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Parents who can pick up the tab and buy cars makes things easier for sure but for those for whom that is not the reality (which is most people), you can still make it. College degrees can be gotten on the cheap. In many places you can get credits at the local Community College for free while still in high school. After high school you can then live at home while you finish up an Associates at the Community College, and then transfer to a State College for a fraction of what a private college costs. Other than having a bed to sleep in and food on the table, I was more or less on my own for everything else starting when I turned 15. I worked every day after school, every holiday, and snow day and saved virtually all of my money in order to go to college, and during college went to work in the cafeteria kitchen at 6AM to work breakfast and then I’d be back at 5PM to work dinner. I didn’t do any sports or clubs in high school because I worked every day after school scrubbing pots in a corporate cafeteria. No prom because that would’ve cost me $100 when I was only making $1.25 an hour. Had there been smart phones back then you can be assured I’d of never spent the money on one. How many high school kids nowadays that think they can’t afford college have smart phones at $50 per month or whatever they cost? Pretty much all of them. It’s harder now but not many young people are willing to make the requisite sacrifices. Back then college was less expensive relative to wages but there was little in the way of scholarship money. Now there is tons of scholarship money available for kids that apply themselves. You can’t pick what household you are born into but there are a whole lot of choices that are yours to make afterwards.