Julionna Ledbetter 

English 1102- 200- Weaver 

Reflection Paper


Coming from a small private Christian school in Lilburn, GA, with less than 500 students in the high school, I always believed that the way people saw me or thought of me was all that mattered. This is ironic because, at a Christian school, one is constantly taught that the only opinion that mattered was God’s. As I look back at these four months and reflect on my academic self during the span of this course, I realized that even though I’m doing school online, behind a screen, miles away from anyone else, I continued the same trend of only showing people the best rather than the truth. So in this reflection, I would like to reintroduce my academic self and values as well as explain how this year has truly changed me as a person and writer. 

For the Major 1 project, I told my partner that I was passionate, flexible, and productive. Those aren’t awful responses and if you knew me, you would say those weren’t bad answers to define me. Sure I’m passionate about learning, and I can be flexible sometimes, and I have moments when I’m productive with my school work. The problem is, four months ago I never made an effort to discover what my academic self was like, I simply looked for the most obvious put-together answers. However, throughout the course, I was able to dive deeper into my academic self. Therefore, three words that genuinely describe my AS would be procrastination, dedication, and perseverance. 

I am a huge procrastinator, especially when it comes to writing. I don’t have troubles in any other aspect of academics but when I have to write a paper I try my hardest to push it off. I had come to terms with the fact that writing wasn’t my thing and I just wasn’t a good writer. The one thing that brought me out of this mindset was the class reading “Some People are Just Born Good Writers “ by Jill Parrott. In her essay about bad ideas about writing, she pushed against the idea of “good writers”, stating that “good writers are not born. They are learned” (Jill Parrott, 74). Her essay identified many of my wrong ideas about writing, particularly the fact that I don’t like messing up and I prefer getting things done the first time rather than trying again. This essay taught me that in order to learn while writing, one must make multiple mistakes and reflect on them. In reality, writers don’t get things right the first time, and having to redo drafts is perfectly normal.       

Dedication and perseverance are also accurate descriptors of my year. At this point in my academics I feel burnt out and the motivation that once was so vivid is slowly dying out. Despite all of my emotions towards the school I have stayed dedicated to my studies and persevered when I wanted to give up. This speaks volumes to my character but also to life. What once gave me joy could, in a blink of an eye, cause me emptiness. Through this, I have discovered the importance of my “why” over the “what” in academics. “What” I am doing school for is simple. I do it for a degree, to hopefully get a lot of money in the future, and make my family proud. Everyone has a “what” but it’s difficult for people to conjure up a “why”. Why do you endure four more years of higher ed after just completing high school? Why are you going to college when you could just make money like your other friends? The “what” will cause you to get burnt out and to lose your purpose but the “why” will sustain you for the whole race. This semester I have been trying to evaluate my why to academics and why I stay even though many days I don’t want to. I pursue higher education because I desire to connect with people from various backgrounds, perspectives, beliefs, and thought processes. This is essential for me because ever since this point, my life has been one-sided and I hope by going to college and pursuing a major I will learn to love and care for people that are utterly different from me. That is my why, it may seem odd to some people but it is rooted in who I am. It may change in the future but for now, this is my motivation. I hope whoever else reads this is encouraged to discover their own why.             


Source cited: 

Parrott , Jill. “Some People Are Just Born Good Writers.” Bad Ideas About Writing , 2017, 

Setbacks are a part of the Journey

Emma-Leigh Barfield

Professor Weaver

ENGL 1102

4 May 2021

Major Project 5: Setbacks are a part of the Journey

Being an online college student among a pandemic is never something I imagined for myself. Although past Emma would have wanted things to be much different for me, I believe I am right where I need to be. This semester has been my most challenging one yet, but the experiences and the lessons I have learned will stick with me through the rest of my semesters here.

Our first assignment in this class was to talk and describe our academic selves. At the start of the year, I was prepared, eager, and ready to start new classes. I described myself as dedicated and organized; however, as the semester went on, I fell apart. I quickly lost motivation and faced some difficult challenges in my life among my mental health, family health issues, and career difficulties. My academic self was not the same anymore, at least I thought. I felt unprepared and useless. I felt as if I was letting down my academic self because of the struggles I was facing in my life. 

Along with feeling like I let my academic self down, I quickly felt like my values for my academic self were also not valid anymore. In my IP5, I picked patience, creativity, and ambition for myself and my goals. Yet again, as the semester went on, I felt as if I was letting my academic self go and was not representing the values I had set for myself. I had no patience in myself by getting upset with myself when making a mistake, I lost all creativity by not having any good ideas for when I needed to create one for a paper or a discussion post, and I had felt like I lost all ambition when I could not find the motivation to succeed. I thought I was not going to be able to pull myself out of the hole I had dug myself in; however, I was wrong.

Although this semester did not go the way I wanted it to, I still learned more about myself, especially my academic self. I overcame many obstacles and challenges that I was faced with and took lessons from them. I first learned that even though I thought I did not live up to the values that I had given myself, I actually did live up to them. Two weeks before finals week, I had to dig myself out and prepare for my exams so I could succeed. I had the patience to sit down and really focus on what I needed to study so I could pass. I had the creativity to reteach myself the many lectures I had just gone through. Most importantly, I still had the ambition that I thought I had given up. I had the ambition to succeed in my classes even with the struggles from the semester. I then realized that I did not give up on my values, I simply altered them for the experiences I was going through.

