If You Think School Life In The 'Burbs Is Cheaper...Think Twice!

If You Think School Life In The ‘Burbs Is Cheaper…Think Twice!

•  3 minute read

You think you save money by going to a rural school? Think again, says this Boston University student.

“Budget. Say it with me! Budget!” I still remember my dad’s words as we drove up to Boston University at the beginning of my first year.  Growing up in a small town right outside of Manhattan I was well equipped for city life — or so I thought.

You think you save money by going to a rural school? Think again, says this Boston University student.

My parents insisted that it would not be the tuition fees that would drain their bank account, but my spending in the city of Boston.

“I grew up right outside of the Manhattan, I know what it’s like to live in the city and I know how to budget,” I said quite firmly.

My mother scoffed, and my dad looked through the rear-view mirror and just laughed.

Why should going to a school in a big city turn out to be expensive?

I knew that cities were typically more expensive than rural or suburban areas. But I felt confident. After spending 17 years stomping around Manhattan without draining my bank account, I could survive Boston doing the same.

So, Aug. 29, 2014, I set off into the world, well Boston, on my own.

With a fresh new debit card, which I was determined not to use, and an urgent need to settle and enjoy my new home, I began the process of becoming a native of Boston.

Several weeks into my first semester at school, I thought back to the conversation I had with my dad. I recounted the number of times I felt I had spent a substantial amount of money ($20 or more) during my time at school.

The only thing I could think of was the new sweater I had bought a week earlier. I went to one Red Sox game, where I was able to buy tickets for $6 because of a student discount. Also, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts, where admission is free for college students. When the weather was nice, I walked around the Public Gardens and through the Boston Common.

I was experiencing all the city had to offer and I hadn’t broken my bank account. So what is behind city schools’ expensive reputations?

Typically, city schools insinuate more opportunities for activities that are unrelated to school — that is, more places to go, more things to do.  This does not mean it’s more expensive.

Isn’t one of the points of going to college to learn how to be smart with your money?

Just because there are more activities, you don’t have to go overboard.  If you log onto various college websites, you will see a rough estimate of “personal expenses.”

After looking at a wide variety of colleges in many different locations, I found these expenses were about the same; between $2000 and $2500 a year.

This included travel, schoolbooks, and other personal items.  It didn’t make sense. People were constantly saying the personal expenses at city schools were higher than those at schools in rural areas.

City campuses teem with students from diverse backgrounds and cultures, unlike the more sedate atmosphere of a rural college. It could mean that in a city setting, you are under no pressure to fit in. Everyone has a place in the many diverse slots. Or it could mean that people will be inclined to spend more to try the new trends their friends have introduced?

Are you at a city or a rural campus? What has been your experience? As for me, I am proving my parents wrong. Each day, as the temptations roll in, I put my strong will to work. I’m always able to ward off an urge to stroll through the chic neighborhood of Newbury Street!