Yesterday, I wrote a post about how my wife and I are Paying Our Dues while in school. The Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper, ran a story yesterday about a proposal that Pres. Obama has made about cutting the Pell Grant for summer sessions in 2013. While I’m not necessarily worried about that for myself (I will hopefully be a graduate student by then), I am worried about people’s perceptions of students. I am realizing more and more that my wife and I are in the minority that have to support themselves while in school.
About a week ago, my wife went to her prof.’s office hours. When she casually mentioned that she works 24 hours per week, the professor stared at her in disbelief, “How do you get anything done?!” Two days ago, I was talking to my thesis advisor, Prof. G, about when I can see him during the week so we can set up regular meetings. “I work eight hour days Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I also work sometimes on Thursday afternoons. Are you available Tuesdays before or after class?” He raised his eyebrows at me and widened his eyes a bit. My wife has also been a bit ill the past quarter, and we both agree that it is stress related. When she told her doctor about the amount of work she is doing and her course load, her doctor said, “No wonder you keep getting sick!”
My point is that in a University setting, not very many people will make accommodations for us working students who must support ourselves from work and from grants and scholarships. While at a community college, a working student is a normal and natural thing, but not a full-time student, part-time worker usually. At this level, we are almost unheard of (and for good reason, I suppose). We depend on those Pell Grants, especially during the summer, so that we can take courses we might not otherwise have time to take during the school year. The Daily Bruin’s article quotes a first-year business/econ major who says, “People could take a larger course load during the year instead.” But honestly, my wife and I can’t. It seems physically impossible at this point, and summer appears to be our only option.
In short, I’m glad that the cut won’t happen until 2013, but I’m very sad for those students, like my wife and me, who support themselves and will not have a chance to take summer classes. We need to educate others on this issue because I know that my wife and I aren’t the only self-supporting college students out there. We also need to vote for people who will give us education reform without education cuts… Maybe I’ll run for president someday?