The Ignorance Behind Higher Ed

The Ignorance Behind Higher Ed

A reflection of the inflection point between poverty and Princeton
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Research shows that high-achieving, low-income students are less likely to pursue higher quality education at prestigious universities. Today, in the wake of crippling student debt, it has become commonplace for the brightest pupils to reject the “Ivies” in favor of guaranteed, full-tuition packages in state. This sacrifice of opportunity allows our nation’s finest resource to languish in taxing, crowded classrooms. Forget for a moment about the grade points — according to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, these economically disadvantaged intellectuals plunge further into disparity when enrolled alongside high-income peers.

Put it into perspective: When you’re worried about putting food on the table, late night shifts take priority over late night studying. What makes this occurrence inconceivable is that many colleges and organizations are aware of this and make little effort to alleviate students’ financial burden every day.

In other words, this is unacceptable. As a nation, we have an obligation to stimulate, cultivate and maintain positively all resources available for our expenditure. The bright minds of young students are the key to innovation and insurance of a greater tomorrow. It is completely unreasonable to assume that future generations must solve present day issues when they, as students, cannot afford the necessary education needed to solve said problems.

We can’t afford to be complacent about the waste of bright minds. Only we, as citizens of America, can push for academic emphasis. We must invigorate those with funds to spare to back young scholars as they pursue greater achievements. No human being can succeed without a basic support system. In the case of the poverty-stricken high-achiever, financial support is something of a myth akin to a unicorn.

Luckily, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to organize and take stock of the resources we already have available. To accomplish this task, the tools we have are various scholarship foundations, while the means to execute financial backing exists in strong public outreach. Not to get hopes unreasonably high, because not every brilliant student will be reached. But, opening up another door for one person is better than none. Brilliance has a tendency to affect others positively. One aided scholar will inform another, who in turn, will tell three others and so on. Once the young academic community builds confidence from steady societal support, we will know we have found success.

The JKC Foundation states that a high-achieving low-income scholar thrives in a community of similar peers, academic counsel, and strong financial backing. These resources ease the burden forced upon those who bear intelligence and great disadvantage. We can create lifetimes of excellence and prosperity by extending more compassion into a garden aching to grow.

We need to get schooled. As a society, we must tend to the seeds inevitably planted each day and think critically on the ingredients each unique pod needs to flourish. We need to breathe confidence into the gasping lungs of scholars drowning beneath societal issues they did not ask to be born into. We need to allocate our resources fairly and frequently. We need to raise awareness of grant, scholarship and internship opportunities to those who would benefit the most.

Most importantly, we need to believe in our students by encouraging them to strive for higher achievements and reckless adoration of new knowledge. An intellectual community is best defined by its treatment of those just on the beginning of their academic journey.

Frankly, it will not be easy to overcome the academic disparity. Students have developed apprehension and an understandably high level of caution when it comes to scholarships or grants. In our day and age, “free money” is practically an oxymoron. No matter the level of outreach, there will still be more cynics than believers for years to come. On top of that, socio-economic, language or cultural barriers aren’t obstacles torn down in a night. There are plenty of inter-familial or local pressures from the environment that may add to a student’s reluctance to accept the education they deserve. It will require strong unity, interest and steadfast execution of public support for these individuals to finally believe in a person defined beyond their economic status.

“Natural selection will not remove ignorance from future generations."
-Richard Dawkins.

While Dawkins refers to social awareness, this quote is every bit as applicable to the epidemic of disadvantaged bright pupils. Poverty is not meant to be an inherited trait. Yet, our society has marginalized and ostracized those who first fall into it. It should go without saying there is a moral obligation to provide equal opportunity for every human being to achieve the means necessary to end their cycle of poverty.

The promise so many immigrants and refugees whisper as they step foot on American soil is opportunity. Opportunity is the hope that has unfailingly been passed down from grandparent to parent and from parent to child. This promise, held dear to hearts of every citizen, dims in brightness each time a young mind wilts in neglect or insufficient stimulation. We effectively dim the future of possibility each time we allow students to choose between the money and the education. Without a doubt, if there’s a single shred of morality in our bodies, we owe it to our children and our scholars to ensure that they may traverse a path only plagued with long nights of studying and appropriately challenging finals. We owe it to our future generations by laying the foundation of preservation.

More importantly, we owe it to ourselves. How could we live knowing we chose ignorance rather than our future?

Cover Image Credit: Keyword Suggestions

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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