Better you today to better us all tomorrow

One of the more rewarding exercises we did in class was our stream of consciousness assignment in which we wrote whatever came to our minds for 10 minutes. We had a simple rubric that asked us how student debt affects our life? Now in my final reflection of our time together I will ask myself a simple question and attempt to find some higher meaning behind my flow of thoughts. The question I ask myself today is, how has this class affected my life? From this point on I will not stop writing until I reach my culminating lesson this class has taught me (currently don’t know what that is…)

Before I took WFTP I didn’t think too much about the system of higher education and more focused on how to get through it like most young adults do in college. I was worried about what classes to take to get on track for my major, what research I should be doing and with who, and where to volunteer. While juggling all these aspects of my college career I seldom stop to look around at the system that surrounds me but this class has for sure slowed me down. Now walking through campus I question what everyone is doing here. You are a student. You, an administrator for sure. And her, she must be a professor. It got pretty easy once I started looking around to see what everyone was starting to be brought to my attention through this class. There were a ton of administrators everywhere I looked and went, and these people previously held a “miscellaneous” label under occupational title in my eyes. This attributed to my further interest in student debt because of how much administration positions have risen and how the number of tenure track professor positions has stayed almost stagnant. While I can’t change the way this is and how it affects my university I feel by being more informed I am taking steps to change this negative trend. Similarly to student debt I gained an interest to adjunct teaching after asking several of my previous professors and graduate students here at University of Pittsburgh about their experiences with adjuncts and their working conditions. Getting first-hand accounts like this although not used in my writing helped me gain insight into this issue and I believe made me a better writer on this topic. Interestingly our school has many differences between conditions of adjuncts to their benefits however wages are similar to the rest of the country and leave most who choose adjuncting as a profession to make on average a yearly salary below the poverty line. At Pitt adjunct receive healthcare through UPMC and this is because of our association with them however most adjuncts across the nation do not have this benefit. Pitt also has different types of non-tenure track positions based on department that are not adjuncts and make enough more to push their yearly salaries above the poverty line. Through our discussions and projects I feel much more informed on overall student debt and how it is plaguing our generation. Ah! I think I’ve reached the end. My final thoughts on this course reside in concept taken from a reading by Williams, in which he talks about social hope. If higher education took on a mantra of bettering the nation based on potential and not income, then we might return to the real reason higher education was created in the first place…to better the young so when they grow up they will better society for everyone.

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