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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the rice-beans-eggs-and-kale dept.

Education 390

Gud (78635) points to this story in the Washington Post about students having trouble with paying for both food and school. "I recall a number of these experiences from my time as grad student. I remember choosing between eating, living in bad neighborhoods, putting gas in the car, etc. Me and my fellow students still refer to ourselves as the 'starving grad students.' Today we laugh about these experiences because we all got good jobs that lifted us out of poverty, but not everyone is that fortunate. I wonder how many students are having hard time concentrating on their studies due to worrying where the next meal comes from. In the article I found the attitude of collage admins to the idea of meal plan point sharing, telling as how little they care about anything else but soak students & parents for fees and pester them later on with requests for donations. Last year I did the college tour for my first child, after reading the article, some of the comments I heard on that tour started making more sense. Like 'During exams you go to the dining hall in the morning, eat and study all day for one swipe' or 'One student is doing study on what happens when you live only on Ramen noodles!'

How common is 'food insecurity in college or high school'? What tricks can you share with current students?"

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first post :P (2, Funny)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 6 months ago | (#46796391)

Feed me!

Re:first post :P (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46796575)

Feed me!

College Diet:

1.Ramen noodles

2.Natty Light

Re:first post :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796583)

In all seriousness, macaroni is usually cheaper per calorie.

Re:first post :P (5, Insightful)

knightghost (861069) | about 6 months ago | (#46796693)

Potatoes are 10 cents a pound here.

"Learning to live poor" is the most education that people get in college. They have money... they just don't know how to manage it properly. I've been there. Many years, the $1 burger king friday special burger was my treat for the entire week.

Looking back, I could have done far better. Why? Because I've learned. Why did I learn? Because things got tight so I got motivated. People are capable of far more than they'd like to be.

I'm not worried about poor students (4, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 6 months ago | (#46796811)

right now. But wages have been in decline for 30 years. A little mis management is one thing (Mitt Rhomney was famously so broke at one point he had to sell the stocks his dad gave him to make ends meet :P ), but we're getting to the point where it's impossible to "work your way through college".

For one thing, when we say "Wages Adjusted for Inflation" we mean inflation as a whole, but the cost of food and shelter (what college kids spend most of their money on, jokes about Ramen & Natty Lite aside) have gone up much faster than inflation. The sort of job you can hold while in College is gonna pay $8-$15 an hour depending on where you live. I know ppl at that income level working part time because the economy sucks and they made mistakes. They're not making it, and somehow I doubt the added expense/stress of school would help them, especially after they graduate with $150k in loans... If you're one of those super humans that doesn't need sleep and can go to class and the work 8 hours then spend 8 hours doing homework you might make it. Everyone else will just drop out. The consoles tell you this when you apply, and a lot of the big majors (Math, CS, MIS, Medical) won't take you if you're working full time.

What sucks is we're so much more productive, you'd think we'd be working less. But why the hell would we give anything to anyone if they didn't "work" for it?

Re:first post :P (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 6 months ago | (#46796681)

2. Natty Light

You mean sex in a canoe?

You don't hear about the failures (5, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | about 6 months ago | (#46796403)

...because no one wants to tell you about those, of course not - who wants to admit they didn't make it after all of those hardships?

I took an education in Animation, very VERY expensive, cost me a HUGE fortune (which I took up a loan for, and worked in a computer store to pay off), did I end up working for Disney? No. Despite winning TWO FILM AWARDS - I still didn't get a job with Pixar or the likes, why? Did I suck? No - I just didn't have the right connections, and I didn't even understand how important it is to have the right connections, and NOT to piss off the wrong people.

I spent the next 10 years paying of my study debts, I'm finally free. But I don't regret anything, if I didn't do it - I'd spend the rest of my life wondering how things would have turned out if I did it, if I really just took the plunge and went for it. Well - I did...and it didn't turn out as I expect it.

But you know what? Everything you learn in life - you'll eventually get some use out of, I use my former education to work in advertising, using my animation skills in a technical sense, earning my living that way. Nothing is ever 100% black & white.

Re:You don't hear about the failures (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796571)

I broke up with my girlfriend during one summer. We eventually got back together and have been married for over 20 years. She let me know she had to raid the commons coffee can for money to buy some food at one point. Once students are cut off from parent funds it's a precarious world out there.

Re:You don't hear about the failures (-1, Flamebait)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46796699)

I took an education in Animation

Good for you.

Where were we?

No, if I wanted fries I'd have asked for them.

Re:You don't hear about the failures (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 6 months ago | (#46796883)

I took an education in Animation

Good for you.

Where were we?

No, if I wanted fries I'd have asked for them.

Yeah, I know...I tend to give people fries even though they don't ask for them.
I guess that's why I don't work for McDonalds.

Re:You don't hear about the failures (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 6 months ago | (#46796753)

I'm curious what you are doing now then? If I had the skills, I'd try to use Blender (or whatever) and start my own studio if I couldn't get hired by the big boys/girls. Connections would still be a problem though for distribution, but now you know that and could alleviate it.

