Public education definitely has its flaws, but our higher (private) education system in America I think is the penultimate example of classism in our society.
We all know some rich fuckup who had everything going for him, infinite support from his parents, luxury car, all bills paid, and still managed to flunk out of college because he was a bad student or maybe college wasn’t for him. Conversely, we all know some immigrant badass who had nothing going for him, worked 60 hours a week and still managed to graduate with a 4.0 and move on to postgrad.
However, both of these examples represent anecdotal evidence that is not in line with statistical trends. Statistically, affluent college students, whose parents give them more help, do better and go farther in higher education. I mean really its just common sense. The “all bills paid, free ride” rich kids have literally nothing to worry about except getting good grades, partying, and getting laid. The rest of us on the other hand, have to worry about bills, rent, wage slavery, and cramming 25 hours of activity into a 24 hour day. OF COURSE THE WEALTHY DO BETTER!
What really burns me is when these over-privileged brats then go out into the world with this attitude like they’ve achieved something, like they have more merit than the rest of us. Sorry guys, hate to burst your bubble, but your social status is more the result of the class you were born into than any kind of merit or hard-won achievement. Get over yourself and your inflated sense of entitlement and accomplishment.
I really busted my ass to get through college. I had some minimal support from my parents, but I was the last of three kids and the product of a defunct marriage to boot, so naturally I got a little shafted. I can’t blame my parents for this too much, after all they put 3 kids through school, so I can’t say they didn’t suffer to make that happen, or that they should have suffered more on my behalf. My parents sacrificed plenty to get us through school. I’m not saying they should have done more, but the system should have done more. Financial Aid, Scholarships and Grants were out of the question for me simply because of my parents’ income.
Seriously, I worked full time, and had several side business . I worked my ass off, and the final GPA wasn’t horrible, but it definitely wasn’t what it could have been had I had proper support. It would definitely be a major challenge for me to go to postgrad at this point, as it would require doing some more undergrad work to boost my GPA and also take some more undergrad classes related to the field I would like to go into. That’s just to get in, to say nothing of paying for grad school.
According to a labor study recently released, more people under the age of 30 are staying in school, rather than getting jobs. Why? Because the Boomers are working later than expected and the youth is getting squeezed out of the labor force.
I’m under 30, and I went straight from undergrad to the workforce upon graduating college. Parents told me grad school just wasn’t in the financial cards, and I’m not going to put myself through working 50 hours a week AND trying to go to grad school. So I got an entry level job, but I worry about my future, because in a few years all those kids who are in grad school right now are going to get out, and they will immediately be in a higher class than me, and their earning potential will quickly overshadow the meager financial progress I have made with my entry-level job.
It seems my parents’ decision to put their retirement ahead of my education has relegated me to a middle-class existence that will be very hard to climb out of. I don’t fit in with this national trend of staying in school until age 30, and that makes me worry about my future. I honestly wish I had the option of continuing my education, as I think that would be a better investment of the best years of my life than working for peanuts.
Its not so much about “making it” or “doing well” to me, its more about doing something meaningful with my life and being the best person I can be. I really feel as though I am quite capable of doing more than just menial office work. I am basically yet another American moving at half speed, half capacity, simply because no one has entrusted me with enough responsibility or opportunity to show what I can really do.
I also feel as though I need more education, and there aren’t enough opportunities for working class people like me who want to do more for society but simply lack the funding for higher education. The kind of career I want would be in scientific research, which is a field that requires a lot of education, but you end up making pretty low pay and living off grants mostly. And I’m not about to go 5 or 6 figures into debt just so I can get what basically amounts to job training so I can be a more productive member of society. If society doesn’t want to throw me a bone, then why should I even bother? I’ll just stagnate in the middle class existence I’ve been marginalized into and watch the world end on TV, knowing I probably could have done something to prevent it, had someone merely given me the most basic of resources to work with.
Its also a serious thorn in my side to watch these yuppie larva kids in grad school go on to way better lifestyles and jobs than me simply because their parents were willing to do so much for them. It makes me wonder, does the upper class really have more merit than I do, or did they simply just get better breaks in life?
Some parents think: “If I give my kid too much help, he’ll be spoiled and won’t appreciate anything.” While that is true, the other side of the coin is: If you don’t give your kid enough support, he will be unable to compete and will ultimately lose the rat race that is capitalist education.
Its for all these reasons that I believe Higher Education should be FREE in America, much like it is in many parts of Europe. If we truly want social mobility and an escape from the feudalistic moneyed aristocracy “the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor” situation we have in America now, this is the only way to go. And yes, I know this would cost the general public a lot of money. But this isn’t a handout we are talking about, this is a solid investment in the future of our society. Especially if corporations are going to outsource/give to immigrants all of our menial jobs! If Americans don’t want to pave roads and mop floors anymore, put a damn book in their hand and get them doing something higher level.
As it stands, it takes both money AND academic ability to get a higher education. I say, take money out of the equation and let the common people really shine. Lets see what they can really do. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised. Sure, a few “off color” people might join the ranks of the higher classes, but what the hell is wrong with that? That’s supposed to be what America is all about.