opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Roland Martin
Roland S. Martin
16 Jul 2014
Senator Rand Paul Is Not Afraid of Black People

There is no white Republican elected official today who is coming close to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's effort … Read More.

20 Jun 2014
Black Elites Look Silly Over 'My Brother's Keeper' Criticism

There is no more endangered figure in America than the black man. A cursory look at the education system, the … Read More.

14 Jun 2014
UNCF Shouldn't Apologize for $25 Million Koch Brothers Donation

The American body politic is so divided, hostile, suspicious and downright angry that even a donation by two right-… Read More.

Students Need Hard-Core Truth for College Choices


As I ran to the lobby to make a phone call during the awards dinner at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention in Boston last week, one of our student members followed me down the escalator for some advice.

The young lady will soon graduate from college and told me she wanted to attend Howard University to obtain her master's degree for teaching. But she wants to first go into the media business for some experience.

Horrible series of decisions you're about to make, I told her.

Anyone who understands media knows that getting a master's degree won't add a single dollar to your beginning salary. Sorry, folks. Don't believe the hype. This is an industry that is about experience, skills and know-how. What is taught in the classroom is great, but what is learned in the field is something altogether different.

I then asked her: Why are you trying to get a master's now when you want to teach later? She said, "Because I have the motivation now and I may not have it later." So what about that student debt you have now?

This young lady is going to finish her undergraduate career with student debt, and then go to a private school to accrue even more student debt without having started her first job. That, folks, is a recipe for disaster.

I reminded her that she could get a job with a program to pay for a master's degree or assist with the cost. What she needs right now is experience. Going to school for another two years just doesn't make sense."

The look in her eyes was one of devastation. But she should have been elated that someone was trying to tell her the truth.

Student loan debt today exceeds $1 trillion. And I strongly believe a lot of students are in debt because they are making bad choices that aren't based on common sense and real information.

It's not all about a four-year school. So you want to be a culinary chef. Fine. You don't have to go to a four-year college. A lot of community colleges have great culinary arts programs where you can learn your craft.

It's a lot cheaper than a typical four-year college.

Skills, skills, skills. Hey, book knowledge is great, but you better have some skills walking in. Too many students get stuck focusing on theories, and not what's happening in the real world. Spending big bucks on a college education and coming out with no skills makes no sense. The two go hand-in-hand.

Go where your money can afford for you to go. Look, forget that stuff about you can go anywhere. Theoretically? Yes. Practically? No. If you don't have the money saved up to go to that private school, don't go! Coming out of college with $100,000 in debt as a teacher is crazy. You will forever be in debt, and it will impact other parts of your life. Make sound decisions.

Staying close to home is smart. I get that most kids want to get away from mom and dad. But staying home and going to school makes a lot of sense financially. Dorm/off-campus living, food and travel eat up a lot of money for students. If you don't have it, expect to struggle. You'll be in a better situation financially if you stay at home.

Be decisive in your decision-making. Switching majors is costly. Taking the time to really think about a career choice is vital, even in high school. That clarity will make it easier for you to finish on time.

Seek advice from industry professionals. You don't know everything at 17 or 18. Neither did I. But what I did was spend lots of time talking to professional journalists about college and career choices. I listened to their stories and how they made decisions, good and bad. That made it a lot easier for me to make my own.

Today's generation has at its disposable tons of tools, gadgets and information. But it boils down to knowing how to use it. I fundamentally believe a lot of students have gotten themselves into financial trouble due to lack of information and knowledge. Apply some of these tips and, trust me, you'll be thankful years later.

Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin." Please visit his website at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Roland S. Martin
Aug. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 13 Feb 2016
David Harsanyi
David HarsanyiUpdated 12 Feb 2016
David Limbaugh
David LimbaughUpdated 12 Feb 2016

28 Mar 2008 Listen to the Candidates, Not Their Associates

16 May 2014 The Biggest Enemy for US Veterans: America

7 Dec 2007 Black Men Must Reclaim Our Children