A Reflection on Social Classes After A Semester of College At An Arts School
Affording everything to do with college is indubitably the scariest aspect of growing up. It seems messed up. I feel like I should be getting ready for adulthood, yes. As an adult I’m often never going to know what to do. As a parent I’m often not going to know all the answers, but as an adult, I’ll figure it out. Fiscal stability is probably the scariest thing about growing up and college students can’t afford tuition, can’t afford books, can’t afford housing. We’re stuck buying second hand - I fully support, and actively do - drained completely fiscally. I can get a 7.25 job. Hell, I can get a 10.50 job. It’s not going to pay off College loans. xD How many college kids put themselves in debt in hopes of reaching their desired profession only to have to pay college loans for the rest of their life? ahaha
It’s sad. You need wealth. It’s cyclical and I’m sure parents know it. How do you raise your kid in an impoverished situation or even lower-middle/middle class household knowing that it’s dubitable that they’ll ever get out of the class they were born into? You can dream all you want about being some sort of artist but you need severe talent and ultimately, money to go to most arts schools.
You’re stuck. You need wealth to go to that expensive college. Especially for arts degrees. I had above a 4.0GPA and a 2110 on my SAT but my schools method for distributing scholarships and money relies almost entirely on a 15 minute audition.
I went to the 2nd most rigorous high school in the nation. It was a charter school with a lottery to get in, which meant you don’t pay a dime but the resources, the classes, the teachers, were that of a private school. Possibly, the best chance for someone trying to get out of their social class. My parents didn’t need to pay a dime in order for me to get what I consider the best education I could have ever been provided.
Essentially, when I walked into that audition room, when i decided I wanted to go to Berklee, when I knew I liked this school, I threw all of high school away. 4 Years of overtly strenuous mental, physical, and emotional work. Down the drain.
“While there are no specific GPA, test score, or class ranking requirements, your academic aptitude will also be taken into consideration. An integral part of the process of selecting our entering class is Berklee’s unique audition and interview process, which is designed to help you show your musical strengths and academic goals while helping us assess your capacity to succeed in Berklee’s dynamic environment.”
In 15 minutes they had judged me. Placed me amongst the other auditioning students by talent and namely by financial ability. I’ve met people here and thought “how the hell did they get in?”. Financial Ability. After the interview they could judge my potential; My ambition. “What are you going to bring to this school?” The interview was the redeeming factor, but ultimately, the audition was what determined everything. As a friend attending the school so quaintly put it the night before, “You’re in. The audition is just going to be how much money they give you.” Since meeting a few students with appalling musical ability, I understand how accurate that his statement was.
When I received my acceptance letter to this school, I was given a $10,000 a year scholarship. I was beyond excited. I was elated. I knew there were better musicians than me. Much better. I knew I had talent. But I thought I wouldn’t get anything. When I started looking at the costs. I did the addition. Once I deciphered their clever way of laying it out split into 2 semesters, room, board, meal plan, tuition, various other fees… I saw. $10,000 got me to around $49,000. If I were admitted and in a lower class (which is highly unlikely because why would they admit someone who can’t cover their expenses?) I would need to take out the loans to pay that. 4 Years. That’s 196,000 dollars.
Now you can panic.
Good question! Why would a music school want to put a young adult who wants a career as volatile as music in debt? Well, they don’t. No one wants to do that. That’d be messed up. It’s not meant for just some kid who wants to be a music therapist, a producer, a film scorer, a teacher, an acoustic engineer, a performer. It’s meant for just some kid who wants to be a music therapist, a producer, a film scorer, a teacher, an acoustic engineer, a performer and has parents who can pay.
You do as much as you can to make it worth the money. I try to eat 3 meals a day - it can be incredibly difficult for a college student. I use their studios at least once a week. I try to use all the facilities. I don’t go out on weekends or weeknights. I work. I study. I better myself. It’s a lot of work and I enjoy it thoroughly. I would say I enjoy every minute of it but there’s definitely times I think, damn I wish I didn’t have 3 more pages -> 180 more measures -> however thousand notes -> blah blah to write on this arrangement project. but then I think ‘wtf. I’m at a music school. I’m learning about my favorite thing in the world and it sounds beautiful. I could be doing a chemistry project. Something that has nothing to do with my future. I’m very fortunate to be here. i love it here. I love my friends. I love the city. The feeling that I’m exactly where I belong. The knowledge that I made the right choice and the realization that trying to fathom another college is ridiculous, absurd. I’ve asked everyone I know.
“Can you imagine going anywhere else?”
“Can you imagine studying at any other college right now?”
It’s universal. No.
Pre-Med students, engineering students, lawyers, they all go here, because they realized this is what they always wanted.
I know now what that beautiful spark of joy was with the $10,000 scholarship. It was exactly that. A beautiful spark of joy. Bait. Saying come closer and take a big bite. Pay for it all. Feel you belong. Know in your whole, you belong. Then perk up the courage to take out the loans. Accept the debt. This is what you need. This is comfort.
Well I guess life isn’t supposed to be comfortable. It’s not supposed to be easy. I know what I want to do, but maybe I’m not to the point that I can accept slowly swimming around the ice cooler until we reach shore and my head can be chopped off. Maybe the greatest existential feeling is just temporary and I’m too scared - too controlled by a country within capitalism - to embrace that feeling for as long as it may last. Maybe I’m being smart. Maybe I’ll come around. Maybe I’m a fool. I sure don’t know.
It was a good first two semesters. It was a good year. I hope by some miracle I’m here next year, because I truly can’t imagine being anywhere else.