My Story: The College Question

contributed by Connie Stone

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I am all for going to college. I already have a bachelor's degree, and currently, I am working on a certificate from a local technical college. My parents wanted me to go to college as well. However, they did not feel the need to pay for it. Now that I have children of my own whom I am trying to teach how to handle money wisely, I wonder if my parents were on to something.

My father said that I would appreciate it more if I had to pay for it. Of course, you could argue that the first time I went was over 20 years ago and things are more expensive now. But my first summer job only paid $2 an hour. My folks encouraged me to save every penny that I could. My mother kept telling me to quit worrying so much about clothes. As long as I was clean and decent, what difference did it make? Well, to a I-want-to-be-like-everyone-else-teenager, it made a lot of difference. She kept telling me that my education was more important in life than having the latest fashions and kept encouraging me to focus on my goal.

My parents contributed to my college education by seeing that I had transportation to and from my summer job. (This does not mean that I had my own car.) They gave me room and board when I wasn't in school. They drove me to school where I lived in a dorm and ate in the college cafeteria. They picked me up any weekend I wanted to come home and for holidays and summer vacation. They bought a lot of my clothes.

They also gave me $20 "spending" money each month, out of which I had to do my laundry. They didn't think that I needed a lot of spending money since all my basic needs were covered (food, clothing, shelter). I soon learned to walk to a nearby grocery store to purchase any personal items that I ran out of because it was less expensive than buying them at the school store. I worked part-time in the college cafeteria to earn extra money during the school year.

Still, I ran out of money during my junior year. My parents didn't want me to quit school and go back later. They didn't want me to take out a loan either. (I didn't qualify for a grant, and because my grades were average, I felt that I wouldn't get a scholarship.) Finally, they decided to lend me the money I needed to finish school, and I agreed to pay them back, which I did over a period of time after I started working. (I only had to pay back the amount that I borrowed.)

Now I realize that my father was right. Over the years, I have seen many young people whose parents not only pay their tuition but also give them cars, phones, computers, etc., as well as spending money. Many do not do their best work as a result. I found that I was less likely to goof off when it was my hard-earned money being wasted instead of my parents'. I learned a lot more than what was taught in class from this experience, which I hope to pass on to my own children one day. Thanks Mom and Dad!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to

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