While it seems summer has just begun, the kids are already buying backpacks and planning class schedules. Some of their friends, we’re told, have already found their way back into the classroom. For our younger ones, life is fairly simple. We follow the prescribed list provided by the school for supplies; and, we clean out the closet to see which clothes fit from the previous year. Although in our house, we may have reached the penultimate occasion as our youngest has finally matched in height to his big brother. Never daunted, we confirm classes and plan for back-to-school night.
Likewise, our older is preparing to return to his second year at Indiana University. This time the trip is old hat. There will be little fumbling to find classroom buildings, the best place to get pizza, and the bookstore which sells its wares at a slightly lower price. Instead, our preparations have turned towards more adult topics. Along the way, we have attempted to directly address difficult matters like substance abuse, interpersonal conflict, human sexuality, and domestic finance. While each of these has its own peculiarities, talking dollars and cents can be the most awkward. Certainly, there are many good sources for such conversations such as the Indiana-based columnist Pete-the-Planner.
College students are burdened with debt, along with their parents, at a rate unprecedented in human history. At the same time, irresponsible teen sexuality is on the decline. Is it possible that we’ve talked enough about the spread of disease but too little about the insidious spread of easy credit? What does it mean to be a debtor? To our credit statement, to our spirits, and to our future? Can debt be smart? When is it most assuredly foolish? Creditors can be partners or predators – it is imperative that we know the difference.