Within this semester and this class, I also learned more about how to be a better, understanding person and how to make connections. One of our readings from this year, Student Parent Voices Are Critical To Colleges Civic Engagement Plans by Nicole Lynn Lewis, honestly hit me the most. I realized that many students go through day-to-day struggles in their lives and a minor setback does not determine their future. Every day student parents struggle, whether it is balancing their kids with work and school, financial problems, or not getting the recognition they deserve, these students still continue to represent their values and academic selves. I connected this to my academic self by not giving up on myself just because of a minor setback and continuing to strive to represent my values. This reading and pandemic have also helped me understand that people struggle every day, so stay kind and compassionate. This reminds me of the first time I talked to Manasvi about our project. She had told me that it was her senior year and things were not going the way she planned. During a time like this, I have learned that everyone is struggling so being there for one another is important right now. I also thank Professor Weaver for being one of the most understanding professors I have ever had. Especially during a time like this where I am not able to physically meet Professor Weaver, I still managed to learn about myself in the class.

This semester did not go how I wanted it to at all, but it still taught me more about myself and life in general. Just because I had many struggles and setbacks does not mean that my future is ruined or I am not a good student anymore. A setback is just a part of the journey and success moves at different speeds for everyone. This lesson will stick with me for the rest of my life. So, as I move on to the next chapter in my journey, I will remember to stay patient, creative, and never give up on my ambitions.


Major Project 4: Research Project

Salma Ahmed

ENG1102 Weaver Section 400


Major Project 4 – Research


Colleges’ Responses to the Spanish Influenza Outbreak of 1918



For some individuals, the COVID-19 pandemic did not but merely allow them to slow down the very fast-paced lives they were living. However, for high school seniors like myself that intend to attend college in the fall, understanding how colleges and universities reacted to the global pandemic of 1918 can prove to be quite useful in allowing us to look forward to the upcoming semester. We could recycle some of the strategies used during that pandemic and test them to see if they could help us cope better, at least in the college and university setting. Doing so may even assist us in developing more strength, patience, and resilience for upcoming school years in which this outbreak may continue.



In his article titled “A 1918 Influenza Outbreak at Haskell Institute: An Early Narrative of the Great Pandemic”, author Peter Grant discusses the impact that the influenza pandemic had on the Haskell Institute (now known as Haskell Indian Nations University). While describing the flu pandemic,  Grant states that it was “like a thunder bolt out of  clear sky” (Grant 1). His stating this shows that similar to the coronavirus pandemic, it was quite sudden and impacted students almost immediately. Students at the Haskell Institute began to fall ill at a rapid pace, with awful symptoms such as “nausea, vomiting, chills, and ‘Rigors’ (shivering)..” (Grant 1). While these symptoms seem quite tolerable today due to there now being a vaccine that originally was released in 1945, what preceded it made it extremely difficult for those that became ill. This is significant because although hundreds of thousands of individuals have been vaccinated in the United States since January 20th, we are still in a time where the number of people that have caught the coronavirus is increasing daily–which is also increasing the number of deaths caused by it. Grant’s article is primarily written from the perspective of the state of Kansas but still ties well with the argument that implementing the lessons and strategies that may have been used during the pandemic of 1918 may assist head individuals of colleges and universities in making more efficient decisions considering the current epidemic we are in.


Authors James W. Thomas and Holly Ann Foster highlight in their article titled “Higher Education Institutions Respond to Epidemics”,  other states across the nation, however, government officials struggled to manage the outbreak and this resulted in colleges being “turned into military training centers…” (Thomas and Foster). This was due to the upcoming war that was to take place known as World War I. On another note, the faculty of some colleges such as the State College of Washington (located in Pullman, Washington) stated the following concerning the Spanish flu outbreak: “…it was believed that the State College in its position of comparative isolation from the centers of population and traffic might escape a serious attack of the malady. These hopes were justified until the arrival of the October fifteenth detachment of six hundred student-soldiers who, by the War Department, had been assigned to this institution for vocational training in military trades. In spite of all that could be done by the college authorities and the officers in command of the detachment, Spanish influenza assumed a very serious aspect, and a number of fatalities occurred” (Thomas and Foster). This particular scenario is one that we can implement into the circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in. The confession this school had to make was due to the fact that they felt that they had upheld their goal– to maintain distance from the severity of the outbreak–until soldiers that were headed to war were assigned to them. Simply put, this was a result of there being too many individuals in one place and even resulted in individuals’ deaths. For us now living through this coronavirus pandemic, we must take this as a valuable lesson and one that we should implement in the school setting. Although the military soldiers were not students, it is apparent that the same would have happened had there been 600 students in the institution at once. Therefore, we must make an effort to avoid these kinds of scenarios and remain in very small groups, if in any groups at all. 


Both the influenza and coronavirus pandemics have had crushing effects on low-funded schools in America, and Peter Grant detailed the experience Haskell Institute underwent in Lawrence, Kansas. Undergoing similar circumstances at the time was the State College of Washington in Pullman, Washington. Although each school has its own response, it is very clear that using previous experiences that occurred during other pandemics, such as the Spanish flu outbreak, can prove to be useful in helping us better our college experience while remaining safe and leaving 2021  high school seniors with much more to look forward to than those of 2020.


Works Cited:


Thomas, James W., and Holly Ann Foster. “Higher Education Institutions Respond to Epidemics: History of Education Quarterly.” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 14 July 2020,

Grant, Peter. “A 1918 Influenza Outbreak at Haskell Institute: An Early Narrative of the Great Pandemic.” Kansas History, vol. 43, no. 2, Summer 2020, pp. 56–82. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=khh&AN=145396653&site=eds-live&scope=site.


