Amidst all of the complaints about ever-increasing tuition, seemingly insurmountable student debt and the necessity of purchasing healthcare, I would like to take just one moment and stop.
While all of these are valid concerns, I think that sometimes we get a little lost in the buzz surrounding these issues and forget to examine why they are actually happening. Just to throw some numbers at the situation: CSU receives less than 5 percent of their operating budget from the state. While student debt may not be the ideal way to finance higher education, it has diminished many of the financial barriers to attending college and, as unfortunate as it may be, is the system that we have established in our institutional framework. And while “having” to purchase healthcare may seem like a nuisance in the short run, I’d like to think that from a big picture perspective, we can all see the true goals and intentions of the Affordable Care Act.
I understand and can completely identify with the plight of the angst-filled college student. Many of us are faced with similar struggles of doing our best to put ourselves through college. We embark on this adventure with the knowledge that it will be no small feat, financially, academically and otherwise. But, we make that investment with the notion that it is an investment in our future; that we will one day be able to pay off our debts and contribute to the pool from which our education has been financed.
But, what gives us the idea that we’ll see these returns? What makes this possible in the first place? What is it about Colorado State University that has made us feel comfortable with investing thousands of hard earned dollars in the fleeting notion that one day, it’ll all pay off? Simply put, what is it that has allowed us to bestow our trust into Colorado State University?
Think about all of the leg work that goes into running an institution of this size. From things so seemingly commonplace as having the lights on when we walk into the Rec Center at 6 a.m. to large-scale events that honor our constituents and donors — someone has to make all of these things happen. As simple as they may seem, these are the sorts of things, people and events that ensure that we’ll see that promised return from our educational investment. Without the support of others paying it forward into the system for no benefit but our own, our education would truly be impossible.
So amidst your mumbles and grumbles about your personal struggles of putting yourself through college, think about everything that goes on behind the scenes to make that possible in the first place. There are so many people that invest their time, effort and finances into making this University function smoothly. Between countless institutions and student organizations, donors, constituents and stakeholders, we have a lot to be thankful for here at Colorado State University.
And while the struggle can absolutely be real for us students from time to time, I think it’s important to stop and remember that obtaining a college education is a privilege — not at all a right. Let’s remember to keep that attitude of gratitude fresh in our minds, and thank those unsung heroes who make our education possible.
Geneva Mueller is happy to have the privilege of getting an education. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next time you’re writing a tuition check, remember that it is going to a very specific purpose, and you have a lot to gain from this.
There is a lot happening with our budget that we don’t see.
Higher education is a privilege, not a right. Treat it as such.