Updated: Sep 13, 2019
Let me preface this by saying that I do understand how lucky I am to have an oppurtunity to receive a college degree, at a time when it is becoming increasingly expensive and impossible to do so.
I respect that a degree has the power to get you jobs which help secure your financial future and give you the knowledge necessary to grow into an adult.
Or do they.
I write this because I just received an email from SIUE asking me to pay at minimum $132 to for a parking pass. Which I'm sure at the minimum price tier, I will be walking to class from Waterloo essentially anyway.
Yes, I realize this isn't something specific to this university, since I am now on my second college institution and have seen these fees at both places. But it doesn't make it any easier to stomach. Because apparently the $15-$20,000 dollars per year they collect for my tuition doesn't cover my parking fee?
Politicians can yell and shout about student loans all they want, but it's not just about the rise in prices for college tuition, it's the fact that those costs seems to grow while covering less and less of what we need on campus.
Again, I understand this isn't just me, but that's why I am writing about it. And it's not about free tuition either.
You want to go to school here? Great, $20,000. You need books for classes? Absolutely, that will be another $2-$3,000. You want a spot to place your car, that has been maintained by money out of your own pocket? $132 please.
I don't really want to go on and on, as I am sure for the older people reading this they might think, "another millenial complaining about things being too tough". But if you are over the age of 30 and think you had it tough, take a look at either your kids, or the bulk of college students.
I know people who had no right nor way to pay for school, but chose to go anyway on student loans. I know people who have paid for a college degree, only to watch themselves get passed over in the job market and end up working minimum wage jobs that pay for literally nothing.
I don't even think a months salary for a manager at McDonald's would even cover a bottle of water on a university campus anymore.
I keep wondering who in the hell made college a priority to kids.
I'm reading a book by the former Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Cardinals, Jack Buck, and some things have really stood out to me just from reading it, chief among them the importance of college.
Chief among them, was his recounting of how casual an idea quitting school sounded like. I can't even imagine. Just saying I hate college has been enough to send my parents into cardiac arrest.
But there were jobs back then. People could go without college an still be successful on their own making a living.
So many times I hear that the generation that fought in World War II was the greatest generation to ever live. They didn't complain, they just went to work and did what they were told. Hard nose people, raised with a never quit attitude.
At face value it would seem impossible that we have since become the generation of people who claim mental health makes it impossible to work, or that there are more than three genders, etc. You get the point.
We are soft, right? Unwilling to work hard for what we want, more apt to complain about our parents and the structured institutions that our parents had to deal with when they were kids.
It is crazy to me to imagine that there were generations that paid their way through school by working jobs on the side. I mean I get it, people are still doing that today, but I would say with a much different meaning.
In the past, a minimum wage job might have been enough to help you pay for some of your tuition, while covering some of your day to day needs. Ramen noodle budgeting, toughness, and dedication to see a process through.
The idea of dropping out of college wasn't outlandish at the time either, it was a real possibility of life based on your level of intelligence and yes, your financial standing.
But, what happens when those same institutions become bloated cash cows that do little more than give you a slip of paper to prove you know what you are talking about. Cash cows who have doubled their tutiton costs in the last 27 years.
Cash cows who essentially control your ability to now get any job worth doing.
According to Forbes in fact, the average cost of tuition has grown 8 times faster than wage averages, while average wages have grown by a measly .3% in the same time period. But that's a whole lot of numbers so what has really happened.
Based on that same article, the average cost of tutiton for four years in college went from $52,892 (adjusted for inflation) in 1989, to $104,480 in 2016. When you compare that to the growth of wages in this country, it's embarrassing. Average wages in 1989 sat at $54,042, compared to $59,039 in 2016.
Oh great! An extra $5,000 a year essentially in your pocket to help cover an extra $52,000 in tuition. The average American is screwed. Period.
Would anyone argue that I don't know what I am talking about when it comes to the communications field? I run my own podcasts, write blogs, do the social media marketing and grow an audience, literally everything that you could touch on in my major, I have done and continue to do as a hobby on the side.
Yet when trying to transfer, I was told classes didn't match up and so I would have to start from scratch. I get it, don't transfer schools.
Sometimes it's not that simple.
All it would take is a human being with a pulse and half a handful of common sense to tell that I'm not at a beginner level with this stuff. But who cares, they will take their money because I made my mistake.
Maybe kids in this country genuinely hate their lives or feel constantly depressed because we don't even know if we will have a life after high school because college has become so expensive for, in a lot of different ways, no reason.
Maybe if all we hear from birth is that college is becoming more expensive and more unattainable, we believe that we aren't going to be good enough for college, and so we drop out or give up.
And with no future in front of us, we become depressed.
Look, this "w"e doesn't even necessarily include me but you get the point. This is a joke.
In the year since I started working on this hobby of mine, I have learned and taught myself more things than I have ever learned in a college classroom.
Professors have become more politcally motivated in their lectures, while class sizes have grown bigger as the monopolization of higher education continues making it harder for the good professors to dedicate the necessary time to all their students.
So now, we are getting less than ever from an education that we are paying more than ever for.
I am halfway through, so obviously I will finish this journey I'm on, but one thing is for certain:
I hate college, no matter how fun the parties can be. The insitution is a waste of time for my growth as a human being, growth that never actually comes from these places, but rather the education is a good paid for and not received.
Maybe you feel differently, maybe you have had a different experience. I have had professors who certainly helped me get into this hobby and without their push and encouragement I wouldn't be doing this.
It's not impossible to enjoy college and it's not impossible to make a living without a college degree, but it's not what I have felt and experienced and I am sure that I am not alone.