Why College?

Let’s face it, college is important. A higher education broadens our horizons and provides the building blocks necessary for a flourishing and successful life. The opportunity to attend college is a great privilege that should be taken advantage of. But why is it a privilege and not a right? Think about that for a moment.

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It is hard not to miss the effortless easiness of Elementary school. The biggest concerns were: how high can you swing on the swing set, can you color inside the lines properly, when was  snack time and which juice box flavor did you have for lunch. Life was simple. Then came high school. High school molded you: what type of music did you start listening to, what sports did you play, were you passing all of your classes, and the biggest question- what colleges were you applying to? The answers to all of these questions are different depending on the type of high school experience you had. Did you go to a well renown private high school? Did you go to your local public high school? How exactly did you end up in the seat you are sitting in right now as a college student? Why are you choosing the classroom over a cubicle, or even, your bed? And most importantly, why are you spending thousands of dollars to sit in this desk? The answer to these questions can be as simple and as baffling as this:

$83,144 US American Dollars

This number is taken from the US census and is the average annual earnings of workers 18 and older with an advanced degree. Not too bad. Or how does this sound:

$58,613 US American Dollars

This is the average income of those with a bachelor’s degree. That sure does sound nicer than:

$31,283

(high school diploma)

or 

$21,023

(those without a high school diploma)

doesn’t it?

So, why is college a privilege and not a right?

Maybe this is why:

$15,876 US American Dollars
This number is the average tuition, room and board (for in-state students) at the nation’s four-year public colleges and universities for ONE academic year (2008-09). That was more than double the cost in 1990.

or

Maybe this:

$40,633 US American Dollars 
This number is the average tuition, room and board at the nation’s four-year private colleges and universities for ONE academic year.

 

But what about hard work, doesn’t that get you somewhere?

Yes, it does.

 

Stats

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SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Digest of Education Statistics, 2012 (NCES 2014-015),Chapter 3.

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by © 1997-2015 Speedy Cash. All Rights Reserved.

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Here’s a break down as to who is attending school (all stats are as of 2007):

  • Males enrolled: 7.8 million
  • Females enrolled: 10.4 million
  • Full time students: 11.3 million
  • Part time students: 6.9 million
  • Students aged 25+: 6.6 million
  • Undergrads: 15.6 million
  • Grad students: 2.3 million

Of all of the college students enrolled, both full and part time, in the United States, 64.4% were white. Minority students made up the following percentages:

  • Black: 13.1%
  • Hispanic: 11.4%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 6.7%
  • Native American/Alaskan: 1%

Source: http://howtoedu.org/college-facts/how-many-people-go-to-college-every-year/

1A college education is worth more today. There’s a wider earnings gap between college-educated and less-educated Millennials compared with previous generations.

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2College benefits go beyond earnings: In addition to earning more, college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.

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3College grads are more satisfied with their jobs: College-educated Millennials are more likely to see themselves on a career path, rather than just working at a job to get them by.

ST_14.02.11_233_HigherEd_Satisfying-Jobs

4The cost of not going to college has risen.  Millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.

ST_14.02.11_234_HigherEd_Cost-of-Not-Going

5College grads say college is worth it:  About nine-in-ten college grads in every generation say college has been, or will be, worth the investment. Despite a steep rise in college tuitions, Millennials agree.

ST_14.02.11_235_HigherEd_College-Worth-It

6College majors matter. Among all grads, science or engineering majors are the most likely to say their current job is very closely related to their field of study and the least likely to say that a different major would have better prepared them for the job they really wanted.

ST_14.02.11_236_HigherEd_Majors-Matter

Source:http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/11/6-key-findings-about-going-to-college/

We are more than just a statistic. How did we get here?

Kristina Aganova

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When I was seven years old my mother decided to move our family of two from Russia to the United States of America. In a post-communist society, there was very little room for advancement in the workforce, and job opportunities were very scarce for Jewish individuals. My mother moved our family here with the intention to establish a better quality of life. A better quality of life began with a better quality education.

I began second grade with no language, no friends, and I was completely clueless of my surroundings. I struggled through school and even on various occasions refused to go. However, my mother constantly reminded me that without an education, my opportunities in the future would not be so vast. Between ESL classes, after-school programs, and summer school I was finally able to learn English, raise my grades, make new friends, and enjoy school.

