Still, for first generation students, the situation isn’t so clear cut. As disadvantaged as we may feel in and by academia, college is often our only way of fulfilling the “American dream.”
When I spoke to my mom earlier this month
about what my going to college means to her, she spoke about higher education as a means to an end. That end being building a career that’ll allow me to avoid the struggles she faces as a working class immigrant.
Even the first generation students whose parents didn’t immigrate here feel the pressure of the American dream weighing on them. Their parents may have come up in a time where a degree wasn’t a prerequisite to a good life. But now that it is, going to college is the only way to cling to the precarious place in the middle class that their parents struggled to get.
It’s hard to say the whole process is a racket when there’s so much to be gained by going through it.
I don’t mean to paint a picture of millions of undergrads filled with regret and disdain as they move through their college careers. I can’t speak for us all, but I know that I certainly don’t regret my decision to go to college.
There are experiences that would’ve never been available to me had I not come to Northeastern for school, and on a practical level I understand that having a college degree will afford me professional opportunities when others may get the benefit of the doubt. In a tweet thread last week, journalist Stacy-Marie Ishmael, talked about different relationship people from underprivileged backgrounds have to credentials like higher education.