Re:You don't hear about the failures (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 6 months ago | (#46796871)

I currently use Blender, I'm also a 3Dstudio max user. Right now, I am a 3D graphics artist in a small town. Between jobs, I work as a teacher, it's a small town, I have my own house here...that's why I don't work in the big cities. It's my own choice.

Work for the money before going to school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796405)

nobody is forcing you to attend an expensive university or college. There's community college and also trade schools which don't cost as much. Many of us don't fall victim to the social brainwashing either. Myself I'm a lead architect developer, been doing this for years, without any educational background. Do I have enough money to get a degree now? Sure. Would I? Maybe for business, other than that, no. Point being, work yourself up, then attend college. Nobody is forcing you to keep working at dead end jobs, I've seen plenty of positions where companies want those who push themselves to the next level and want to learn.

Re:Work for the money before going to school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796661)

I've seen plenty of positions

What 3? 30?

3 million? Well...

Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (3, Interesting)

runeghost (2509522) | about 6 months ago | (#46796411)

Sure, the 'best' schools are there, but who cares if you're walking the edge of malnutrition in order to pay for class, gas, and books? Emigrate to an actual civilized country instead of a pretend one.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46796477)

As if food isn't going to be a problem in Europe, where the food and books and gas are far more expensive...

I was dirt poor as a student in college, but I still managed to eat just fine and have a car I could get away with when I needed a break. No way I could have afforded having and using a car in Europe.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796511)

confirming the only civilized outside the USA that exist are in Europe...

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796531)

Food isn't much more expensive. Gas is almost entirely a non-issue because public transportation is infinitely better than almost every single US city.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 6 months ago | (#46796881)

Then why are there so many cars in Europe?

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796565)

You don't need a car in Europe, they have decent public transport.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46796673)

I didn't NEED a car in school either, I lived on campus or could also take the bus. But a car gives you a lot more latitude - even in Europe it gets you places not easy to visit by public transport (I've travelled a lot in Europe both by car and train/bus/tram so I know what's what there).

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796787)

You don't need a car in Europe, they have decent public transport.

Ha! HAaahaaahahahaahaaHAAAAAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAaaaaaa! You are joking, right?

Yours sincerely,

a British student.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1)

dkf (304284) | about 6 months ago | (#46796589)

As if food isn't going to be a problem in Europe, where the food and books and gas are far more expensive...

Academic books aren't such a problem; the US has more of a racket going there.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (2)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 6 months ago | (#46796627)

Yes, things are expensive in Europe, but a large majority of students here can afford to own a car. You know, not having to pay for college does wonders.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46796687)

You know, not having to pay for college does wonders.

For everything except your education. And your job prospects...

Although costs for school in U.S. now are so out of hand I would warrant you are better off in Europe since you can easily supplement education for very little, whereas the geas a huge student loan places upon you is nearly unrecoverable even after decades.

Ahh (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 6 months ago | (#46796711)

So if I just show up in a European country, they'll let me go to university for free? Hint: No they won't.

My sister went to Europe for her PhD. She didn't end up paying... because she got a generous scholarship. That also was what allowed her to get the visa to go. She didn't just show up and walk in to a university for free.

Same way it would have worked in the US or Canada, actually. If she had been accepted to a program with a generous scholarship, well it would have been free.

Re:Ahh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796739)

So you're confirming his point that starting out in a civilised country rather than a joke country is far more affordable?
Can you even read?

Re:Ahh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796847)

So if I just show up in a European country, they'll let me go to university for free?

Depends on the country, but in some you can actually do that. You need the same required qualification as everybody else, obviously, and your cost of living is on you, but in some countries there is no tuition, not even for foreign students.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46796717)

As if food isn't going to be a problem in Europe, where the food and books and gas are far more expensive...

Right. Because that's the only factor.

It is of course impossible that other countries actually give financial assistance to students and that's what GP was referring to.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796803)

Most universities in Germany include an unlimited public transport pass in the low semester fee (ca. $300 per semester, the biggest part of that actually is the public transport pass. There is no tuition.) Public transport includes railways, not just buses. You don't need a car. Cycling is common in Germany. Get a bike. It is often the fastest way to get around.

Students typically choose from several canteens offering a variety of subsidized meals (a full meal for $3.50, for example). You don't need to learn how to cook (but cooking is a great opportunity for socializing, so do it anyway).

Most required reading is available at the libraries or you can buy hand-me-downs cheaply. Course based learning materials are also made available online.

By far the biggest cost of studying in Europe is a place to stay. There's at-cost rooming (with high speed internet and other amenities), but due to the high demand there's usually a waiting list for that.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 6 months ago | (#46796865)

Food is not that expensive in Europe, if you buy in-season vegetables and cook them yourself. Driving a car is expensive, but in many countries you can get by without a car. Typically people get their first car when they get their first full-time job. If you're studying in Europe, drive a car and don't have enough money to eat properly, I'd say you made the wrong budget choices.

