College costs: It doesn't end at tuition

College costs: It doesn't end at tuition

I just got done making yet another transfer into my college senior’s checking account. Having put two daughters through college at out of state schools without any loans, money is wearing thin. Very thin. Or the proverbial money tree that apparently has always been growing out of my ass is dying. I’m about done.

I have written before about the cost of college and the need to sell your kidneys to pay for it. We have spent the last six years paying tuition and room and board. Somewhere along the line though, the brilliant analysts that tell you what college will cost when your children are of age forget to factor in all the other costs involved. And believe me, there are many.

Today’s transfer was for a little thing; groceries. You see, my daughter who is studying journalism works for the school newspaper. When she is not in class she is expected to be at her office. The tricky part though is that she doesn’t get paid unless she sells a certain amount. But she is gaining valuable experience. Right. Add that to her full class load and homework she couldn’t possibly have time for a job that paid her any real money. So when she needs some green she only has one place to turn.

When my older daughter graduated from college she was offered the opportunity of a lifetime for an internship in New York. Unpaid. Live in Manhattan, one of the most expensive places imaginable, and work for free. We had thought we were finished with her expenses. But the chance she had to work at a major fashion magazine (seeing as how she was a fashion major) was too good to pass up. She had saved enough of her own money to pay her expenses but could not afford to foot the bill for housing. Cough, cough and out came another chunk. It was almost like paying for another semester of school.

What we have tried to do is give the girls every chance possible, while they are still able to count on us financially, to graduate with the most opportunities. With a staff position on the school newspaper there are more chances of post graduation interviews. With a prestigious internship, the resume is perhaps better than others. So while they are working to pad those resumes, we continue to dish out the dough.

We have one more semester of tuition and room and board to pay for. On top of that we will have to regularly pad the checking account for food, books, entertainment, doctor bills, gas and maintenance for her car (has to have a car to get to work) and the myriad of other things that seem to come up daily. Little things like toilet paper and toothpaste.

There are those that have said we have done too much and they should take out loans. We all know how well the student loan debt crisis is going. I can also tell you that the job market for college graduates is not so great. Having a daughter that graduated in 2010, I have seen first hand amongst she and her friends how hard it has been.

It’s a fine line between doing too much for your kids and trying to ensure their future. The way I see it, their future is our future too.

So where I used to say you needed to sell jut a kidney to pay for school, I am rethinking my strategy. I think we need to add a lung or a liver.



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  • Maybe you can pray that they don't next work for the Chicago Muckrakers, and for that they don't get paid much to write about people about as impoverished as they. Fashion journalism may have a future, but ordinary journalism does not--especially when an organization like the Tribune thinks that any blogger is a journalist. Now, if you had given birth to Bill Gates's clone, or even the Winklevoss twins, they would be millionaires by now.

  • In reply to jack:

    As a result of the education and internship my daughter completed in New York, she landed her dream job right here in Chicago. As far as my senior is concerned, her work for theschool paper has already landed her interview opportunities within advertising and strategic communications. The college she attends is well preparing their students for the change from ordinary journalism to what it is evolving into.

    As far as the Tribune thinking any blogger is a journalist, it appears from your comments on many different Chicagonow blogs that you enjoy questioning what we write. If that is the case, why don't you perhaps focus your eyes elsewhere? We all write because we enjoy it. And we feel fortunate to have a place to do so.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    After I found where I plopped this (and gotten through the Chicago Now server crash), I wasn't referring to the people who blog, per se. I was referring more to the front page of as not being much more than a blog, and certainly not factual information. Their attempting to report on their own bankruptcy, as well as anything legal, demonstrates that in my mind.

    As for daughter #2, I guess there will always be a market for advertising people. Maybe your line "The tricky part though is that she doesn't get paid unless she sells a certain amount" indicated as much, and if she can figure out how Google gets ad revenue while most of us are using Adblock, good for her. Selling, though, was always on commission. At least she can hope she lands up somewhere other than the STMG suburban papers, where the only advertising is legal notices for foreclosures, and that sells itself.

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