Save those dimes, it’s college time

A college acceptance means a lot of things for a student; it marks the time for filling the closet with school colors, buying dorm essentials, setting up a credit card, planning out a course schedule, looking into all the interesting intramural sports and student organizations offered on campus – the list is endless. However, though it can be lost in the midst of excitement, a college acceptance also means an extraordinary monetary commitment.

The draining of bank accounts begins before the new class of students even steps foot on campus, and it is done meticulously well by universities. Institutions space out payments to make them seem more inconsequential than they truly are, but that certainly doesn’t stop the bills from racking up. Four days into officially becoming a part of the University of Texas class of 2018, over $800 of my family’s college savings had already been forfeited to Austin in the form of application fees, orientation fees, admission fees, and even $350 in housing fees – housing that I will not be living in for another seven months.

But regardless of the fact that the university itself periodically finds another way to weasel additional dollars out of our college fund, I still find myself begging my mom to spend more money on Longhorn apparel, accessories, and novelties, as it only feels right for everything I own to show off my school spirit. There is a huge sense of pride that comes with being accepted into a renowned institution, but does that pride overshadow the debt the student digs themselves – and their family – into by attending?

Perhaps it’s easier to attend a community or junior college for the first half of a college career – after all, where you graduate from is what’s important, not where you start. Taking that path for a college education would certainly save a vast amount of people from breaking the bank, but at the same time, nothing compares to getting that giant acceptance packet in the mail and being able to officially become a part of a recognized university.

If a student’s hard work pays off and he or she is offered a spot at their preferred university, it’s a pretty hard deal to pass up. With that acceptance comes a sense of community, identity, and pride in not only oneself, but in one’s association with the university. That not only creates a positive sense of self worth, it establishes connections and networking opportunities for the rest of one’s life and career by simply being able to claim the title of a Longhorn, a Sooner, an Aggie, a Tiger, or any other large alumni network.

At the moment, it seems as if the only thing myself and the many others entering and attending universities are paying for is the school spirit and the education itself. However, in essence, and in the long run, we are paying for far more than just that. We are paying for lifelong connections, career opportunities, networking abilities, further educational endeavors, a sense of never-ending pride in a university, and so much more.

So yes, my family paid $200 to simply accept my admission to the University of Texas, and that’s just the beginning of four years of random – and sometimes unjustified – payments which will be transferred from our bank account to the university. But in the end, I’m officially a Longhorn, and that’s something I can call myself for the rest of my life – empty bank account or not.