Friday, November 04, 2011

College and Snowflakes

Saint Anselm College, Mancheseter NH- winter

I went here (see above) for college. It's a good college;  I received an excellent education and I don't regret for a moment that I  went there. I made some great friends, learned more about myself and my abilities than I thought possible and found my faith there. It was not cheap. It was not free. And it did not let everyone in. I received a scholarship for some of my tuition because throughout high school, I was a hard worker and knew that I wanted to go to college. As the youngest of three, college was not a given. Paying for it was certainly going to come down to me (mom & dad helped, alot. More than they should have, realistically), and I'm still paying it. I wore the same jeans for 4 years, I had the meal plan, cigarettes and a keg party ($3 for a cup) were my budgeted items. I saved all summer for book money. I walked and bummed rides to my jobs when I couldn't swing gas. I had jobs. 

Where is this conversation going? I was in Boston earlier in the week for work and drove past the Occupy Boston movement and saw the following scene: a student, with a bullhorn, in $100 sneakers (PC's a sneaker junkie-- i know these were not cheapo kicks, definitely a Bodega buy), a $200 NorthFace jacket, D&G sunglasses ... yelling "College is a RIGHT, not for the rich and white." Note: I think this young man was white. 

I get it. I do. College costs a small fortune today. So does rent, milk, bread, gasoline and haircuts. But, college is not a right. College is a privilege; if you are smart, capable and interested in learning, you should be in college. How many of my fellow students did I see that were partying away their parents money? Too many. Did I think they deserved to be there? No. My college roomie, Mandi, had a great sign in our room: $20,000. It was a daily reminder to us about why we were there and the price we were paying.  

Also, what happened to skilled labor and learning a trade? PC started college and left, knowing that his interest level (and capacity at the time to stay in school) was a waste of his money and his parents'. So he left. He worked a lot of jobs, but he made ends meet, he lived on his own and now, he's "skilled labor" and a supervisor. Why did we make it a bad thing if Susie wants to be a hairdresser and Bobby wants to be a plumber? 

It all comes down to each child being a "special snowflake." I don't want to seem harsh (and I'm not a parent, so feel free to come down on my non-mommyness, you wouldn't be the first), but not everyone should go to college. Our society needs people to mow lawns, fix plumbing, build houses, cut hair, pave roads, drive buses, and carry the mail. We need to recognize the good, honest hard work that goes into working a trade. 

My message to our friend at Occupy Boston? You are not the special snowflake your mom told you that you are. And google the Bill of Rights. 


  1. Thank you:) I've been waiting for someone to say something.

  2. I think it's perfectly acceptable that not everyone go to college. I do, however, think that in order for that to be realistic, that means that you need to be able to earn a living wage on a high school education. I see how my 3 stepchildren who didn't go to college struggle to earn that living wage and I'm glad that Hannah is going.

  3. I'm a mom and I agree with what you posted. My children are great and I love them dearly but I don't coddle them. They know that they're not always going to win and that if you really want something you have to work hard for it. Things in life aren't just handed to you for free.

    Sadly there are those smart individuals who never get a chance to go to college because it's so expensive and they don't have the right people helping them find money to pay for it. My parents couldn't afford to pay for my education so I joined the military for 4 years to earn my college money. I worked full time and took classes on the side then used my GI bill to pay for the rest when I got out.

    Carole's right, trying to support yourself on minimum wage is almost impossible now. Most people end up working 2-3 jobs just to survive. The cost of living has shot through the roof and unfortunately minimum wage hasn't risen much to help. I left home over 14 years ago and minimum wage in my state has gone up less then $1.

  4. yes, supporting yourself on minimum wage is impossible. A living wage should be paid, but "trade" positions often pay a fairly decent wage. I heard an economist comment once that "raising the expected education level creates an increase in the cost of living based on expected income, not actual income."

    Good for you... the GI bill is a wonderful service to those who serve our country. thank you for your service!

  5. Captain Bullhorn probably *is* a college student, there on his parent's dime (kids who pay their own way, or who pay a substantial portion of it don't wear $100 sneaks and NorthFace jackets.) I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, and believe that he realizes he's privileged and is speaking for those who aren't. Should everyone go to college? Absolutely not! Reduce tuition and raise acceptance standards so that the kids who should be there are there, and the alumni offspring can't coast in on daddy's checkbook. But even trade or technical schools are ridiculously expensive. Post secondary education should be available and affordable for anyone with the desire and the aptitude to pursue it.

  6. I so agree... I've been reading through my RSS feeds backwards -trying to catch up now that my power is back on (Boo for Halloween snow in western MA) and I was nodding my head while reading this, and then I saw that I should see a post from you everyday and that made me happy :)