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The +New York Times today has two thoughtful pieces about education and the impact of student debt.

The first, "The Imperiled Promise of College" thoughtfully delivers on its title and explores several factors that have made many question the financial payoff of college, namely soaring tuition and debt as well as students who pay for an education that doesn't prepare them for the jobs in demand.

The author of the second article, Laura Newland, in "How Elite Colleges Still Feed Wall Street’s Recruiting Machine" takes a different view. Newland, a 2010 Duke grad currently working as a management consultant, claims that the cost of college is forcing graduates of elite colleges en masse to take the highest paying jobs, which frequently are on Wall St.

College students pursuing high paying jobs -- be they medicine or law in my day or investment banking, consulting, and high tech today -- are not new. They aren't even necessarily wrong. Going after a profession solely for the money may make the pursuers miserable because they hate what they do.Pursuing a career that you love, but doesn't stock the fridge is also problematic. The ideal is choosing a profession that is both enjoyable and pays the bills. It is far superior to only one or the other.

Both these articles really show that students need to think about what
they want to do after college (or grad school) before they incur the debt.
Those calculations are realistic for graduate school applicants, but much tougher for an eighteen year old.

Parents and schools need to educate high school seniors about the implications of student debt. What does a payment of $1000 a month mean? How does it compare to rent or a housing payment? If you make $5K per month, what do you take home after taxes? What if you only make $3K per month, what do happens to the student debt?

These calculations need to be considered before starting school -- college or graduate school. Not after.
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