Tag Archives: college

What is a Disenfranchised Student?

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So, with this whole scandal and debate about college students and admissions, it has got me thinking a lot about my time in college, both in undergrad, and now as a grad student.

On top of that, because of the scandal, I’m hearing a lot of the “White privilege” argument. So it’s got me asking myself a lot about my time in school – This article is not going to try to say that white privilege doesn’t exist, because it does.

This article is actually about me asking, What is a first generation student?

Who deserves resources?

What groups are being forgotten?

Let me explain my situation with college. I am not the first generation of my family to go to college. My parents were the first (which is rather normal in America, so I’m going to make this about my parents being “first gen” or anything)

I am, however, the first in my family to go to what I’m going to call ‘real college’. My parents went to the local university in my hometown. This university is what’s considered a “not ranked” school. Meaning, it’s not competitive and it lets anyone in. Your ACT and SAT scores don’t matter, they don’t require any essays to be written, no recommendation letters – nothing. This university will even have billboards up during the first week of classes that saying things like “Classes have only just begun! You can still enroll! Call now!” 

Students and tourists rest in lawn chairs in Harvard Yard, the open old heart of Harvard University campus

Back when my parents were in school, college was also much different. They paid their way through full-time school with their part-time jobs – Something that can’t be done today. They both lived at home as they attended school (as many in my hometown do) and after graduating, their part-time jobs turned to full-time and so they never had to deal with internships and applying to jobs “within their field” and all of that.

In recent years, this particular school admits tons of low-income and minority students. To make sure that these students don’t drop out, the university has instated a massive grading curve. So a B- student becomes an A+ student leading the class.

So, my point is this: Yes, may parents wen to “college”. But they had never gone to anything that resembles what Americans think colleges are.

I was the first in my family to have to save up for college while in high school. I was the first to take an ACT test. I was the first to write admissions essays. The first to need letters of recommendation. The first to leave my hometown. The first to live in a dorm on campus. The first to compete for internships. And now, the first to attend graduate school.

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I had no help or guidance on these things, because nobody in my family had ever done any of it before. So, am I a first generation student? 

And if not, what am I?

I think of all the mistakes I made while in school. All the things I didn’t know. I went from being harassed for being gay every single day in my hometown by my peers, to suddenly living in a building with hundreds of them. My parents had never had an internship before and had no idea what and internship actually consisted of. I didn’t know what entering a job market looked like. There’s so much I didn’t know. So much I didn’t understand. And so much I did wrong, out of ignorance.

But because I’m a white male who’s parents technically attended college, nobody ever paid a single ounce of attention to me. There was no help. No resources. No programs. No groups.

Nothing.

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And it’s still hard. It’s hard that in this 2019 environment, anytime I open my mouth about a difficulty I’ve been through, everyone just moans and groans, and gives you this “UGH, ANOTHER WHITE PERSON WHO THINKS THEY HAVE PROBLEMS….”

So, the question becomes: Are we still forgetting about students? 

Is there a group of young people out there that society is assuming is doing fine, but is actually lost? Are there people out who need help but don’t know where to go, and feel as though they have no options?

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I think we can all admit that my college situation is very different from Felicity Huffman’s daughter. So why is it just assumed that all white people are the same?

Our society needs to focus on race. We needed affirmative action to get people of color into schools and jobs. We need groups for minority students who are disenfranchised. We need funded programs for first gen students, I am in no way saying that needs to stop. 

What I am saying though, is that there are disenfranchised white people too. Liberalism and #Wokeness has seemed to become just as blinded by anger against whites as the racists they claim to hate. The world isn’t as clear and simple as “White people get everything, colored people get nothing.” We won’t solve real problems that way.

Oppression comes in various forms for different people. Oppression, discrimination, domination can come in forms beyond race – there’s age, wealth, sexuality, gender, history of abuse, mental illness, religion, and more. It’s complex. It’s messy. It’s shitty.

But it’s reality. 

Harvard campus with brilliant fall foliage

So, I pose this question to the world.

What do we do?

How do we ensure that we’re helping all people who need it. How do we help prevent people from falling through the cracks of society?

How do we help make things better?

 

~ The Dark Horse

Finals Week…

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This is it. Today is my last final. 

After this, I’m free.

Free to enjoy winter break and relax a little before the next wave of stress begins with the move to New York.

