How did I get into that ~$60K hole? Well, it used to be a seventy-two thousand dollar hole, but I’ve been working on it.
I went to high school in Maryland (class of 2007) and was in love with computers for a long time so naturally I applied to a bunch of engineering schools (MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Caltech, Maryland, UCLA, UCSD). Out of all those, I got into a select few (Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Maryland, UCLA, UCSD). In the end, the decision was between in-state Maryland and out-of-state Berkeley. Maryland is a great school for a great in-state price, and it was a tough choice. In the end, I chose Berkeley, and my parents couldn’t really afford all of the bill so I decided I would pay or loan out what I had to. Long story short, I graduated a year early, having paid ~45K/yr, with a 72,000 dollar bill, and a piece of paper.
Do I regret the decision I made? No. Not many students can say they were fortunate enough to go to college on the other side of the United States. I loved my time at Cal. On the other hand, do I think I made the most informed decision at the time? No. I was 17 years old and Berkeley was a big brand name that was very attractive. My parents were supportive so they let me make the decision for myself knowing I would be able to handle the consequences, positive and negative.
My other high school classmates took other paths to where they are now that made a lot of sense for them. One common path that I didn’t think of before was going to in-state school for undergrad and following up with a more prestigious school for graduate school. I have always been in a habit of self-study so following up years of education with more education in a formal setting didn’t seem right to me at the time. Even today, I don’t know if I want to go to grad school after I foot my current bill or not.
P.S. I might do another post on the depressing financials of the State of California and how the U.C. system continues to increase the cost of education for in-state and even higher for out-of-state students. California is a great state, and it’s sad to see the path the government has led them.