College sets students up for failure

The odds are against us

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McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

By Sage Fusco, Collegian Contributor

College is what comes after high school for many American teens. The culmination of these four years that have been described as either the best or worst of peoples’ lives has been driven into everyone’s heads as necessary. And so, we are all propelled into college, but the question remains: Are we truly prepared for what lies ahead?

From a financial standpoint, college is just too damn expensive, and expecting a student to pay it all off is entirely unreasonable. Within the United States, the average annual cost of college is $35,720 per student. To add insult to injury, this doesn’t account for textbooks, school supplies and other required technology. We also must remember that while a dorm room may come furnished, it isn’t necessarily livable until you stock it up with everything you might need to use in a year. While there are ways to mitigate these costs, taking even one to two thousand dollars off in expenses doesn’t make college affordable. This stands especially true for the general American population who lacks the wealth of Jeffrey Bezos and Elon Musk.

Student loans, work-study and scholarships do exist as well, but not all of these options are realistic or ideal. Student loans land you in thousands of dollars of debt that build interest, and most Americans don’t pay it off for more than 18 years. Federal Work-Study covers only a little bit of the costs, but it also requires that students put in extra labor on top of their already busy schedule. And as far as scholarships go, only .3 percent of students actually get enough money to cover all college costs. Before you even get there, college is setting students up to be majorly in debt.

There is a lot more than just financial dangers that sets any college student up for failure. The overall idea of enclosing thousands of young adults into one small area and expecting them to behave really sets off a warning alarm. Even though our parents aren’t around and we are legally adults, few of us are actually fully matured or entirely self-reliant. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have freedom, I’m just saying there’s no clear segue. We went from living under our parent’s roofs, to absolute, unmitigated freedom.

Furthermore, resources for struggling students are limited on campus. Professors have way too many students to be able to create in-depth relationships with all of them and our advisors are mainly for scheduling. Resident assistants are just other students going through the same things as the rest of us, plus or minus a year of knowledge. Students do have the option to reach out to many different campus services, but many of them are underutilized. Not to mention, many students are in an entirely new state. Basically, everything a first-year student goes through is entirely unprecedented. There was no warm-up, no practice round or pretest. Instead, we were all dropped in here and told to hit the ground running.

With all the commotion of living on your own and handling student debt, it’s easy to forget that the real reason we’re at college is to learn. College is a steppingstone to a real-life, salary-paying job. Education is what separates me from the surgeon who cuts me open and you from the NASA workers granting liftoff to rockets.

We’re charged with the task of picking what we plan to do with rest of our lives. What career do you chose with a plethora of choices in front of you? That’s a lot to handle on its own. With no parents, no support system and a small room to share with a practical stranger, there are many factors working against students.

When I tell you that college has set us up for failure, I mean it. Students are fighting against all odds. Everything is beyond new, we are entirely in debt lacking in support systems and have many large choices to make with an even greater expectation to perform. College is simply a high-risk experiment and the real question is: what truly prepares students for the real world? Is tossing all these clueless kids into one place going to make it all better?

Making it through college seems like climbing a smooth wall with not even the slightest indent to grasp onto. We’re all just clawing at it and hoping that we get over.

Sage Fusco can be reached at [email protected].