One, Two, Sallie Mae is Waiting for You…

I am a first generation college graduate who didn’t have a plan.  I attended a diverse, magnet elementary school in Brighton Park and received a very different education than some of my peers in Englewood.  Scoring above average on the IOWA test and getting good grades afforded me the opportunity to be accepted to one of the best high schools in the city, Kenwood Academy.  Upon graduating from Kenwood with honors, I attended Northern Illinois University, obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and ended my education at DePaul University with a Masters of Science in Public Administration.  For a first generation college graduate without a plan, I was doing pretty well…until I was hit with $100,000 in student loan debt.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I don’t regret going to college at all.  The experience was great; I of course learned some things, developed long-lasting relationships, did things that college students do and managed to navigate my way to my personally defined success.  But that nostalgia is sometimes crushed when I’m confronted with student loan bills that are more than my monthly rent.  Sadly, I’m not the first college graduate to be pimped by Sallie Mae and her cartel and I’m sure that I won’t be the last…I wish I would have had a plan.

This is for the generations behind me.  I am most certainly an advocate for higher education, but aspiring graduates have to have a plan.  Know what you want to do in life and map out the necessary steps to make that happen.  Minimize your stress and financial debt as much as possible.   Take advantage of as many opportunities that will enrich your career and last but not least, have fun!  But do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to college if you feel it is not for you or without a plan…it can be a yellow brick road for some and a minefield for others.  Gear up!

“Good plans shape good decisions.  That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”  Geoffrey Fisher

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Tanesha Peeples

South Side community leader Tanesha Peeples is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori School of Englewood. Formerly, she served the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post, for whom she penned the long-running column Hope and Outrage. As an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University, Tanesha began to develop a passion for and understand the importance of public service. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, she returned to Chicago with a new perspective on community, politics and civic engagement. Tanesha then attended and graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public service management and urban planning and development. Throughout her professional career, Tanesha has used her education, passion and experience to navigate a number of nonprofit, political and independent ventures, advancing her mission to educate and empower marginalized populations. Prior to joining Education Post, she also managed her own consulting firm specializing in community relations. Tanesha’s vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or zip code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. Find her on Twitter at @PeeplesChoice85.

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