from the editor’s desk

From the editor’s desk for May 5, 2013

May 9, 2013 

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    Want to get something off your chest? We’ll put it in print. Write to Weekly Surge at kkimes@weeklysurge.com with the subject line “Say What” or send to Weekly Surge, P.O. Box 406, Myrtle Beach, S.C., 29578.

Do I have to pay for UnCollege?

This is a true story: My first semester at graduate school at a state university, I stood in line to pay my tuition and gave the bill back to the registrar to see if the amount was accurate.

It’s not that I thought it was too high – just the opposite.

The actual figures escape me now because, let’s just say it’s been awhile, but my first semester in grad school I forked over a tuition check that would have barely paid for my text books in undergrad school, let alone tuition to the private, church-affiliated college I attended for four years. Granted, I was only taking two classes in grad school that first semester, compared to the five-to-seven classes I averaged per semester in undergraduate studies.

As such, I was able to pay for grad school on my own, because of the lower in-state tuition costs, and because I worked part-time, and because I had a benefactor/relative who left me a nice chunk of change that helped finance some of my academic – and otherwise – pursuits in my early ‘20s.

And I never had to deal with repaying student loans, because I never received one. (Although, I did help pay off my wife’s student loan when we became a legalized union and merged our finances, etc.).

I managed to stay out of student loan debt because I had a small scholarship, and because the aforementioned well-heeled relative also paid the remainder of my college tuition – which wasn’t that exorbitant by today’s standards.

I just checked my alma mater’s Web site, and it now costs you in excess of $31,000 for a four-year degree (that figure includes room and board fee) – which I would have to probably take out a loan for if I was attending today. Yikes! I hope my kids get good enough grades to get full-ride scholarships.

As it stands, if my almost-two-year-old and five-year-old were to pursue their present interests, they wouldn’t have to go the four-year traditional college route. Nope, my daughter would either attend cosmetology school, or fashion and design school (still pricey), and my son would be headed to the South Carolina Fire Academy.

My four years in college were definitely fun and taught me to be self-sufficient – and I made lifelong friends – but glancing back over my transcript at courses I don’t even remember, I can’t say my career has ever advanced because of the skills I picked up in classes entitled Man and the Biblical Heritage, Jogging, Weight Training, Music and the Christian Faith, Racquet Sports, Volleyball, Drawing and the Psychology of Personal Adjustment. But I’m a well-rounded conversant at dinner parties.

As if on cue, a press release appeared just now in my inbox detailing Coastal Carolina University’s spring commencement ceremony set for Saturday with more than 900 students walking across the stage to receive a little sheet of calligraphy-laden paper and a pat on the back.

But will they get a job after studying for at least four years to get that college degree?

Many young people are beginning to question the high school-college-get-a-good-job paradigm, giving rise who what’s known as the UnCollege movement “that aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success,” according to that decidedly un-academic source known as Wikipedia.

Enter our scribe Andrew Davis, who is all about challenging conventional wisdoms, and with this week’s cover story, he tackles the timely topic of just saying no to the hallowed halls.

Says Davis, “We’ve all been told that getting good grades and going to college was how you get a good job. But, as many four-year college graduates are now facing bleak job market while saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, that formula is now looking like more of a myth. Are today’s high school graduates better off forgoing the traditional four-year schools in favor of trade schools and technical colleges?"

So check out Davis’ report in which he talks with local kids who have been in this situation, examines the student loan debt crisis, the rise of trade programs even outside of technical colleges (such as coding schools), escalating tuition costs, and the four-year college scam (pushing kids to go who don’t need to).

Kent Kimes, Editor

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