Research Project: First Generation College Students

Emma Cohen

Engl 1102 Section 330

Summary, Analysis, and Response Essay

April 27, 2021 



      There is no doubt that being a first-generation college student is difficult. The purpose of this research project is to understand and investigate what it is like to be a first-generation college student. First-generation college students are more isolated, have a harder time affording school, and face a lot of advantages and disadvantages that other students do not. Anne Dennon, in her article, “What Is a First-Generation College Student?” This article identifies who exactly qualifies as a first-generation college student and provides key tips about how they can navigate through this new experience. From the article, this research will give a larger understanding of first-generation college students and their experiences. 

      First-generation college students suffer from experiences and disadvantages that need to be talked about more. It is a topic that is not discussed because it is not broadcasted as an issue or brought up on the news/ media. The topic of first-generation college students matters because they deserve the recognition of defying odds that most people do not understand or even know to exist. People should open their ears and listen more to the topic of first-generation college students because anyone can help out and make this new experience for them easier. 



      First-generation college students face double the amount of problems that normal college students do. Over the past couple of years, statistics show that 56% of incoming students are first-generation college students. The rate of first-generation college students just applying to universities has increased greatly as well. In the article “First-Generation Students” by Factsheets, they explain that it is more likely to have non-white first-generation college students who do not speak English as their first language. “42% of Black students and 48% of Hispanic students were first-generation students, compared to 28% of white students. English is not the first language for nearly 20% of first-generation students” (par. 5). As if the struggles of being the first person to attend college in your family were not enough, they now have to push through ethnic struggles that come up as well. However, language is not the only struggle they face. Many first-generation college students suffer from a lack of college experience or expertise to help guide them. Not in all cases, but in most, the student’s relatives have not attended college because of the financial aspect of it all, so that usually carries over to be a struggle for the students as well. 

      The biggest thing about the first-generation college student topic is how to know who qualifies as one. According to the staff writers at Affordable Colleges Online, first-generation college students are “defined as learners coming a family where neither of their parents or guardians has obtained a bachelor’s degree” (par.1). Furthermore, if a student’s family member obtained an associate’s degree, they are still classified as a first-generation college student. When applying to most universities the application asks whether or not you qualify as a first-generation college student, but most people do not know exactly if they qualify or no so they usually put no. If people talked about first-generation college students more and tried to understand the issues these students face, the lines between yes and no in that question would not be so blurred and confusing. When incoming students who will be first-generation college students are applying to universities and they are not sure if they qualify under this category and put no, they are removing themselves from scholarship opportunities that they are actually eligible for. When the financial aspect of college is already a struggle for most first-generation college students getting removed from university scholarships because of a missed clarification is a huge disadvantage. If the media discussed topics like first-generation college students more, the confusion about who qualifies as one would decrease significantly. 

      Not only would it be helpful if the media discussed more who qualifies as first-generation students, but it would also be helpful if there were more stories from first-generation college students out there that could be used for inspiration. Many students who would qualify as first-generation college students if they applied, do not even consider applying to a university because they feel that they would not make it through college since they do not have much parental experience to guide them. Deciding to attend college is a hard decision for these students and being exposed to stories of others who faced similar struggles could be a valuable resource and a helpful guide to navigating them as they pursue this journey. After reading quite a few stories that were shared by first-generation students, I found Annie Hoang’s to be both inspiring and useful. Hoang talks about how her experience as a first-generation college student. She told readers that “When you’re the first person, there’s a lot of fear and apprehension that comes with it and there’s a lot of low-self-esteem, just being in denial like I can’t do this, there’s no freaking way” (Hoang par. 8). If other possible first-generation college students knew that they were not alone and others have had the same stressful feelings and made it through the college journey okay, they might feel more inclined to follow through with the college process. Hoang pushed past these feelings and was accepted to Yale for her undergraduate years, and later to UCSF for a medical education program. Hearing other first-generation college students’ stories and the struggles they overcome would be extremely useful for incoming first-generation students who need a guide to navigate through this new educational experience. 


        Works Cited Page

  • Dennon, A. (2020, July 01). What is a first-generation college Student?: BestColleges. Retrieved May 01, 2021, from
  • Factsheets. (2021, February 01). Retrieved April 20, 2021, from
  • National data fact sheets. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2021, from
  • First generation college student guide. (2021, April 27). Retrieved May 01, 2021, from
  • Bai, N. (2021, April 12). Students who are first in their family to attend College share Stories, experiences. Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

MajorPjct5 Reflection

Nicole Berry
English Com, Section 330, Dr. Weaver
MajorPjct5 Reflection
April 30, 2021