I am currently a full-time Queens College Student, majoring in Biology. Fall 2015 will be the beginning of my Sophomore year. After graduating Queens College, I plan to further continue my studies practicing dentistry.

I do qualify for financial aid. However, every semester I buy expensive science textbooks worth $100 to $250 (per book). To get to campus I take a bus and a train. I also buy monthly-unlimited metro cards for $116.50. I work only a few hours a week because I am constantly studying for exams or volunteering.

 

Katrina Glowatz

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I wasn’t the perfect student in high school. Most days, after my parents would drop me off, I would sneak off with a friend or two and take the train somewhere far away from school. I would come home the same time school let out, find the house-phone, take it off the hook,  and hide it to ensure that if the school called about my absence, my parents would not find out about it. I had cutting class down to a science. But why would I go through so much trouble like that? Why not just go to school? Honestly the answer was this: I was bored. The public high school I went to wasn’t a bad school, the teachers were kind and the student body got along well with one another. My grades were always good too, mostly all B+’s and A’s. But there was a certain lackluster in the classroom, where I’d mostly sit in the back and doodle in my notebook while my teacher would pop in “Romeo & Juliet” in the VHS player, so we could learn about Shakespeare.

When it came to applying to college, I was completely lost. I felt so unprepared. FAFSA? CUNY? SUNY? I was clueless. So, I ended up attending community college for two years, basically just to fill the time and make my parents happy. I was taking random classes like: The Natural History of Long Island, and The History of Rock And Roll. I still had no clue what I was doing, I was just a body in a seat, spending money.

Eventually, I became frustrated with my complacency and decided that if I wanted to succeed in this society, I needed AT LEAST a Bachelor’s degree. So, I applied to Queens College, applied for FAFSA (which I was denied), picked a subject I liked (English) and majored in it. And here I am. I am on the path to graduate by this coming Fall semester which I am excited about, but also really nervous because that means I must find a job in order for me to pay back the $20,000 + I owe in student loans.

 

Kimberly Galeano

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Me and my son Adrian

I never thought I would make it to college. Growing up with dyslexia has had a severe impact on my education. School was a struggle, especially grade school. However, I learned how to overcome my reading disability during high school.

When I became a mom, I decided it was time for me to go back to school. Obtaining a college degree would not only affect and improve my future, but it would also improve my son’s future. Knowing this, I became more motivated to get a college degree.

My commute to school is usually around an hour and forty-five minutes everyday. I do qualify for financial aid each semester. I work about thirty hours a week, to support my son and I.

I am currently a Junior attending Queens College full-time and I am majoring in psychology. I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Counselor Education. My goal is to be able to provide help to students who are struggling with school. Struggling with school is something I am familiar with and I believe I can relate to students who are lost in the school system.

 

Elena Danginis

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During my senior year in high school, I applied to colleges out of state because I wanted to have the full college experience. I felt I didn’t have a real high school experience, since my graduating class was only approximately 60 students. When I was accepted into my top choice, Penn State, I was absolutely thrilled. However, that dream crumbled before my eyes as I found out that I did not qualify for financial aid. I did not have any backup schools located in New York, so I began attending Queensborough Community College.

I wanted to major in Psychology, but unfortunately, at QCC that fell under Liberal Arts. I ended up enjoying my first year at Queensborough more than I had anticipated. In my third semester, I realized I wanted something different- I wanted to transfer to a four year college to obtain a higher degree.

In the Spring, I transferred to St. John’s University. I was able to receive half a scholarship, which made tuition a little more affordable (St. John’s is a private University.)  I felt that for me to attend a school with a tuition this high, I should love it… but I didn’t.

I decided quickly I wouldn’t be returning to St. John’s in the Fall. Deadlines had passed to apply to other schools, and at that point, I was able to go back to Queensborough as a readmitted student and complete my Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts.

In the fall of 2014, I began attending Queens College to pursue my degree in Psychology. I had more than the amount of credits that could be transferred, which pushed my graduation date back.

I am currently coming into school Monday-Thursday and taking 19 credits. I work on the weekends at a test prep program, and I also babysit. I will be taking 3 courses in the summer to complete my Bachelor’s degree. Coming this Fall, I will be attending Long Island University Brooklyn for my Master’s in School Psychology. I have recently applied for a student loan for graduate school.

