Joining the Army – a Good Alternative to College?
This article out of HattiesburgAmerican.com, a Mississippi newspaper, tells the story of Ebonee Ervin, an 18-year old who has decided to drop out of the University of Southern Mississippi because she can no longer afford the tuition; she’s joining the army instead.
The article also talks about a general upswing in the number of students who are leaving school early amid financial woes:
Yet, families and students worry about affording college. Some families have financed higher education through home equity loans, something hard to do now. The stress of how to pay for school has some bowing out.
It’s a trend echoing around the country in this recession. Affording college in tough times was discussed at a Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media seminar held recently in Atlanta.
At Spelman College in Atlanta, nursing student La-Keya Williams is a resident hall assistant. At the Hechinger seminar, Williams said she had many seniors tell her this month that they won’t be back to school in January.
“It takes more than four years for some of them to finish school,” she said. The extra time is extra money. And some students are running out of both.
While Ervin is the only person mentioned in the article who is definitely opting for the army instead, this story brought up mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, the army offers an excellent and respectable career path as well as the promise of returning to college later for more aid. On the other hand, with wars still raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am angered at the thought of young people risking their lives because college is too expensive as an alternative.
I’m also annoyed at the glib suggestion, later in the article, that students can always fall back on federal loans if they want to go to college. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding of how onerous this debt can become and why some people might choose not to attend college at all just to avoid it.