Marriage and Family

It’s Not 1980 Anymore

It’s dangerous to clean your basement.  I was reminded of this fact in my recent purging. What did I find that was so dangerous?

Four old Steelcase chairs, the same model I use to assemble during the summers while attending college.

Why would 30-year-old chairs heavy enough to anchor a battle ship be so dangerous? Because, as with most things found buried in a basement, they brought back a flood of memories. And those memories got me to thinking about the world my kids are entering.

First for the memories; I had a great summer job, but not uncommon for 1980.

                I averaged between $9 and $10 an hour plus overtime, working 45 to 50 hours a week.

I received: holiday pay for the 4th of July plus two quarterly profit-sharing bonuses

                I made nearly $7000 (the equivalent today of over $18,000).

                And college only cost me $3500 a year.

Now for the dangerous part – thinking about my kids and the world they’re entering.

There’s no summer job anywhere that a student can make $7000 let alone the equivalent of $18,000 that I made. Today, with a reasonably good summer job, a student might make $4000 to $5000.

The average cost for tuition and room and board of a 4 year public university is hovering around $20,000 a year.

Which means a student may need to finance up to $15,000 a year/$60,000 total for a college education.

The numbers say it all. It’s apparent the values and priorities of our country have swung from assuring our young people have the best chance of succeeding, to financing the lives of those who have already had their opportunities.

2012 provides us yet another chance to make the courageous decisions necessary for our kids and thus our future. I pray that we’ll be courageous once again.


  • M. Wilton

    I agree. Our oldest wanted to find more skills on her first day of “real” work! She found out that a 2 week course would bring a 20% raise ($10.00/hr+20%)! So, on summer break from WMU she will be learning about CNA stuff. She works about 12 hrs per week right now while attending WMU.

    We are fortunate. We live within 10 minutes of WMU. So, Al lives at home and we encourage that. It costs $9,500 for two semesters in the dorms at Western! (I can buy a lot of gas/food for that kind of $) This doesn’t include tuition. We are thankful that Allison wants to work and attend school. These prices are scarey and I fear for those with less fortune/ability.

    • Michael Perry

      Thanks Matt for sharing your family’s story about working through the cost of college. Sounds like you’ve worked out a more reasonable solution to the disparity between potential earnings and college costs.
      Looking forward tom seeing your daughter at SpringHill for one of our winter weekends.

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