Friday marks the halfway point of a school year held during the coronavirus pandemic. This pandemic provoked a sense of fear and paranoia as well as the spread of the coronavirus. The virus spread so fast that all schools across the globe closed. The closing of schools pivots students to begin school or end a school year online. As well know, online education has become a well know issue for most students. This school year has challenged students’ ability to balance life at home and school.
Sometimes life can feel a little overwhelming, to say the least. The pressure from parents, professors, and pressure from myself to succeed. I’ve contemplated three hours and devoted five hours to complete my coursework. Since the beginning of this year contemplating has been my routine. Webex meetings and coursework have felt like an option more than mandatory.
Transferring to remote learning has destroyed the engaging atmosphere of a school classroom. The atmosphere was engaging with students tackling assignments and teachers answering questions. Alongside the small interruption from students that crack up the whole classroom. This atmosphere was an engaging environment. Now classrooms are firm mattresses with Cheetos dust and an 11-inch baby Yoda plush toy.
The majority of what primary and secondary teachers teach are online. If the programs are individual and self-paced, even better. Individual meaning the courses are self-taught at my own pace. But the approach schools have to use is for mass education. This shift in education to home learning has to accommodate the school’s schedule. As a student, I had to merge four or eight classes into a schedule along with home duties. This is my situation since the beginning of my college as a freshman. The challenges for the first time as a freshman was nothing compared to the second semester.
What came as a challenge in the second semester was the classes. The classes in the second semester were Sociology, American Government, English, and Chemistry. These courses weren’t a strong suit but I was willing to prove that I am cut out for this. Especially Chemistry because the subject varies along branches- analytical, organic, inorganic. Every week the Chemistry instructors would give little to no information to help. I tried my best to reach out and receive help but no one answer. Which resulted in retaking the class alongside other classmates.
As for this English course, it has been smooth sailing. This course reassured me that a writer is someone that writes. I am a writer. Writing doesn’t have to be Shakespeare’s level of writing with metrical patterns. This course helped me understand that anyone can write. I can accept constructive criticism and dedicate myself to improving my writing.
The perception of this school year has changed within the 4 months of this semester. At the beginning of this course, my partner Graciela and I discuss our academic selves. I communicated to her that “I’m motivated to work, to learn”, which has been my motto since. I have gained more of an understanding that change is always happening. The amount of energy that I put forward can either result in something good or bad. In this ever-changing world, I’ll try my best to put forward positive energy.
Throughout quarantine, the world of education and learning has changed to remote learning. This experience has been an eye-opener for me and many students. Many students such as the ones that would ace courses had begun to fall behind in class. This may come as a surprise though students come from different backgrounds. And some of these backgrounds don’t provide the resources students need to succeed. Students rely on school resources such as internet access to complete assignments. Other resources such as books, lunch, and school supplies accommodate students in need. I’ve recently read an article that consulted with these issues of remote learning. This article was Sean Michael Morris’s “Pivot to online: A Student Guide” article. These issues have become well known to Sean as he emphasized the limitation of the internet. If a student must return home, they may face little or no internet access there. In December 2019, EdSource reported that only 30% of households in rural California have internet access; even in urban areas, only 78% of households have service. (Sean 2020)
Through the challenges and setbacks I faced this semester, I am willing to push through. It is a little bittersweet to think back to the times where education was in a 900 square ft classroom. Students received far more interaction and motivation in school. Though as time changes so can I. It is necessary to face the hardship of life because you gain a better sense of life. Better yet you grow through the stressful time in your life. As it comes down to the end of the second semester I’ve realized that I have to adapt to change. This pandemic has provoked me to focus my energy on the better things in life.

Sean Michael Morris. “Pivot to Online: A Student Guide.” (2020)

College Effects on Mental Health

Ajoi White

English 1102

Professor Weaver

29 April 2021

Major Project 4


    College in itself is stressful enough, when you add in factors like a new environment, different workload and lack of normalcy things get even messier. College is seen as a place where people grow and thrive but what if the opposite is happening. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illness can arise and are often overlooked and untreated.

            When you look at the statistics the numbers alone are scary enough, there are over 30,000 college students that have depression and anxiety and with a global pandemic the numbers are at its peak. Paola Pedrelli the author of College students: Mental Health Problems and Treatment considerations writes “Suicide, although not a specific diagnosis, is the third leading cause of death among young adults and is a significant problem among college students” (Pedrelli). Sadly, there are still other mental illness to cover. There are eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Which can easily arise when your submerged into an environment where fitting in is so prevalent.  In addition, there is ADHD and those on the spectrum who are no doubt struggling with their mental health in college.

     The effects of these mental illness will not just magically disappear when graduation comes. When there is no acknowledgment or treatment for these metal health problems, it only leads to a negative output into the ‘real world’. When it comes to treatment for mental health in college it is scarce. For instance, in a study by Zivin et al, less than half of the college students with mental health problems persisting over 2 years received mental health treatment during that time period. Students may not realize the seriousness of their mental health and suffer in silence or they might be to embarrassed to reach out for help especially if they see their peers thriving.

      Mental health is associated with different things like sex, race, ethnicity, religion, relationship status and financial situations. Research done by Jordan A Brown who attended Georgia State University writes this “There is something to take note of when 38% of nontraditional students leave their first year compared to 16% of traditional students” (Brown). When referring to nontraditional and traditional college student it means that nontraditional students may work full time, has dependents, single parents, or attending school part time. Traditional college students are recent high school graduates, living on campus and plan to graduate in four years. There are the nontraditional college students who are not just faced with academic challenges but also have various responsibilities to take care of. Nontraditional students have higher risks of possibly not graduating and ensuring the appropriate resources are in place is critical as a part of success.

       Black students reported experiencing higher levels of stress due to finances and were more likely to attempt suicide 1-5 times then white students. Many POC (people of color) are confronted with challenges that provoke their mental health especially ones who attend a PWI (predominantly white institution). Naturally you are drawn to those who are similar to you, so when the majority of your environment is seemingly nothing like you negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness are quick to arise. Many students of color experience pressure to accept the values, opinions, and mindsets of the dominant white culture while concurrently feeling pressured to abandon their own culture.

      When it comes to simply being a woman on a college campus the issues seem to be endless. Women are constantly ignored in class discussions, sexual harassment, homophobia and eating disorders just name a few challenges. Sarah Gmelch author of Gender on Campus: Issues for College Women writes “According to one report, the students most frequently targeted for sexual harassment are African ­American women, Asian­ Americans, Latinas, Jewish women, lesbians, and feminists. To this list I would add women athletes. The latter three—lesbians, feminists, and athletes—are undoubtedly singled out because they challenge masculinity and traditional male domains” (Gmelch). A considerable amount of freshman already having experienced sexual assault. Research proves that women who were sexually assaulted in their first semester in college are associated with higher rates of depressive and anxious symptoms. Matters are only made worse when your attacker is freely roaming campus. Only 1 in 5 women report rape many feel embarrassed or even like it is useless. Being faced with such a traumatic situation is detrimental to one’s mental health.

