is going to get worse.

Stop treating college like it’s a right, and less people will go. Not every job needs a four-year college education. Most, in fact, don’t.

Less people going to college for four years means less demand on professors, means cheaper college educations for those who actually need it (doctors, engineers, etc – not television producers). Less people going to college means cheaper student loans for those who do need them to get those high-paying jobs.

The problem begins with government and society telling people that everyone needs and deserves a college education. Most of us don’t (and I count myself among that group – an elementary school teacher does not need 6+ years of higher education, which I am required to have).

I got off track here, as I am wont to do, but like I’ve said, this is my blog, I’ll do what I want. Point being, Samantha, you made terrible choices, and now I expect you to live with them. I’m sorry for your troubles, but my sympathy is all I can offer. I’ve already made (and continue to make) sacrifices for my education. Don’t ask me to make more to enable yours.

At least I kept the profanity under control, right Margaret? 🙂


04/04/2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Your point about college not being for everyone is a good one. In Germany a lot of the technical jobs just require an apprenticeship or practical knowledge and not a 4-year degree. Even what I do (Database Administrator) doesn’t require a degree — just a lot of long hours in from the computer and manuals. I went to college and got a degree in Chemistry and never even used it. I basically became an IT person within 3 years.

    Frankly I blame the crazy Liberals you have collapsed this country with their narcissism & upside-down culture.

    Comment by Sid | 04/25/2009 | Reply

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