I'm A College Student That Doesn't Want Free Tuition

I'm A College Student That Doesn't Want Free Tuition

Nothing worth having comes easy.
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A word with four letters, many interpretations, and something that divides political parties. Free. Such a tiny word, yet it holds such great implications. What is free, then? It is defined many ways, such as: enjoying personal rights or liberty, independent, able to do something at will, to disengage or to clear, or without charge. But when you get down to it... is anything actually free?

Everyone has the right and opportunity to make decisions for themselves and to enjoy their personal rights or liberty. With that being said, it doesn't mean that people get to have a disengaged or clear paths without any charge. One of my favorite quotes, from Thomas Edison, is "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." If everyone is given a clear path without any obstacles, what does that teach? If everything was easy, wouldn't everyone do it? What would set me apart from others in life, on a résumé, in a career, as a woman, wife, future mother, and sister?

Something that has weighed heavily on my mind is the fact that most millennials are hoping, and voting, for free college tuition. What does free college tuition actually do for society as a whole, and not just for the individual? It may make a student debt free, but free tuition as a whole could "cost the United States $70 billion per year," according to Fox News. If you aren't paying for your classes, then who is? Where is that $70 billion coming from? Taxpayers.

If college becomes free, that means more people going to college. Which in theory sounds wonderful! Everyone should have the opportunity to go to school if they so desire. But I have always been told that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is, and that is definitely the case with free college tuition. If more people go to college, the value of a college degree will decrease. A Huffington Post article in support of free college actually stated that a college education is essentially equivalent to a high school education of previous generations. Well if that is true, then what will the value of a degree be when even more people have it? It is simply the law of supply and demand. If a college degree is at the value of a high school diploma now, when it becomes free that would make it equivalent to, maybe, junior high.

Students would get a free bachelor's degree, but in order to set themselves apart, they would need to continue on with graduate school. Oh wait... students already have to do that! How would free college help the societal issue we are already facing of students graduating only to discover they have to do more school? Free tuition would only make this issue drastically worse.


Free things are usually things that no one wants, am I right? You get free koozies, free cheap sunglasses, free beach balls, free flyers and pamphlets, and you can find free, gross furniture on the sides of the road. These things are all things that people are trying to get rid of, hence why they are free. You don't walk into the mall to get a brand new Sony TV for free. You walk in there with your money in hand, money that you worked hard for, to purchase it. College is the same way. You can't just show up expecting something great without working in order to obtain it.

College is hard. Whether you are an art major, science major, economics major or education major, it doesn't matter. College is hard work. You spend endless nights studying and panicking and writing those term papers because you know those things determine your future. You work hard in college because it is important to you. You work hard because it isn't free. If college were free, students would become nonchalant about their work and their grades. If all those credits were free, students wouldn't worry about working hard for them because they can just get some more, right? I mean, when you break those cheap sunglasses, you don't stress because you can just go get some other ones.

I know people that are in debt because of their desire to go to college. They want the degree at the end because they want a better life for themselves and their families. What happens to that person when college becomes free? What happens to the debt they have already incurred while trying to take care of children, work a full-time job, and be a husband or wife? They worked for that degree, paid money for that degree, and you're telling me someone else can just come in who didn't put nearly as much time, effort, or money into their degree and get the same outcome. In the end, who do you think would be the better employee or boss, someone who worked hard and is proud of what they did, or someone that had it handed to them?

College isn't something that is nonchalant. If someone truly has a desire to go to school, then there are ways to make it happen. There are scholarships, federal financial aid if you qualify, internships, part-time jobs, even part-time and distance-learning degrees. The options are all there. At the same time, college shouldn't be something that is forced on people! If college becomes free, then everyone will feel obligated that they have to go due to the obstacles being removed from their paths. With more and more people going to college, what happens to the technical schools, the blue-collar jobs? If everyone is a doctor or a teacher, who is the plumber, the welder, the farmer, the mechanic? There is already such a negative connotation surrounding blue-collar, hardworking jobs, but in reality, these hardworking, undervalued people are who make the world go 'round! When something happens to my car, or my A/C, or my plumbing, I call someone who knows how to fix it. We don't need to make everyone think they have to have a college education to have a great job, a great payout, and a great life.

Forcing college on people and deeming it free to get more people with degrees not only hurts our society and economy, but it hurts individuals as well. If you believe in free college tuition, that is great! I'm sure you have your reasons, just as I have mine. Student debt has its own weight as well, but if a student picks a degree in a field that offers a great job market, scholarships, and opportunities for employment or graduate schooling then the debt wouldn't be such a hindrance.