     So, what can be done? There are obviously going to be unforeseen occurrence like covid-19 that everyone will endure but having compassion and being understanding goes a long way. As far as the issues that have been prevalent for years, better mental health treatments need to be more widely available for every single type of student traditional and nontraditional. Proving flexible hours and open communication allows for those with other responsibilities to keep up their academic schedule. Having one less thing to stress over is a relief! Having an environment where things like sexism, homophobia and racism is not tolerable makes a vast difference in students college experience. Everyone needs to play their part students, parents, professors, and administrative staff. Working together with open minds is one step in the right direction.



Works Cited


Brown, Jordan A., “Descriptive Analysis of Mental Health Needs of Nontraditional Black and White Students.” Thesis, Georgia State University, 2017.

Eisenberg, Daniel PhD*; Hunt, Justin MD, MS†; Speer, Nicole PhD‡ Mental Health in American Colleges and Universities, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: January 2013 – Volume 201 – Issue 1 – p 60-67doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827ab077

Gmelch, Sharon, et al. Gender on Campus : Issues for College Women. Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Zivin K, Eisenberg D, Gollust SE, Golberstein E. Persistence of mental health problems and needs in a college student population. J Affect Disord. 2009 Oct;117(3):180-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.01.001. Epub 2009 Jan 28. PMID: 19178949.





Why is college so expensive nowadays and how can we make it more affordable?


Education is probably one of the most important aspects in the development of a person’s life. It has the ability to not only turn around lives, but to also equip students with the skills they need in order to be productive members of society. In fact, we are living in a time where the average student with an internet connection has access to so much information that people of the past could not even dream of having. So, why is it then that in recent years we have seen lots of doubt and insecurity about whether or not college is worth it or not? How come our own students feel this way? How come financial costs have made it such that our students doubt whether or not they can have good prospects once they exit college? Some of these issues, especially the financial ones, have been discussed in the article “I’m the first on in my family to attend college, here’s how I got there” by Ronnie Estoque. So what exactly are some of the issues with modern college education, financial or not, and how can it be solved?



One of the issues that has been not only the question of many students, but also parents, with regards to their children’s education, is whether or not the degree that they are getting will help them achieve social mobility, or in other words, prepare them for getting jobs that require college level skills. However, in recent years, many have started to observe a phenomenon wherein there has been an increase of college students having the necessary skills and requirements to get a job requiring college level skills but end up having a job that they are overqualified for. In the article, titled “Will College Jobs be there for College Grads”, which originally appeared in the journal called Perspectives on Work, the author Peter Cappelli states that, “They document a rise in jobs requiring manual tasks (and not college skills) since 2000, well before the great Recession, and that college grads are increasingly taking them”. (Cappelli 36). This in turn has also led to other groups getting pushed out of the labor market, with Cappelli stating that, “That shift, in turn, crowded out high school grads, holding wages for those jobs down, and pushed more high school grads into unemployment or out of the job market all together.” (Cappelli 36). This in turn, has caused a lot of worry among college students wondering whether or not the degree is worth it, and if they were better off just not going through the financial burden to get a college degree. Cappelli further states that, “One in four graduates now says that the financial cost of college was not worth the benefit.” (Cappelli 35). He further goes on to back this up with some statistics, writing that “The compensation company Payscale looked at data on income and education across colleges for millions of Americans and calculated that for the graduates of about one-quarter of colleges, the return on the cost of investment in attending college was actually negative” (Cappelli 35). We obviously now know that students cannot afford college, but why? There are many financial options available, such as loans for example, but are students borrowing too much or too little? If so, what exactly is the problem?


One of the main ways to afford to pay for college has historically been taking out a loan, in fact, it is highly encouraged and is often times the go-to option for many lower-middle class families, or just families in general that come short on payments. However, it increasingly seems like more and more students rely on it completely. In the Journal article, titled “Student loans: Do College students borrow too much — or not enough?” by Christopher Avery and Sarah Turner, which originally appeared in the journal called “The Journal of Economic Perspectives”, they authors state that “Borrowing to finance educational expenditures has been increasing—-more than quadrupling in real dollars since the early 1990s” (Avery and Turner 165). This is a huge problem and taking huge amount of loans could eventually lead to students putting off buying a home or being financially stable on their own two feet even. In the previous paragraph, we had seen how some students have had doubts over whether or not college was worth it, but is it always a good option?


Given the information of the previous two paragraphs, one might ask what the real worth of college education is, and they might be right. As a matter of fact, in recent years, there has been an increasing trend of getting online certifications and prioritizing experience over actual degrees. However, despite common misconceptions of a college degree being “increasingly outdated” it does still hold somewhat of a value. In the Journal Article entitled “The fundamental worth of education” by Amy Gutmann, which originally appeared in journal entitled “Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society”, Gutmann states that “Moreover since 1950, the investment in college has a return of a whopping 15.2% a year on the $102,000 investment for those who earn only the average salary for college graduates” (Gutmann 138). However, she does come to the conclusion that many families often come to, which is that it makes sense for the more financially well off to send their kids to college, saying that “College is a smart economic choice, but it is a smart choice for those who have the choice” (Gutmann 138). So, what have been the specific effects of such an inequality?


