What a Lucky Life We Live
Blogger: Donovan Dennis
It’s around this time of the semester, with finals looming and research papers accumulating that the usual groans and gripes about schoolwork reach their peak. The excitements of classes and friends have worn off, and students are ready to head home for the well-deserved break. More often than not, the complaints are about a class, or exhaustion, or an exam that was unfairly graded—the list seems endless.
… What a lucky life we live that our most vocal complaint is the binder full of learning we must complete over the weekend.
Oxy students know about privilege. If they were unaware before coming to Occidental, they are introduced to the various privileges one can have—be it socioeconomic, personal, familial, the list goes on—almost upon arrival on campus. These privileges can often cause divisions between students, but there is one privilege that all Oxy students share, and that is the opportunity to attend college.
I have written in the past about the importance of attracting students who may not otherwise pursue a college education, but today playing a variation on this theme to discuss the incredible privilege of receiving a college education in general, let alone an education at a private liberal arts college.
It’s easy to forget that only half of people our age who begin college will complete a bachelor’s degree in six years or less. In fact, in Montana (my home state), only 45% of students who enter college will complete a bachelor’s education. In Alaska, that value drops to 27%. Let’s talk about the U.S. in general now. The percentage of adults nationwide with at least a bachelor’s education hovers around 39%, depending on who you ask. In many states, including California and my home state of Montana, that number is even lower. When I return home, I will be confronted by a community in which only two out of ten people have a bachelor’s degree.
A college education is a privilege unlike any other. An Oxy education raises this bar even higher, and I suspect anyone who has seen our campus will believe me. Our educational experience is unrivaled by most, be it the hands-on use of advanced scientific equipment, the opportunity to research as an undergraduate, or take-out options from the Marketplace. These rarities of higher ed. are easily overlooked by those who never question whether or not they will continue their education after high school.
Going to college is special. And transformative. And unlike any other developmental moment in a young adult’s life. What’s more, less than half of Americans experience it. No matter where you go, these few short years open the doors to a future of truly endless possibilities. An Oxy education not only opens those doors, but also provides students with the tools necessary to succeed after passing through. For those of you currently narrowing down your final list of schools to apply to, I encourage you to choose an institution that will work as hard as you do to ensure your success. This is the opportunity of a lifetime—one that should not be wasted.