I recently read an opinion piece that was very disturbing. It was in the New York Times by Lee Siegel who defaulted on his student loans over 30 years ago, and was now in fact encouraging others to do the same thing (sending a message about the high cost of education, unfair burdens on young people, etc.). The gist of his reasoning was that in order to pay the loans he would have had to take a job that took him away from his dreams. There's more to the article and I encourage you to read it.
On the other hand, I read a different article by Kirsten Powers
about coming out of college in 1991 and taking a job she hated
just to pay her bills and eventually one thing led to another and she wound up in a great career she could not have foreseen. The gist of her article was to encourage young college graduates that they don't have to have the "grand plan" for their lives, but to live life and take the opportunities before them. It was a very encouraging article and I suggest you read it also.
I was disappointed in Lee Siegel in that it seems personal integrity means nothing. Life circumstances didn't keep him from paying his loans, he chose to default because it was seemingly better for him and his dreams. He even seems proud of his decision. I was inspired though by Kirsten Powers because she demonstrated personal integrity in working hard, doing the mundane, and being faithful to what was in front of her. I shared her words with several college students I know (two of them being mine) and hope they felt some of the pressure lift.
Personally I have found it to be true that doing the mundane, and whatever you find in front of you at the time, can lead to great opportunities if you do it with a good attitude and to the best of your ability. I recently received an unexpected job promotion and love what I am doing. Seven years ago when I re-entered the job market I could not have imagined where I am today. Do the small stuff.
Labels: default on student loans, Kirsten Powers, Lee Siegel, personal integrity