One of the main conclusions that a student or the family of a student would immediately come to is that college is not worth it, and that they would be better off going straight into the job market, than spending 4 years getting a degree. In fact, coming to these conclusions might be correct, as there is a greater share of people who haven’t been getting a college degree, and that is reflected among both men and women. For example, in a Journal article by John Smith and Heather Boushey entitled “Why don’t more young people go to college”, they state that “In 2009, our analysis of the Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group extract finds that among 25 to 34 year old mean, one-in-five (19.4 percent) who had a college degree actually earned less than the average male high school graduate, Meanwhile, one in seven women (14.0 percent) earned less than the average female high school graduate” (Smith and Boushey 81). This combined with the information of the previous three paragraphs, clearly shows us that, when given the evidence, more and more young students would perhaps not hate the idea of going to college, but definitely consider alternative pathways to getting a high skilled and high paying job in any field that they want. So, how can this situation be helped, and what is the end to all these problems?



What would be the point of listing all these problems, if we were not able to give solutions to these problems? In fact, there are many ways to deal with these problems. For example, with regards to the problem of college costs, Johnathan Haber, the author of the article “Solutions to the ‘high’ freaking cost of college” thinks that some colleges should simply specialize in one or two fields/majors, saying that the benefits would be that “less-interested undergraduates can be introduced to the field wherever they attend, and the only people who suffer are the high-priced faculty no longer needed within this new efficient configuration” (Haber 1). Ron Carson, the author of the article, “7 Ways to Reduce College Costs” has different approaches as to some of the problems facing college students. One of the things that he suggests is that students can opt to go to a community college for their first two years, and then have those credits transfer to whichever college they opt to go to next, saying that “Community Colleges, especially those designed to serve as feeder institutions for public state colleges and universities, can be a more affordable alternative for the first two years of a degree program” (Carson 1). In Conclusion, while there have been problems in recent years with the affordability of college, it is still possible to get a degree and be financially well-off as well as have good career prospects.


Works Cited:

  1. Avery, Christopher, and Sarah Turner. “Student Loans: Do College Students Borrow Too Much—Or Not Enough?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 26, no. 1, 2012, pp. 165–192. JSTOR, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
  2. GUTMANN, AMY. “The Fundamental Worth of Higher Education.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 158, no. 2, 2014, pp. 136–143., Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.
  3. Cappelli, Peter. “Will College Jobs Be There for College Grads?” Perspectives on Work, vol. 20, 2016, pp. 34–37. JSTOR, Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.
  4. Schmitt, John, and Heather Boushey. “Why Don’t More Young People Go to College?” Challenge, vol. 55, no. 4, 2012, pp. 78–93., Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.
  5. Haber, Johnathan. Solutions to the High ‘Freaking’ Cost of College. 15 Apr. 2015, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.
  6. Carson, Ron. 7 Ways To Reduce College Costs. 22 Sept. 2019, Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.


First-Generation College Students


Kaleb Lynum

Public Speaking





        It’s already hard going into a new environment like college and having to get acclimated to it at a fast pace. So it takes time for average college students to adjust, but it’s even more complicated for first-generation college students. There’s no surprise that first-generation college students are at a disadvantage when it comes to college. In a class reading by Jennine Capó Crucet, she goes into detail about the struggles that first-generation college students face and what should be done about it. It’s a massive issue because it makes adjusting and being successful in college much harder than it already is. I’m going to discuss the struggles that first-generation students face and how the colleges/universities and their families can make it easier for them to succeed. 




        If you aren’t familiar with the term first-generation college student or don’t know what they are, then let me help you understand better. A first-generation college student is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a college student who neither one of their parents completed four years at a college or university. Even if their siblings completed four years at a college of university, they are still considered a first-generation college student. So they are going to be the first generation in their family to complete four years of college. 

        Before we get into detail about those struggles that first-generation students face, let’s talk about why they struggle. See these students are going in completely blind when they first attend college. They aren’t like the average college student, whose parents have taken that journey before. The parents of students usually give out tips, advice, warnings, basically whatever they can do to make their child’s journey easier. Because their parents haven’t graduated, they don’t know what their kids should expect. Both the parents and the student have no idea about what’s going to happen at college. 

        Now let’s talk about the struggles that first-generation college students face. In the article Taking My Parents to College by Jennine Capó Crucet, she points out some personal struggles that she faced. She was unaware of even the common things that all college students should know. She and her parents didn’t know how long her parents were supposed to stay for orientation. Her parents actually booked a hotel and used their vacation days to stay for a couple of days (Crucet, 2015). Another common thing that she was unaware of was the supplies that she needed. She didn’t know that she needed to purchase “shower shoes, extra-long twin sheets, mesh laundry bags” (Crucet, 2015).  She also struggled with her school work and she couldn’t really ask for help from her family because they didn’t know how to do it. This just shows these students struggle with the simple things, so imagine how they struggle with the major things.


        There are definitely some more major struggles that first-generation college students face. Financial support is a very big struggle for almost all college students but it can be even worse for first-generation students. Their parents probably won’t know of the resources that they could use to make college more affordable. Resources like scholarships, grants, programs that help first-generation students, etc. Another struggle that many of these students deal with is guilt. Sometimes they feel guilty when they leave their family and go off to college or even feel guilty or embarrassed to ask for help (Homol, 2016). Fitting is also a major struggle that many of these students go through. Most of these students probably haven’t ever been far away from their family so it’s going to take some time to adjust. Fitting and finding friends definitely helps the transition easier. 

        There are a good amount of struggles that make college very challenging for first-generation college students. There are a few things that colleges/universities can do to help them succeed. Something that Jennine Capó Crucet said in her article was that she believes that colleges/universities should implement mandatory meetings for first-generation college students. This seems like a great idea that will only help benefit these students. The meetings would probably be geared toward informing students about the simple things like what supplies they need. It should also include information for the parents so they can help support their children. Support from home is something that is very beneficial to them (Greenthal, 2021). These colleges/universities could also try to give these students more attention or have their guidance counselors check up on them more often.

