Opinion | Being a college student is a privilege, not a chore

By Abril Salinas, Columnist

Sometimes, when the stress of being a first-generation college student really gets to me, I imagine how liberating dropping out would feel. But before I can log onto Self-Service and hit the “cancel registration” button, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here.

While college, at times, can make me want to rip my hair out, every once in a while I think a lot of us fail to understand just how fortunate we are to be here. Yes, college is far from easy, and I’m sure most of us worked really hard to get to where we are, but being at the University is a privilege many of us take for granted.

Receiving a good education is a luxury many people can never afford, and while I whole-heartedly believe a good education should be easily accessible to everyone, that is not currently how it works.

Many of us grew up with America’s public education system. As a by-product of that, I think it is common for us to forget how lucky we are to have had that. Not everyone around the world has access to the same level of education we do, and yet it is still something we discount when assessing our privilege.

In America, we have the right to mostly free education for 12 years of our lives, and then we have the opportunity to attend college. However, students often consider it to be a burden, rather than a privilege. This is in large part due to an unhealthy emphasis on academic performance and high pressure on students during our high school years.

In high school, we were constantly told to succeed in life, we need to have good grades. Instead of learning the material we were presented with, many of us simply memorized it so we could get an “A” in the class. We didn’t do this because we were intrigued by the new information or wanted to broaden our knowledge; we did it to “succeed.” 

Because of this utilitarian attitude toward education, plus the added stress of SAT/ACT prep and the need to be a “well-rounded” student with multiple extracurricular activities, high school became a stressful stepping stone on our way to college. However, here we are past high school, and for some of us, college is just another stress-inducing path. 

It’s easy to fall back into the old habits you might have had in high school and see coursework as a burden, but when you take a step back and try to remember when education used to be something that was exciting and inspiring, it becomes easier to look at all the work presented to you as more than just work — instead, consider it an opportunity to truly learn. 

So go to class, do your homework and study for your test with the understanding that being here is a privilege, not a chore.

Abril is a freshman in Media. 

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