Opinion: “Receiving” versus “claiming” an education

Felic­ity Bosk

Stu­dents claim­ing their degree

When asked, “why are you in col­lege?” most would reply, “to get an edu­ca­tion,” but what does that response really mean?

As the first gen­er­a­tion high school grad­u­ate and col­lege atten­dant of my low-income fam­ily, I take my edu­ca­tion very seri­ously. Even though I cur­rently have not declared a major or minor, I think that it is imper­a­tive that young women such as myself does not sim­ply attend col­lege just to receive a degree. Each young woman on a col­lege cam­pus should be proac­tive in her edu­ca­tion in every aspect.

Through the Women and Gen­der Stud­ies course I am tak­ing this semes­ter, I have learned that there was a great strug­gle in order for women to obtain rights. Around 1960, women were lucky if they could make it into a uni­ver­sity, which sadly was hardly an edu­ca­tion. Around this time period, women were mainly in col­lege as a means of find­ing a man to marry. After said mar­riage, she would drop out to raise a fam­ily. Even after this era, women have fought for the right to obtain an edu­ca­tion that is suf­fi­cient to pro­duce a salary that she could sup­port her­self off of. Rather than going to school to be teach­ers or nurses, today women can seek a degree in any­thing that they choose. They could be a lawyer, archi­tect, graphic designer, or a mul­ti­tude of male dom­i­nated careers. How­ever, to this day in a num­ber of career fields women are still paid less than men.

Know­ing that young women can achieve a degree that is equal to that of our male coun­ter­parts is some­thing that I fully appre­ci­ate. Need­less to say, I come from a low income fam­ily and it is mon­e­tar­ily dif­fi­cult to sup­port my efforts in col­lege. Regard­less, I was always pushed to bet­ter myself and fur­ther my edu­ca­tion. It makes my par­ents, and myself, very proud to say that I am being a suc­cess­ful col­lege student.

The chance to be a col­lege stu­dent is some­thing to be cher­ished and not wasted. To be in col­lege is not enough. One must be active, alert, and ded­i­cated to this amaz­ing oppor­tu­nity we have been given. Adri­enne Rich in her arti­cle “Claim­ing and Edu­ca­tion” dif­fer­en­ti­ates tak­ing action and being acted upon in one’s education:

“…you can­not afford to think of being here to receive an edu­ca­tion; you will do much bet­ter to think of your­selves as being here to claim one. One of the dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tions of the verb ‘to claim’ is to take as the right­ful owner; to assert in the face of pos­si­ble con­tra­dic­tion. ‘To receive’ is to come into pos­ses­sion of; to act as recep­ta­cle or con­tainer for; to accept as author­i­ta­tive or true”

I could not have stated this bet­ter if I tried. Through­out my col­lege career I have noticed a num­ber of stu­dents who are not fully ded­i­cat­ing them­selves to their stud­ies. Fur­ther­more, I have seen stu­dents from low income fam­i­lies who, by means of a schol­ar­ship or finan­cial aid, have the oppor­tu­nity to get their entire edu­ca­tion paid for by out­side par­ties, who still throw away their edu­ca­tion. Some of said asso­ciates I have down­heart­edly watched as they com­pletely drop out of col­lege. This is maddening.

Con­clu­sively, I am not say­ing that col­lege can­not be fun or excit­ing. It is impor­tant to include some spice and expe­ri­ence new things. How­ever, I am say­ing that if a young per­son has the oppor­tu­nity to claim an edu­ca­tion, it should be taken very seri­ously. Be hon­est in and ded­i­cated to your stud­ies, learn all there is to learn, and put the work in. Claim the fruits of the labor that this edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nity has offered to you.

Work Cited

            Rich, Adri­enne. Claim­ing an Edu­ca­tion. 2012. Women’s Voices Fem­i­nist Visions. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 23–25. Print. Feb 13. 2013.

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