The Privilege of Education

This week, I had the rare pleasure of joining my brother on a road trip to a job interview.  He is fresh out of college and just beginning the job search process.  I couldn’t be prouder and happier for him.

Yet in the moment he left me to interview, decked out in his suit, tie, and holding his leather folder, I realized that I and my brother were both uniquely privileged  We are both third generation college graduates.

When my grandmother went, her father worked hard on his farm to put her through college.  When my mother went, her father and mother both worked hard to foot those bills.  When my mother returned to college after being forced to drop out due to having children, she was an anomaly and is still paying student loans to this day.

By the time my brother and I arrived on the college scene, not only did my mother and father have to help us, we both had to have full-time jobs.  Like our mother, we will be paying off our loans for a very long time.

This might not sound like a uniquely privileged position, but in a world where so many high school students cannot dream of going to college or find the full-time jobs necessary to pay for it, we are.  We are privileged because we were allowed to do the hard-work to earn a college degree.  We are privileged because college degrees bring with them a higher quality of life for ourselves and any future children.

I recall a moment in the political drama, the West Wing, the communications director, Toby Ziegler, meets a father who has just finished college campus touring with his daughter.  He explains his anxiety that he will fall and hurt himself, or lose his job, or even worse.

He says that he worries he’ll fail to help his daughter achieve his college dreams or that even with a second job he won’t be able to afford it anyway.  The man says he doesn’t think paying for college should be easy. He likes how hard it  is.

As he explains to a stricken Toby, he thinks it should just be a little easier and that this small difference would be everything to his daughter, himself, and his wife.

For some people, like my brother and I, it needs to be a little easier.  For others, it needs to be a lot easier.  It needs to be possible for everyone.  It shouldn’t be easy, it should be hard and feel like an accomplishment.  But it shouldn’t be impossible.

Here at LAHSF, we believe everyone deserves that wonderful feeling of climbing a stage to receive a diploma from their college or university.  We believe everyone deserves to send their child off to college with tears in their eyes from missing their child, not anxiety over their ability to pay bills.  And everyone should get to watch their loved one go to job interviews in the field they’ve worked towards for four years.

Most of all, they should have the opportunity to enrich their lives through higher education.  Please join us by donating to the foundation, telling your friends about our work, or joining us for one of our many events.