i want a bachelor's degree.

i discovered recently that my younger cousin didn't know the difference between a bachelor's degree and an associate's degree. i explained how students who attend a four-year university earn a bachelor's degree, and that community colleges only offer associate's degrees. i assumed he already had this information, but he didn't. i can't remember now if i knew that i would be earning a bachelor's degree before or after i started college. most likely, i didn't know until after. that's how terrible our schools are at letting their students know what lies ahead. keep in mind, too, that my cousin, like myself, attended an expensive catholic school. go figure. so, if this happened to us, just imagine what's going on at the public school level. yeah, it's that bad.

my cousin was also duped into thinking that he had to declare a major while he was attending community college. this didn't sound right to me, but i didn't say anything because i didn't actually attend community college, so i wouldn't know. i did an internet search recently, though, and found out that no, one doesn't actually have to declare a major at the community college level. a student just needs to complete 60 semester units to earn his associate's degree, and then can transfer to a state school. i don't quite understand this, either. shouldn't a person just be able to drop community college at any point, and transfer, since he was eligible to apply for college at 18? i suppose he stuck it out so that his credits would transfer.

why is this seemingly simple information so difficult to obtain? when i was in high school, i didn't know that had i taken a.p. courses, they would've transferred to college, and i would've been significantly less in debt. i could've graduated a year earlier. but no advisor, friend, teacher, or parent was ever able to tell me any of this. i didn't even think about the cost of college, really. i just knew that you took out loans, but at eighteen years old, i had no concept of what one's annual salary looked like after college. what do you have to compare $80,000 of debt with, when you're earning $200 a month in allowance, and you have no idea what you're worth once you get your college degree?

there's a definite disconnect here. when i entered college, i didn't know the difference between a loan, a grant, and a scholarship. i carried this myth with me that since my g.p.a. wasn't very high - seattle u was the only school to accept me - that i wasn't even close to being eligible for any scholarships. i had no idea where to even look for them, let alone apply for them. my advisors were no help, either. in high school, the summation of my meetings with mr. seishas was: "your g.p.a. isn't high enough for any uc's." then, in college, dr. smith: "are you able to afford these extra credits?" i told her yes, even though the real answer was no.

so, why are philosophy, theology, and algebra part of the core curriculum, and not a class that teaches financial responsibility, or even a workshop dedicated to giving students information about the cost of classes vs. the actual amount the average college graduate can expect to earn after graduation? maybe the people who run these institutions think it's just a given. you're supposed to know that, at seattle university, if you don't qualify for scholarships or grants, after four years, you can expect to be at least $90,000 in debt. after you finish college, if you chose a major like creative writing, you will make $31,500 a year, if you are able to find a job.

maybe the people in charge know that it doesn't matter. what eighteen year-old ready to embark on his college adventure is going to listen to a session on financial responsibility? an eighteen year old whose family has no money isn't going to think twice about $90,000. it might as well be a million dollars. and poor people who want to escape their life of poverty will get themselves in debt to do just that. in conclusion, the way things currently work are as follows: go to college; you'll be poorer than you were before you started.

this is probably a given for most people; goods and services cost money. duh. but what does it mean when information is kept from the poor masses, from the high school graduates about to embark on a financially exploitative journey of self-discovery? what does it mean that, at our school, naeff scholarships were only advertised to students enrolled in the honors program (something i didn't even know about until my senior year of college)? is this omission of information/blatant oppression masked as: "you should have known better?" "you should've asked the right questions?" "you should've been more proactive and responsible when it came to these matters?"

how were we supposed to know?


Jacob Dempsey said...

My girlfriend says she agrees with you about 50% of the time, but 100% on this one.

ultrafknbd said...

Ah, the disparity between education and educated.