Senior year comes at a price


Rachel Cichon, Editor-in-Chief

As an underclassmen, whenever I imagined my senior year I pictured myself chanting “senior power”, taking thousands of photographs and sobbing over complicated college applications. Although all of these things are unquestionably present, I didn’t realize that the thing I would do most as a senior is spend money.

Senior year has been the most expensive time of my entire life, without question. Of course, in an effort to enjoy every last minute of high school I am spending money trying to attend every school event, from football games to dances to senior activities.

I’ve spent the necessary cash purchasing graduation robes and the unnecessary but ever important memory tassel which now dangles haphazardly from my rear view window. Buying senior wear alone took out a serious chunk of my checking account and I would rather not think of how much I’m going to spend on Prom.

For instance, where is the money spent on parking passes going? Considering the fact that there seems to be more students with passes than there are spaces in the lot, HHS must gain a lot of money from their absurdly expensive parking passes. These passes are flimsy pieces of paper that can’t even hang parallel from the thick neck of my rear view window so obviously the prices aren’t going into their manufacture. Unless these prices are somehow funding the school in a paramount way that benefits the students, I don’t believe it is necessary to charge students so highly just to park their car here.

I’m starting to wonder if I’m even benefiting from all of these crumpled checks I have somberly handed over to every seller at Howell High School. It seems that the senior life has kept me too busy to even have the fun I’m supposed to be getting from all of this spending. Instead, life has become devoted to the endless task of applying to college, and that is where the majority of my dollars are going.

Obviously college is expensive. In the present day, you essentially have to come out of the womb with a full-time job and a flourishing E-Trade account if you expect to go to college and be out of debt by the time you hit your mid-life crisis. Next year when I am away at a university eating ramen off of a make-shift plate I am certain I’ll be crying for the days when I was spending money on things like Homecoming and senior pictures. However, I am already sacrificing paychecks just to apply to colleges, a fact that I find ridiculous.

It costs money to apply to colleges. It costs money to send in my ACT scores. It costs money to offer AP scores, which ironically I took originally for the sole purpose of saving money once I reached college and already paid a fee just to take the test. I applied to only two colleges, the University of Michigan and Michigan State, but between the two I am certain I spent over $200 sending in all of the necessary papers.

I find it outrageous that I am literally giving schools money to ask if I may attend and subsequently give them even more money. I might end up paying for these schools’ rejection, or for my parent’s disappointment. I might get accepted to both schools and then live with the guilt that I spent money applying to both when only one was necessary. I feel like I might as well be paying for air, a joke I make warily out of fear that I’ll give colleges more ideas on how to drain our piggybanks.

I don’t believe that the spending is even necessary for the benefit of the school. Students already pay so much to get into a college that the majority of them leave drowning in debt.

Where is my money going? What is it being used for? I have seen stained carpets and run-down dorms in certain colleges, so clearly it isn’t housekeeping. Students are forced to pay for an assortment of textbooks and pamphlets, so it isn’t that. Of course some expenses are necessary, and I am willing to pay my tuition, but I feel exploited by colleges when I have to pay for every last detail, even if I’m paying for rejection.

I have already spent hundreds of dollars on college alone, and once you add on all of the expenses from school, I’ve hit the thousand mark. It’s ridiculous. There doesn’t seem to be any way to have it all, unless of course I had been saving every penny since freshman year.

Clearly there is something ridiculous with the system here.

When it comes to college costs, there are so many changes that need to be executed. There is no need for applications and test scores to cost as much as they do, especially considering the fact that all of this could easily be made available for free on the computer. Why a student has to send all of their transcripts and scores to colleges when they could simply have it uploaded to their application or account is a mystery to me.

Further perplexing is the same question of whether or not this money is even necessary for the college’s benefit. Either way, the fact that when a student applies to college, they are paying to either be rejected or be accepted and go into debt paying off tuition and textbooks, proves that there is a problem with the system.

High school students cannot be expected to pay all of this themselves. Hopefully the majority have parents like mine who are willing to pitch in and pay certain expenses, but this is not the case for everyone, particularly those of a lower class.

Unless a student starts saving up from first grade to twelfth, it doesn’t seem there is a way to attend all of the encouraged senior events, purchase necessities for graduation and apply to colleges, making it impossible to create the well-balanced lifestyle a senior would hope to have at this stage of life. My advice to all underclassmen is to save up, spend wisely and focus on the things that are most important to you.