Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Many years after college, I’m still working my butt off for tuition

By To-wen Tseng. Originally posted on MomsRising.org.

Just a couple of months ago, I helped to translate Dr. Glenn Doman’s Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby to Mandarin Chinese. At the beginning of the book, Dr. Doman wrote, “The early development of mobility in newborns is a vital part of their future ability to learn and grow to full potential.”

When translating this sentence, I looked at my 20-month-old. Surely we all know that learning begins at birth and the brain develops faster between birth to age 3 than any other period of life. This is why early care and education is an important and critical development phase.

Actually, my husband and I are currently paying $19,000 per year for our little one’s day care. This is the biggest expense of our family, even bigger than our house mortgage.

I hold a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University. That’s a private school and the tuition was $45,000 per year. With my scholarship, I still need three part time jobs to pay that tuition. I have done the coach tape for the university hockey team, worked the midnight shift at a convenience store, and as an assistant in a production company.

My husband holds a Doctorate degree in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. That’s a public school. Even though the rate for an engineering major is higher than other majors, the tuition was only $7,000 per year for residents and $21,000 per year for nonresidents. My husband was a teaching assistant, and it was fairly easy for him to afford that tuition.

Then we graduated, got good jobs. We never thought we’d ever have to work our butts off for tuition again.

But now we are. As a computer engineer and a journalist, we are literally working our butt off for our 20-month-old’s day care tuition. We are both the first generation immigrants in America, and we have no family members here to help out. We both work more than 50 hours per week, my husband often brings work home, and I travel to Asia a lot for work. We moved into a smaller house so that we can pay for a decent day care.

But, still, we are grateful, because many of our friends cannot afford early education. Many of my girlfriends quit their job and become stay-at-home mom, because their salary doesn’t pay for the day care, especially when they become mothers of two or more children. As for us, to be honest, with this day care expense, we really can’t see the possibility for us to have a second child.

It doesn’t take a math major to see there is something really wrong here—the early education now costs even more than higher education! Day care is even more expensive than college!

I am a believer that all families should have access to high-quality, affordable options for their children’s early care and education, whether they choose to have their children to spend time at home, in childcare, or preschool. White House actually promotes early learning, because it is a good investment which boost our children and our economy. It makes the ridiculous high-price of childcare seem to be even more ironic. Sometimes I wonder if the leaders of the nation know that how much childcare costs these days.

I was in Taipei for a book tour last month when I received a calling-for-action e-mail from MomsRising. I was delighted to see the representatives of MomsRising were on Capitol Hill, delivering letters to Congress and letting them know that we need high-quality, affordable childcare that supports parents.

I regret not being able join these women. The good thing is, it’s never too late to take action! Check out the MomsRising's storybook: http://www.momsrising.org/resource/storybook/EarlyLearningStories.pdf

Little one, 3 month old, first day to school.

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