I want you to picture this: a cozy, 1,087 square-foot brick house, with three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a living room almost completely taken up by a piano and a couch with just enough room for four people to sit comfortably. In this tiny living room, there's a small counter and DVD case perpendicular to the couch. On top of it, sits a dusty, boxy, 2004 Sharp TV, that's connected to a Wii, a VCR, and a Samsung DVD player. Upstairs, there are two computers. There is a newer one from 2013, and the no-longer-used old one that started taking fifteen minutes to load an internet browser a good five years before it was finally replaced.
So you're probably wondering who lives in this house? And what year is it?
The answer to these questions are respectively my parents, my brother, and I live there and we live there present day (2019).
So, your next question might be this... Why is a four-person family that includes two grown-ass kids, still living in this tiny house, and why hasn't the TV been replaced since 2004?
Well, the answer to this question is actually a pretty damn good one. Throughout my life, all the money that my dad could have possibly spent on anything else--including a new TV, a newer computer earlier on, or even a new house that could have more comfortably fit the size of our family--was put into savings for mine and my brother's college education.
You see, I grew up very confused about my family's financial situation. My brother and I were fortunate enough to be able to get most of the things we really wanted, usually for Christmas or birthdays. But at the same time, we started outgrowing our house by the time I was 10 and my brother was 12, and the boxy TV in my living room remained an untouched embarrassment that would be purposefully kept out of pictures and Snapchat stories as the years went on. And while we all ended up having smartphones by the time I was 14, my dad refused to replace them until they were broken. On top of all of this was the most confusing aspect of all, the mystery that I didn't solve until my senior year of high school. Whenever I asked my parents about how we were going to pay for mine and my brother's college, the answer was always "Don't worry about it."
It took me a long time to realize that my friends, whose families at least appeared to have way more money than mine did, were seriously stressed out about how they were going to pay for college. I always assumed that if my humble family was able to pay for their kids' college, everyone else at our income level or above was able to, right?
But the truth was, during all the years of me wondering why we didn't replace the TV or computer, or get our bathroom or garage remodeled when they seriously needed it, my amazing dad was saving up every last cent that he could so that my brother and I won't still be breaking our backs trying to pay off a mountain of student loan debt well into our twenties. I always knew that my dad was good with money, but it wasn't until senior year that my mom finally told me just how much he'd been saving for us. And, needless to say, I'm endlessly grateful.
So, to reiterate: my parents are paying for my college tuition--yes, all of it. As long as I'm at a school that's at or beneath the amount that my dad has saved, I don't have to worry about paying. Of course, I can chip in if I want to, but I'm lucky enough to not have the pressure of needing to get a job and pay for things myself.
The reason I wrote this article isn't to brag. It's to demonstrate that kids like me--who have daddy paying for college, and mommy's credit card on hand for late-night Insomnia Cookies deliveries, pizza orders, new clothes, and whatever else--don't all look the same, and don't come from the same background. The house that I described at the beginning of this article definitely isn't one that you'd picture one of these kids living in, but I've lived in it my entire life. And, yeah, sometimes I wonder if passing up new electronics and phones and clothes all these years was worth it, or even if I'd be more motivated in school if I had to pay for it myself. But at the end of the day, the truth of the matter boils down to three things: 1) My dad has worked, and saved, his ass off to make sure that my brother and I don't have to worry about paying for college, 2) I'm not rich, by any means, and 3) I wouldn't have it any other way.
I tend to get uncomfortable when the question "How are you paying for college?" comes up amongst my friends because I know the negative stereotype that "my parents are paying" provokes, whether consciously or subconsciously. I just want people to know that, yes, I am one of those kids who's lucky enough to have my parents taking care of the cost of my college education, but that doesn't mean that I'm rich, spoiled, or unaware of the value of hard work. I respect the hell out of my friends who are paying any amount of their college tuition by themselves, and I'm definitely not the type of person to brag about how I'm getting my education paid for.
I know what people want to think when they hear someone say that their parents are paying for their tuition. But I'm asking you to reconsider your stereotypes and judgments; because some people, like me, are just crazy lucky, with insanely smart parents who made accurate predictions about the rising cost of college, and formulated a savings equation to match. No matter what your financial situation is, or how you're paying for college, everyone deserves to be respected, and no one should be prejudged based on who's writing their tuition checks.