Wealth inequality

Rich Kids, If You're As Privileged As I Am, Own Up To It

"Check your privilege" isn't an attack — it's an invitation to change yourself for the better.

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According to Global Rich List, my family falls into the top 0.06% wealthiest in the world, and according to the Wall Street Journal, the top 4% in the USA.

I grew up in one of the wealthiest, most educated, areas of the nation, the San Francisco Bay Area. Both my parents obtained advanced degrees. I went to a private school for nine years, the yearly tuition for which exceeded what many people pay for a year of college. I have not had to take out a single loan in my life, for school or otherwise, as my family pays for my college tuition and rent in full.

I'm not listing these things to brag — quite the opposite actually. I am enormously lucky.

I am blessed in ways only a tiny, tiny few individuals are. My family members worked very hard to get where they are, and I would never want to discount this. But when you look a little closer, it becomes clear that they had lots of help on their way to masters and doctoral degrees, help which people who were equally motivated and hardworking did not have. For starters, they were/are all white, third (or more) generation Americans, and well-educated—many of my great-grandparents went to college. In essence, absolutely none of my privilege was gained by me. I never had to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I have never had to choose between food and healthcare, rent, or other basic needs, the way billions of people worldwide do.

Without this cushion, I certainly wouldn't still be in college — I failed multiple classes freshman year and was placed on academic probation, which means that I did not receive any financial aid. For my family, this was not an issue at all, and I can view it now as just a bump in the road which I overcame in less than a year, and I now have good grades. Hopefully, I'll make it into grad school in the next couple of years. For other students who struggle academically, but rely on financial aid to pay their tuition, my "bump" is the end of the road completely, and they have to drop out.

If you are as blessed as I am, own up to it.

You didn't get to where you are through hard work alone. You lucked out. You won the familial lottery. Even if you worked your ass off, you still had the cushioning and support of financial and familial stability. I have a job—it's the fourth one I've had, so I'm definitely no stranger to securing and maintaining employment, but never have I needed this money. Many of my coworkers live paycheck to paycheck, several of them providing not only for themselves and/or a partner but also for children.

If I turn a blind eye to the struggles of others, instead of lying to myself that I have achieved oh-so-much when I most definitely haven't, I am part of the problem.

I am the ignorance of the wealthy few that built inequality in our nation. I am a bystander to greed and selfishness. To enjoy such gifts and not use that platform to give back, and fight the system, would be a crime, in my eyes.

Sometimes I almost feel embarrassed or ashamed because I don't ever want to make people feel bad or like I'm flaunting my privilege. Rather than push it away, I try to take that guilt I feel and ask myself, "What have you done for others lately? Have you been a force against greed and inequality, or are you just gliding along, blissfully ignorant?" One aspect of my behavior I have changed is what I do with old clothes and other items. I used to sell them on eBay or Posh because I didn't feel I could part with them unless I got money in return. Now, I donate instead. There are people who need these things far more than I do, but can't pay for them. I also tip 20%, across the board, as much as possible. I donate at least $5 to every Facebook friend's birthday fundraiser that I see. I buy ice cream for a homeless woman I see once a week or so. Additionally, I dedicate a lot of my time to community service. I am so proud to be a part of Alpha Phi Omega, an international service fraternity.

Still, there is always more I can do. In the grand scheme of things, these are small steps, and I certainly don't mean to make myself out to be Mother Teresa. I look at my friends and family who take time out of their day to go to rallies for a wide variety of causes, something I have yet to do, but always say "I wish I could." I'm still trying every day to break out of my comfort zone and give back, but it's never really enough.

If you are a privileged individual such as I and feel attacked when people bring up that privilege, stop getting tied up in your ego. Take a realistic look at the world. No one is out to get you, they just want to educate you and change your perspective. You have an enormous opportunity to be the change you wish to see in the world. You can dedicate your life either to the continual pursuit of wealth and power or to giving back and helping others. Choose wisely.

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


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Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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12 Unhealthy College Habits That Never Should Have Become Normalized

No, you shouldn't have to pull an all-nighter to pass every exam.

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College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.

1. The "freshman 15."

Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.

2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.

For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.

3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.

This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.

4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.

I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.

5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together. 

Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

6. Pulling all nighters, ever.

If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.

7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.

This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.

8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.

A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.

9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.

I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.

10.  Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"

If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.

11.  Skipping class whenever you feel like it.

You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.

12.  Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).

"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?

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