Oct. 25, 2014

To the (not so) broke college student: Think before you speak

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September 1, 2014

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Who among us has not at some time or another called ourselves ‘poor college students?’ Some of us are, of course, but that number is realistically a mere fraction of those who claim the title. Before we decide that we want to be seen as poor college students by those around us, maybe we should consider what it feels like actually to be in a state of financial turmoil and doubt. Perhaps we should consider those around us who may be among the approximately 31 percent receiving need-based aid (according to the College of William and Mary’s financial aid statistics from 2011-2012). Are you really a poor college student, or perhaps are you a young adult making poor decisions in regards to your finances?

We have all heard the myth that college students live on Ramen noodles and mac and cheese. Is this really a myth? I am obliged to say yes, because this stereotype does not apply to all college students, and applies to far fewer on our privileged campus. Most of us probably do have these staples in our dorm rooms or kitchens, but it is not our main source of sustenance. Some students actually are living in such tense financial situations that a 12-pack for just over $2 is the best they can do.

If you are, then you probably understand the struggle of balancing a job, maybe even for 20 or more hours a week. You may even be taking 16-18 credits in an attempt to graduate a year earlier and save yourself the expenses associated with an extra year at the College. Let’s do the math: 20 hours of work, 16 credit hours, plus an average of 44 hours of study — that equals 80 hours a week!

If you are someone who understands the struggle of living below the poverty line, then I congratulate you. Despite the hardships and sacrifices it means for your life right now, you are fighting the good fight being here at the College. I really do hope things only get better for you from here.

If you are not certain whether this is you, however, then I can assure that it is not. If you have ever walked into a grocery store and claimed that the name brand was worth it because it was better, then you are not a poor college student. If you have ever accepted an invitation to go out without a second thought to your budget, then you are not a poor college student. If you have ever called your parents to replenish your empty bank account, then you are probably not a poor college student. If you have ever complained about being a poor college student, then I will tell you this: You are almost certainly not a poor college student.

Here is my challenge to you. Be responsible. Think about the future. Consider the money you have, and ask yourself whether you really need to spend it on this or that. Have fun while you are young and spend what you feel is right, but please consider the possibility that your limited funds come from your own decisions — and that there may be students around you who struggle every day to make ends meet while they pay for their education.

Email Brandy Adkins at bbadkins@email.wm.edu.

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Brandy Adkins

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