When I was a student (in the Netherlands in the late 90's), housing was the largest expense. Second was the tuition costs. Food was third, but a lot below housing and tuition. Books were expensive a piece, but fortunately our university didn't require a lot of books to be bought: they tried to use books efficiently (only require a book if a lot of chapters were used; use the same book for multiple courses if possible) and offered a lot of their own material at duplication price (about 1/5th to 1/10th the price of an academic book). Looking at my bookshelf I count 14 books from my studies and I think I sold one, so 15 books for a master's degree.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796873)

As if food isn't going to be a problem in Europe, where the food and books and gas are far more expensive...

I was dirt poor as a student in college, but I still managed to eat just fine and have a car I could get away with when I needed a break. No way I could have afforded having and using a car in Europe.

Well, ok, but then again, in Europe, you don't need a car. Not even to "get away". So food is really the only major expense, and there are cheap ways to eat.

How's your Russian? (-1, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 6 months ago | (#46796501)

That U.S. crotch you're cheerfully kicking might not be able to bail out your "actual civilized" buttocks from the next war.
So, pray for peace. I don't wish you ill, but the "actual uncivilized reality" can be a, well, you know, 'bear'.

Re:How's your Russian? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 months ago | (#46796657)

That U.S. crotch you're cheerfully kicking might not be able to bail out your "actual civilized" buttocks from the next war.

I'm pretty sure Europeans are more worried about the US starting the next war.

The thing Europeans like best about the US military is all the coin we drop having bases there. Unless you count Serbia, where the US military is about as welcome as a bladder infection.

Re:How's your Russian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796757)

The US crotch's spawn, in the form of their military, would be annihilated by the receptionist at the first European armed forces base that they wandered into, thinking they would be welcomed as a 'bail out'.
The main attraction of the US Marines as a force to defeat, is the tremendous amount of nutrition to be gained from their corpses once cannibalism becomes an option.

Re:Here's a trick: Don't live in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796645)

If you're in college and suffering from malnutrition it's probably your own damn fault. Granted working a 40 hour a week job on top of going to classes is probably overkill, but you can always get a loan to cover the cost of school and life expenses while you're in school.

Sure the loans are often unsubsidized and can't be discharged by bankruptcy court, but you can always get loans.

Also, the first 4 years are the ones that are hard to finance, the grad schools usually find money to cover your costs in some fashion, assuming that you've got potential.

Slowly, Mr Uljanov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796691)

Here in Germany we have many features of the Soviet Union: Excellent, free Education, social safety net, universal healthcare,...

But you know what ? Our economy sometimes sucks DONKEY BALLS and people with that great education don't get ANY job for years. "Generation Praktikum" (Generation Intern) is a very real thing here. People worked in corpos from 2002 to 2005, did not get a cent for that, as it was "intern". Or they were completely unemployed with a PHD in chemistry.

I work as a software engineer with a CS degree and I know my shit. I can just so afford a wife and two kids and a very small car. As in "barely". My reserves are at something like 1000 Euros.

And that is in the supposed "heartland" of German auto manufacturing. You know, where they INVENTED that car thing.

So, be careful what kind of socialism you yearn for.

Re:Slowly, Mr Uljanov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796723)

To clarify this: I did not pay for my studies, I actually got paid by a company for that. But now, I and my employer pay about 40% tax/social security/health insurance on every euro spent by my employer.

Germans cannot afford kids on average and the population quickly grows "old heavy". They take away the money you need to raise kids and spend it on all sorts of socialism here. And that makes the "old heavy" problem ever bigger.

My analysis is: Too much socialism and your nation goes into a tailspin. Also ask the Japanese about this.

Re:Slowly, Mr Uljanov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796767)

On the opposite side of the problem: no one in their right mind would employ an educated American over a German with the 'same' nominal level of education.
Americans are proud of the long hours they work, but get almost nothing done. Germans get work done, then go home instead of staying at work doing nothing to inflate their overtime hours.

Re:Slowly, Mr Uljanov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796813)

Bullshit. I can guarantee you that Germans that come to the US wind up working the same sort of hours that Americans do. The amount of work demanded is based upon time rather than actual out put. If you work harder, that typically just means more of it.

Well considering that.. (4, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 months ago | (#46796421)

... 80% of you in the US are competing over 5% of the money in the economy, you guys have no idea how unequal your society has become and you keep voting for more of getting screwed.

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesa... [ucsc.edu]

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesa... [ucsc.edu]

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesa... [ucsc.edu]

Re:Well considering that.. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#46796625)

Because it's one jot different anywhere else in the Industrialised World.

Re:Well considering that.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796729)

Hey! It's more like 70% competing for 10% of the wealth over here.

That's because we're all cormernusts, with socialized medicine death panels and compulsory gay marriage.

Re:Well considering that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796799)

... he says without bothering to check.
You know the US isn't the whole world right? and that American Exceptionalism is a lie that leaves you in the gutter, thinking that so long as everyone else is below you then you're okay?
And only North Korea and Venezuela are actually below you in the real world.

Re:Well considering that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796655)

49% or so of us know and the other 51% are too arrogant to admit that they aren't going to improve things much without the help of the government.

Re:Well considering that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796795)

"49% or so of us know and the other 51% are too arrogant to admit that they aren't going to improve things much without the help of the government."

