Dear Abby: Angry student advised to make the most of college

Posted: May 19, 2011

DEAR ABBY: May I respond to "Bound for College," the high-school senior who is distressed because she may have to go to a state university?

This is America, the land of opportunity, NOT the land of entitlement. A college education is a luxury, not a right. How fortunate she is to have parents who can send her to college. It is my hope that her father does get that job at the university. What an excellent benefit he will have to get reduced tuition for his offspring.

If, however, that is not good enough for her, it is her right to refuse that gift. Then she may go to the school of her choice AND pay for it herself. With the cost of tuition today, that will be quite an undertaking. There are a number of options: student loans, grants, scholarships, a job or an enlistment in the military.

As you mentioned, Abby, in your response, education is what you make of it. My suggestion to "Bound for College" is, lose the attitude of entitlement, look at how blessed you are, rethink your priorities and make the most of your opportunities.

- Mike M. in Bloomsburg, Pa.

DEAR MIKE: Thank you for your letter. Readers unanimously agreed that "Bound" needs to make the most of the opportunities that come her way and start thinking and acting like an adult. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I could have written the same letter years ago. The similarities are uncanny. I was accepted to my dream school, but because of my family's financial difficulties, I ended up attending my backup school, one of the largest public institutions in the country.

During the first semester, I was bitter and angry. Slowly but surely, I began to appreciate the benefits unique to a large state university. I enrolled in an honors academic program, which allowed me to receive a rigorous education from an amazing faculty. I became exposed to people from different cultures with differing perspectives. There were numerous student organizations and clubs. I found new hobbies and became active in causes that were important to me. Although I was worried about the school's party reputation, I quickly found other students who felt the same way I did.

"Bound," the college experience will be what you make of it. For me, it was instrumental in shaping my future. I took advantage of the many resources available on campus. It opened up avenues for me and, most important, helped me to discover myself. I will be starting graduate school as a financially independent adult, and I can finally do it on my own terms.

- Sophia K., Arlington, Texas

DEAR ABBY: You can party at any school, and you can get an education at any school. To a large extent, you get out what you put in. Yes, there may be distractions on some campuses, but there will always be academically inclined students and opportunities if one looks for them. The "fit" of a school can't really be determined until one gets there. So "Bound" should go where it is affordable and keep an open mind. She may find opportunities she has not yet considered.

- L.C. in Charleston, Ill.

DEAR ABBY: Like "Bound," my parents promised I could go to any school I wanted. I applied to one school and got in, but my parents told me I'd have to take out a loan if I wanted to go there instead of a state school (something that was never mentioned). I took the news hard and resented that I was being forced to make my first adult decision and would have debt when I graduated.

I chose to stay in-state. The school was a party school, and I spent most of my freshman year angry that I was there. A year later, my anger was gone. Abby, please advise "Bound" that it's what you make of the college experience that counts.

- Been There in Richmond, Va.

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