I Worry, Way Too Much  

I'm a single mom. And I've got lots on my mind, yeah, like many of you.

I seem to always be worrying about the future. You know like:

How do I make the mortgage this month?
Do I have to by generic or can I go for the brand name cereal?
Oh, no, not the Electric bill?

But now, I got this other thing on my mind, college.

My kid is looking at graduating. She attends a very small private school in DC on a scholarship (rock on my most amazing kid for getting a scholarship) and can graduate as early as this winter.

As proud as I am of this amazing kid, I'm like a lot of parents, I'm worried. I'm worried about how to put her through her top choices, and it appears, students are worried about the same thing according to MSNBC:

For many transfers, the financial burden dawned on them after several years. The poor economy and high tuition has already filtered down to high school seniors. A recent survey showed that many don't want to make the same mistake as their old counterparts — they're forgoing costly schools now.

I'd love for my daughter to go to her top choices, Stanford or Middlebury, but I can't see how I'll be able to afford more than Ohio State, if I can even do that. And this seems to be the real trend, rising costs for college, across the board.

As the economy worsened, less has been given to endowment funds, less to state run schools, even to the county schools. Take Winona State University in Minnesota:

Tuition at WSU has increased 85 percent since 2001, from $3,110 to $5,768 per year.

An 85% increase in 8 years?

How is that even possible? According to the Freakonomics blog,there's a lot of factors, but they boil it down to staffing.

Support staff! SNIP

This explanation seems satisfying (intellectually, at least, if not emotionally). But it’s probably also important to consider how much money colleges have been putting into student amenities as well. When I visited my undergrad alma mater a few years ago, the chancellor pointed out that three buildings had gone up in the past decade or so that were each larger than any existing building on campus. There was a library, a convocation center (a multipurpose arena), and a huge student gym. The gym, he said, was a top priority because parents and prospective students increasingly think of themselves as customers, shopping for the most amenities for the best price, and the colleges that didn’t come to grips with this would soon see their customers going elsewhere.

I get the support staff increases. With new technologies, you do need new types of staff. When I went to college, we had 3 computer labs on campus and my Apple at each of them always seemed to freeze up everytime I tried to type a freakin' paper, I hear Macs are much better than my old computer lab days, but, I digress. Today, how many kids still rely on the computer lab? How many professors are reading e-mailed papers or papers saved on google docs?

As we have moved into the age of technology, strains have been placed on our schools from the elementary level to the highest levels of graduate education. But what do we get from all of this? From the technology to the cost to the education?

What do we really get?

Indigestion seems to be the answer for me. Indigestion caused by worry.

As a single working mom, I don't think I can afford either. Could somebody pass the Tums(r)?

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