Kadlif-rashid Bactowal

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My Senior year in high school was mostly stress-free. With my college career on the horizon, I had already known where I was going to attend college and whether or not I would be receiving a scholarship or not. This was due to the fact that I was fortunate enough to attend a prestigious private high school in Brooklyn, Xaverian High School.

My high school ensured that each student, beginning as early as Junior year, received the right amount of college preparation and advised us on what to expect, and  provided us with the tools needed in order to eventually make it to college. So the time Senior year arrived, I was set.

All there was to do was wait for my acceptance letters from the college I had applied to. The curriculum at my high school was very effective in helping it’s students get all the information needed to get to college. I got in to each and every one of the schools that I had applied to.

Coming out of high school, I knew that I wanted to be a scientist/ doctor, but I also had other interests. My high school offered many extra-curricular activities and I took advantage of a number of them. I participated in different sports and was an active member of various clubs. I also was able to take college-level IB courses. This diverse background is what allowed me to get accepted to all the schools I applied to.

Now it was just a decision of where to go. Coming from a middle class family, my sister already in college, and my little brother just beginning school, money was tight in my family. So my decision of which college to attend became based on what would be financially better for my family.

I received four different types of scholarships from four different schools. I received one for sports, one for culinary arts, one for music, and one academic scholarship. The sports scholarship offered the least amount of money, but I would be able to attend Princeton. However, the down side is I would’ve had to practice every day doing the sport I picked, leaving little time for me to focus on becoming a doctor. The culinary school, Johnson and Wales, also offered me a scholarship and it seemed like a solid career path, since I do love to cook, but that would mean that I would have to leave my dream of becoming doctor behind. The music scholarship, much like the other scholarships, would also require me to abandon my dream of becoming a doctor.

I chose the academic scholarship, which allowed me to attend Arcadia University. Here, I was granted the opportunity to study abroad for a cheap price (which I did). After studying for 2 years at Arcadia, two unfortunate incidents occurred. First, I got into a car accident which caused me to fall behind in my classes which ultimately lowered my grades. Also, there was an error on my financial aid package which required me to pay for the college (I was receiving a full scholarship prior to this error and only paying for where I was staying at the time.) Due to these occurrences, I was forced to stop attending school.

After a year, I resumed my college career at LaGuardia Community College. I was able to receive financial aid, additional grants, and scholarships due to my excellent academic standing. After a year and a half, I graduated a Phi Theta Kappa with an Associate’s degree in Biology. After graduation, I applied to Queens College (my second choice) who chose me first. I also received a full financial aid package at Queens College not having to pay for my first year. This is my third semester at Queens College and I am getting ready to graduate. I am constantly on and off when it comes to working due to the intense classes in the Biology major.

 

So,Why College again?

GO TO COLLEGE TO GET MORE KNOWLEDGE?

Is a college degree really necessary to achieve one’s goals and ambitions? If so, is it worth the immense amount of money so many people are paying?

Does money make the world go ‘round?

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Maybe.

Money plays a large and important role in the society we are living in. As members of American society, we are required to spend a great deal of money on a lot of things: housing, food, utilities, entertainment, and family- it’s expensive, but it’s also necessary for a comfortable lifestyle.

How do we make enough money to do all of these things?

By obtaining a college degree, you are more likely to get a higher paying job. Unfortunately, being able to go to college is not an opportunity that everyone gets. Getting accepted into college is hard work, and maintaining the workload in college as a student is also a challenge. But, is it just hard work that allows you to go to college or is it something more? This is a question that cannot be answered with a single, simple answer. The answers can be found in the stories of the average, American college and high school students. The answers can be found in FAFSA applications and scholarships. Or, maybe the answer can’t be found; maybe the answer is a student who couldn’t afford to go to college or a student that wasn’t prepared enough for college. The answer is complicated and remains unknown.

But what we do know is this:

Knowledge is power. Knowledge can be gained through many things, however, education, especially a higher education offers the student knowledge that will change lives.

If the power and importance of the intellectual human mind were valued over the power of the paper dollar, perhaps college would be more accessible, less expensive, or maybe even free. A higher education allows us to gain insight into worlds we never even knew existed, and every human being should be allowed to experience this. Hopefully, in the future ahead, the price tag will be snipped off and college will no longer be a privilege, it will be a right.