American River College is very diverse. On this campus, one can find students of every age, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background.
Unfortunately, ARC is representative of society in another way: there is a widespread culture of entitlement among our students.
President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address that he wanted two years of community college to be free of charge to students with certain conditions.
The President said he wanted “two years of college (to become) as free and universal in America as high school is today.”
Whether this idea is good or bad, it is important to note that Oregon – which had the lowest high school graduation rate for the class of 2013 according to the federal government – has a higher graduation rate than ARC has for transfers and graduations combined.
Why should the taxpayers of this country invest in community colleges when over 35 percent of ARC students do not end up leaving here with a degree or a transfer?
ARC is not even a poorly performing community college in this regard. It is ranked number 23 of the thousands of community colleges in the nation.
Whether community college should be free is the wrong question for students to ask. The right question to ask is what can we do with the opportunities we have been given.
You are not owed a college degree.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 58 percent of the U.S. population don’t have any college degree. 68 percent of the population don’t have a bachelor’s degree.
A college degree means something. It means that even though there were challenges, even though there were late nights spent typing papers or wiping curly, red eraser shavings off binder paper while drinking endless cups of coffee and heating up a sodium-laced bowl of Top Ramen, you pushed through it and achieved your goals.
There is a bridge between your dreams and your realities, and it is your will to work hard no matter the cost.
It might be a good idea to make community college free of tuition. It is definitely good for the economic well being of college students to earn a degree.
But why is it that we spend so much time and effort coming up with a scapegoat for our problems rather than trying to solve those problems ourselves?
Generations past didn’t survive a Great Depression, win World War II, and land on the moon because they passed the buck to someone else. They saw what had to be done and they made sacrifices to do it.
Show up to class. Do homework. Make sacrifices with your financial aid. Your degree will be worth so much more than if you just did the minimum.
We live in a culture of entitlement. We are made to feel entitled to a degree, entitled to the best of everything.
But life is not about doing what you want, it’s about doing what you and others need.
We spend too much time on Facebook blaming Republicans, Democrats, the military, banks, unions, religious people, atheists and everyone for our problems except for ourselves. We spend too little time improving our lives and enriching our society with the tools we are given.
Rather than just complaining about the cost of college, income inequality or Ferguson, lets get together and take legitimate, concrete action.
Generations past didn’t have a Facebook to post links about bad working conditions, child labor, genocide, or union busting. They used the time we spend complaining to actually reform and improve our society and our world.
We are not entitled to college. We are not entitled to a perfect life and a perfect world. But we do have some rights, and one of them is the right to make an actual difference.