Shifting The Conversation About College

Shifting The Conversation About College

College admissions are rigged--what else is new?


From age 9, I have been enrolled in private schools. At these two institutions, college was an ever-present conversation. A lot of our parents, teachers, and administrators expected nothing less than admission to "highly selective" and "prestigious" universities; anything other than "prestigious" generated both shame and gossip. My brother's classmate, for instance, were admitted to Southern Utah University (which he later attended). His admissions decision was met with extreme criticism from all grades--whispers of his stupidity and statements of "how embarrassing" it was for him to matriculate to a school like that were widely disseminated around the high school, middle school, and (in some extreme cases) lower school.

Kids in our generation are under immense pressure. This pressure is facilitated by decreasing admissions rates and increasing standards for admission. Most of my peers in high school ran clubs, created businesses, and obtained internships. The majority of my high school received 3-4 hours of sleep every night, and in general, an overwhelming amount of my peers suffered from anxiety or depression.

Where does this pressure stem from? Mostly, it can be traced back to the issue of college, parental expectations, and societal values.

When I was a junior in high school, I remember meeting with my college counselor and parents. He asked me my top schools, and after hearing my answers, he let out a sigh of relief. "Finally, a student who is realistic."

Most parents, I later learned from my counselor, groom their children to aim for the Ivy Leagues and other selective liberal arts colleges. This mindset supports an attitude that prioritizes clout over best fit which is inherently problematic for students.

The Ivies are notoriously competitive. These low acceptance rates sometimes push students (and parents alike) to seek desperate (and often illegal) measures. For a particular group of rich, lifer students at my high school, things like paying older students to take online college courses, cheating on the SATs and ACTs, and participating in other malpractices were unspoken norms. This blatant issue created a divide between us--the normal, middle-class students--and them--the elite with massive amounts of money. As college decisions rolled out last spring, many of my peers were angry about certain acceptances since we knew that these admission decisions were based on money, cheating, and legacy--not merit. The growing pressure to attend selective schools creates a temptation amongst America's wealthiest to follow these actions, and it ultimately deters students from matriculating to the schools that best fit their academic abilities.

Moreover, college isn't necessarily everyone's path. Although society advocates for college degrees, some students may choose technical trades or speciality fields that do not require a college education. The overarching conversation about higher education should shift to this message instead: valuing student's happiness and personal interests is more important than attending a "brand name" school. People will be more successful when they pursue fields that make them happy and that appeal to their passions. Regardless of college ranking or field of study, parents should motivate their kids to find schools that fit them best instead of plucking universities off of ranking lists.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.


To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.


A third-year nursing student who knows

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Why Fordham Should Have a Safe Space Policy

On a campus committed to it's student's safety, why is emotional safety left out?


Last year college Republicans were asked to leave Rodrigue's coffee house for provoking members by wearing pro-Trump attire within the shop. The reason they were asked to leave was because Rodrigue's upholds a "safe space" policy, which can be boiled down to the simple phrase: "No racism. No sexism. No homophobia." In the eyes of the members and patrons of Rod's, Trump embodied all of these things. Regardless of the politics of this specific incident, the phrase and policy seems redundant because this rhetoric can't possibly be allowed anywhere else on campus. Right?

As this incident made campus as well as national news Father McShane addressed the events in an e-mail to all students in which he made it clear he did not condone the approach of the College Republicans, as well as stated that Fordham has no official Safe Space policy and insinuated if it did this would silence voices on campus.

Let's examine what a safe space policy means and why it's important to so many members of the Fordham community. It simply means homophobic, sexist, and racist imagery and speech are not allowed. On a campus with racial minority, female, and queer students who chose to be members of the Fordham community as well as study here, live here, and pay obscene amounts of money to be a student, it does not make sense for these individuals to be subjected to abuses related to their identity. How can you focus in class when your professor misgenders you, a student makes a disparaging comment about your religion, or you fear for your physical safety due to the way you present yourself? Bigoted rhetoric is oppositional to academia.

Fordham is a private university, not a public one, and could easily legislate a basic safe space guideline on campus. I understand many of us that a safe space policy would protect do not experience outward aggression often, if at all, as the University does take steps to ensure our safety. So why no official policy? The answer is simple to me: money. Fordham receives hefty donations from conservative alumni whose own political ideology is contrary to the safe space policy. The choice to not outwardly support minority students is a decidedly economic and political one, despite Father McShane's plea for political peace on campus.

And what is wrong with silencing hateful voices? Tolerance is an incredibly important value, but should tolerance really extend to the intolerant? I found the logic behind not installing the policy as it would politically oppress individuals, incredibly interesting and telling. This means your politics are fatally bigoted and I would take a critical look at that. It's intrinsic to our perception of our school to remember that colleges are businesses and it is sometimes their prerogative to meet economic needs above the needs of their student body. However, this is hopeful. As patrons of this business, we can demand more of them and the most effective way to do this is economical. Invest money in places such as Rodrigue's to expand their voice, have your parents write letters to the school, tell at-risk individuals to not apply, and encourage alumni to earmark their money for minority student initiatives or withhold it unless the school legislates a safe space policy.

We as a student body should care for one another and above all respect the personhood of everyone on and off campus. Consider honoring the policy in your own lives and social circles, and demand Fordham to officially do the same.

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