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Higher Education…….. at Whose Cost?

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The Uncaring State
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Is it right for young adults who can earn to expect their
parents to pay hefty sums for their higher studies?

By Rela
Many young adults today are pursuing higher education at costly institutions, in the country and abroad too. I know of parents who are spending a huge amount of money on the higher education of their grown-up children. For instance, there is this modestly-middle class family who have spent over 70 lakhs for their daughter for the MBBS course that she recently completed. Then, there is this family who have spent I don’t know how many lakhs on a boy whom they sent abroad to study, added to which are the expenses they incur for him to come back to the country every now and then on holiday.
When I think of this, I wonder”¦Is it right for parents to spoil their grown-up children like this? Aren’t there more reasonable alternatives available to such expensive forms of ‘education’? Don’t these youngsters feel guilty about their parents slogging away to earn all that money that’s spent on their fancy ‘education’? Are these children taking their parents for granted?
At least till Class 12 or the Bachelor’s degree level, it’s fine, I think, that parents fund their children’s education. But beyond this, I feel youngsters should try to find alternate means to support their education, if not fully, then at least partly. I don’t think this is difficult at all: I speak from personal experience here.
After I completed Class 12, I travelled to another city, where I enrolled in a college for my BA. I was a good student. With God­­­­’s grace, when I later enrolled for an MA, I got a scholarship from an organisation to pursue higher studies. Instinctively, I did not want to take any money from my parents. Maybe I did not want to burden them. Perhaps I somehow felt that they would not be able to cover my higher education expenses. It could be that some childhood experiences reinforced my decision that depending on my parents financially at this stage wasn’t a good thing.
With the scholarship I received, if I remember correctly (this was some 30 years ago!), I was an extremely cautious and careful spender. I learnt the value of money. Once, somebody borrowed one rupee from me and did not return it. I made it a point to remind him about it (Back then, one rupee or even 50 paise was quite a big thing).
I tried to supplement my scholarship money by freelancing for newspapers etc.. That was another way I was able to fund my education at this stage. I was a good writer, and I loved reading too. I did not have many friends and I wanted to communicate so many things to the world. I felt I was not a very good speaker, but rather than this being a handicap, it may have turned out to be a blessing because my urge to communicate began to express itself in the form of writing. I got in touch with some newspapers and also a features agency and began writing for them. I can’t remember now, but perhaps back then I would pen my articles by hand and take a bus all the way to the newspaper’s office to hand it over! I didn’t have a computer back then (few people did!), and sometimes I would get the article typed with the help of a typist maybe for two rupees a page.
From my freelance writing work I earned a fairly decent sum. This helped me to cover at least a substantial portion of my studies when I was doing my Master’s degree. As I was also getting a scholarship, if I remember correctly I managed to cover all my education expenses and was even able to save some money and was no longer taking any money from my parents. I am very glad that I was not financially dependent on my parents for my higher education after a certain stage. So, today, when I hear of young adults whose parents are spending whopping sums on their higher studies, I think perhaps it isn’t a good thing at all. Today, young adults pursuing higher education probably have many more opportunities than I did when I was their age to earn while they also study. With this income, they can fund their higher education at least partly, rather than expecting their parents to pay for the whole thing. Another point is that while aspirations to go in for higher studies may be good, students should think about the pros and cons of getting into courses that are so expensive that their parents have to tire themselves out to earn for their fees.