I have thought about going back to school many times. Many. Times. I have considered: a nursing degree, a masters in education, a tesol certificate, a master of arts, and a masters of fine arts (which I did actually apply for once but only to schools that did not require the GRE and I did not get accepted).
Every year for the past few years I’ve nearly applied to get a masters in education. Why? Because I think it is noble work and I think I would be good at it (yes I do!). But I’ve never followed through for two main reasons.
First, people tell me not to do it. Older, experienced, academically-minded people tell me not to do it. They say it is arduous, thankless, tiring, poorly paid, and that I will never have time to write. (What does this say about how we treat our teachers that people with masters and PhDs have told me not to do it?)
Second, I would have to take the GRE. Not a big deal you say. But here’s the thing: I have to study for the GRE. Then I have to allot an afternoon to taking the GRE. I also have to pay for the GRE which costs about a day’s worth of wages in my current line of work. After that I have to apply to the school and pay the application fee. I’m encouraged to apply to a few schools in case I don’t get in to one. So, more application fees. I haven’t even gotten into a school yet and already I’ve spent nearly a month’s rent just applying. It’s obscene.
I haven’t even gotten to the part where you have to pay for the actual schooling. (A year’s tuition at most out-of-state public schools and private schools is more than my pre-taxed income last year. That alone is a terrifying concept that deters me from even beginning down this path.) Plus you have to quit your day job which means you also have to magically pay for rent and food when you’re not working. Then you come out on the other side into an economy with over 20 MILLION UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE. You cannot get a job and you cannot get unemployment benefits because well, you haven’t been employed for the last two (three, four) years.
A few years ago on a sunny summer day in Prospect Park (just imagine!) a friend who worked for a student loan refinancing company said to me: “People should be burning stuff in the streets.” Yes, someone from the industry said about the cost of higher education: people should be burning stuff in the streets. And this was before a pandemic brought the economy to its knees.
The cost of higher education is arbitrary, bureaucratic, discriminatory, prohibitive. What colleges and universities ask of these young people is immoral. Now we can see all too clearly how our nurses, doctors, and teachers make sacrifices for us everyday. The sacrifices that we demand on top of that–just to get into the field–make no sense to me. Shouldn’t we as a society be the ones who sacrifice in order to have the best care-takers? The best educators?
I think we should stop paying our school loans. I think we should stop paying our tuition. And when this whole lockdown thing is over, we should start burning stuff in the streets.
*This post has been inspired by a current, last ditch attempt to apply for grad school this fall (because um, I don’t have any other plans for this fall or ever?) Maybe I will take the GRE. Maybe I will even pay tuition–I’m trying to find the cheapest cheapest–but still I’d be a hypocrite. If I do go through with it I promise that no one will ever stop hearing about how I think it’s a CRAP DEAL. You know where to find me when you’re ready to start burning stuff in the streets.