opinion

COLUMN: The higher education system in the US is inherently classist



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Coming from a small town, there has always been a stigma surrounding people who either go to community college or stay in their hometown to go somewhere local.

There’s this whole idea of, “If you stay here now, you’ll never leave.” While that might be true for some, have you ever stepped back and thought about why?

Going to a big university such as IU is sometimes not an option for students who come from low-income families or from families who aren’t able to help them out with the bare necessities of living alone for the first time.

In the Midwest, 70% of residents stay in the state they grew up in, and half of that number stay in their hometown their whole life, according to an article from Inverse. From personal experience, I believe there is a connection between if you leave for college or stay at home and whether you make it out of your hometown or not. This is because of how insanely expensive our higher education system is and how not every family can offer financial assistance to its children.

If someone is lucky enough to make it here on scholarships or student loans, then it's now the question of how he or she will pay for the things a scholarship or student loan doesn’t. From personal experience, student loans often only cover housing, but when it comes to food, books, clothing, gas and any other extra expense that someone living on his or her own may need to cover, you’re on your own.

The obvious answer is to get a job, but for some, the stress of working 30 hours a week, taking 15 credit hours and trying to stay involved in extracurriculars while also seeking out internships becomes too much. On top of that, being hours away from home and everything you knew growing up can leave you feeling lost.

IU does a decent job at trying to acclimate students to university life when they first arrive as freshmen, but the culture at IU often leans toward favoring the financially privileged students, maybe with no intention of doing so at all.

An example of this could be something as simple as closing dining courts and on-campus convenience stores on certain days and times on the weekend. For some, food courts and meal points are their only source of food. This forces them to venture out and spend money they may not have on food off-campus.

Many people enforce the idea of studying abroad and widening your horizon, and while some scholarships do cover the overall cost, once you get to the country the amount of money you spend on other outside items often would not be covered.

There are success stories of people making it at big, prestigious universities by struggling and working their way through college with no help from their parents. These are rare cases, and it’s very difficult to see someone desperately want to succeed but be knocked down by money issues time and time again.

At the end of the day, this is a problem with our higher education system. The price of college in the United States is more expensive than anywhere else, and something needs to be done about it. People deserve the opportunity to branch out and, if their grades permit it, go to whatever school they want.

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