Why College Students Can't Afford College

Why College Students Can't Afford College

Why it's impossible to earn a living as a student in the US
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In recent months, I've discovered that it's nearly impossible for a college student to make a living. I've been working minimum wage jobs since I started school at the University of the Pacific two years ago. I live on my own, pay my own rent, buy my own house supplies, pay my own phone bill, the works. While I'm sure plenty of students in the US do this as well, I know literally none at my university. I've never really had anyone to empathize or to go through it with. For the first couple semesters, I was doing okay. Due to the loans I'm taking out for school, I get a refund of almost two thousand dollars at the beginning of each semester. Though I have made a payment on my loans with some of that money, for the most part it acts as a buffer of extra money for when my minimum wage paycheck isn't cutting it for that week or that month. However, by the end of last semester, that money was long gone and I was once again relying solely on the money I get from my job at Payless Shoesource every week. This is not doable.

Since the semester ended, I've been scraping and clawing to get by with enough food to eat for the week, gas for my car, and enough money saved from each paycheck to be able to fork out rent at the end of the month. Aside from just paying for the essentials, being able to go out every now and then is crucial for someone who basically spends 80%-85% of their time in a single room with only a bed as a seating area; in other words, I need to get out.

Since discovering how impossible it is to live off a minimum wage job where I only get about 20-26 hours per week, I've been scouring the area for a new job with the same flexibility to work around my school schedule in the Fall but that also pays a bit more than $10.50 per hour. Little did I know, this was even more impossible.

I've applied to a total of around fifty jobs in the past two months. My focus when applying for these jobs was an entry level position in which the base pay is higher than minimum wage, anywhere from $12.00 per hour or above. After searching through a multitude of job sites, creating a LinkedIn account and getting their job search app, and Googling every possible job avenue I could think of in my area, do you know how many calls I've gotten back? Four. Of those four, I turned out to not be eligible for two of them.

The reason for this is primarily that entry level or non-retail/food service jobs require either multiple years of experience in that field and/or a completely open schedule in which you can work 9-5 every weekday. This is not a plausible reality for a student. Firstly, where and when were we supposed to gain years of experience in a relatively specific job field when we're still in school? I need someone to explain to me how all of these supposed entry level jobs can expect you to have a plethora of experience when you're not able to get hired without the experience? Secondly, how can all jobs expect you to have availability 9-5 every weekday as a student?

Last week I received a callback for a job as a medical scribe–a call I had been awaiting for about a month–and during the brief phone interview I was told that I couldn't be recommended for the job due to my lack of daily availability during the semester. This would make more sense if the recruiter hadn't already known I was a student before the phone interview. However, she and I had been emailing back and forth beforehand and she was well aware that I had a full year of undergrad left before earning my B.A. degree. When I then stated my schedule, which is completely full in the mornings and into the early-mid afternoons, she said that she hadn't even thought about my schedule conflicting with the time frame of the job because most students take night classes these days to be able to work during the day.

This is almost impossible if you do not attend a community or junior college.

At a four-year university you don't have the option to pick if your classes are in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Aside from the standard G.E. courses, you have set courses that you have to take to fulfill your major requirements. These courses are offered typically at only one or two times throughout the week, and not every course is offered every semester. This makes your scheduling flexibility extremely low. Most professors at my university don't want to be on campus extremely early in the morning or late in the evening, making the most popular times for classes the late morning and early afternoon. While not conducive for a work schedule, it's understandable, and it's something I've had to work around for two years. However, while trying to find a better job, it's become apparent that a job working around my class schedule is quite impossible.

I know that there are thousands of college students out there who need to be able to support themselves and pay the bills. While some of them are at community and junior colleges where they can work more with their personal schedules, I know there are also some of them who are going to U.C. Berkeley and Yale and Princeton right now who don't have the luxury of being able to take classes whenever they want, and are seriously struggling to earn a living. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized how work-centered this country is. Students are not rewarded for their hard work and dedication here, instead they're slapped with minimum wage jobs and thousands of dollars in high-interest-rate debt. Shouldn't we be encouraging our higher education students? Shouldn't they be given some kind of respect in the work force if not acceptance and tolerance? I'm two semesters away from earning my Bachelor's Degree and I can't even get hired at Starbucks. What does that say to the students who are on the cusp of making their decision about going to college or entering the workforce?

What's really being said here is that this is a country that doesn't reward or value higher education in the way that it should. In most other developed nations, higher education is free of debt and easily accessible to students of all ages 17+ who come from a wide variety of economic backgrounds. In most other developed nations there is a focus on education and putting out intelligent professionals into the workforce who are prepared with the knowledge they've gained and are ready to dip their toes into their fields. Why is it that in the wealthiest nation in the world I can't seem to make enough money as a college student to even make it through school? The days of working during the Summer to pay your way through college are over. These days you work through Summer to be able to eat throughout the semester. Instead of leaving ready for the workforce, you leave with a lack of the professional experience that most positions deem necessary, and a load of debt that keeps you awake at night. The true American college experience.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.

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In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

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