Well you guys need to come out of your illusions first.

http://www.amazon.com/Empire-I... [amazon.com]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

http://www.democracynow.org/bl... [democracynow.org]

NC on: Free markets

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

er, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796735)

How presumptuous. Do you really believe that we're so woefully unaware that this is likely the first time we've heard of it?

But Fox News says the USA is the best! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796747)

And we're the only country with peace an freedom an stuff! And that in t'other countries folks work 20 hours a day to support soshalism! How can it possibly be otherwise? FOX NEWS AND SARAH PALIN AND SEAN HANNITY WOULD NEVER EVER LIE TO ME!

Re:Well considering that.. (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 6 months ago | (#46796819)

There's a difference between income and wealth. The IRS tax stats [irs.gov] are freely available for anyone to view. The bottom 80% of Americans (that's a roughly $80k/year income cut-off) account for about 40% of the income, closer to 45% after taxes.

Wealth is the integral of income (minus expenses). It's just how much of that income you're able to save or spend on durable or appreciating assets. A large percentage of lower- and middle-class income is spent on consumable necessities (food, clothing, gas, etc). But a lot (if not most) of it is also spent on things with no long-term value and depreciating assets with negative ROI (movie/concert tickets, iPhones, HDTVs, eating out, interest on credit card debt, the latest and greatest [anything], etc).

Given that income distribution is still pretty healthy, you can still amass a large amount of wealth if you simply live within your means and spend/invest your money wisely. I've met a little old lady who worked in a library all her life who has a half million dollar fortune, a carpenter who works out of a pickup truck who owns three houses. In my younger days I made about $40k/yr, yet over 5.5 years managed to save up over $100k for a down payment on a house. I had to live like a hermit, but it's doable. It's all about how you spend your money. If you're blowing it on things which will be worthless in a few years (or tomorrow) while blaming the 20% of people who own 95% of the wealth for all your woes, you've already lost. Yes the system can be improved, but "the man" holding you down is usually yourself.

Re:Well considering that.. (2)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#46796837)

80% of you in the US are competing over 5% of the money in the economy

Looking at the chart, they say 11%.

The problem with this statement is twofold. First, it still ignores significant parts of the economy, such as future income. For example, if you have an income (not net income) of 17,300 (like the mean of the bottom 40%), then you probably have a few tens of thousands of potential net income over your lifetime. That isn't reflected in the net worth figure.

Second, it ignores that most US residents don't compete for wealth. For example, more than a third don't save at all for retirement (36%). So of the 44% who aren't in the 20% wealthiest and happen to save even a little and thus, compete in even the slightest way for wealth, they have 11% of the wealth of the US. That doesn't sound bad to me at all.

not poor (3, Insightful)

BradMajors (995624) | about 6 months ago | (#46796431)

If someone still owns a car and has a place to live they are not poor. I have know students so poor that they are homeless.

Re:not poor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796459)

If you are paying for college but not able to afford food or shelter, you are an idiot. Priorities, folks!

Re:not poor (2)

Smallpond (221300) | about 6 months ago | (#46796631)

I could not afford a car until I had been working for a year after grad school. While in school I had a 3rd floor walk-up and a 10-speed bike. My Hungarian landlady taught me how to make Chicken Paprikash. Buying whole chickens, fresh vegetables, rice and flour in bulk is cheaper than prepared foods (except I still bought macaroni and cheese, of course). I worked as a dishwasher, graded exams, repaired equipment in the EE lab, ran statisical analysis for researchers, whatever I could get. It's not hard to get by if you can live simply and are willing to work. The city where I went to school, Pittsburgh, has great parks and museums and the best football team in the world.

Definitely didn't starve during gradschool (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 6 months ago | (#46796437)

I recently graduated from gradschool in computer engineering. I had a $30k per year stipend on top of my tuition remission (18 credits per year totaling $25k ). Lived in a 1200 sq. ft. 2 bed/2 bath apartment for 5 years. If you're starving during grad school you're probably in the humanities or doing it wrong.

Re:Definitely didn't starve during gradschool (1)

Hemi Roid (1219226) | about 6 months ago | (#46796731)

IMHO you are NOT a "typical" college student.... hell I work 45-50 hours a week and wish I could have the 1200 sq ft. 2 bed/bath apartment you "slummed" in ... due to unfortunate ....oops baby on the way I had to put my career on hold... damn if it wasn't hard knowing you are under paid for what you do but having to put food and shelter on the table for a new life seems in itself a handicap but I look at it as a reward. Had I been selfish and tried to better myself I would be labeled as a "bad parent" I decided that sacrificing my future for the betterment of my child was the correct way to go. If that meant digging ditches (thanks dad.. I am not a ditch digger) so be it I did it... did I get paid 25K? HELL NO! I got paid less than 20K and I had to work my ass off for every dollar all the while worrying whether I had enough cash to grab more diapers, have enough for unexpected emergencies... (which in all the Doctor Phil episodes where I am a dead-beat parent because I didn't have enough money to handle such) I did the best I could... could I have made more money by sacrificing my family life... yes without a doubt.... but was that the "politically-correct" thing to do ... I still have reservations... I am nearing my seventh decade of life on this planet and wish I would have pressed the EASY button. Am I complaining Yes... but complaining that I didn't have the breaks someone else had... is sorry for bringing up Aesop but is just Sour grapes... I made my bed and I slept in it... and for all the other delusional people out there... my daughter will graduate HS next month the rewards I have received more than make up for the sacrifices I made. Now more to on topic... Rescind laws preventing the discharging of student loans let a person decide not the law!

