A recent Lending Tree report on the average Millennial Debt (excluding mortgage) has been making the rounds on social media over the past couple of days.
Maybe the most surprising finding was that San Antonio, Austin, and Houston represented the 1st, 3rd, and 4th ranked metro areas for highest median debt, beating out San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles by a decent margin.
Hoping for some “insider” insight into the study, I asked one of our newest apprentice and current Austin-resident, Gerardo Gonzalez, his reaction to the article. Knowing that he recently graduated with college debt, in addition to an upcoming financial commitment for tuition at NEW, we weren’t sure what answer to expect. His response, however, is as thoughtful as it is insightful.
Below is his unabridged response:
“One of the worst things about accruing college debt is that it forces you to make compromises. The minute you graduate – you have six months to figure out how to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in a timely manner over the next several years of your young life. Now money isn’t everything, but this dilemma takes precedence over most of your decisions. Your dreams and expectations often take a backseat to the very real problem facing you now – or four years from now. I know that many of my fellow peers chose professions to make the most money as their choice of study. Others worked part-time jobs while in college, leaving little time to engage in college life or study. I tried balancing part-time jobs with low-paying internships because almost everyone older than me stressed the importance of getting experience. And I did this knowing that I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I chose opportunities best suited for my interests and passions while I took the time to figure that out.
College debt becomes more difficult when you’ve graduated and you haven’t earned enough experience to even land entry-level roles in the professions you chose. I’m not sure if I have this right, but I may have read somewhere that the average time the modern college grad spends looking for a job is 3-6 months after college. Six months is also the length of time you get for grace on your college loans – which means that’s how much time you get before you start getting charged and interest kicks in.
I like the idea of apprenticeship because it offers a way around most of these dilemmas. If you’re a recent graduate who just spent four years dealing with these kinds of choices, you may not be the best-prepared to land a well-paying, fulfilling job. You need good experience, and you need good money – a combination you likely won’t get as an intern or with more schooling. The programs that NEW offers – experience, networking, skill-building, mentoring, actually getting paid – all of that seems like a much better alternative than what most recent grads are forced to decide to do. There’s not much security in a college degree anymore. But there’s plenty of security in gaining experience. The best takeaway that I see from the New Apprenticeship program is that you get paid to work a full-time job while getting additional experience in a workshop setting – which is more practical than a classroom. Even if the program charges tuition, the salary you get from your job pays for it and then some. You also get the opportunity to intensely explore a career path while getting paid to do it. Because you graduate with presumably more experience than the average college grad, you now have an advantage whether you choose to look for another job or move up within the company you worked at previously.
Those are my thoughts!