I may not always like to work, but I do like overalls, and if together they are going to set me apart as an individual, then work is what I will do.

Cover Image Credit: The New York Times

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7 Truths About Being A Science Major

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Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

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I Had School Choice, And It Better Prepared Me For College

Not all students can excel in the traditional brick-and-mortar school setting.

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As the years progress and people grow tired of traditional public education, more and more options of schooling are opening up: charter schools, virtual schools, magnet schools, Montessori schools—the list goes on. Some people see this as detrimental to traditional public education and claim that charter schools and such are taking money away from public schools, but these schools are not doing that. In fact, charter schools are public schools, and they most times receive less funding due to costs such as food, transportation, and the costs of running a traditional school building are eliminated. With these areas cut, charter schools are able to pay their teachers more generously and have higher per-pupil funding, which is increasing with their rapid enrollment. Oklahoma-based Epic Charter Schools, the virtual, one-to-one charter school I attended, is first in teacher pay and fourteenth in enrollment statewide. Having the option to go from a traditional school setting to something as innovative as Epic Charter Schools benefited me, and my graduating class of over 1000, tremendously and prepared me for college better than any brick-and-mortar school could have.

Throughout my schooling, I always went to public school. School was my absolute favorite thing. I'm the kind of person who gets extremely excited to buy school supplies and choose my classes. In elementary, I became a part of the gifted and talented program, and I never found school particularly challenging. This didn't bother me when I was younger because it seemed like there was always something to do after classwork was finished, such as coloring sheets, reading, etc. But when I got into middle school, this changed and I stopped liking school as a whole. When I would finish my work in class, there would be nothing to do and it was always too loud to read, so I was at a loss. Because of the lack of challenge for me, when I knew there would be nothing for me to do in class, or it was just going to be a day where we watched a movie, I wouldn't go to school. I did this so often that in middle school I actually failed classes that I had As in because of my attendance. The fact that I failed classes because of my absences didn't surprise me as much as the fact that I could keep As in said classes while missing so many days that they decided to fail me.

My freshman year went about the same as my middle school years—I was still missing a lot of class, and I started putting less and less effort into my work because I just didn't like school anymore. Finally, in my sophomore year after I started driving, I quit going to school altogether. I had heard of Epic Charter Schools, and I took it into my own hands to get enrolled and withdraw from my brick-and-mortar. My family wasn't too supportive of this, but I pushed for it hard enough that they finally came around.

The first semester of Epic was rough, to say the least. It was the first time in a long time that my work was challenging, and whoever says a virtual school is easy, you're completely wrong. The difficulty of virtual school doesn't even come from the subject matter; it comes from the accountability. I had a teacher, but she wasn't at my house every day telling me to do my work, so I put it off for weeks at a time. After some time, I finally found a schedule and the following semesters' virtual classes were a breeze because my time management skills had developed so much.

When my junior year came around, I was excited to start concurrent enrollment at a local community college. Through Epic, I was allowed to take as many college courses as I wanted as long as I was taking at least one class through Epic. At a typical public school, students are only allowed to take two per semester; I was taking four, sometimes five college classes while still in high school, and they were actually challenging me.I'm sure most people think that sounds expensive, but it really wasn't. In the state of Oklahoma, high school students receive a waiver for six credit hours' tuition for no cost, only fees are paid. For me, through Epic I received an additional eight-hundred dollars in a learning fund, which I applied to my tuition. I also received a tribal scholarship for my concurrent courses in exchange for completing community service hours.

Through Epic, I was able to complete 52 hours of college credit completely debt-free WHILE STILL ENROLLED IN HIGH SCHOOL! The summer after I graduated, I completed my Associate's degree at Tulsa Community College (61 credit hours), which all transferred to my current school, the University of Oklahoma where I am studying Language Arts Education to become a teacher (if you're reading this, Epic administrators, call me in 2020 when I'm certified).

Not only am I graduating college two years early, but I am also saving my future self at least 50 thousand dollars of debt.

Most importantly, though, through Epic, I regained my love for learning.

Epic high school students and traditional students alike: please take advantage of the opportunities presented to you whether it be concurrent enrollment or vocational school. After high school, you will be so glad to have some college experience before going to a four-year university or to have a certificate to move into the workforce.

As the Epic's motto says: school CAN be different.


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