Re:Definitely didn't starve during gradschool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796829)

>oops baby on the way I had to put my career on hold

We're supposed to be sympathetic to your poor life choices and bad planning because ... why, exactly?

Yeah I went through that. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 6 months ago | (#46796439)

It's part of the Tao of graduate school.

I cheated by marrying while I was a grad student. While my wife didn't have that great of a job we had food. After I finished my PhD I supported her graduate studies, an MLIS.

Handout in Orientation Class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796445)

In my College orientation class they had a handy handout on inexpensive, nutritious meals. It was very useful. This should be SOP in all colleges.

The admins are complicit (1)

CaptBubba (696284) | about 6 months ago | (#46796447)

The article talks about "Stigmas about seeking help" but only focuses on undergrad and the students' internalized stigmas with the school being super helpful. That has not been my personal experience with graduate TAs and RAs. A close grad student friend worked out that his stipend was so low that he (and all other similarly paid grad students int he department) qualified for food stamps. He jokingly told one of the other grad students when he was within earshot of a professor, and got called into a meeting with the department head threatening retribution if he "made the department look bad" by applying for food stamps.

I don't know if there were any real teeth in that threat but grad students can't exactly rock the boat too much if they hope to get the all-important recommendation for post-doc work.

Grad school is voluntary... (4, Insightful)

Assmasher (456699) | about 6 months ago | (#46796449)

...if you don't have the means and/or resources necessary to live comfortably during that period AND you're not willing to make the sacrifices necessary otherwise - then don't go.

Seriously, wtf is up with people thinking that they should get everything they want all the time?

Re:Grad school is voluntary... (0)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 6 months ago | (#46796505)

Seriously, wtf is up with people thinking that they should get everything they want all the time?

I agree with you, only the rich people should be allowed not to choose between starving and freezing to death. Shelter AND food? Do they think we can just print more money!?

Re:Grad school is voluntary... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 6 months ago | (#46796509)

There's a fair point that grad students are probably on average a bit underpaid for the work they perform (research+ marking etc.) even if the hourly rate is good, the limited official hours etc. are not all that great.

But ya, if you can't live on what you're going to get paid as a grad student and don't have other means, don't go. Pick a degree where you can get money for grad school and can get a job on the side or go back to school when you have the financial means to support it.

Re:Grad school is voluntary... (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 6 months ago | (#46796579)

Yes, because flipping hamburgers is a great and fulfilling experience even if you're gifted for boring down-to-earth stuff like math or physics.

Re:Grad school is voluntary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796651)

If you are gifted in math or science, many (most?) graduate school programs will support you with stipends and teaching jobs.

Re:Grad school is voluntary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796683)

There's the internet now for studying those things if you don't need the degree. And even before the internet, there were used book stores where you could learn most of the stuff on your own. And even if you needed to have current books, the cost of a new book is generally a lot less than the class, even at community colleges.

It's a complete waste of resources to produce PhDs that wind up serving coffee or flipping burgers.

And often not that useful/needed (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 6 months ago | (#46796839)

Grad school was historically and is supposed to be the sort of thing not everyone does. It is for people who are really interested in a field, who want to start doing some original research (under the umbrella of a professor's overall research) and so on. The sort of thing only for those that are truly interested in pursuing the subject more deeply and pushing the boundaries.

Also most fields don't require graduate degrees. There are some that do (like lawyers), though usually they require a PhD or other advanced degree after it (like professors, medical doctors, etc). However for most an undergraduate degree is all they are after.

However where I work, I see a ton of students that go in to grad school that are hoop jumpers. They see it as the next thing, that will get them a better job. They aren't that interested in the work, and don't have a particularly good understanding of it. They take comprehensive exams instead of doing a thesis, and so on. They try and use more time in school to make up for a lack of talent.

So, if you are thinking of grad school, and it'll be any kind of financial hardship ask yourself: Why am I going? If it is because your field requires it, then ok no problem. Gotta do what you gotta do. If it is because you really love the field and you want to go to a higher level, that's good too, but just understand it'll be a pain financially. If it is "because I'll get a better job," then no, stop right there. That's not a reason to go to grad school, particularly if it is going to be a problem financially. It probably will NOT get you a better job, and will just give you more debt.

Bulk food is your friend, you have to be creative. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796455)

In the 60s I found I could get just expiring beef and freeze it. I also found restaurant supply place that would sell me bulk sizes of frozen vegges and I would freeze portions. The local Safeway would sometimes give me bread that was going to be trashed. I guess I was lucky that my unfurnished apartment did come with a freezer. Then I was able to furnish my apartment with gifts from the University and tenants moving out that did not want stuff. When my money ran out I found professors that would step in for a helping hand. Rich undergrads would sometimes pay me for help with math, I would wander the undergrad library and ask students that looked frustrated. Ah, the good old days...

