Westwood staple Diddy Riese has been serving fresh cookies to UCLA students since 1983. “At only 50 cents a cookie, it’s the best deal in town,” said UCLA student Amanda Baumgardner, trying not to think about the $300,000 in student loans she took on to be able to live in Westwood as she obtains an undergraduate degree in acting.

For the second year in a row, Westwood is the most expensive neighborhood for renters in California, with an average rental price of $4,944. “That may sound expensive, but it is actually totally worth it,” said Ms. Baumgardner, who loves Westwood’s proximity to campus and its abundance of medical clothing stores and vape lounges. “Why would I want to live 10 minutes away from campus on the beach in Santa Monica for somehow less money when I can live in Westwood where there is a Chick-Fil-A?” she asked rhetorically. “I mean, where else am I going to see a drunk Asian girl throw up at least twice a night?”

For students attending UCLA, and other metropolitan universities, the reality of becoming saddled with a lifetime of crippling debt for a liberal arts degree that will almost certainly not provide them with the earning potential to ever pay back their loans has become a core characteristic of the modern “college experience.”

“These are the most important years of my life. I know the cost is high, but it is going to be worth it in the long run,” said Jeremy Spokan, a UCLA student studying sculpting that is considering enrolling in law school when he graduates, even though doing so will cause him to take an additional $200,000 of debt and eventually force him to work at a large law firm defending insurance companies for the next thirty years.

When asked why he would be willing to take on so much additional debt and enter into a field he is not passionate about, Mr. Spokan was practical: “I need a job that will help me pay off the $140,000 I already took out to get my sculpting degree,” he said. “But when I’m in my sixties and retired from my law career, I will have the freedom and financial stability to sculpt throughout retirement,” said Mr. Spokan, who will die of a heart attack at the age of 57, having spent his entire adult life working on annuities litigations, whatever that means. “But at least I’m saving money by eating those delicious Diddy Riese ice cream sandwiches for dinner every night!”