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“Any Chance of Paying Off Your College Loans by Your Silver Anniversary?”

In doing research for a new book inspired by Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree, I recently conducted a roundtable with five young adults at which we talked about a variety of issues, including the potential toll of college debt.  Or, more precisely, we discussed how sizable college debt might affect whether people become romantically involved with one another and possibly marry.

The conversation at one point turned to dating services, which prompted a participant to propose a new online profile question: “How much college debt do you have?”  We all laughed, and I’m guessing she suggested the idea glibly.  But then, again, maybe not.

Putting aside how honestly people paying off big college loans might answer a question like this, is asking it cricket in the first place?  And might it make a difference in who a man or woman chose to meet?  If you’re skeptical about all of this, especially the second question, think about why people are routinely interested, for instance, in what potential romantic interests do for a living.

To make conversation?  Sure.  To see whether they may have something occupational in common?  Sure, again.  But might it also have something to do with trying to figure out how much money he or she makes, and how much disposable income is possibly available for weekends in Paris and Mardi Gras in Rio?  Bingo.

One of the premises of American Experiment’s multi-year project, Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree, is that young people, if they choose, can train and qualify for interesting, important, and well-paying jobs in significantly less time than it takes to earn a B.A. or B.S.  And that by pursuing strong two-year degrees, certificates, apprenticeships and the like they can get on with their adult lives earlier; satisfying lives which commonly include (again if they choose) getting married and having children.

One of the great joys of my life is not needing to know anything about dating services because of my life’s ultimate joy, being married.  So, in suggesting what I’m suggesting, I’m speculating more than formally proposing.  Meaning, I’m curious what readers with more experiential credentials on the question might think.

For example, do you think the grandfatherly guy on eHarmony commercials might be inclined to incorporate a question along the lines of: “Any chance of paying off your college loans by your silver anniversary?”

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