Dancing Towards A Degree: The Patchwork Approach To College Tuition
October 18, 2012

A young man named Joshua Johnson has caught the media’s attention recently. A current Penn State undergraduate business major, Joshua plans to be the first college grad in his family. To make it happen he is cobbling together his tuition using a patchwork of grants, student loans, scholarship money and his feet. His feet, you ask? Yup. When he was 13, Joshua got hooked on tap dancing and has been tapping away ever since. So while he spends his week days studying and going to class, his weekends are spent taking a five hour bus ride to New York City and tap dancing on the subway to earn his tuition. Despite his mad skills as a hoofer, Joshua will be saddled with quite a bit of student debt when he graduates. An inveterate optimist, Joshua has every faith in his ability to work off his loans, and so do we.

Work, School and Opportunity

Very proud to be the trailblazer of higher education for the Johnson family, Joshua views college as his opportunity to make a positive impact on his family’s history. Notwithstanding, financing his education has been quite a struggle for him. He finds that having to spend his weekends traveling and working wears him out and consumes his time, two things which definitely take a toll on his grades. There is research to indicate that the more students work while they are in college, the lower their debts are likely to be when they graduate; but it comes at a price: college is a full time job in and of itself. Working while you’re in school is certainly a trade off, one that might be more worth making for students whose plans for the future are uncertain than for those who are dead set on becoming a doctor.

Practicing Self-Care

In addition to the exhaustion and the effect on his grades, dancing is intensely physical and brings with it all sorts of physical risks. Joshua’s goal right now is simply to finish school, but he certainly hasn’t ruled out dancing as a career path. He loves tap and is dedicated to it for reasons beyond just his tuition. One problem that haunts a lot of dancers, particularly those who enter the professional world, is foot and ankle injuries. Hopefully, Joshua will follow some of these tips for healthy feet, which can also be applied to life in a larger sense. Number one is remembering to listen to your body; our bodies are wise and deserve a level of respect we sometimes forget to give them when we’re consumed with school, work and finance.

Life After College

Joshua is very positive that he’ll have the courage to follow his own path throughout his life after college; he believes he’ll find his own amicable way to pay off his student loans. One great resource for him will be organizations that can help manage debt. There are lots of ways to incorporate student debt into your lifestyle, even without pursuing the highest paying job you can think of. The government offers very generous repayment plans that are becoming more accommodating all the time. With help from the experts, students like Joshua Johnson need not fear student debt.