Friday, September 11, 2009

College as a Necessity

If I had millions of dollars, would I still want to go to college?

Certainly people who are born into millionaire families go to college, albeit much more comfortable, more celebrated colleges.  But if tomorrow someone were to give me a check for 200 million dollars, I can see college suffering a significant drop on my list of priorities. Ideally, you go to college to learn, to expand your mind, but I've never thought of it that way. I've always seen it as a way to earn more money and to prove my worth. It was a matter of what kind of lifestyle I wanted, not what I wanted to do research in. I feel like that is pretty consistent with the aims of most people my age who are going to college. If I had millions of dollars, my reasons for pursuing a degree would probably be more social than financial. You might choose to go to Harvard so that you can remain on the same level as the kids you went to Exeter with, so that you can still party together and share the photos of your safari in Botswana...and so that you can maintain your lifestyle. I'm just imagining, I don't have any research to back this up.

I was thinking about this because this last week I've read some about studying in Paris. One of the schools I'm interested in had a "the cost of living in Paris" page that I examined very closely. In the section covering the renting of apartments, there was a little note about "students with higher incomes" that made me open my eyes a little wider. Of course, I had been mostly looking at the price of living in what's called a "chambre de bonne," which is basically an extra room, historically intended for maids and such, and usually found on the top floor of an old building. I searched "chambre de bonne" on Google and found some fairly posh-looking examples, so it's a matter of how you fill the space. But I'm curious about these students with "higher incomes." It'd be amazing to study in Paris without having to stress about the horrible exchange rate, or to have to wonder why coffee in one neighborhood costs 4 euros more than coffee in the next. I should probably worry about improving my French first.

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