Why Is It So Important To Graduate Without Student Loans?

Why Is It So Important To Graduate Without Student Loans?

I want to save as many others as I can in my time on this earth, and in order to do so, I must be safe myself.
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Two weeks ago, I wrote the first article in what I'm calling my “college without debt” series. In tracking my own journey toward a debt-free college degree, I am hoping to show students in my own generation that college doesn't have to leave us with the dreadful student loan payment that oh-so-many adults have told us are the "way of life." I want to show the older generation that we aren't a “give me” generation, but rather that we are a “let me help with that” generation, looking to be the very best that we can be. And I want to do all this in a way that explains how other students, with aspirations such as my own, can get through college the same way.

I'm not going to try to make it sound like this is an easy journey by any means. I'm also not writing any of these articles for the sake of bragging about what I'm doing. I simply want to prove that it's possible to get through college without debt. This week, I want to answer one very important question I've been asked about my journey: Why? Why do I have the goal to graduate debt free?

One of the most common follow ups to the question “Why?” that I hear is, “That's what student loans are there for.” It's expected that if you decide to seek out secondary education straight out of high school, you'll be signing loan papers. That's the accepted way to do college. According to a CNN report, in 2014, 40 million Americans have at least one outstanding student loan, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 20.2 million students were expected to attend college in the fall of 2015. Most of those 40 million are likely still paying those loans today, as well as many of those 20.2 million that took out student loans. And, most importantly, US News reports that, although the standard plan for repayment of federal student loans is 10 years, “research has shown the average bachelor's degree holder takes 21 years to pay off his or her loans.” I hope you're already seeing a reason for my rhetoric.

Not only does taking out student loans put you in debt for years (even decades), it's also a stressful process. There are many different kinds of loans, such as subsidized or unsubsidized, federal or private, Stafford or Perkin, and the list goes on and on. Personally, I have two options: Cash or check. And, since apparently you aren’t supposed to walk around with 50 $100 bills in your backpack, the latter is really my only option. Yes, I have a college fund, which has a process for taking money out of, as well as process for putting money into in the first place, but I didn't have to worry about legal trouble. Another plus was that the money I paid involved interest, and it was interest which worked for my benefit, rather than against me, in the long run.

My final, and personally, the most important reason for graduating without debt is that it's teaching me fiscal responsibility in order to live right in the future. I grew up listening to money expert Dave Ramsey in the car with my parents. I have always loved his slogan: “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Not only does graduating without debt save me from having to pay that back later (along with the interest on the loans), but it's also teaching me how to make money, save money, and eventually I will be able to give money in love for others. A drowning man cannot save another drowning man. I want to save as many others as I can in my time on this earth, and in order to do so, I must be safe myself.

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Dear Celebrities, You Are Not Politicians So Leave Your Political Opinions Out Of Your Media Feed

Don't let your favorite artist change your own opinion or your vote.

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The 2018 American Music Awards hit the lowest amount of viewers in the AMA's history. The three-hour long show received an average of 6.8 million viewers, which is about 3 million less than last year. This isn't the only year that the AMA's views have decreased and not the only award show as well. In fact, in January, the Grammys also hit their lowest viewers since 2008.

So, what could be the cause of these lower rankings? While politics have always been somewhat included in award shows, has it gone so far to drive viewers away?

Historically, award winners have pointed to specific issues affecting our current political climate or some cause the celebrity supports. However, within the last few years, it has become more pointed to specific people.

With viewers slowly decreasing while political slurs to politicians grow, it's safe to say that there's a negative correlation between them both. This could easily be a cause of shows receiving fewer viewers every year, along with the lower rankings.

Imagine, you're watching a three-hour show of celebrities making fun of your beliefs or the person you're planning on voting for. Would you keep watching? Would you come back next year to watch the same show with the same belief shaming?

Recently, Taylor Swift spoke out on her Instagram about not supporting Marsha Blackburn for Senate and how she will instead be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. At the end of the post, she encourages fans to go out and vote.

Blackburn quickly answered saying how she does support women and wants to end violence against women. She even states how she is active in abuse centers as well as child advocacy centers.

While there is no issue for telling fans to go out and vote, it's important to let the fans (of any celebrity) to do their own research as well as make their own opinions.

A voter should not be swayed by what their favorite celebrity has to say about a politician.

While this can hurt the celebrity by causing them to lose a fanbase (the Dixie Chicks for example), it can also make fans feel as though their opinions aren't important, invalid, or even wrong.

It's great that Swift caused such an uproar in voter registrations and that more peoples' voices will be heard due to that. Even so, her, and any celebrity really, could easily persuade their fans to simply vote without telling them who to vote for.

As a student, I hope that you do your research and vote for what you think is right for our society. Go to vote.org for more information on how to register.

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