The power of wealth

I was talking with some friends, and an interesting discussion topic came up: someone said, “Oh, my parents don’t mind paying for a fifth year.” Not an extra year to get a master’s degree, but an extra year because they changed their major to one where only two classes from first semester could count. My friend and I exchanged this raised eyebrow kind of look, that said “Ah really! Did I hear that right?” while forcing a smile.

Just by being American, I undeniably do have a lot of economic privilege. Paying my tuition isn’t as much of financial burden to my parents as it is a burden in my heart. I don’t like swiping my credit card, and I stuff myself at Pierce even though it hardly matters. Just the way I was raised, I make the most out of money. Since childhood, I would save coins in a piggy bank, watch my parents use coupons on coupons, and only have ice cream (but a fridge full) if it was on sale at Costco. But to hear that people don’t care if they spend more time in college is shocking. It’s not like we go to a public school. In case you forgot, tuition is $25,000 a semester. And, as far as I know, scholarships are done after eight semesters. If you change your major, or have to retake classes, I don’t think you’ll be getting much aid.

I think it’s incredible that some people are just so carefree – or, maybe they’re just that wealthy. Like, what do you mean your parents don’t mind? I guess if your parents are millionaires, they actually don’t, and don’t want you to feel pressured about college or getting a job. Money is “just money” to you. They want you to live without the struggles and fears they had to experience, and if you can afford to do whatever you want, then go for it. But is that living? To be so sheltered that you can’t recognize that you are really, really fortunate to have parents that have fifty thousand dollars at their disposal. That’s the average yearly income of an American household. There are people on this planet who won’t see that kind of money, even if they saved their entire life’s worth of earnings. To not even think about what kind of efforts your parents made to earn that, and how easily you’re letting it go to waste buying alcohol or even just skipping class, is that really making the most of your time here? Why are you at college?

But hey, I don’t know your story. Maybe you’re really hurting and maybe this is just making you feel really depressed and selfish and upset. Maybe it is really hard to be at Stevens, financially, emotionally, academically, and I’m just a mean person. Maybe your parents aren’t holding your hand through this journey. Maybe you have no idea what you want to do with yourself and are hoping desperately to figure it out tomorrow, but not tonight, as you drink away your pain. Everyone has that kind of clutch, and it’s okay. Still, there is a difference between someone who is trying their best, and others who consistently and consciously make poor decisions.

So to answer my own question, money is important. It will never stop being important. Don’t kid yourself and think by going here, you’re guaranteed to get a job. If you can afford an identity crisis, I guess it’s you who determines if it’s worth it. The biggest mistake anyone could make, I think, is taking the things they expect for granted. Money, but also small things: good days, good food, and good health, the ability to walk around freely, and study subjects that vaguely interest you. It’s easy to forget the things you have and only see the things you don’t. Maybe you don’t have a dream, and maybe you don’t have all the things you want. But you have tenacity and intelligence. And apparently some money, if your parents can afford an extra year here. You have enough to change world you live in with every decision you make.