I'm not sure how common it is... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46796461)

But it sounds like an absurd example of a false economy: Even at relatively cheap schools, the cost of running a student through is nontrivial. It seems like complete insanity to waste expensive instructional time on somebody who can't concentrate properly for want of a few dollars worth of calories. Nobody's interests are well served by that.

Re:I'm not sure how common it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796781)

In the Soviet Union they had budgeted for that. Unfortunately this took away the money they needed to fund that microchip cutter and those coal exhaust cleaners. So they had plenty of excellent graduates and an economy limping along.

They realized their sucking economy could not build the weapons to defend against the well-equipped cowboys with their NSA, long-range fighter radars, loads of PCs, walkmans, video recorders, patient monitors and advanced pharmaceuticals.

So, if you cannot afford food+studies, maybe you should drop studies and get a job.

Ultra-frugal cooking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796463)

Whatever money you have, it stretches a whole lot further if you opt for cooking your own meals rather than relying on convenience food. I realize Britain isn't USA but one pound per day [wordpress.com] goes a long way to keeping you fed if you know how to cook - and I'm not talking pasta 7 days a week either.

If you join up with other students and buy in bulk, you can probably do better than I did.

It's common in USA and North Korea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796471)

If you are unfortunate to live of commie states like USA or North Korea, don't be surprise you will be starving.
USA spends enormous amounts of money on military and security forces. Everyone arriving in USA will be stunned by STASI style of living. Police and security present is strong. Public demonstrations are prohibited in Washington D.C. political dissidents put in jail or landfill.
USA has the worst records against journalism. Forget press freedom. Official propaganda tubes like Fox News or CNN rules the airways.
Expect another school district to be closed to divert fund to another F-16 or more bombs. Regime don't care about 60 millions of starving Americans guns are more important.

Yeah (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 6 months ago | (#46796473)

This article makes it sound like the inability to afford food ends when you graduate.

But then grocery stores that gouge customers who don't have club cards [latimes.com] or that charge confiscatory prices for food that is so plentiful we pay farmers not to grow it [straightdope.com] is a subject very much like liquor stores in poor neighborhoods [imdb.com] .

You're not allowed to talk about it.

Cars are a luxury (3, Informative)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about 6 months ago | (#46796475)

I remember choosing between eating, living in bad neighborhoods, putting gas in the car, etc.

A starving student with a car?! I think we've isolated the problem.

Re:Cars are a luxury (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 months ago | (#46796483)

I remember choosing between eating, living in bad neighborhoods, putting gas in the car, etc.

A starving student with a car?! I think we've isolated the problem.

I thought the same thing. I could never have afforded a car as a student.

Re:Cars are a luxury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796523)

Completely agree - I was never hungry, was able to fly back across the country for the holidays, but took public transit. Could have never afforded a car and insurance.

Re:Cars are a luxury (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 6 months ago | (#46796535)

If you live in an area where the only way to get from where you live to where you study is private transport (be that a car you own or something else like a taxi) you may not think a car is a luxury.

But if you are doing that, you are also stupid for not living somewhere close to campus (or to public transport links to campus)

Re:Dorms are a luxury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796643)

There are far less dorms and cheap nearby apartments than there are students. And tuition itself, before even touching the costs of living, can cover the wages of a full time burger-flipper.

Re:Dorms are a luxury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796749)

s/less/fewer/

Re:Cars are a luxury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796649)

Thank goodness that my state says that ALL public schools must provide some sort of free transport option to all students that live within a certain me radius of the school.

Re:Cars are a luxury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796597)

if you live close enough to walk, the rents are more expensive. if you live far enough away that the rent is cheap, you need a car to get to class. you pay either way.

Never forget where you came from (3, Interesting)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 6 months ago | (#46796485)

I finished my CS PhD about 10 years ago at a top-20 US university. My first year I was not paid, but after I hooked onto an advisor later, I received an RA or TA position for $23k/year, and in my last few years, I received a fellowship for about $40k/year.

That first year was horrible. I recall eating spaghetti and ketchup, and I distinctly remember having to ask one of my rich friends for a $500 loan just to pay my rent one month. That was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, and it really shaped my financial planning. Now, 10 years later, although I'm making well over $150k/year, I keep my expenses very low like I'm still a grad student, and I always have at least 6 months' expenses in short-term accounts.

Re:Never forget where you came from (4, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | about 6 months ago | (#46796607)

Ah spaghetti and ketchup. Nice combo.

Some of my favorites from my college days were:

- A boiled potato with a slice of American cheese
- A cup of white rice with a handful of peanuts

I was hungry much of the time the last couple of years in college, but mostly that was from stupidity (losing money for dumb reasons) and hubris (refusing to accept any assistance from my parents).