        There are also some things that the family of these students can do to help them succeed. I stated earlier that support from the home is very beneficial, but since the parents never graduated from college they don’t know how to support them. Having the colleges/universities provide information for the parents so they can help support the students is a great idea. It shouldn’t be solely on the colleges/universities to help inform the parents. The parents have to use the resources and research for themselves. They google at their fingertips and can research literally anything that they need to know. They can find scholarship information, tutors, a list of supplies that the kids will need, and so much more. The parents have to be able to help their children whenever they need it. 

        In conclusion, it’s already difficult to adjust to the college lifestyle, but it’s even more difficult for first-generation college students to adjust. They’re at such a disadvantage because their parents don’t have the knowledge that the average college student parent has about college. Parents of incoming college students usually give out advice and tips so their child will be more successful in college. The parents of first-generation college students may not have any advice or tips for them because they never had the experience. They struggle with simple things like how long is orientation or what supplies do they need or help with their school work. They definitely struggled with harder stuff such as financial support, guilt, and fitting. Even though they have to face all of these struggles, there are still ways to make their lives a little easier. The colleges/universities should have mandatory meetings for them to inform about stuff that they need to know about. The students’ parents should also educate themselves about college so they can support their children. Hopefully these things make the students’ lives easier and allows them to become very successful. 


Works Cited


Greenthal, Sharon. ‘’5 Big Challenges for First Generation College Students”. Verywellfamily. 4         Feb. 2021 


Homol, Caitlyn James, and David J Johns. “5 Things You Can Do to Support First-Generation         College Students.” Education Post, 20 July 2016


Markle, Gail;Stelzriede Danelle Dyckhoff, et al. “Comparing First-Generation Students to         Continuing-Generation Students and the Impact of a First-Generation Learning             Community.” Innovative Higher Education., vol. 45, no. 4, Kluwer                 Academic-Plenum-Human Sciences Press, 2020, pp. 285–98,                     doi:10.1007/s10755-020-09502-0.


Reid, M Jeanne;Moore, James L, III, et al. “College Readiness and Academic Preparation for         Postsecondary Education.” Urban Education., vol. 43, no. 2, Sage Publications, 2008, pp.     240–61, doi:10.1177/0042085907312346.


Is Going To College Worth It For High Paying Job Opportunities?

Is Going To College Worth It For High-Paying Job Opportunities?

            During high school senior year, the talk about college is always scary and daunting. Some students already know which college to go to, what course to take, and what career path they are going to take. But some students are still deciding with an option to get a college degree or not. Every single people has a unique path of their own, some become successful and well-off after getting a college degree, and some who do not are struggling. Interestingly enough it can also work oppositely, some high school graduates or even dropouts are millionaires, and some who earned a degree, unfortunately, live paycheck to paycheck. And so the question is, would going to college worth the risk for a high-paying job or people can just “wing” it on their future career and life in general.

           Graduating students from high school are forced to make a huge and major decision, and oftentimes they have left clueless and so little information about the pros and cons of choosing to go to college for a high-paying job with their future working career. For most, the value of education and getting a career is always the top choice and priority, but going to college means a minimum of four years spent studying, thousands of dollars spent for tuition, and even with scholarships and tuition aids students are graduating with huge student loans that they will be paying for the coming years. Students can choose a two-year degree or 4-year degree to take in college, according to the National Centre for Education Statistics conducted in 2018, undergraduate students who seek a 4-year bachelor’s degree in institutions was sixty-two percent, a rate that has been noticeably increasing compared to previous years. Though the set years do not guaranty a degree if you fail or dropped out, and those years could be used to finding a job and establishing a career on your chosen no-degree career. Another worth considering if a college degree is worth it is the staggering price of tuition fees. Top US universities would likely cost sixty thousand US dollars per year, private colleges around thirty-six thousand US dollars, and state colleges around ten thousand US dollars (Bridgestock). All that not accounting for the extra thousands of dollars you will bring with you when you graduate with student loans.  When with all those years and financial value could already help you build up a career that is higher paying than the job you’ll get after getting a degree. Aside from all that, the choice from hundreds of different degrees has a vital effect on finding a high-paying job after graduating.

           Indeed college can be expensive and would take years with a lot of hard work, but there are certain benefits from going to college and getting a degree. Most jobs are requiring a college diploma to get hired, which means more opportunities for a college degree holder than those high school graduates. Statistics show that those who went to college get most of the jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, over the last years, out of ten new jobs, nine of them are given to people who went to college or have a college degree (Goldstein). Other than that, college is all about the experiences, the people you meet and the activities that will lead and open doors for you because of going to college, and also the transition of being a college student to getting ready to adulthood. One vital thing also is the connection you build that can help in recruiting or scoring a high-paying job. Going to college is optional formal learning in the United States just like Higher education, but it is as important to discuss the key benefits, the pros and cons, and significance of it to have a view and information about the available options for the academic path.

           Going to college does not automatically means high-paying job opportunities. The resources, time, money, passion, and efforts of getting a college degree should be wisely considered. Finding a high-paying job in most cases indeed requires a college degree. But going to college is not guaranteed as a key to a successful and wealthy future. A smart choice and proper pondering of your chosen career, resources, environment, skills, and connection are what would make deciding and choosing to go to college for high-paying job opportunities worth it.



Works Cited

Bridgestock, Laura. How Much Does It Cost To Study In The US? QS Top Universities. 20 April, 2021.

Goldstein, Steve. Nine out of 10 new jobs are going to those with a college degree. Market Watch Capitol Report. 5 June, 2018.

KQED PBS. “Is College Worth the Time and Money?” Above The Noise. YouTube, 5 Marc. 2020,

National Centre for Education Statistics. Graduation Rates for Students Obtaining Bachelor’s Degree. U.S. Department of Education (2020). 27 April 2021,

U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. College-Educated Getting Most of Jobs Statistics. US BLS. 2018.

