My Experience Being a Low-Income, First Generation Student

My Experience Being a Low-Income, First Generation Student

At my expensive, private college being both first-gen and low income is something not a lot of students can relate to; and it sometimes sucks.
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It is almost time for move in day on college again. Another year of bright faced freshman scared and unsure what they will encounter during the next four years. Everyone is unsure of how they are going to make friends, if they have enough meal swipes, where their classes are, and for first generation, low income, single parent, or really any student who is not the classic middle class WASP the experience is different. I cannot speak for what it is like to be a racial minority on campus but I can for what it is like to be a low income, first generation college student from a single parent household on a predominately white, rich campus. So that is what I am going to talk about today.

The differences start really the first day. Everyone talks about what their parents do. I have a few friends whose parents are lawyers, someone owns an IT company, someone else owns a medical supply company, and one of my friend’s dad is a friggin Ambassador. Most people accept my mom worked for Macy’s at the time but some kids gave you this look of confusion, almost like they are wondering how I got into my school. A lot of people think you mean your parent has a cooperate job and when they find out it is in store give you a look of confusion and once I was asked if I was poor, because apparently some people think that is perfectly acceptable to ask. So immediately lines are drawn in the sand of who you can be friends with (trust me you don’t want to be friends with someone who judges someone on what job they have).

Then people start talking about were their parents went to college and what they majored in, this is where it came out for me that I was first gen. A lot of people are completely fine with this fact since my college does have a decent first generation enrollment for its caliber. But some people take personal offense to that. I have been told on multiple occasions that I “do not seem like a first-gen student” because apparently first-gen is supposed to act a certain way. I’m never sure how to reply for those.

Since money is tight I obviously had to get a job. I know a lot of students who get jobs so I am not alone in that experience. However, our understanding of money is very different. A lot of my friends though I could go out more or afford nicer restaurants (we’re talking $20 meals here) because I had a job. No matter how many times I said that my money pays for college they still kept thinking I could go out more. While I appreciated the invites to them I did not appreciate the pressuring to go with the rational that I have a job so I must have the money. It is just not how it works.

While talking about money let’s talk about the conversations you will overhear about other people’s financial aid packages raising tuition for others and they do not belong on the campus, because you will hear it. Nothing else is worse than hearing that. While asking how you got into the school or saying you do not seem like a first gen student is ignorant this is just hateful. That is the moment I realized there are people on my campus who do not want me there just because I am not as well off as them. It confirmed my suspicions that some of the rude comments came from prejudice against lower classes just as much as it did ignorance. It also added onto the feeling that I was an outsider on my own campus, something which all the other experiences had just added to.

That is not to say the entire campus is against you. Most people want to see you succeed. They want you to have a better life. A lot of students I meet could not care less where your background is. But many students still fail at understanding how your background is going to mean you live life differently from them. Fortunately the students who are willing to accept you are also willing to listen and to learn. Most importantly they are the kids who made me feel like I belonged on my campus. For a campus with a rather tense class ( and racial but cannot speak to that) divide I am grateful for this because the one thing I would want to tell whoever is coming into campus in my shoes is that you do belong.

Cover Image Credit: Loyola University Chicago

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Analyzing The Infamous 'U Up?' Text

Men still haven't come up with anything better.

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Late at night men gain a confidence that no one can quite explain. The dry spell of Monday through Thursday finally ends as Friday approaches and women's phones start going off with the "u up?" text.

The explanation could be that men are doing this just to use you, but if we dig a little deeper and ask why do men suddenly gain the confidence to text women late at night versus during the week or during the day, then maybe we will have a better understanding of the man behind the "u up?" text.

The term "Saturdays are for the boys" has become wildly popular and men have taken it quite literally until all of their boys have left the bars with their girlfriends or other girls and now he is sitting there alone feeling like the only guy who didn't go home with a girl. You pop into his mind, but it's desperate "u up?" text. He isn't texting you to see you because he misses you or because he wants to get to know you better at three A.M.

Men are nervous and don't want to be rejected so once the weekend rolls around and a little liquid confidence hits their system they may feel compelled to finally reach out to you if they have been nervous to do so all week. The "u up?" text may be the first thing his nervous thumbs can type out before he decides it's a bad idea and doesn't send anything at all. If you don't respond he may instantly regret it in the morning when he realizes he may have blown his chances with you for good.

Ultimately any man that decides to send you a "u up?" text should probably not be your first choice to bring home to mom, but you can't be truly sure of his motives until you analyze the situation. Don't judge a book by its cover or a man by his "u up?" text.

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