This is my response to this post in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
It is my understanding that there is still a major problem with equality in this country and that many students who go to inner-city or rural schools may not have the same opportunities as students who live in affluent suburban neighborhoods. I completely understand that. I completely agree that anyone who wants a chance at college should be given the opportunity to have a chance at college. There are many arguments that can be made that college is not for everyone. However, again, I sincerely believe that anyone who wants a shot at college should be given the opportunity.
But my problem with this article is that it seems to point out the fact that college is such a new opportunity for ‘black males and other underrepresented groups’. What I think people tend to forget is that college is a new opportunity for any incoming freshmen. Anytime a student enters college for the first time, there are going to be certain things that the student needs to adjust to, whether the student is in one of the underrepresented groups, or not. I don’t think the fact that someone is from an underrepresented group should diminish the fact that other students who are not in these groups are probably struggling with many of the exact same adjustment issues.
Once you have entered college, you are officially on the same playing field. Sure, you may have to take a few developmental classes to get you up to speed with some of the material that you may have missed due to the inequities in the high school education system, but in terms of adjustment, you are indeed dealing with many of the same issues that any incoming freshmen is dealing with. I think that trying to find a commonality with the other freshmen, instead of feeling like you are a singleton in a sea of many is one of the most important things that you can do as a freshman.
Personally, I am a minority student who went to a inner-city high school. Due to the lack of resources, there were many things that I didn’t get to do in high school that I would have loved to have done. I didn’t wallow in my sorrow. As soon as I graduated from high school, I took the first train out of town that I could find to a college that was as far away from being in the inner-city as I could at the time. I was completely overwhelmed. My grades weren’t nearly as high as they had been in high school. I was very disappointed in my low grades my first semester in college compared to the high grades that I had in high school.
I could have become a statistic. I could have fallen into a deep pit of depression and weighed my options of whether I should just drop out of college and move back home with my parents, or possibly out of embarrassment, not move back home and just live homeless on the street. But I didn’t. I realized that all of the students there, not just me, had to adjust to college. I realized that the world didn’t revolve around me, my grades, and my ability or inability to graduate from college. I didn’t need anyone to tell me this. I didn’t need anyone to hold my hand throughout my entire college experience until the day I graduated.
My thought is this. If a student goes to college and doesn’t realize what I realized on their own, if a student does not have the ability to independently think and weigh decisions on their own, and if a student wants to wallow in their sorrow or fall into their own personal pit of depression, I don’t think that we should play a role in helping the student become more dependent. This will just create future workers who may have a college degree, but are not able to independently think and create ideas on their own. I implore you, please, in preparing students for college, teach them about this. Teach the students about the importance of independent thinking and putting their futures in their own hand. But don’t help them walk their way into a future that they didn’t fully create on their own.