As I enter my last semester of undergrad, I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t know how to get there.
But it’s almost finished. I’m almost done. Just three and a half years ago, after completing my first college semester, I thought I would be leaving. I had gotten an email that said I couldn’t register because I owed several thousand dollars I didn’t have. And I thought, okay… guess I’m going back to Texas.
Then there I was, junior year, and my Pell Grant finally went through. And for the past two years, financial aid has decided to bestow upon me a proper loan with a refund that I save for the duration of the semester in case of emergencies (like today, when I received an email that said I owed $600 for a class where all we do is watch movies for four hours—a class, that I swiftly dropped).
Now, here I am, three and a half years later, applying for $150 worth of graduation paraphernalia that will just sit right next to my high school diploma unused and, debatably, unimportant.
Here I am, after two years of my mama struggling to pay for my “higher” education out of pocket and a $28,000 deficit to add to everything else I owe her. But I guess this is fine because I didn’t have to go back to Texas and I can tell people I’m college educated.
And after two years of this, I am no longer afraid of my student debt because I know it is immovable. I cannot worry about things I cannot change and I know this money is a backwards blessing and I know that I am a part of an American pastime that takes pride in feeding off the needy.
I am not afraid when I hear Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of Education, say that she, nor anyone else in her family, has ever needed financial help to get through the grueling process of any college university. I am not afraid that she doesn’t even know how to apply for a Pell Grant, let alone care. I am not surprised that her favorite words are “No, I have not” in regard to any form of government assistance. I’m not afraid, mostly because it’s almost finished. I’m almost done. But anyone who has hopes of furthering their education should because Betsy doesn’t have time to be afraid about money. She does not know what it’s like to long for monetary means because it’s always been there at her disposal. She will not place the weight of the poor American education system on her shoulder with any form of empathy. Our fears will never become her fears.
And as I’ve applied to approximately seven graduate schools across the nation (of course only those that are fully funded because I cannot afford to learn more), and as I say this in the midst of receiving a rejection email from one of those schools, I am afraid that I don’t fit the profile for these top programs and have wasted almost $500 in application fees and $200 in failed GRE tests with money that I desperately needed for other things like food because I do not work because I have five classes that want me to write small novels weekly. I do not work because I’m trying to learn but I’m starting not to believe in college, yet, they tell me college is good for me. I guess I’ll stay until they kick me out. And I’m so glad this is my last semester because I cannot stand another one of those bad advisors who doesn’t know how to help me, and overpriced books we never even read, and unnecessary fees, and half-assed feedback. But college is good for you. It’s not like you have a variety of choices. This is America. College has been good for me only because I had nothing else to do, but I’m so sorry for anyone who wants to learn and will no longer be able to because rich people who have money in their bloodstreams are in charge of deciding whether or not you can afford (which you cannot) to go to school and learn their bias propaganda and feed it to you like it’s innovation. And I’m sorry that Ivy League may no longer be in your future or maybe even community college depending on the direction of this country because we live in America, where you have to pay for everything, even your brain. And I’m so sorry for everyone who wants to learn but has to continue teaching themselves, because we live in America, where they always say one thing, but do another.