I grew up in an academic household, and academia was a goal of mine from an early age. Both my parents are musicians teaching in academia, and while I also loved to perform, I had decided in college that I would probably follow in my parents’ footsteps and pursue teaching on a university level.
Let’s say someone offered you the following deal: work for me, doing hard physical labor on the overnight shift, and I’ll pay your tuition so you can go to school during the day.
Would you take the deal? If you did, you might have a life like the one The Atlantic describes:
One day last week, for instance, [Alexis McLin] attended a lab from 3 p.m. to 6:45, went to dinner with her mother, and then at midnight went in to work at UPS, where she sorts packages from midnight to 4:30 a.m.
McLin, 21, is training to be a teacher, and so after she got off work and had some breakfast, she drove to an elementary school at 7:40 a.m and observed classes for four hours. That afternoon she attended a parent-teacher conference, capping off more than 24 hours straight of work and school with no sleep.
College students are known for pulling occasional all-nighters, but the Metropolitan College program requires consistent, regular overnight shift work, under the assumption that students will be as productive sorting packages at 4 a.m. as they will be completing their chemistry homework at 4 p.m. (Metropolitan College is not actually a college; it’s a program that helps students get free tuition at various Kentucky schools while working for UPS. While enrolled, the city pays half of their tuition and UPS pays the other half.)
For some students, this schedule works and allows them to complete a college education. For others, as The Atlantic notes, the time crunch is unsustainable:
[Ilya Lyalin] had to quit the UPS job after he decided to study engineering. The classes and homework required to study calculus and physics required Lyalin’s full brain power, and he found it was all but impossible to have the capacity to do the course work on no sleep. He did it for one semester, and it was hell. He’d work until five a.m. and then sleep until calculus class at 9 a.m., and be up for the rest of the day studying and working. The worst was every Tuesday when there would be a calculus test at 8 a.m. His GPA began to tumble.
“It was two hours of sleep every night for the whole semester,” he said. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
I am fascinated by the story of 28-year-old Guillaume Dumas, who recently announced that he spent 2008-2012 taking courses at Yale, Brown, Stanford and other schools without paying tuition. How’d he do it? As he told The Atlantic, he walked into classrooms and acted like he belonged.
“‘In reality, many of us will never come close to paying off these debts.’”
Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day, and it seems like the worries about campus security were unwarranted.
Another columnist wrote a candid and widely read response about her own family’s finances, and what she believes is the main distinction between people who are wealthy and those who are struggling.
For a while now, wealthy and top-tier colleges have been in the news for trying to attract low-income students and also for failing to attract — and retain — that same population.
Just under 15 percent of the undergraduates at the country’s 50 wealthiest colleges received Pell Grants in 2008-9, the most recent year for which national data are available. That percentage hasn’t changed much from 2004-5, around the time that elite institutions focused their attention on the issue. And Pell Grant students are still significantly less represented at the wealthiest colleges than they are at public and nonprofit four-year colleges nationwide, where grant recipients accounted for roughly 26 percent of students in 2008-9.
Individual colleges among the wealthiest have made gains in enrolling Pell Grant students, who generally come from families with annual incomes of less than $40,000. But others have lost ground. …
Among the 50 wealthiest colleges, the share of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants in 2008-9 ranges from 5.7 percent at Washington University in St. Louis to 30.7 percent at UCLA.
These well-off colleges educate a small slice of the country’s undergraduates. Still, the choices they make can set the tone for admissions and financial-aid policies across the country.
Since 2008-09, of course, schools have continued to make adjustments. Did they help? Well, in 2012, the Times reported that “affluent students have an advantage and the gap is widening.” So, no.