College crucial to American Dream
I attended my alma mater’s football game on a recent trip home. While watching the team predictably lose, I thought back to the person I had been the last time I’d entered the stadium. My high school did not have strict academic standards and when college applications crept up, I began to realize academia’s importance. Relatively few students can seek higher education. That autumn I vowed if I received acceptance to Syracuse University I would take the most out of my collegiate experience.
The American dream roughly states that any individual can accomplish their goals if he or she works hard enough. This is misleading. It implies that if that individual is unsuccessful, he or she did not work hard enough. It ignores social factors such as race, class, gender and sexuality, which can create barriers or gateways to opportunities an individual might need in order to reach those goals. Not everyone can become a doctor or lawyer. The fate of people who aspire to achieve such status lies both in talent and the opportunity to demonstrate that talent. Higher education is an important part of this.
‘You need hold yourself responsible for what you have around you,’ said Misha Crook, a continuing student in sociology. ‘That means being inspired by it and making the most out of what you have-then you can allow yourself to be changed. If you take the opportunity to critically think, you can look at the world around you and see the injustices and acts of beauty and kindness.’
Because many people never attend college, the students that do should take responsibility for their collegiate experiences. They should use them to create change in themselves and in the world. A prime strategy is stepping out of comfort zones to understand and accept social differences. Though students’ experiences prior to college shape their ideologies, they are responsible for their future situations.
If students come from a less fortunate educational system and find themselves slipping behind in their classes, it’s their responsibility to contact their professors or receive help from tutoring programs. Likewise, if students utter a racist or sexist comment because they’d grown up thinking it was okay to use, it’s their responsibility to make the effort to broaden their social understanding.
‘I think people should be held accountable,’ said Clarence Cross III, a senior broadcast journalism major and president of University Union. Cross also said he believes it’s not how a person comes to college, but how they leave. ‘Hopefully we all come with different appreciation and understanding of different circumstances,’ he said.
‘When I graduate I want to be a better person than I was when I got here,’ said Bryan Dumas, a senior broadcast journalism major and vice president of the Student Association.
One of the most difficult parts of reaching the American dream is making it to college. Those who do should make the commitment to change their perspectives about the social world and how they relate to it. If an individual puts in the effort, he or she will get the most out of their time here.
Lindsay Pasarin is a contributing columnist whose columns appear biweekly in The Daily Orange. Email her at email@example.com.
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