There are a lot of amazing things about going to a state university. One thing that happens is that your background doesn’t define you to everyone else the way it does in high school. You’re not under any obligation to tell anyone anything about your life. It can be a relief, but it can also be a curse.
One of the downsides is that if you come in poor (poor, not “I had to take out $10,000 in loans for the year so now I’m certain I’ll be eating Ramen for the rest of my life” poor) then there are some things that other students won’t understand. There’s not much use trying to explain, and doing so feels like exposing yourself as something less. I’ve had to bite my tongue quite a bit, so this will probably be a long post about all of the things I’ve noticed about social class in college.
- Some of my friends (and even a couple of my professors) think I’m arrogant for not buying books. I bought them last semester and barely looked at them. I bought everything online used (except my Math book because we needed an online code to do homework) and it still cost a couple hundred dollars, AKA a month’s payment on the ridiculous amount of student loans I’ve already got on my back.
- People think I’m crazy for taking multiple summer jobs and trying to find an internship, but the most I get paid is $9 an hour so one job isn’t enough.
- I didn’t want to go to college because I didn’t know if I could afford it. Now I’ve started and don’t know if I can afford to finish. I can’t quit because the grace period on loans isn’t long enough to scrape enough money together.
- Meal plan makes me feel less guilty about buying food, but I still check constantly to make sure I have enough.
- I can’t adjust the aperture on my camera so some of the things I learn in my photography class I just take notes on so when I get a professional camera I’ll know how to use it.
- Working class people are “driven” and middle class people are “successful”
- My friends think they’re lucky when they find a penny on the ground but not when their parents pick them up for a long weekend.
- My friends look down on prostitutes and drug dealers and respect cops. I do the opposite.
- People think I skip the gym because I’m lazy but actually I’ve never been to a gym and it looks really intimidating. (I’m also sort of lazy)
- I do favors for people even if they’re inconvenient or dangerous. Not every favor is small and people never tell you how much they actually need something.
- It’s annoying when people talk about a minimalist lifestyle as ‘edgy’.
- I pay attention to politics, especially economics, because when the something bad happens it always hits people who have nothing first. (#feelthebern 2016)
- My posture sucks because I slept in high school classes. I didn’t miss anything because they didn’t teach us anything new after 6th grade.
- I wrote two novels in high school because I got bored in class and started daydreaming.
- The more money you have, the longer your resume is. Upper-class kids can afford membership fees and pay-to-plays and equipment to take on a bunch of hobbies.
- Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night it’s because I have numbers like $30,000 stuck in my head and they won’t go away, even in real life.