I Was Thinking About Going to College Like the Rest of the Welfare Babies.
Here’s my little guide on how to go to college if you’re poor.
Poverty has nothing to do with genetics. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin or the language you spoke at birth. You can fall into poverty at any point in your life (as it was my case) but it’s possible to go to college even if you feel you’re down and out. It’s not easy and it will take longer than what is deemed “normal” but be honest, what the fuck else are you going to do?
1 – The first (and most important thing) you need to do is to stop drinking and/or doing drugs. It’s not so much about being puritanical, it’s about not wasting time and resources (plus, let’s admit it, you’ll need to maximise your brain functions in order to escape poverty.)
2 – If your friends and family won’t support you in this. Drop them, leave…you’re probably better off on your own. If you only have that one friends or family member that support you… stay close to them, your future depends on them. If not, find better friends. (Now! Some of you readers might be thinking ‘what kind of friend or parent won’t support someone who wants to go to college.` – well if all friends and siblings were as caring as that, this post wouldn’t be necessary, would it?)
3 – Your mind is your biggest tool. The thing you need the most in life is adaptability. You need to train your brain and I don’t think there’s a better way to do that than to go to college. And I don’t mean Harvard, or NYU, or the University of Toronto or any other shit that charges you tens of thousands a year. Any old community college you can afford/get a bursary from will do fine. Because the truth about college is that you’ll study authors that (for the most part) all have died hundreds of years ago… and with the internet these days, you’ll have access to the same kind of literature that Harvard has. It’s about expanding your mind, not wearing a brand.
4 – Get a job at or around the college. You might be making 2$ an hour more at that place you’re working right now, but the commute will kill you. That 2 hours a day you spend in a bus might be that 2h a day you need your ass to be in class. While it might not be as easy as it sounds to get a job on campus or right next to it, there are actually hundreds of people working at every college. I was (and still am) a shipping clerk for the university coop store, my job was 10 minutes away from my classes at most, and so I could get out of a shift and jump into class, then eat, go home, sleep and start again. There’s no way I could have graduated if I had to take a bus to work, then a bus to college, and another bus to go home… there are only 24 hours in a day.
5 – Get a laptop. Not a smart phone and not a Mac, just a fucking laptop You might want that smart phone, but you don’t need that. While a phone might be cute, get it in your head that you’ll spend the next 4 to 6 years (depending on how much you need to work a week to eat and have a place to crash) doing nothing else but work and study. You don’t need a phone to get laid and you don’t need to be popular on facebook just yet… You will, however, need a laptop and possibly an e-reading device. Since you’ll be working a lot, your lunch breaks and most spare time (including the daily commute) will need to go to studying/reading. Ok, a mac is also cute, but as far as studying goes, it’s the exact same shit as that old, used PC you got on kijiji)
6 – Eat right. While your brain is your greatest tool, you need your body to be healthy because you’ll be working more than everybody else and you’ll need to study just as much. Processed foods are generally bad for you and restaurants are a no-no except under extreme circumstances (and 99 cent pizza counts as a restaurant). Eat lots of tofu and vegetables, it’s cheap and it’s healthy (worked for me)
7 – pick something you really like. Don’t go to that program or this program because you think you’ll get a better job. There are too many lawyers out there already, business studies has a surprisingly low rate of employment and only a handful of business students make as much money as everybody things. If you’re poor, I’m not saying medicine should not be your goal, but it will most likely be out of reach (let’s not fool ourselves.) So pick something you like because if you hate what you study, then when the shit hits the fan and the job is killing you and you’re hungry but you don’t have time to eat before class…then you better fucking love what you do.
8 – Pick something and don’t fuck up. As you’ll probably only have the time, energy (and money) to go through this once and once only (unlike the rich kids who get to “discover” themselves in college and switch programs three times). It’s a little bit like snowboarding in rough terrain : be confident, pick a line… don’t fall down.
9 – Curb your expectations: this shit is a marathon, not a sprint. There are good odds that you won’t finish head of class (pretty much all studies on the matter state that if you work more than 15 hours a week, your grade will inevitably go down) and guess what, you’re one of these guys (gals) that will work WAY more than 15 hours a week. It’s a marathon and you should be prod if you manage to finish in the middle of the pack.
That’s pretty much it. The rest of the “usual” recommendations regarding college still apply (start early, seek advice from peers/teachers, use resources available to their fullest) still apply…you just got more shit to take care of than the rest but do it, really.
Going to college might prove crucial not because of the credits and the classes and the diploma (all of which also help) but also because of the people you’ll meet there. The kids in your classes will all apply for jobs or start companies that may well need services of people like you in the years to come: build good bridges and don’t burn them if possible.
That was good enough for me, it should work for you too.