8 Things I Learned From Obama’s First Tumblr Chat

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The very first Tumblr Q&A with an American president just happened yesterday afternoon. After announcing his plans to help with student loan debt, President Obama sat down with Tumblr founder David Karp so David could ask questions that young people submitted. Here’s what we learned.

+ Why Tuition Prices Are Higher

Prez Obama explained that tuition cost a lot less in the past, including when he was going to school. “The main reason that tuition’s gone up so much is that state legislators stopped subsidizing public universities as much as they used to,” POTUS explained. Instead, money’s going to other things, like prisons. “So schools then made up for the declining state support by jacking up their tuition rates.”

+ Schools Need to Be Better With Financial Services

President Obama said that colleges don’t always give young people good counsel about finances when they first get there. He’s doing something called “Know What You Owe” so that you can get a sense of what your loan debt might be — before you start getting letters about it in the mail. POTUS said it’s important to know all this going into college, and not learn the facts about your finances when you’re finishing up.

+ Income Based Repayments

He really wants to focus on Income Based Repayments (IBR). This is about capping loan repayments at 10 percent of a person’s income (above $18,000). The point is to make monthly bills more manageable.

+ Promoting STEM

He encourages more students to get into science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM (while also acknowledging a degree in the humanities is pretty awesome, too). This isn’t because a STEM degree is necessarily better than other degrees, but we need more people in the STEM fields. He also encouraged more women to get involved, because this is an area where we need more Girl Power.

+ Demand Versus Passion

A question came up about picking a career you’re passionate about versus picking a career that is in demand and you have a better shot at making money in. What do you do? The prez acknowledged there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. He hasn’t always had jobs he’s liked in the past, but sometimes people pick a more “practical” job and work there until they have a base and are financially stable. And then they can afford to go after their passions. But, again, everyone’s different.

+ Learning About Careers in High School

He said that high schools should teach their students more about careers instead of just having them study. Studying is important, but it’s also important to know what careers are like IRL so you might get a better feel of what you’d like to go into. You can also get some training while in high school. For instance, maybe you could do some graphic design work during your senior year to (1) learn about it and get some training, and (2) see for yourself if you like it and if it’s something you want to pursue.

+ Contact Congress

This week the Senate will be voting on a bill sponsored by Elizabeth Warren that would let students refinance their existing loans at today’s rates. This is a big opportunity to check with your senators’ opinions on this and let your own opinions be known. Just make certain you act fast!

+ Helping Young People

What young person hasn’t been asked where they see themselves in 10 years? So this time a young person got to ask the president that. President Obama says he wants to dedicate his future to helping young people.

And he has a very specific plan for when he’s no longer president. “I’ll be on the beach somewhere, drinking out of a coconut.”

Photo: (White House Tumblr)