Education standards have changed, so should our expectations

Shae Slaughter

Growing up I was 110 percent sure that I would attend college. My mother always instructed me that dropping out of school was not an option if I wanted to be successful, which I did and still do. That being said, I looked at the world of education with rose colored glasses. In my young mind I believed college would be like elementary school, reading Junie B. Jones or coming home to a nice snack. But guess what? College is hard.

I’ll say it again, college is hard. During my freshman year, I got my first taste of high expectations, of professors who assigned 100 pages to be read between classes and 10 page essays about the significance of Huckleberry Finn. I also got a taste of what being an adult is, having a job, grocery shopping and laundry among other things.

My sophomore year rolled around, I received a B in a class for the first time in my life and I finally realized a few things. Theres no chance that I’ll graduate in four years, no chance that I will maintain the pristine GPA I graduated high school with and no chance my sleep schedule will be normal. This newly adopted perspective is not meant to be negative, it is not meant to be pessimistic, but it is meant to be realistic.

Education standards have changed over the years. These days a higher number of students enroll and graduate, technology has made it impossible to escape a connection to schoolwork and the cost of tuition has risen dramatically in the last decade. This combination of things has made college a whole new battle.

To graduate from Grand Valley State University I need 120 credits. To graduate in the generalized four years that college is supposed to take, that means 15 credits a semester, assuming I don’t attend summer sessions. Let’s all laugh together at that idea. To those of you who are able to do 15 credits or more each semester, I applaud you. To those who are willing to power through the summer months in a classroom, my hat is off to you as well. Finally to those who do either of those things while working, bravo. As for me, 15 credit semesters is not a feasible option.

Currently, I am halfway through my junior year, a full time student with three jobs. Every week, I work around 30-35 hours, just a smidge under full time. I also live in a house with only my sister, making me responsible for groceries, laundry and housework. I pay for my rent, my utilities, my tuition, my gas and my food. The cost of all of these things makes my three jobs a necessity. However these three jobs make school a difficulty.

This is where perception and standards need to change, from both students and academia. These days, many students work, or are nontraditional and many students are unsure of their major or are unable to afford school. I am not alone in my struggle to balance all of these things.

So to my fellow Lakers, it is okay to struggle, it is okay to fail even. What isn’t okay is letting the hard work of today’s college environment discourage you. Having to fit in a few pages of Beowulf while you wait for your shift to start or having to balance chemical equations on your bus ride home is normal. Having $.03 in your bank account is also normal. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I do not have the time in the day to do all that I need to, but trying is what’s most important. College isn’t the same as it was when our parents went to school, we’re looking at a new battle. We need to learn how to fight it in our own way.