If you would have asked me why I was going to college in August 2011, my answer would be: "I want to be a journalist, and with my grades, SAT scores and excellent extracurricular activities, I'm sure I'll get enough scholarship money!"
If you ask me today why I'm in college, I would now say: "I thought it was the right thing to do." Ball is not life. I don't do hair, nails, or makeup. I don't sing. I can't dance. Matter of fact, I'm trying to bring the "Beef it Up" back in style. I'm also against the military. However, I am definitely capable of getting up at 7 A.M. every day for class and meetings, spending 20-30 hours a week in the library, and "beefing it up" at a house party on the weekend to relieve the stress. So, that's what I do.
Four years ago, I thought I would leave college with scholarships to cover all my tuition fees. However, I am now a senior who has only accumulated $30,000 in scholarships over the past 4 years. That should seem like enough, right? It's not. To be honest, that much money doesn't even allow me to cover a year's worth of tuition and fees at my university.
When you're in high school, the authority around you fabricates the image of college. They make it seem like you will make a lot of money if you graduate, and it's just that simple. I thought I would buy my grandmother a house, my mom a new car, and myself a condo in Miami all before the age of 40, as long as I worked hard. I know it sounds silly, but I'm a dreamer. I believe in myself and my faith in God is so strong, that I don't limit myself or my capabilities. Now, I beat myself up because of the financial responsibilities I'll have to uphold in terms of paying for my education. I should be enjoying my Senior year. Instead, I can't even be excited that I'll graduate in May because everything is so expensive.
Once you get to college, administrators will tell you:
1. "Don't borrow more than you'll be able to pay back after college."
2. "Don't attend a school of less caliber. Go somewhere that your employer will recognize."
3. "Try your best not to borrow loans at all."
Administrators tell you everything not to do, but not what to do in order to make the four (or five) years of your college experience affordable.
A huge part of my depression stemmed from the regret I had of attending a school out of state. I felt like I should have been smarter, and attended a school I didn't like in Georgia just because it was more affordable. I had to realize that it wasn't my fault for wanting to branch out and learn in a different environment. It should just be more affordable for students to attend school wherever they please.
*I'd like to warn my readers that this post will continue to be about my personal experiences. I believe that anything other than delivering transparency is not the correct way to run a blog.
My freshman year of college, I went on a Spring Break trip with a bunch of my friends. When we returned, we had just gotten our financial aid award summaries sent to our student accounts. Myself and another out-of-state friend of mine noticed that our tuition had raised by thousands of dollars. What a great way to return from a vacation, right?
The thing is, the politicians in Tennessee have attended schools out of state themselves. The difference is, it wasn't as expensive for them as it is for us. Parents work hard, students work hard, loans are given...and where does this money go to? Construction on campus, sports teams, and overpaid administrators.
Professors are given inadequate classroom space, and students are going without textbooks because they spent their last on tuition and rent.
I'm not saying that athletes don't deserve their scholarships, or the programs that support their wellbeing. However, the other 90% of the student population shouldn't have to go without proper scholarship money because they don't know how to maneuver a ball.
Construction on campus is a great way to modernize campuses and keep the prospective students interested. But the money shouldn't come out of the pockets of students who will have graduated by the time the buildings are finished. I'm sorry, but I won't be there in 2018 to see a new dorm. Therefore, I would like my money back please.
I know I seem to be rambling, but this is my last point. Administrators focus so much on raising tuition to "better" the university. Bettering the university starts with making sure the students are well taken care of. How about telling students not to rape their friends who allow them into their dorm room? How about not raping/assaulting anyone at all, friend or stranger? They should also start with preventing students from victim shaming rape victims so badly to the point where they drop out of school. Deal with gun violence, racism, mental health, and suicide awareness. In my opinion, I'd rather have a stable student body before a fancy building any day.
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