Students need to value their education

Shelley Blundell

I grew up in South Africa during possibly the most politically tumultuous time in its history and got used to seeing poverty, degradation and unemployment as a natural part of life. I moved with my family to the United States in 2000 and started my degree program at Kent State in the spring of 2002.

I was at once amazed with the availability of employment for those willing to expand their horizons, as well as the number of opportunities for students to go to college through a myriad of scholarship and financial aid options.

In South Africa, university is the domain of the very intelligent or the very wealthy, and people who may be just under the bar in both categories have to take the Technikon option (although my university training in the United States has been very similar to my Technikon training in South Africa). Scholarships are few and far between, and once again, are the domain of the very rich and/or very intelligent. What about financial aid, you may ask? The South African government can barely afford to keep the water running in its sponsored low-cost housing, let alone offer people money on a regular basis to go to college.

Once I enrolled in college here, I learned that bachelor degree holders will earn $1 million more in their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma. And as the economic market fluctuates and changes, the need for higher education increases even more.

So imagine my amazement when I see some students wiping their proverbial behinds on the privilege presented to them. That’s right, folks, college is a privilege – not a right. I see students consistently coming late to class, many of those same students also regularly missing class. Not to mention their lack of participation during class periods and don’t even get me started on how often they turn in assignments late, if at all.

I know some of you are saying, “What business is it of yours if other students don’t give a damn about their education?” Here’s why it’s my business. I’m sure some of you have heard, or even jokingly used the phrase “D’s make degrees.” The problem is that those students who consistently work hard to make the most of their college education are now painted with the same brush as those who slept through freshman year and barely scraped by with a 2.0 GPA at the end of their degree program.

Because the “slackers” failed to learn the material, they and their slovenly attitudes leave the university and give future employers the impression Kent State is not that good of a school. So how does the hardworking student fare in this environment? Not well. Bad impressions spread much quicker than good ones.

So what can the hardworking students among us do about this? It’s simple: protest. Is there a student who always comes late to class, disrupts the lecture and in general makes a nuisance of his/herself? Others in the class feel the same? Start a petition to have classroom policies changed – something along the lines of “unless emergency situations or unavoidable circumstances prevail, students will not be allowed into class 10 minutes after it has begun.” They do it in theatre productions all the time and you know why? Because latecomers disrupt the flow of the performance and compromise the other patrons unnecessarily; that’s why.

It’s your education – you owe it to yourself to make the absolute most of it. That’s why you came to college in the first place, isn’t it?

Shelley Blundell is a senior magazine journalism and history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].