Monday, April 23, 2012

Trading Cows for Magic Beans

I guess this is something about myself I haven't really told many people, but I paid for my college education with cows.

When I was young I bought a cow from my dad for a dollar. I'm not afraid to say that it was quite the bargain. It's hard to say no to a cute little red haired kid in Osh-Kosh's. I kind of wish I carried a little more of that salesmanship into my adulthood, but I'm not really in the mood to wear Osh-Kosh's in LA, so I can't be too grim on that front.

That calf I bought grew up and had calves and they grew up and had calves and sometimes the cows and calves were brought to auction. Some calves because they were white-faced, which means something to dairymen, but not to Vinniemen. Sometimes the cows were pulled out of rotation and would become someone's hamburger. All this time my dad had a ledger and kept track of all these cattle. This one sold is his, that one sold was mine, etc.

Through my high-school career I think my family figured I'd be going to college...I like to think it was for more reasons other than the fact I wore glasses since kindergarten and had head-gear in high-school (luckily only at bedtime, but that experience is something you carry with you all day). When my dad got money from selling the cows (plus a healthy bonus from all the milk production), he and I went to our local Washington Mutual branch and opened up savings CDs, back when they actually gave a good percentage. By the time I neared the end of high school, since I was the youngest of my siblings and none of us had an interest in taking over the farm, my dad retired and sold off the rest of the herd. My share finished off my circulation of CDs, having them come due every few months.

My plan in high school was originally to attend community college to save money, then finish off at some other college, since surely they would all offer the same stuff. My counselor shook his head when I told him this and said "nope, you're going to college." I laughed...then I started applying to colleges. I stuck to Oregon schools, since I would stay in-state I would save money (I'm definitely Dutch when it comes to monetary things if it's not clear yet). When I felt done applying I got something in the mail from Pacific University, which the only thing I knew about was that it was 7 miles away from my home. Moreover, it had an application that said "application fee waived." I thought "free application? Yes!" and I filled it out.

Skipping some time and all my letters of acceptance and waiting on scholarships, Pacific, the private liberal arts university became my cheapest option, and it was close to my family so I could still live at home (to save money) and attend college. I believe I am the only one of my siblings to have earned a four year degree.

I ended up moving into the dorms half-way through my first semester because I just felt like an outsider and I knew if I wanted to thrive there I had to live there, so there went my plan to save money, until I became a Resident Assistant my sophomore and junior years and got free room and board, then I became the Undergraduate Community Counsel President my senior year which I got paid for as well, so I think that decision to bite the bullet and pay more to be where I knew I needed to be paid for itself (let's hope my current position in LA falls in this line).

Through these four and a half years (yep, I did an encore semester), thanks to my dad's foresight and me buying a little calf when I was young (which I helped deliver, by the way), the CD's came due roughly the same time as payments were due, and in roughly the right amounts, so I ended up paying for college with money I got from selling cows. My college education was not really a couple of magic beans...but for this farmboy who's living in Hollywood...I know I traded the cows wisely.

1 comment:

  1. you dearest little brother are indeed, the only of our siblings to earn a four year degree, Aaron and I have associates, Celeste will have her bachelors in a couple of years but you are the first!!