BY CARRIE MAH
Recently, our company’s CEO, Nancy Knowlton, wrote a compelling article on the escalating amount of debt that today’s students are incurring just to receive a post-secondary education. The article, entitled, “The crippling effects of student debt,” reveals the damaging long-term effects of student debt on society and the economy as a whole. Upon reading this, I was inspired to write and respond with my own personal story on student debt.
My wonderful family
They’ve been working their entire lives, trying to make our lives easier growing up. My parents sacrificed a normal social life and a business in order to raise their kids well. They owned a restaurant in Oyen, a small town; but moved to Calgary for better education.
Emphasis on Education
I really liked my childhood, and I’m very grateful that my parents wanted us to have the best education possible. I remember that I wanted to watch the new Pokemon episode, but instead was taught the timetables. Don’t worry, my parents aren’t like stereotypical Asian parents, but they were firm and always encouraged us to do our best. My sister cried one day over a low grade, and my mom said “Who cares? Stop stressing out. I just want you and your sister to be happy. I’m still proud of you.” This made me want to work harder.
Learning to be Independent
Although I didn’t grow up doing chores, I’ve learned how to fend for myself and live with someone else. My family and I pitched in to buy an apartment next to the University to save on transportation and gas. Mike and I now split all expenses 50/50 and make up excuses when my mom offers to pay for groceries. She’s the type of person who will sneak money into your pocket if she owes you (or believes she does). And she fights for the bill when a big group of our family eats out. I want my mom to save the money she earns, so she and my dad can have a relaxing retirement.
My mom taught me a lot about money (and drove me every week to Money Matters), and although some kids end up taking advantage of their parents’ money, I’ve become very appreciative and learned to be savvy with saving money (sales, coupons, purchasing in bulk).
Plus, the government offers a lot of scholarships and bursaries, especially to minority students (my ethnicity and lack of gender representation in my field of studies). The Alberta government also give grants to those who receive student loans. There’s tons of opportunities available to decrease the potential for debt. I’m saving up so I can pay off my student loans quickly (interest rates are the worst). I always make sure to pay off my credit card bill in full, because interest rates (whether from the bank or government) eat your money like it’s candy.
I’m a special case, and am very lucky to be where I am, surrounded by very loving people. University is expensive, so that’s why I always encourage junior high and high school students in public schools to try different electives before they attend University. School fees are so small compared to University. And don’t get me started on upgrading…that’s costly too! But that’s another story.