Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This is a story we've heard before...

In case you need to read yet another downer article about how college grads have racked up outrageous amounts of student loan debts, The New York Times delivers.  It's timely because graduation has just passed or is coming up shortly for most colleges. But the article fails to present any truly new or helpful information.  The first paragraph says it all:
Kelsey Griffith graduates on Sunday from Ohio Northern University. To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. Her mother, who co-signed on the loans, is taking out a life insurance policy on her daughter.
The article covers the growth in student loan debt, some personal profiles, and plenty of political drama.  It also takes six pages (online) to cover the same story and issues as The New York Times has covered before.  It presents no advice or help to students who already have loans.  At best it's a cautionary tale or an alert. 

While it's a great overview for someone who's never read about the issue before and one long shout out to Ohio, for students or grads who already know the story and have debt their time would be better spent doing something other than reading this .... like getting a second or third job.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Frugal MBA Students

From what I write most of the time you'd think that all MBA students were reckless spendthrifts drowning in debt.  Many days it does feel that way, but after almost a full school year I've definitely met a few other frugal students.  Here are some of their tell tale signs:
  • Biking in to campus
  • Bringing a packed lunch or snacks
  • Making or packing tea/coffee in a thermos
  • No designer bags or clothes
  • Avoiding events with $50+ tickets
  • Living off campus for cheaper rent and having roommates
  • Staying home on the weekends - no international plane tickets
Though I paint MBA students with a broad brush, the emails I get and my own experience here clearly indicates there are exceptions and there is a range of spending levels.  I get emails asking which schools give the most aid or if it's worth it to turn down a top school for a second tier with a full ride.  Here I've met a student who worked in the public/non-profit sector in a low cost of living are before starting the MBA program. His kids are on food stamps while he's in school and he's living in a blue collar neighborhood far from campus for its quality schools and low rent in order to keep the MBA as affordable as possible. 

I just wanted to make sure that it's clear the I'm often making broad generalizations which might be true for MBA culture and community in general, it is far from true for every individual.  So if you're a frugal person or worried about debt coming in to an MBA program, yes, it will be hard.  However, you're not alone and won't be.  Like any community there are plenty of different people and you're bound to find someone who shares values similar to your own.