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I’ve known people who’ve gotten through their degrees with last-minute all-nighters, not doing their readings, and attending the exact number of classes as is mandatory. But we cannot afford the time or the money to be fickle and half-assed about our time here. We don’t have families with the money that can bail us out of our university debt (well, some of us do… I think…). We do not have the luxury to study merely for the sake of our own passion, interests, and dreams.
I asked a couple of international scholarship students about the nature of their scholarship and whether there were limitations about what they could study. They both said that although the course of study is not decided for them, there is a lot of discussion with the government and university about how to direct interests and abilities into a practical future occupation. The emphasis was finding a way to benefit both the individual, and the country. A lot of the students want to contribute to the development of their home country. Our domestic students don’t have quite as an exhaustive process of picking what to study.
I’m frustrated with the rhetoric that our domestic students are sold about university; that attending university increase chances of a higher paycheck. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I’ll say it anyway—it’s not that simple. If you don’t know what to do with your degree, it’s just a fancy expensive piece of paper. We aren’t given extensive and honest information about the practicality about what fields to study. Students don’t know what they want for their future, and this uncertainty and indecision costs tens of thousands of dollars.
University has blown and expanded my mind in ways I couldn’t imagine. I see myself and the world around me with a more critical eye. But if I can’t use this to pay for rent in a non-damp house, contribute money to family, pay off debt, pay for flights to visit the homeland and my (especially elderly) family oversees, was it worth it?