The Power of Education and Post College Decisions
I can confidently say that I am great at denial. “We are never graduating!” is a mantra that my roommates and I, now well-seasoned college students struggling to imagine life beyond graduation, have mastered. Although we know that we deserve to walk across that stage in May 2019 capped and gowned, there are decisions to be made about life after graduation, and those decisions will not be easy. To say that I am intimidated is an understatement, but it would be foolish to overlook how lucky I am that my education equipped me to face these decisions.
Attending school in suburban Rochester has provided me outlets for learning in diverse ways. My teachers were invested in my learning, and supported my search for what I am most passionate about. They taught me how to engage, create, and apply knowledge. My learning continued outside the classroom as well; I gained leadership skills as an editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, and developed my love of the performing arts through musical theater and dance. From ages 15 to 18, I made decisions that I felt would determine the rest of my life. Whether it was deciding not to take Advanced Placement Chemistry (I had a C in chemistry so that decision may have already been made for me,) or applying early decision to Tufts University, I couldn’t ignore the fact that my education had prepared me to deal with the decision-making process. After all, life is essentially a series of decisions within a scope that has been decided for us.
Attending Tufts University challenged me to push myself so far beyond my limits that I eventually learned I don’t have any. What I do have, as so many of my peers do, are externally imposed barriers. We worry about paying off our student loan debt, which is about $1.5 trillion owed collectively by all of the student borrowers (44 million) in the United States alone. We worry about the job market, and whether our bachelor’s degrees will be enough to help us pay off our debt and earn enough for a comfortable living. For many of my peers, attending an undergraduate college or university in the first place is financially and emotionally draining. But we do the work because we know that education empowers us to become innovators, healers, performers, and more importantly, become helpers.
As I begin to apply to law school and pursue my dream of being a legal activist for underrepresented women, I will have to make decisions. In my ideal world I would be able to choose and attend the school that will help lead me to my career of choice, but I have to consider a number of factors such as affordability of tuition, scholarship opportunities, geographic location and access to career opportunities. I will be able to make better informed decisions because I was lucky enough to have access to quality education.
In Rochester, too many young people miss out on these experiences because of the school district they live in or financial limitations. I believe that the opportunity to learn is something that should be accessible to anyone, no matter where you are from or where you live. Education gives us the power to change the world, and I want to use my power to advocate for greater access to education, and help open doors for more young people to pursue their dreams, like I have.