Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Today I was enraged by a difficult individual in my personal life and some bad decision making (or potential decision making) in my work life, but what really put me in a total and utter rage is the cost of college. But not for the reasons you might expect.

See, I spend a lot of time with poor, Black teenagers. You can call them African-American, low-income, urban, inner-city, disadvantaged, marginalized, whatever, but the bottom line is that they are poor and Black. And I could go on about how awesome they are, or I could go on about how totally frustrating and impossible they are, but, you know, I could go on about the three privileged white girls I live with and how awesome, frustrating, and impossible they are.

But here's the thing, these teenagers I know? In every aspect of their lives, they face the most insane obstacles. Their life stories are like bad made-for-TV movies, except they're true. Just about every single one of them. And, yes, they make some of their obstacles for themselves, and some of them make a lot of obstacles for themselves. And some of them can't get past the obstacles: the violence, the parents, the temptations, the schools. But some of them can. They work really hard, and they get a lot of support, and they're determined, and they make it through whatever they need to make it through, and they come out the other side of being a teenager, and they're ready to move on, and to move on in a substantive way in our society, you basically need college.

And you know what? College is expensive. Not just Harvard, not just State U, but any college, because not only do you have tuition, but you have books, and when you're in school you can't work as much, though lots of them do, but if you work as much, then you have trouble with school, and basically this makes me INSANE WITH RAGE when I stop to think about it. Which mainly I don't, because the thing about life is you just need to get on with it and deal with what's in front of you, but today I let myself open up to just how incredibly fucked up this whole capitalist system is, and how it's grinding these kids to a halt, just when they are ready to move forward, and, well, I have to get in bed and read a stupid novel now, because this has just been too much of a day.


Kate P. said...

It's funny that you wrote about this today because I am going back to school and am taking three very boring intro level classes this summer. Guess how much my books were--$400. $400 for three textbooks.

How is anyone supposed to afford that?

Anonymous said...

If you are not angry you are not paying attention...excellent post.

dance said...

If they could get into Harvard, Harvard would pay them to go.

landismom said...

Great post.

CathyB said...

So with you! We know who to vote for this time! And it's true about Harvard...but how about the government? Like so many other countries in the world that subsidize universities—Sweden, Canada, England, France and on and on. If we stick with total free enterprise here then the universities have a MUCH bigger responsibility to the poor and not just loans. Harvard is sort of leading the way which they can truly afford to but so many places can't.