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Vander Graaff: Remember to show your gratitude during finals week

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

With dead week upon us and finals approaching, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. Completing last assignments, looking for summer jobs and tying up loose ends for next semester has a way of overpowering whatever joy the end of the year may bring us.

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In times like these, it is important to remember how lucky we are to be here. College is more than an experience or an opportunity — it is a privilege.

Consider Malala Yousafzai — shot by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school — who now advocates for the 130 million girls who don’t get to go to school. In the United States, consider the Little Rock Nine, who bravely set the precedent for integration in public schools after Brown v. Board of Education outlawed school segregation in 1954.

While the efficiency of the American education system is debatable, there is no denying that we are lucky to have it. We are even luckier to attend college.

When school starts to feel terrible, remember why we are here, and remember those who have fought much harder for an education than we have.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 86% of 25- to 34-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees were employed in 2017. In comparison to the 72% employed with a just a high school diploma and 57% employed who did not graduate from high school, our employment prospects look pretty good.

Even if we don’t graduate, we have a higher chance of employment than those who didn’t attend college at all, with an 80% employment rate for those with some college education in their background.

Those who attended college will also likely earn more money than those who did not. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2017, workers with a bachelor’s degree earned more than the median weekly earnings for all workers, which was $907.

Beyond the numbers, college provides us with opportunities that we might not find elsewhere. Colorado State University has 400 student clubs and organizations that provide real-life experience that will help students in their professional and personal lives later on.

We have a student government that gives students the opportunity to make a difference on campus, we have nine diversity offices where students can advocate for themselves and others. We have Rocky Mountain Student Media, which allows students like myself to be heard in a professional format.

We learn from professors who have worked with NASA and won Guggenheim Fellowships, educators who sacrifice their own comfort to broaden our world views.

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College is not easy, and there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed. Nothing about education has ever been easy.

But, the hardship that comes with the university experience is the point. The stress of balancing classes and extracurriculars teaches us how to manage difficult situations. It trains us to be comfortable under pressure so that when we get a job after graduation and the stress continues, we will handle it with grace and continue onwards. All of this will make us well-rounded contributors to society.

When school starts to feel terrible, remember why we are here and remember those who have fought much harder for an education than we have.

Let’s replace our complaints with gratitude, and consider what we owe to the people who will never have the opportunity to struggle through a finals week.

Abby Vander Graaff can be reached at letters@collegain.com or Twitter at @abbym_vg

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