Often, I contemplate about how unfair life is. How I lack the privileges in life that would set me apart from the rest of the students. How I don’t have a stable environment, a stable family, nor a stable relationship with my peers. How my family can barely afford to pay for our next meal, the bills, and my impending doom: my college tuition.
During my junior year in high school, at one of my lowest points, I had the privilege of being accepted as a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar and was offered the privilege to attend a conference at Stanford University. This meant I was amongst one of the high-achieving top low-income students in America. I didn’t think I deserved this scholarship, as I hadn’t worked nearly as hard enough as everyone (who I knew applied) did on the applications. Yet, I was the only student from my school who was accepted into the program. Senior year came, and I was accepted as a QuestBridge National College Match Finalist. This meant I had the privilege of applying to as many partner universities as I wanted without any application fees, whilst also being recognized for my countless of achievements in high school.
These privileges presented to me (call it achievements, if you will) made me realize a privilege that I was often blind to. My parents fought for nineteen years to gain immigration to America legally. This meant my family and I had a green card. After five years and a ridiculous citizenship test that my parents took, I was a citizen. A youth who rode off my parents’ naturalization. This meant I didn’t have to care about AB 540 or even try to comprehend the dire situations many students face as an international or undocumented student seeking higher education in America. This meant that while my peers in QuestBridge suffered, I didn’t have to worry about being unable to receive financial aid because I was a citizen. I still had to worry about paying for college, but I had my citizenship behind me, telling the colleges that I was worth the financial aid because I was a citizen of this country–and because my peers weren’t, they don’t deserve to attend university with a generous financial aid package.
I’m privileged to not have to think about not being able to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans for university because I’m a low-income student with a citizenship, eligible for a generous gift package. My friend, who could’ve attended a UC, was afraid to apply because he was undocumented. Another friend of mine is turning down UCSD to attend a community college, because he simply cannot pay for the tuition. My classmates are graduating from high school to work–college is out of their mind because they simply cannot afford to attend university when they have to support their family. A piece of paper, a title, determines all of this. It simply determines if you’re worth an access to higher education.