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Broke College Students

12 Aug

By: Sara Goff

While being a “broke college student” may be cliché, it is certainly the grim reality for myself and most of my friends.  We cram our days full of classes, internships, and the “extra-curricular” activities we’re promised will boost the competitiveness of our resumes.  Yet, the time we are able to dedicate to our part-time jobs results in rather dismal paychecks—despite our exhaustive efforts to act like productive members of society.

What happened to the days when people “worked themselves through college waiting tables?”  Now that’s a cliché I would readily embrace.   But oh, how times have changed.  Let’s break it down, shall we?

College students are advised to spend at least two hours per week “studying “ for each hour we spend in class.1  This fall, I will spend roughly 15 hours per week in class; therefore I should study somewhere around 30 hours per week.   Class + studying = 45 hours of my week.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults (yes—that includes us college kids) should sleep for 7-9 hours each night.2 (LOL, right?)  Theoretically, I should be asleep for about 49 hours per week.

Now, let’s  just assume that us college kids all have the opportunity to work  a “full-time” job—at a part-time pay rate, of course, because who are we kidding—we don’t have degrees and are essentially worthless except to provide ungrateful heathens with overly-processed sustenance or fold clothes at Abercrombie.  Imagine working 40 hours per week for $10/hour. While in college.  Oh wait—taxes. Make that $9/hour.

Hmm. That plan equates to about $360 a week (over $17,000 annually) and 34 hours of free time every week!  Seems legit…until you consider the typical expenses incurred by college students:

As an Ohio resident, attending The Ohio State University costs me an average of $5,085 per semester.  Eager to obtain my degree, I make use of summer term as well.   In 2013, I will spend around $15,000 on my education. (not including my study abroad trip to Florence—I am told that cross-cultural experience is particularly valuable on a resume, and Italy is awesome)

To live within reasonable proximity to campus, my rent and bills total around $620/month—approximately $7,500 per year.

So, tuition and living expenses alone sum around $25,000—already way above the $17,000 I would earn if I spent 40 hours a week at work.  And I haven’t bought books or food…

What’s a girl to do?  “Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents” suggests Mitt Romney.3

HA.  Since it’s pretty unrealistic to ask my parents, a retired flight-attendant and a disabled Vietnam veteran, for $25k a year, I am obligated to hit up Sallie Mae to fund the difference.  Moreover, I’m expected to delight in their offer of 11% interest and repayment deferral until I graduate.

Despite bitching about my incessant state of student-status-induced poverty, I don’t want it to go without recognition that I am eminently grateful (although, I’m not quite sure to who) for the opportunity to study what I love at one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.  HOWEVER COMMA I am both intrigued and annoyed by the financial burden that this endeavor places on myself and my peers.  It is unrealistic to expect aspiring students to earn money for tuition while simultaneously immersing in a collegiate-level education;  It is equally impractical to expect parents to fully fund their children’s post-secondary education.  Finally, the current amount of outstanding student loan debt, somewhere between $900 billion and $1 trillion, is downright haphazard.4

To reiterate, educational expenses need re-evaluation—because college simply costs too much. And, someone needs to implement a more pragmatic way for students to finance post-secondary education—because Mittens’ plan won’t work.

And that, folks, is why I will go to law school!






Writer’s Block

6 Aug

By: Sara Goff

As I sit in the lobby of my new apartment complex, using the free wi-fi because I am obviously too poor to afford my own, the reality of my impending student-loan debt is depressing me; it’s not an unfamiliar feeling.  Because that’s just not enough for one night, I am further annoyed that the Center for the Study of Teaching and Writing at Ohio State decided to eliminate Alexis – the best writing instructor I’ve ever had – due to budget cuts in the humanities department. Of course.

I admit: I am the self-proclaimed Chief of the Grammar Police Force.  I pass judgment on people solely based on the quality of their writing—especially instructors!  The bane of my academic existence is when I cringe at a professor’s grammar:

“This person has a PhD,” I will gawk.

“And they corrected my paper to say ‘with regards to,’”…

The narrator in the clip below may very well be quoting from my stream of consciousness:

Much to my exasperation, professional communication isn’t exactly a high priority at this, or any, major public university.  Instead, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are all the rage.

It’s not that I don’t think STEM is practical—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are crucial to future developments that will [hopefully?] sustain our great green Earth.

I know that, as a research-driven public university, Ohio State relies on STEM programs to maintain a prestigious status among other top research institutions—which results in a plethora of private funding.

However, someone needs to write about what those geniuses are up to!

Technical writers are crucial to the communication of news about developments in every field; otherwise, readers of Science Daily would be left deciphering lab reports…

Again, it’s not that I am against funding for STEM;  but my skills are equally as valuable, and should be treated as such—especially by those in charge of allocating funds to the Center for the Study of Teaching and Writing.

In fact, according to the National Endowment for Humanities:

“One of the myths of our times is that the humanities are good for the soul but irrelevant to the pocketbook and job creation…

We believe, however, that the humanities actually are central to long-term American competitiveness…

In a world where America’s role will continually be tested, the nation cannot afford to ignore the humanities”

I am painfully aware that not everyone cares about grammar as much as I do—which is why I am concerned and frustrated by the recent cutbacks in humanities funding.

Contingent with emerging developments…and despite what mathematicians insist…

“Writing matters in a changing world”