Student Voices {Support Public Higher Education}

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Jennifer's Voice

Photo of Jennifer W

How have increased tuition fees impacted you and your family?:
I realize that many of you must share my frustration at the raising of student fees for fall 2011. I¿ve been working full-time on top of going to school full-time, trying to save enough money to pay tuition without taking out loans. Although I have successfully managed to do that in the past despite continued fee increases, I have failed for this coming semester. I¿m forced to take on debt. Still, I plan to continue working so that I can at least minimize the debt: I can support myself, at least, and only take out loans to cover tuition. Of course, even that will suffice to distract me from my studies. I know many students are in similar positions. I don¿t know your stories, but I, for one, am exhausted. Last semester I took a time and a half courseload and worked four jobs to pay for school. I earned a perfect 4.0 GPA. I worked as hard as I possibly could--sacrificing any semblance of a social life or personal time--and still came up short. I worked my way through a BA at UC Berkeley, and am about to work my way through an MA at SFSU. I had to take long stretches of time off from Berkeley to work and save up enough money to go back to school. The tuition has more than doubled since I started. Even when I was at school, I had to split my focus between work and school. My undergraduate transcript looks questionable because I have long stretches of time off punctuated by a year in school here, a year in school there. I feel as though I missed out on a big part of the college experience: feeling like I fully belong at the university, that I am a part of its community. I¿ve always felt sort of like an outsider because I was taking such a non-traditional path through university. Upon reflection, I realize that that instinctive emotional response has hampered my willingness to fully participate with the time that I do have. That ends now. I¿m determined to finish the MA program here in a timely manner, which is why I¿m going to take on debt this year. Unfortunately, due to the Budget Control Act, graduate students no longer receive subsidized loans, and our unsubsidized loans have an extremely high interest rate. Perversely, I made too much income to qualify for a grant, but not enough that I could pay for both tuition and living expenses. I am a graduate of the California public school system. I went to a community college while working full time. I managed to do well enough to earn admission to the flagship UC. I worked full time there as well, and alternated between working and going to school. I am now about to pursue an MA in the CSU system. I am grateful for the outstanding education I have received in California¿s public secondary and tertiary educational systems. In particular, my teachers have been absolutely phenomenal, and a few key people have made all the difference in motivating me not to give up, and to keep pursuing my (perhaps irrational) dream of becoming a teacher myself.


What are you studying at SF State and what do you hope to do once you graduate?:
I am a graduate student in philosophy. I also teach Critical Thinking and I absolutely love our students. I am applying to doctoral programs in the fall and hope to continue teaching.


Jennifer W., San Francisco



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