The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Cutting education in California stunts students’ personal growth

By Hansook Oh

A college degree should not be viewed as a tool solely for making money. That is a very important component, no doubt, but higher education offers our society so much more than that.

In an attempt to close California’s $26 billion budget gap, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to slash $12.5 billion from state programs like Medi-Cal and welfare-to-work, and a brutal $1.7 billion from California’s institutions of higher education. The University of California and the California State University systems will be gutted by $500 million each, while community colleges will lose at least $400 million.

All of these systems will increase tuition students need to pay to attend school, as they have been steadily doing over the past decade. Although many students are outraged, some do not see any problem with de-investing in education.

Last November, Cal State Northridge economics professor Shirley Svorny wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times arguing for higher tuition costs so only the most academically apt students, willing to pay more for their degrees, will join the CSU system.

Svorny said, “students who are not academically inclined are lured into attending college by low fees, peer pressure and the ready availability of financial aid.” She went on to say many do not pass their classes or try hard enough to do well.

Like Svorny, many people believe the sole purpose of higher education is for graduates to become prosperous. If getting a job is the only goal, then subsidizing universities and colleges in this economy may seem like a waste since not all students will attain the American dream.

When I first started college, I did not know myself very well. I knew I wanted to become a journalist but I didn’t know much about what I wanted out of my life. I am a socio-economically disadvantaged student and I grew up without opportunities and resources available to my peers.

I grew up struggling with depression and low self-esteem, but because my immigrant parents were not able to afford or understand how to access counseling, I went through it all on my own.

I was confused about my sexuality and did not know a safe place to explore my identity, and certainly did not know people who would understand my struggles. I felt alone and did not think that life would get much better.

Higher education has changed my life. I took classes that inspired me and helped me to think critically about my world.

I have utilized institutional support like University Counseling Services and have learned how to overcome the depression I struggled with as an adolescent. I’ve met people I can trust and call true friends, whom I hope to know for the rest of my life. It’s reasonable to say higher education has helped to anchor my existence in this world thus far.

Today, I am more confident and self-actualized than I have ever been in my life. I aspire to become a person who creates beautiful things and affects positive changes in the world after I graduate, not just make money.

I am thankful that I live in a state where a financially disadvantaged person like myself can go to school because tuition is still affordable. But today, I worry that education budgets will continue to be cut and school less accessible to those who truly need the kind of enrichment they are not able to get anywhere else.

Cuts to higher education may help temporarily sustain the state’s budget however, de-investing in education and raising tuition will be detrimental to our state in the long run. Raising tuition will mean lower-income students may not have the choice they once had to better their understanding of the world and of themselves.

We need to start looking at higher education as a method of sustaining the well-being of our society. If we start investing in higher education in this way, as well as in job creation and growth, I believe the state of California will be able to get back on its feet.

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