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Gaborone, Botswana
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Debt, Loans and Conspicuous Education Consumption.

Hello People of the World!  It's official, eight years after finishing my undergraduate degree I am finally debt free.  Please applaud as I curtsy for you.  I can still remember the horrible feeling of panic I had as I went through the mandatory loan tutorials and signed the paperwork to finalize my school loans.  I was petrified that I'd end up taking a job I didn't want to pay back my loans.  I actually had less than $15,000 in debt when I graduated, far less then the average student. If only I had been a Motswana - I would have been debt free. Botswana has for decades supported university education both in country and at international schools for it's citizens.  In fact the government even provides living allowances for students.  Can you imagine?  This government actually values education.  But here's a question if you don't pay for your education do you actually value your education. 

I saw Malcolm Gladwell on CNN questioning the value of school rankings this weekend - and although I genuinely believe not all schools are equal; I do wonder if the value of the education you get varies as greatly as the price.  For example,  I went to a private liberal arts jesuit university in the middle of Seattle - which charged roughly $20,000 a year in tuition when I attending almost a decade ago - they are $32,000 a year now. It was a good school but I wouldn't say it was worth that amount.  Thankfully I didn't have to pay the full tuition; I was awarded several scholarships and given work-study jobs.

Now I'm ready to look at Business school and I have to say the price tag on these schools is frightening.  The Berkeley's and Harvard's of the world charge, what seems to me to be, ridiculous amunts.  But they also ensure the best jobs and contacts.  However, as I'm now celebrating being debt free I'm not ready to go back from whence I came.  Luckily, I've found a well respected school with a distance program and a reasonable price tag that I'm hoping to attend.  I'll let you know how the application process goes.


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