Piper Thomasson and Emily Sands
THE SANTA CLARA
January 21, 2016
Now it doesn’t take a business major to figure out student debt is not the student’s fault. As the Million Student March movement points out, “The average college graduate of the Class of 2015 has over $35,000 in debt. More than 40 million Americans share a total of $1.2 trillion in student debt and 58 percent of that is held by the poorest 25 percent of Americans.” We believe this may have something to do with universities’ extreme demands.
Universities take advantage of the fact that we need education in order to succeed. How can we possibly keep up that momentum without the education to do so? Admission to colleges is difficult enough, both public and private. The added burden of exorbitant tuition creates an unnecessary barrier to an already broken system. When issues such as systemic racism and sexism, socioeconomic disparity and problems with primary education exist, there’s much more going into your Common App than your 250 word responses.
And after all this, how do we even begin to choose a major?
We’ve all encountered the “helpful” second cousin advising us to “choose something practical,” and while we know our cousin has our best interests at heart, we are confident enough to pursue our passions, knowing that they will lead us toward a sustainable career path. After all, Susan Wojcicki was a History and Literature double major—majors you probably wouldn’t pursue if you didn’t have some level of interest in them—and she turned out okay (she’s the CEO of Youtube, by the way).
In fact, that would be the first and only step in our “quick guide to making sure you graduate with manageable student debt.” Choose something that interests you! You’re going to have to fork over that $60,000 a year anyway—might as well enjoy it. You’re also going to be in debt, either way, (student debt doesn’t discriminate by major) so you might as well enjoy the job you have while paying it back. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll make that debt “worth” it.
We get it. Different jobs pay at different rates. It’s supply and demand. The concept of supply and demand also dictates that a good copy editor might be rarer than a business intern, thus more employable at a higher rate, just as a business CEO is significantly less common than a secretarial position.
What will matter at the end of the day, according to Santa Clara’s Career Center website and a 2015 survey of Silicon Valley employers conducted in 2015, is that an employee possesses the following qualities: teamwork, problem solving, communication, organization and analysis. For $60,000, we hope to be gaining those skills in any major we choose. So what if we can’t afford the tuition? We work for scholarships (and even that isn’t enough sometimes).
Today, public schools are so impacted, that despite their lower tuition costs per year, according to a New York Times article, students on average have to spend up to six years to obtain a degree, thus matching the rate comparable to what a private school charges. In both instances, scholarships can help, but for some people, it is still not enough. No matter how qualified a student is, to be admitted into a top-notched school, the price tag can prove to be a devastating hinderance.
Santa Clarans often forget that many people can’t even afford food and shelter, including some of those who live “just down the block from our university,” as Lindsey pointed out in her aptly-placed piece on Hotel 22.
Under these conditions, how do we define “affordable tuition?” Wouldn’t the world be boring if we all were, say, business majors? Now, don’t get us wrong, the world would be boring if we were all the same of any major, but that’s why we should study something that sparks our passion—without having to worry about excessive student debt.
The world needs artists, scientists, businessmen, CEOs, engineers, accountants… and English majors.
After all, who would publish the newspapers that give voices to our opinions and support our “indispensable right to free speech?” And more importantly, the world needs us to be the best version of ourselves because that is what creates progress. We owe it to ourselves to pursue our passions, and if we don’t, then we will suffer the greatest debt.
Piper Thomasson is a senior Dance and English major and Emily Sands is a junior Political Science and Economics major.