Higher education is not about money, not at the heart of it. Higher education is about learning to think, and while the ability to think is not as tangible as a cold, hard paycheck, saying “No way!” to college is saying “No way!” to a lifetime of both financial and cultural growth.
So why college? “I hate school.” “It’s just not for me.” “School is boring, and it’s a waste of time.” “I don’t need college to be smart.” These are common responses people give when they finish high school and are suddenly asked why they don’t want to continue their education. Those statements can be valid reasons for certain individuals, as they were once valid for me when I was in high school. However, one day, I got a miraculous wake-up call. Hopefully my story can be yours. My parents came to the United States from Egypt 30 years ago. Today, they still can barely speak basic English and haven’t been educated beyond high school. My parents, my three older brothers and I live in a two-bedroom apartment, which forces me to share a room with my parents. My household has always consisted of constant yelling, fighting, putting others down, and [...]
When I made the jump from high school to college, it was not a smooth transition. At first, I feared the life change that I was about to make. While my fellow classmates were eager to receive their admissions responses, I was unexcited about them. I didn’t think that I wanted to go to college because of the challenge that it posed. I had lived in my hometown since birth, and had never been away for my family for an extended period before. The first few weeks at college were an emotional challenge. After some time at college, I grew acclimated to the new situation and embraced my newfound freedom. During the rest of my freshman year I learned even more about people, especially myself. When you live and study with a new group of people, you learn an incredible amount. While this knowledge occasionally comes from a stress-laden screaming [...]
Like most seventeen year-old girls who grow up in beautiful Southern California, I couldn’t wait to leave. I had “fallen in love” with my high school boyfriend who was revered as the school’s best musician in years. I secretly hoped that I would be able to keep the romance alive and join him in New York, where he was going to study jazz. After all, I too played music and was already planning on going to music school, and my top school choice was in Manhattan. My parents never pushed the idea of college on me, so it was something I decided I wanted for myself. I started playing fiddle (bluegrass violin) when I was three and a half. My parents started me on violin in response to my unremitting energy and lack of direction. (Read: I was majorly ADHD.) Through violin, my father forever shaped and instilled a sense [...]
As the case is with many of my friends and classmates, going to college was about more than just me; rather, it was about my family, my history, and (at the risk of sounding cliché) my future. I suppose my response to “Why college?” was always “How could I not?”
I applied to college so that I would have a good enough reason to move away from home. For the record, I was raised in a financially stable environment, never feared for my safety, and always found a meal when I needed one. Regardless, high school senioritis paled in comparison with my urge to jettison into the first moments of adulthood: no curfew, new city, signing my own papers and forms. A lack of academic rigor in my high school classes and a four-year stint as a jazz pianist in my high school’s traveling big band convinced me to apply for the farthest, most prestigious jazz music programs I could find from Los Angeles: New York University; University of Colorado, Boulder; and East Texas University. I didn’t really want to funnel my entire life into a career based solely on music, yet it seemed like a credible enough excuse to [...]
For me the question of “Why College?” is something I have considered very seriously in the course of completing my degree. I am technically an alumnus of University College London. When I finish the degree I started in 2005 I will also be an alumnus of the University of Westminster. One degree, two universities: I have asked the question “Why College?” not once, but twice. The first time I asked myself that question I barely had to think about it. I was already going to college and I was going to a good one. I got into UCL, described as a “British Ivy League university.” I met interesting people, I had a great time, and through it all I even had time to study and write essays, which are the basic elements of a History degree. Why ask “Why College?” when things are proceeding as people expect and life is [...]