College As An Important Life Experience

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College is all about different experiences and life lessons and goals. Living with questions of what if is no way to live at all. I met a woman at a protest this weekend in Downtown Atlanta- She is twenty- two years old and she has had the experience of being Miss Freshman and Miss Grambling State University at her school in Grambling, Louisiana, where she also graduated this Spring 2020. If we may, we will call her Queen. It was obvious that she was already a leader, plus she seemed sweet and elegant. I gave Queen a brief summary of the book “Paying for the party.” Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality is a powerful, carefully researched, and ultimately furious work of social science. In my opinion, it is targeting the experience of a woman making it through college or not. Simple. Queen explains that she feels like college saved her; especially at her position at the university. Before her title, as she explains them, her “haters” discouraged her in many ways, but she pressed through.

During her down time, she has experienced the fun side of campus and the gloomy days. Paying for the Party mentions ones’ upbringing or parenting in each chapter. It has been proven that many of those who are successful often come from wealth, which personally, i know can make a difference. Those who suffer, their parents most likely did not attend a college. This has major implications for the way we structure undergraduate education. Her mother and father did not attend college, so they did not understand the hype of greek life and organizations and any other extracurricular. During her sophomore year, she decided to pledge Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma

Alpha Iota, and many other academic clubs and organization. In my opinion, I felt like the book was suggesting that some colleges are seriously failing our students in areas of critical thinking, analytic reasoning and other high level thinking skills. When mentioning the book and sharing my personal statement, Queen agreed. At her HBCU, she expresses it as “survival of the fittest.” Her final statement expresses: “College is what you make it- No one can teach you how to live your life, you just have to do it! If it is meant for you, you will follow through. Remember- We party hard and stay up late, but most of all we graduate!”

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Queen expresses her wanting to go to Grambling for an experience of “doing it on her own.” Most people when going to college, that is the first time that they experience doing for themselves. That time is also the time that students try to form a bond with their parents. Many undergrads, especially those who live on campus, are caught in the middle between dependence and independence, making their own rules and schedules but relying on their parents to help them navigate financial-aid applications and health insurance. According to “Paying for the Party,” “ Most american highschools have come to embrace a “college for all” mentality, encouraging students to proceed to higher education regardless of their academic performance.” (34) Queen agreed on how unprepared she was for college academically, which caused her to lack in other areas, like maintaining finances and choosing fun or activities instead of doing course work. Queen graduated with her bachelors of arts in English. Queen expresses that students who feel less emotionally prepared for college than their peers tend to have lower grades and other negative experiences on campus. In order to overcome these battles, she suggests spending months of her life simply in her dorm room, only because she knew she wanted to stay in school and she had a title to uphold. She felt like getting involved was her motivation to complete school. As mentioned before, since her reign of Miss Freshman she has also pledged and got involved in other clubs and she made it to her title of Miss Grambling.

Everything she was involved with, including deciding her major, she says, was close to her heart. Another way to cope with your problems, is to always do what you love. Her parents did not attend college, so they think that everything is always going to be perfect. Parents believe everything is always paid for and there is no real trauma in college. Academically Adrift explains: “The dormitory is often the place where students make their first social contacts in college, and the reported individual growth they experience by living on campus has been argued by others to have both social and academic dimensions.” ( 82) Arum and Roksa suggest that students receiving the full on-campus experience such as: living on campus, going to the café, and interacting with other students have proven to show an increase in fundamental opportunities and career growth. I read her the quote and she responded, “The lie detector determines, that was a lie!” It was explained that yes, living on campus at least for your freshman year is where you will begin to see growth within yourself. It’s where you create friendships, network, gain exposure, and seek out the variety of recreational opportunities that campus has to offer. She also expresses how much time has changed and the key to ones’ success is honestly based off who you know, what you know, and how you know. We really bonded over her reaction, because I was not sure if I was having the same experience as others.

While on campus, she worked at a popular food establishment on campus called “Wingos.” Paying for the party suggests:“Many strivers also spent time working in the dining halls or libraries on campus. The jobs were helpful in that transportation was not necessary, they were less physically demanding, and they brought in much needed money. At the same time, though, they placed disadvantaged students in a second- class position— literally performing service for more economically advantaged students.” (153) Armstrong and Hamilton expressed that students who needed financial support or additional support worked twice as hard in college as opposed to students who were financially set and fully supported. The Queen explains that, “those kids can be something else!” When going to college, we have to realize that everyone there is there for a different reason. Being a college student and having to work takes a lot of other skills; like time management, especially while some also manage raising a family. It can be a daunting experience, but getting that diploma in the end while earning your keep is definitely possible.

Miss Grambling State University was the perfect candidate for my essay. I choose her because it seems like she had a story to tell, because I could see the anger in her eyes even with her style and grace. I found out a lot of interesting things about her experience, which are off the record. Queen has lived on both sides of a successful college student and with her diploma she will be writing in the news department of CNN. She plans to stay involved in her community and give back to the Grambling community also. She also explained her entire career path. She plans to work at the CNN center for a few years then pursue her teaching career and she hopes to eventually land in law school.

Work Cited

  1. Armstrong A. Elizabeth, Hamilton T. Laura: “Paying for the Party: How College
  2. Maintains Inequality”. Harvard University PrArum, Richard. Roksa, Josipa: “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses”.ess 2013.
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