…life from my perspective
Teachers and parents share the responsibility of properly educating our children so that they can create realities that they can exist and excel in. Telling each and every child that occupies a seat in a classroom that they can and should attend a 4-year university followed by graduate school is wrong and those that do this need to undergo a psyche eval. The mark of a good educator is one who not only sets the stage for self-discovery, but identifies skills and talents in students then strongly encourages them to be built upon. Knowing that some students are better suited for work in trade industries or as small business owners should take precedence over recommending a BS, MS, PhD, MD, PsychD or JD just because this is whats expected. If you know me you KNOW I strongly believe acquiring knowledge and being resourceful and informed is the bare minimum. But what I’m seeing is people who hold advanced and professional degrees are none of these. And far worse, our young people are not prepared for the rigorous coursework and boatloads of debt ready and waiting to greet them the second they arrive on campus. Yes I believe education is important. Yes I believe we should teach our children to strive for excellence. But aren’t there non-traditional ways this can be achieved outside of attending college? Are we misleading our children into believing that higher education guarantees gainful and lucrative employment? Are the colleges preparing our students to become financially independent entreprenuers or are they just being trained to enter the workforce and stay there? There are a lot of issues surrounding this that concern me and I have conflicting views as I write this. But I will say pushing students to college who are financially strapped and ill-prepared is just as bad as not sending any at all.
I was fortunate enough to attend undergraduate and graduate school so I know a bit about the “college experience”. And though my parents didn’t have a college fund set aside so I could go to school debt-free, the experience was unlike any other. I learned how to research, how to write, how to work with others, how to speak up for myself, how to think, how to handle my personal business, how to party, how to schedule, plan and manage my time, how to be on time, how to flirt, how to live with others, how to create conflict and how to resolve it. If you were to ask me if I would do it again, I’d tell you damn right I would. In a heartbeat. While I was there though, I witnessed a lot of people placed on academic probation only to be kicked out, never to return. I saw a lot of people leave because the financial responsibility was too much for their family to manage. There were also a handful of folks who attended the university and got kicked out but stayed down there to do hair or just chill at they homey house. And everybody knew at least one person who withdrew every semester after loan checks were disbursed only to have left 4 years later with their incoming class but not as a graduate – they just left. How many of YOUR friends changed their major about 3 or 4 times only to settle on something that was closest to the number of credits they already had so they could graduate with a BS in anything? And while these occurrences are not the majority they are happening more often than not at colleges and universities nationwide. I think this speaks to a larger issue of ill-preparedness.
Students must be made aware of the financial responsibility of attending college that rests on THEIR shoulders. The amount of debt amassed and the amount of time taken to repay it must be thoroughly examined and properly explained. Prospective students should fully understand their program of study, viable industries and career paths within those industries. It seems senseless to me for a student to pay $40,000 to earn a BS in speech communications only to return home and manage the local Best Buy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with becoming a manager at Best Buy though I wonder if this can be achieved via a promotion for a few excellent years of dedicated service as a sales associate. The point being that the employee wouldn’t have $40,000 of student loan debt. I guess what I’m saying is our children need a plan. After they party and bullshit, that Math 120 homework set is still due. They still have to see their way through their college years semester by semester. If they can’t see themselves earning the necessary credits for focusing on the degree, they asses is toast! STRAIGHT BURNT UP!!
Look, we love our children and we want the best for them. And while I highlighted some of the issues faced by many students who attend college, it still IS the better deal. While many economists consider college debt “good debt”, it isn’t if borrowers are unable to repay their loans and subsequently default on them. Sitting with our young adults and discussing with them their options so they make informed choices should be the order of the day. What I wouldn’t give to see young, black financially independent individuals who hold BS, MS, PhD, MD, PsychD or JD degrees. And while earning these titles is an achievement they shouldn’t define us. They should be used as a competitive edge to get us into places we otherwise wouldn’t have access to without them. And all that is learned outside the community should be brought back and taught to members of the community. Each One. Teach One. Until tomorrow youngn’s.