Instead of descending into debt peonage for a four-year degree, why not have some fun and learn a thing or two? 

Opting out

When considering college tuition, think that if you spent your 12-week summer working 40-hour shifts at your minimum-wage job, chances are that even if you didn't touch a single dime of it, you can only afford about one-third of one semester's tuition at a public university. According to the College Board, tuition and fees in 2013 averaged around $9,000 a year for your "affordable" state university. (For room and board, tack on another $10,000.) The average sticker price for a public university for the 2013-14 school year was $22,826. According to projectionstudentdebt.org, 60 percent of Michigan graduates alone, on average, are $28,000 in debt — and those are the luckier few who received scholarships. But if you wanted to spend it on something else that might satisfy a different set of desires ... (After all, education isn't for everyone.)

Ten other things college graduates could have bought with the average $28,000 they spent on their education in Michigan:

1 | According to real-estate website trulia.com, you could buy (or be close to buying) the average home in Highland Park: roughly around $30,000. For even less than that, it still won't be too hard to find a four-bedroom home for you to fill with your senseless baubles.

2 | Everything you want and nothing you need: For $28,000 you could purchase 140 iPhone 5s's on a two-year contract with Verizon — almost one for every resident in the town of Ahmeek, located in cozy Keweenaw County. According to the 2010 census, they boasted 146 locals and the median income for a village household was around $24,000 — just a little less than your college debt.

3 | You could always buy a deluxe Scallywag Sloop Tree House from gibouttoys.com for a reasonable $25,970, and have some change left over to throw around on that pirate obsession you've always harbored but never fulfilled.

4 | You could buy a souped-up Ford Fusion Titanium, which hovers around $30,500, and use it to tote all of your college student friends who couldn't afford to even park on their campus. (With a $300 parking pass? No thanks, Captain University!)

5 | Backpack Europe multiple times. Costs aren't exact; each individual varies from "happily staying in a hostel" to "the most swanky of sailors." Even so, you're going to emerge from the other side a lot more well-versed in wine that doesn't come out of a box and better dressed, too.

6 | Buy a food truck, brah! Entrepreneur.com, after all, said that most can find a used retrofitted food truck with all the assets for $30,000 — you're almost there. Sure, you'll need a little more cash to pour into food and the biz, but you already own a profit on four wheels. You just might make more than your friends who majored in philosophy or journalism. As a matter of fact, we can (almost) guarantee it.

7 | Fill your home with 70 PlayStation 4's for an ample $28,000. Proceed to say to every friend who walks through your front door toting a piece of paper from the University of Sad saying they graduated with a degree in Poverty: "My childhood never died!" Throw Skittles at them.

8 | Speaking of: 2,300 54-ounce bags of Skittles from Amazon. That's what your college debt could buy you in pleasure-filled sweet treats or projectile weapons to throw at friends. Delicious revenge.

9 | If only it were 2004: You'd own a grilled cheese blessed with the burned image of everyone's favorite virgin. An online casino beat everyone to the punch when it purchased the stale sandwich emblazoned with the Virgin Mary's mug for $28,000 — but you can still dream about burning your bucks straight through in such a frivolous purchase.

10 | Instead of getting your Bachelor's Degree in medieval history (boy, are you kicking yourself for that misstep), you could have purchased just about 7,887 tall Caramel Macchiatos. That's enough overpriced latte to satisfy you for just over 21 years. If that's not enough to make you want to cut back on coffee, I don't know what is.

mt

More by Emma Ockerman

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