The Never-Ending Saga of Complaining Students
We should really be acknowledging our educational privilege while we’re at it
By: Allison Colsch
With midterms upon us, the low rumble of groaning protests from students can be heard all across campus. As students suffer through the dreaded papers and exams, the complaints aimed at professors, the university, and the very notion of academia are frequently spewed. However, in these times of high stress and heavy workloads, we often forget the privilege we all possess from being able to receive an education.
We can all think of numerous interactions we have had that center around complaining about our classes. Personally, I have started greeting my friends by stating that it is bold of my professors to assume that I should do work while in college. My roommate usually responds with a long, drawn-out groan that ends with profanity. Many of my friendships with classmates have been forged by our mutual annoyance at being asked to complete assignments. In general, we rarely need prompting to voice our displeasure with schoolwork. As a collective, students bond over universal disgruntlement with academics, and the complaining serves as a relatively harmless way to cope with the stress we all face.
That coping mechanism does not excuse us from acknowledging our privilege, though. Every student here, despite our widespread diversity, has been given the opportunity to pursue a degree in higher education—a luxury that many others in the nation and around the world cannot enjoy. In several countries, women are not allowed to pursue an education of any kind or the education of men is prioritized over that of women. This gender inequality can also apply to people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. Though less common than gender-based discrimination, some nations also directly limit access to education based on ethnicity, according to Human Rights Watch. With these various biases, over half of a given nation’s population can be restricted from getting an education, and we are fortunate to avoid such legal restrictions in the United States.
In addition to the issue of gender inequality, one of the biggest barriers to education in the world is poverty. To be blunt, education requires some form of massive funding, and for many nations, their money is better spent on resources needed for survival. Numerous impoverished nations lack the basic facilities and supplies needed to properly educate people, and due to the necessary prioritization of other areas, there is rarely a feasible way for the nations to incorporate educational funding into their budgets.
A lack of funding for education is also a problem on an individual level. Even countries that do have many wonderful educational institutions deal with the issue of poverty, albeit on an arguably smaller scale. We can see this in the United States where the cost of tuition continues to rise steadily. Despite the U.S. being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, countless Americans are unable to pursue a college education due to low wages and high tuition prices. Although there are opportunities for aid and scholarships to help offset some of the cost for lower income families, they still fail a larger number of individuals. In the end, a college education is commonly too great of a financial burden to be considered
All of this is to say that we, as college students, should be extremely grateful for the opportunity that we have been given. I am not saying that we immediately cease all complaining and grumbling because, to be honest, I am not sure if I am physically or mentally capable of being positive all the time. I am merely suggesting that we each take some time to be appreciative of the privilege we have been granted. This could simply be taking a moment every now and then to recognize that while college can be difficult and stressful, we are still gaining valuable knowledge and experiences that millions can only dream of receiving. By acknowledging the privilege of education, the college experience seems a little less painful and a little more like a blessing. And who knows, maybe we will start limiting our complaints after all.