In Pittsburgh (I went to CMU) there used to be a grocery store that would sell expired food ("Groceries Plus More II" was its name). That was a godsend. You'd never know what you'd get each time you went since their stock was determined by whatever expired goods they could procure that week, but whatever you ended up with was usually for pennies on the dollar. Who cares if a can of spaghetti sauce expired two weeks ago, if it is only a quarter, I'll take it.

Nobody actually starves in college or grad school, and going hungry and living on the cheap is one of the charms of that time of life. So enjoy it.

Even "student athletes" go to bed hungry (2)

aheath (628369) | about 6 months ago | (#46796503)

Re:Even "student athletes" go to bed hungry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796569)

How soon do they start abusing that for their families like the google employees were doing?

Re:Even "student athletes" go to bed hungry (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 6 months ago | (#46796689)

Which is complete crap, by the way. Scholarship students get meal plans, and cafeterias let you eat as much a you want and don't really pay attention to students sneaking out food (especially if they are star athletes). Hell, when I played football in college and had 2 a days during camp the team would even feed us after the evening practices. And yeah, sometimes when we got out of practice during the season the cafeteria would be closed. But we had a grill and a little convenience-store type plce that sold frozen or boxed/packaged food that you could buy with your meal plan. And this was at a tiny university. Larger colleges will have multiple cafeterias, multiple on-campus restaurants/grills (which take meal plans), and usually have deals with just off campus places that take meal plans as well. I played with rich kids and poor kids, scholarship and non-scholarship kids, and I can guarantee you that none of them ever went to bed hungry.

And it's also unnecessary (3, Informative)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 months ago | (#46796541)

I don't know about other states, but in Virginia you can go to community college and then get a guaranteed transfer to a 4 year state university if you have at least a 3.0 upon graduation. If you live near Virginia and your state schools are subpar, then all you have to do is move to the town where you want to start, declare residency and apply after one year to the community college to get in state tuition. Want to go out of state and find it a burden to pay $25k/year instead of deferred gratification of one year for less than $5k-$7k/year? Only got yourself to blame. It's not fair, but I doubt most of the world's poor would cry a single tear for you due to your inability to wait one year to save $15-$20k/year.

Re:And it's also unnecessary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796879)

I live in Virginia and know at least 4 people who were "guaranteed" this transfer and subsequently denied by the college they were attempting to transfer to. The programs in place here sound good, but don't always deliver the way they sound like they will.

Learn how to be cheap ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 6 months ago | (#46796547)

That means things like learning how to manage your money: learning what is a necessary and unnecessary expense, learning how to shop for bargains, learning how to do things for yourself in order to save money (e.g. cooking), learning tricks to reduces bills (e.g. heating), learning how to share resources, and so forth.

I've seen many students complain about how poor they are. Yet they were spending money like their parents were spending money, which was fine for the parents because they had a lifetime to establish themselves financially (e.g. good paying job, accrued assets). Worse yet, some were spending money like they were still living with their parents (i.e. they didn't cut back on the discretionary expenses since leaving home).

Yeah, losing the luxuries suck. On the other hand, most students would be able to provide themselves with the necessities and lead a happy life without those luxuries.

Undergrad, yes; grad school not so much (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 months ago | (#46796549)

I was squeaking by in undergrad, working various part time jobs to pay the bills. I took longer than most to finish my BS but made it through without having to take out any student loans.

For grad school I was a married man, which helped. I was also given a tuition waiver and a $20k stipend which also helped. I knew plenty of people who did OK on the stipend living alone as well; not great but a tolerable existence. After all, the stipend is intentionally kept on the meager side to encourage you to get out of grad school.

Get creative (4, Insightful)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 6 months ago | (#46796551)

I subsisted on Ramen and chicken pot pies because they were cheap (4/1$ for Ramen, 2/1$ for chicken pot pies). Even the cheapest dollar meal at the local fast food didn't have as many calories. But, no, I didn't worry about food all that much.

First thing is to learn to cook. It's generally cheaper to buy family portions and make your own than to buy individual meals. For example, a bag of rice is $10, but can act as bulk in many meals such as fried rice, chicken & rice, steamed rice with butter & onions.. Yeah, doesn't sound too appetizing, but it can be. Fried rice, for example, is easy to make. For about 20$ worth of ingredients, you can have 10 meals. Just need rice, an egg or two, onions, salami/pepperoni, etc.. You can buy a pack of miso for around $4. Add firm tofu ($3) or chicken chunks ($4) and dried seaweed ($3) and you can make soup for 10 people. Buying a bulk pack of 50 tacos will set you back around $10; add a couple pounds of beef (10$), lettuce (2$), cheese ($5), etc., and you can feed 10 people for $50 or so.

Next, use coupons and shop of two-for-one days. You can easily save 50% of your bill just by using coupons and shopping on the right days. Avoid individual meal items such as can soda and even White Castle burgers.

