“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.
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 Manhattan. I know what it’s like to live in the city, and I know how to budget,” I said quite firmly.
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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, that year, 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 $2,000 and $2,500 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?
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!