But for now, I’m slowly dying.

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The weird mixture of stress and excitement that fills finals week is always a strange one. You can see the finish line. It’s so close! IT’S.  RIGHT.  THERE!  If only I could touch it! 

But before you can reach the finish line, there’s the tests and the 25 page essays which require (clutches my pearls) scholarly citations! Truly the scariest things that have ever happened to this world.

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But, though it’s stressful and your life lacks sleep, and even though I’ll probably get sick after this is all over, it’s worth it. Because once finals week is done, you can take that deep breath and know that soon you’ll board a plane home and see your family, eat lots of food, and enjoy the holidays!

home!

 

 

So, wish me luck and let’s pray I don’t die.

And to any other student reading this (expect those lazy people at Dartmouth who already finished their semester…) I wish you the best. We shall go to war together.

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happy Hunger Games everyone! 

 

~ The Dark Horse

I Long To Be The Younger Me Again

Feb 2010 Campus Scenes

 

Does anyone else out there look back on their past and wish they were young again?  I mean, I didn’t even like being young.  My life has been a raging shitshow since about age 10

But at the same time, there was the spark back then.  This magic all around me. 

I believed that everything was going to work out.  I thought that one day I’d fly away and be surrounded by people who loved and cared for me.  When I was 20, I was so much more jaded than any other 20 year-old around me, but now, at 27, I’m even more bitter and jaded than I thought humanly possible.

 

This one memory has been popping back into my head for about a month now.

It’s the memory of being twenty years old and being back in undergrad.  Back at a school called Loyola Marymount University.

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Loyola Marymount is located in sunny Los Angeles and it’s campus is beautiful and pristine.  Being from working class Ohio, I always felt completely out of place surrounded by all the kids from the OC and the Bay who drove their BMWs and Range Rovers around campus.

Back then I hated that school.  I had no friends.  I didn’t connect with the coke-snorting millionaires from Laguna Beach who partied in WeHo rather than did homework like me.   It was so isolating and lonely.  I remember it was so bad that I moved to Westwood to live with UCLA kids.   Then I had about a 2 hour bus commute every day there and back on the Santa Monica 3 bus line.

 

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And yet, these days, I look back and miss those days.  I miss being in undergrad. I miss being that young.  I miss looking out my classroom windows and seeing palm trees and the LA skyline.

But you know, what I really miss is being surrounded by peers.  There is an experience in undergrad that you’ll never get in anything else you ever do in life for as long as you live.  Its you, being young, and being surrounded by a bunch of other young people.  There is just this feeling like a new friend could be around every corner. Maybe a potential boyfriend is sitting next to you in class.   You just always think that something good may be coming.

So that’s what I’m remembering.  I keep thinking of sitting in this history class I had.  There was this really cute straight guy who sat next to me.  I used to sneak looks at him when he wasn’t looking.  And sometimes, he’d catch my looking and I’d smile like as I was just looking around the room and happened to make eye-contact with him.  He’d give me this bro-like “sup” motion with his face.

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I’ll never have that again.   I’ll never feel like a new friend is around every corner.  I’ll never feel like I’ll fall in love ever again.   I just rot.  I just got older and more isolated and my body crumbles and fades with age.

You’re only young once.   After that it’s all over.  Now, everyone is settling down, getting married, getting fat, plopping into their 9-5 (which in America has quickly turned to the 8-6), and they wash their adulthoods away at bars on the weekends talking about life as “grown ups” as they discuss buying homes and other such bullshits.

I think I actually hate them more now.  At least back when we were 20 and they didn’t have anything in common with me, I could still have some eye candy.  But now, that glow of youth that all the hot guys used to have has been replaced with a growing belly and back hair.   I wonder how they look at themselves in the mirror everyday without wanting to commit suicide.   How far they’ve fallen.

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But despite how awful life becomes, I will still have my memories.  At nighttime as I sit in my bed unable to fall asleep, I close my eyes, and think about my past.  I replay those days at LMU on loop in my head.  My bedroom provides an escape from my present.  I’d rather be lost a delusional fantasy of what my life used to be, than sit in bed at night and dwell on how it only continues to get worse.

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Anyways, does anyone else feel that way?  Does anyone else feel like even though life was never good, it was somehow less bad when you were young?

And where do we go from here?

~ The Dark Horse

(This was…perhaps 30% proofread?)