Varying Academic Rigor in Different Post-secondary Schools.

Thanks to the experience of numerous first-generation college students (and first-generation students to-be like Ronnie Estoque), a question for many prospective students is formed when considering a post-secondary education institution (when applicable). This question is: why are some institutions more rigorous than others when they offer the same bachelor degrees? In his article posted to The Seattle Times, Estoque mentions there are “college-readiness programs” that help prepare students prepare for the academic rigor of college (Estoque). However, what exactly is college rigor, and why does it vary between institutions when they offer the same degree.

College Raptor’s Allison Wignall defines “academic rigor” as “the academic or intellectual challenge of a class” (Wignall). This is important to understand because all colleges have their own standard of academic rigor. This “standard” is likely tied to two major factors: the previous rigor of all incoming students and established reputation. Post-secondary institutions can base their own rigor off of the backgrounds of their incoming accepted students. Meanwhile, they have a previous academic rigor model to deviate from (as needed) that likely also serves as their reputational foundation. The last component would be that many higher education schools conduct research and require funding. This funding is more likely to be awarded to a more academically rigorous school than one that isn’t.

These days, with so many institutions for higher learning being present in the US, we have to acknowledge that many international students want to further their educations here besides US students. Admittedly, this creates a tougher environment for US students with higher educational standards as competing international students will “raise the bar” for requirements as they “are applying in record numbers, and are often the best and brightest from around the world” (PrepWell Academy). This is important for US students as they now must compete with their GPAs, academic rigor, and extracurricular activities against not only other US students, but now against a growing international student applicant pool. While not extremely versed in the nuances of college admissions, a higher learning institution will likely look into the academic rigor of a prospective student’s previous course load (usually from an applicant’s high school career) in their determination of whether a student will be successful at their institution or not. This is because post-secondary institutions simply do not want to accept students who will undoubtedly fail to meet the set academic standards.

While understandable, many students still felt disadvantaged as an objective assessment and comparison of their competition resulted in seeing tremendous hurdles. Wignall reminds her audience of prospective students that, “colleges prefer to see a dedication to the few, rather than only dabbling in the many” in regards to rigor versus GPA (Wignall). Post-secondary institutions don’t just want students with high GPAs, they want to see well-rounded students who appear capable of handling a wide range of commitments in order to determine whether they can handle the rigor of their course work or not. What results is the formation of a class of students that the institution deems capable of not only capable of managing, but also succeeding at the rigor of their studies. Despite this attempt by many post-secondaries to not just admit students who can only produce strong grades, many did not want to seem extremely difficult with unobtainable standards. They realized they must at least maintain the difficulty of their course work that has garnered the reputation that the institution had already made itself. However, several institutions underwent a re-examination of their academic rigor to find out whether or not their standards were too difficult.

This re-examination resulted in these institutions regarding their “standards” as being too high, which lead to a gradual decrease in their academic rigor. Due to this decrease, an article by NPR staff cited a study that said, “35 percent of students reported studying five hours per week or less, and 50 percent said they didn’t have a single course that required 20 pages of writing in their previous semester” (NPR Staff). This data suggests that students graduating from institutions of reduced rigor are less equipped to handle “real world” situations in a work environment due to a decrease in what the article claimed as part of the reason for a decline in critical thinking skills. To further this point of reduced rigor, Annie Holmquist’s article “Is College Really Getting Easier?” about another author’s article posted on The Atlantic explains that students are studying less despite grades and graduation rates are increasing (Holmquist). While one can make the argument that students are generally getting smarter, it brings our attention back towards the issue at hand of why higher learning institutions have varying levels of academic rigor when they offer the same degrees.

It is impossible to conduct an assessment into why different institutions have varying difficulties than others without factoring in additional varying factors. We get it, school is tougher for students who are trying to balance a course load that is rather rigorous than students taking easier courses. According to Wignall, the ideal answer to a situation of academic rigor versus a high GPA is to have “both” with a more realistic answer being “a balance between the two” (Wagnall). This likely translates into post-secondary education when the next group to consider your merits will be employers. However, that still doesn’t exactly explain why different schools have varying levels of academic rigor.

Different schools have varying levels of academic rigor. For an incoming student to-be like Ronnie Estoque, many had to get past a tough part that Estoque doesn’t mention: choosing a school. Despite many institutions offering the same degrees (i.e., Bachelor of Arts/ Science in Accounting, English, Finance, etc.), we objectively can see that some schools are without a doubt tougher than others. While there may be many more factors that influence why a school might be more rigorous than its competitors, we explored two selected factors: past rigor, and reputation. In my opinion, these serve as the more impactful factors, but further research could be conducted to examine if the other factors are actually more impactful.


Brennen, Amy. “Why Is It so Hard to Get into Top Universities? Here Are Three Reasons Why.” Medium, Medium, 23 Jan. 2020,

Estoque, Ronnie. “Student Voices: I’m One of the First in My Family to Attend College. Here’s How I Got There.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 2 Aug. 2017,

Holmquist, Annie. “Is College Really Getting Easier?” Intellectual Takeout, Intellectual Takeout, 25 July 2019,

NPR Staff. “A Lack Of Rigor Leaves Students ‘Adrift’ In College.” NPR, NPR, 9 Feb. 2011,

“PrepWell Blog.” PrepWell Academy Why Is It so Hard to Get into College Today Comments,

“Reputation Without Rigor.” Inside Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed, 19 Aug. 2009,

Wignall, Allison. “What’s Academic Rigor? Why Is It So Important? .” College Raptor, College Raptor, 18 Aug. 2020,