Spease: Why I appreciate paying for my own college

Holly Spease

I complain about a lot of things… I’m a total whiner. The thing that most often comes to mind when I bitch is money. I tend to resent people who are born rich, and I am always comparing myself to them. Someone will tell me all about how they traveled across Europe during summer, and instead of being happy for them, I’m over in the corner sulking about working three jobs to pay for tuition and rent. However, instead of being angry about having to pay my way through college and whining about working, I should be grateful.

I have come to appreciate my education more than anything in the world because I see what all of my hard work and money is going towards. I am a junior at Colorado State and in three years of college I have missed one class. I have calculated the price of tuition per lectures in a semester, and missing one class could be like throwing away one hundred dollars. When I was working as a lifeguard for nine dollars and fifty cents an hour, I would have to work ten and a half hours for one lecture. This has led me to realize the worth of my education, and to value every course I take.


Although courses are worth thousands of dollars, the knowledge that students gain during class is priceless. As I said earlier, I whine a lot, and when I was forced to take two science courses to achieve general credit requirements which have nothing to do with my major, I was, in simple terms, annoyed. Yet, I forced myself to go to every class, because I am stubborn and there is no way I’m letting my money go to waste. I ended up learning things and meeting people that I never would have if I didn’t make myself go. I know a lot more about biology, and although I suck at it, I have a greater appreciation and understanding for students in the sciences (bless your brave souls). I have met some really great people who helped me study and have become really great friends. I would never value each course I am enrolled in and go to class as much as I do if I didn’t have to pay for my education.

In addition to treasuring my education, I have learned a lot about personal responsibility and finances. Having to work during the school year has helped improve my time management skills immensely. I seize every free moment I have and try to be as productive as possible, either going to the gym, doing homework, working, or sleeping. That’s not to say that I don’t have fun, because socializing and maintaining friendships is very important. But, paying my way through college has also led me to value the time I can spend with my friends and family.

Additionally, I have learned a lot about finances and loans by having to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is a long process, but instead of dreading the tedious application and the millions of passwords, user names, save keys, and emails that I have for Sallie Mae and CSU Student Financial Services, I am grateful for the finance skills I have learned. I now understand how taking out a loan works, how to contact the IRS, how to budget, and so much more. I am ready to take on the world after college way more than I would if my parents paid for everything.

This is not to say that students who are fortunate enough to have their college paid for are dumb, lazy, or any other idea that you might think I’m implying through this article. Everyone has their own battles that they have to deal with. What I have learned, and am trying to share, is that we should appreciate these struggles because there is something that we can take away from each loss. This is why I am happy that I have to pay for college, rent, and personal expenses myself; because I value everything, everyone, and every experience so much more because of it.