College Tutoring Advice

Contributing to the Conversation When It Seems Pointless

When there’s a lot going on in the world, school can feel like a waste of time. Learning to write arguments and engage with conversations when protests are getting violently repressed doesn’t feel right. I get it, but I’m here to tell you it matters.

Not every class will prepare for you the outside world (duh). But, that reading and writing class you hate will. Sure, you are reading and writing about topics that don’t interest you when historical events are happening all over the world. Not to mention, you have navigate their emotional tolls.

Motivation sucks when school is happening during gut-wrenching, stressful world events. While I don’t know which classes you’re taking or how thoroughly you feel the events around the world, I do know understanding how people talk to each other is important.

Understanding the Conversation

Conversations happen everyday, big and small. Most of the conversations with which you are involved happen in your home with your loved ones. Maybe you observe and even comment on social media posts. These are all forms of conversations. On a bigger level, there are countrywide conversations around controversial issues such as Roe v. Wade, which was recently overturned by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, there are worldwide conversations like the protests over Women’s Rights in Iran. These types of conversations likely take a toll on you because they’re happening all around no matter what you believe or know.

School still matters under these conditions for one reason. Education is the best way to turn extreme debates and violence into fruitful discussions. Right now, when you google any controversial issue, you get lots of opposing, strong views. And, to be clear, part of having a conversation is understanding there might not be a right answer. We are simply arguing with our version of right—regardless of how right you know it is. The trick to making these conversations useful is bringing evidence and reason into your argument.

Not everyone will agree with your perspective no matter the degree to which your evidence proves your strong argument points and claim. But, the important part of entering the conversation is doing your part right and understanding how to evaluate the other part. This is precisely what your argument classes should be teaching you; this is why they matter in spite of what’s happening in the world.

College Tutoring Advice

Student Loan Forgiveness is the Only Beginning

Student loan forgiveness is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t target the core issue. The truth is that college isn’t worth it if you’re in the working or middle classes and can’t reasonably pay your tuition. When taking on student loans, the goal is for you to get a return on that investment. You need your money to work while you study, so you can eventually work for more money post-graduation.

I say this as someone who is only now, in my third year of my master’s, having to pay the majority of my tuition. I got lucky in my undergrad and luckier still during the first two years of my master’s in spite of my lack of financial literacy.

What Your Mentors Tell You

Teacher after teacher, counselor after counselors. Parents, too. Everyone told me that college was the next step. But, as someone who couldn’t vote in the presidential election the year I graduated, I had no clue what it meant to sign on for that much debt.

I lived off-campus with family for free, which saved me half of my tuition. The other half was paid by Cal Grants, aside from a couple thousand I paid out-of-pocket. If I hadn’t gotten room and board free, received state funding, and chosen a “cheap,” public institution, I’d be stuck. I’d be one more of countless people stuck in debt.

Hot Take on Financial Literacy

Financial education is underrated. From the moment we’re born to deciding on college, we are not prepared for the huge decision that is college. When I said I’d attend, I wasn’t thinking about the price tag I’d likely be paying for thirty years. Most of us made this decision in the middle of our senior years before we can drive without an “adult,” buy alcohol, or probably vote.

Student Loan Forgiveness

With all of this talk about “forgiving student loans,” we’re putting a (much-needed yet insufficient) Band-Aid on the problem rather than doing the work to fix it. Higher education takes too much from young people before they’re old enough to understand the weight of their actions. It’s “the next step” rather than considered as seriously as marriage or buying a house. We don’t have the same visceral fear or stress about taking that debt on until we’re seeing our barely-there net-worth’s plummet.

College is a Privilege

It’s a privilege to attend college, and I’m grateful that I did. But, I see the effects of debt on the people around me; I see the way it affects their decision to get a house now or later. They decide between twenty people at their wedding or a hundred, to go to their dream destination or one an hour from home.

Just like it’s a privilege to attend college, it’s also a privilege to understand what student loan debt means. We tell our high school students that it’s “the way out.” Yet, we don’t tell them how they should avoid incurring debt as much as possible. Instead of spending time educating young people about debt and student loans, we have them take quizzes about which college is right for them. We invite speakers to talk about the benefits of college. We even tell students to take classes solely designed to prepare them for college.

We See the Problem, Now What?

Student loan forgiveness acknowledges the problem that we all know exists, but it doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t educate young people on the severity of making a decision before they’ve graduated from high school.

Student loan determines the amount of money you’ll allocate away from the life you want and toward the life you left behind. College is only worth it when that one four-year decision you made at eighteen doesn’t limit what you can do with the opportunity that degree gave you. If the point of college is to open up job opportunities for financial security, then any student loans that keep you from achieving financial security outweigh the benefits of getting a degree.

To Attend or Not To Attend

As a college graduate who has always loved learning, I’d tell everyone to attend college if it aligns with their goals. Get a degree to give you financial stability. Get a degree to qualify you for your dream job. Don’t get a degree if the university charges more than any mortgage you’d be willing to pay. Paying tuition is an investment in yourself and I’d argue it’s a necessary investment, but it shouldn’t be your only investment.

Diversify your investments and understand that college isn’t the only path. Sometimes, the best option is to put it off for a better time in your life. Choose an institution that fits your needs financially, academically, and logistically because, no matter what the college entrance season makes you think, colleges should fit you.