She was the black sheep, the quiet freak according to her friends and classmates. Every day in school she was confined to her own solitude. It seemed she could never find her social niche. She appeared forever shunned and cast out for being herself. Her divorced parents do not support her matriculation in college.
Despite the odds, she enrolled in Howard University in the bustling city of Washington, DC. This once-strange bird made a conscious decision to look to the sky and take flight into the direction of greatness. She has been immersed into a culture of excellence and surrounded by peers who have set standards of excellence for themselves just as she has.
Thinking she has reached emotional and academic fulfillment, she was jolted by the fact that she has to try to make sure she has food to eat or textbooks to read.
No one really could have prepared her for this financial reality she would soon find herself in on the campus of Howard University. The harsh reality is that at the age of eighteen, she’d not only be taking on a full course load of classes and new experiences, but also the full load of burdens that comes with adulthood she thought she would have years to come. There are only 24 hours in a day, but she works 20 hours a week part-time, rides a bus to work 4 hours a week, takes 18 college credit hours, and studies 14 hours a week.
She spends most of her weekdays dashing from classes at 1 pm to catch the G2 bus for a forty-minute ride to Georgetown by 2 pm, to work an eight hour shift for nine dollars an hour. Ten dollars an hour that will make all the difference in the world if she is able to afford to come back to Howard University for her sophomore year. It’s a sad reality to wake up every day, and see the hope, innocence, and youthfulness in her peers as they prepare their outfits and makeup for parties, while she is stuck in a retail store for 8 hours greeting customers with a smile and “welcome.”
According to the 2013 College Student Pulse survey conducted by YouGov for Citiand Seventeen Magazine, nearly 80% of college students work while attending school full time, and the majority use this money to fund their college education. College students, especially freshmen, are taking control of their financial futures by receiving a college education.
For Jazmin, working is not a choice but a necessity. Despite taking 18 hours of college credit, attending classes Monday through Friday, and having two internships, working to fund her education is the exhausting sacrifice she must make, but one that will surely pay off in the long run with the development of real-world experience and time-management.
Paying your way through school has become the reality of many college students. The high rate of divorce, the results of job loss, and an economic depression affecting the housing market resulting in foreclosures. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Columbia, South Carolina mortgage rates remain much lower than any other state. The epidemic of college students working to pay their way through school is a real thing.
My story is one of many college students across the country and I hope it can shed light on providing resources for college students who have no choice but to work.