You can also show up at friends/relatives around dinner time but use that only as a last resort unless you're really tight with them. Make friends with someone who works at a pizza shop. I knew a guy in college who would take leftovers from the restaurant. At a Denny's, for example, he'd order a coffee. When people were about to leave he'd run up and ask if he could have their leftovers. Bizarre, but he saved a few bucks. He's also gotten pretty wealthy since those days so I guess it paid off. I figure that one day he'll find a way to end up in jail just so he could get a free meal and bunk. :/

Oh, and forget about corned beef. Back in my day it was cheap, around $1.50 a can. Now it's close to $6 a can. I remember many days eating corned beef and cabbage, corned beef and scrambled eggs, steamed corned beef, corned beef sandwiches. No more.

Beans & Rice, Rice & Beans (4, Informative)

BKX (5066) | about 6 months ago | (#46796557)

It's like Dave Ramsey says: if you're broke, then eat "beans and rice, rice and beans." It's easy and cheap, even in a dorm.

1. Rice cookers are like $10-20. Get one with a steamer tray. It doesn't have a burner and can't start a fire, so tell your RA to fuck off.
2. Buy rice at the Asian store. It'll cost $1/lb for good Jasmine rice (brown rice only, you'll need the nutrients). (You don't have an Asian store? My ass. Or try the Mexican store. You don't have a Mexican store, either? Shut the fuck up and stop lying. Open your eyebulbs; they're everywhere.)
3. Buy bullion cubes and/or soup base (it comes in a jar) for flavor. You can get that stuff cheap at the Asian store.
4. Buy beans in a can from Save-a-Lot/Aldi/cheapo-store. I like navy beans and fava beans. There're a few dozen other kinds. Get what's cheap. One can a day, minimum.
5. Put the rice, soup base/bullion/soup mix and water in the rice cooker and press the button. Add the beans when it's done. Enjoy.
6. If you're feeling rich, chicken or sausage or burger patties go in the steamer tray.
7. The Asian store will also have cheap noodles that the rice cooker will cook just fine. Cheaper than ramen. (You still need the beans, or you'll eventually get something nasty like beri-beri.)
8. Oatmeal and raisins make a good, fast breakfast. (Add sugar packets and creamers from wherever other people get coffee.)
9. You'll also need to add some vitamin C every once in while to prevent scurvy. Any fruit or fruit juice will do. Tea made from fresh pine needles (actual pine trees only) will do in a pinch. I like raisins, apples, bananas, and oranges, which are all usually cheap enough.

You can actually live on that stuff for months at a time without dying. The soup base/bullion and occasional noodles and meat will keep you from committing suicide.

Wrong Problem (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 6 months ago | (#46796593)

Gas vs. food? You have a car?

Your real problem is the prospect once you get your (graduate/doctoral) degrees. There are too many of yous, not enough posts to absorb you, even for you in STEM fields, never mind humanities.

THIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796861)

Here in Germany we already have a flood of engineers and CS students. But nobody seems to like to do the physical jobs like painting wooden window frames and plumbing.

But you know what ? Plumbers make as much money per hour here as freelance C++ developers.

So the middle class got the "get academic and be rich" message, We actually get poorer from an oversupply of academics and an undersupply of craftsmen.

"Me and my fellow students..."??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796599)

From which college did they graduate where such poor grammar is taught?

Editors schmeditors already (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46796677)

collage admins

If you can't make ends meet, I suppose you'll have to cut something, or you'll get stuck in debt.

Not college material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796701)

We live in a time of unprecedented abundance. Never before in the history of mankind has food been so plentiful and so cheap. Past generations worried about famine. We worry about the "obesity epidemic".

The whole point of education is to learn how to solve problems. If you cannot figure out how to feed yourself in a time of such great abundance, then maybe you are not college material.

Grad school can be done on the cheap; I did it. (1)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | about 6 months ago | (#46796771)

I went to graduate school at a state university from '98-'00 and I did it with minimal student loans.

I was (am) in the National Guard (no education benefits, just the paycheck) and I always had another part-time job. The first year as a Graduate Assistant was teaching a introductory computer class and after that as a part-time employee for a state department on campus. My car was 10 years old, had well over 100,00 miles, was mechanically sound and had been paid off for several years. I lived in my friend's basement for cheap rent and it was far from the lap of luxury. Somehow I still managed to have a pretty hot girlfriend. Yeah, I know... bring on the jokes about basement and girlfriend.

My first job after graduating paid less than $40k and I was debt free within 5 years.

The point is that it is possible to live on little if you have prepared for it and manage what you do have right.

My trick: take a university close by (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796779)

During university I lived at my parents. All I had to pay was about 700 Euros twice a year and that money included the ticket to ride the train and streetcar to campus.
When I got my degree and moved out to work in another city, I immediately lost 20kg :).

I would run out of food between paychecks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796823)

from my work-study job. I'd buy a loaf of bread, peanut butter,
jelly and milk and gorge myself when the money came around.
This was in the 1970s though.

Bulk up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46796877)

Gain a few 100 before you start and you'll burn it off in no time while you're starving to death. Well I was already overweight but I burned it off fast to live in a so so area closer to everything.

In high school it should be a nonexistent problem whether they can afford it or not it should be provided. College that's different you're grown and shit is not easy all the time. It's sad that it has to be like that but it just is and mass greed will keep it like that :( I doubt we'll see a change in our lifetime or even our children's children.

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