All Articles Tagged "college"

White Male Students Assault Black Female Freshmen With Rotten Bananas At American University

September 19th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Starting the new school year on the wrong note, a group of White male students decided to harass and attack their Black female peers at American University in Washington D.C. According to Ma’at Sargeant, the president of the school’s Black Student Alliance, during one attack on September 8, the students opened one woman’s dorm room and threw a rotten banana at her. The use of bananas in the attack is meant to point out the racist association of Black people being referred to as and physically compared to monkeys.

In an effort to call out the group’s intimidation tactics and have something done about it, freshman Neah Gray stepped forward to reveal to The Washington Post that a banana was left outside of her dorm room door and penises were drawn on her whiteboard. “I wouldn’t let people drive me out, but it’s kind of sad that this kind of thing still happens,” Gray shared with the publication as she reflected on her first weeks of college.

Upon learning about these cases, the Black Student Alliance decided to release a statement via Twitter, noting how these students and others have been assaulted by their White peers as administrators turned a blind eye.

Jada Bell, who serves as the Black Student Alliance’s outreach coordinator also told Buzzfeed about their efforts to expose how “black women are under threat on campus” and being used as “target practice” by posting signs around campus that read, “#TheRealAU May Include Rotten Bananas Thrown At You” or “First Week At #TheRealAU May Include Having Rotten Bananas Thrown At You.” American University’s Public Safety administrative office removed these signs shortly after the BSA posted them.

This past Friday, administrators at the university stated that they “understand members of our community feel hurt by an incident that happened in a residence hall and separate allegations of racially biased behavior.” They continued in their released statement to note that the dean of students has filed conduct charges against some individuals involved, and university police will continue investigating the assaults.

“Actions can and do have [an] impact beyond their intent and that was the case here. The University condemns discrimination and discriminatory harassment and all violations are handled through the Student Conduct process.”

The perpetrators have been banned from the residence hall where they attacked the freshmen. Buzzfeed learned that they live in an adjoining building and can likely enter the banned hall whenever they like without much fuss.

Following the release of their statement, administrators held a campus town hall meeting Friday afternoon for the student body to discuss how they felt about the attacks. However, Bell and Sargeant said it wasn’t enough to combat a clear problem. Even Devontae Torriente, the student body president at American University, said it’s been difficult to face this issue as a Black student and a campus leader. As someone who has to devise a plan for the student body to navigate these occurrences, he told Buzzfeed that it’s especially tough when the the administration as a whole is “not completely sure” what next steps it will take to change the social climate on campus.

“People tend to be shocked that these things can happen at a school that’s known to be progressive and liberal and whatnot, but this has to be considered in a larger context,” Torriente told Buzzfeed. “These issues can’t be relegated to one side of the political spectrum. It’s important to recognize that even in these liberal bubbles, these things can still happen.”

Sargeant shared a similar sentiment by telling The Washington Post, “You come into this institution that promotes diversity, and then this happens to you,” she said. “The individuals are hurt, and the community as a whole is hurt. And we’re sick of it.” She also told Buzzfeed that her grandmother had to deal with such experiences more than 40 years ago and Sargeant, along with other students of color at American, shouldn’t “have to go through these kind(s) of things in 2016.”

Since knowledge of these incidents became public and went viral, alumni of American University have offered the BSA and students of color as a whole their support.

Plan B-Z: When Your High School Graduate Doesn’t Want To Go To College

August 29th, 2016 - By MommyNoire Editor
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It’s that time of year when high school graduates are headed back to college or about to go to college for the first time. For those of us with almost 20-year-olds, it probably seems like just yesterday we were weeping in front of the school on the child’s first day of kindergarten. Then, literally, fast forward 11-12 years and you’ve got a rising or graduating senior. Good gracious.

While college was the most obvious choice for our generation, it’s not so much the first choice for our kids. In their defense, it can be a lot for an 18-year-old to invest time, effort and money in a four year college degree after four years of high school. We’re talking coming of age, to a degree, building character integrity, standardized scholastic testing, social skill, peer pressure and all in the age of the internet and social media. Some soon-to-be adults can handle it, but there are some kids who are just not cut out for university.

So what do you do when your high school graduate doesn’t want to go to college?

Would it be so wrong to allow the kid to take a breather to piece together his or her own direction to a fulfilling future? And to be completely honest, the pathways to success are limitless in this digital world.

Speaking to my own personal experience, I am the second of four girls in my tight knit family. I have a set of committed parents  who are both college educated and after 36 years of marriage, they continue to push each other to strive for the highest appointed chairs of their occupational positions. Growing up, college wasn’t an option. It was not only assumed but inventible that once we walked the stage as seniors, we were to prepare for our first fall semester at a four year college or university. My oldest sister did everything according to their plan. She was straight-laced, shrewd and quite boring at times but her mission was to do what our parents had envisioned for her and her future. Me, the rouge seed, was a social butterfly with an innate desire to draft my own blueprint and if I had it my way,  I would’ve opted to go to an art school or apprentice with a furniture craftsman. I like to work with my hands and do something different everyday – as monotony is, for me, a slow kill.

Saying all this to say that you know your child well enough to know that they will choose what’s best for themselves, and if they’re not quite sure, give them the time to discover their path themselves. It’s not about making sure your child is out of the house by the age of 18 especially of they return home with a college degree without a clue of how they plan to use it to their advantage, right? If your graduate wants to learn a trade for a skill with endless supply and demand by default, why not?

For example, if your son has an affinity for fixing up vintage cars, he might be the kind of guy to own body shop. While the idea of blue collar, manual labor jobs don’t quite match what you had in mind for him – it may be what’s best for him and why not encourage him getting his license, put in some quality work at a quality shop and then open his own? Or, on the other hand, you might have a daughter who’s flirting with the idea of becoming a makeup artist, present to her the options of cosmetology schools in or around the area.

In short, the days of getting a degree and finding a job that’s going to retire you with generous pensions and retirement accounts are becoming obsolete! Therefore, our ideals surrounding success have to align with the times in some ways. Every child has a dream and as long as we support, encourage and believe in it with them, you can expect nothing less than a successful business minded young adult who knows you have their back. Who knows, it may even create an avenue for the family to build an empire.

The best thing to do is stay as open as your child’s mind.

10 Unique Ideas for Parents of Soon-to-Be College Freshmen

July 28th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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The summer before a child enters his or her freshman year of college is filled with excitement and consternation, happiness and remorse, confidence and concern. This period of anticipation is parents’ best chance to help their child with his or her final preparation – academically, emotionally and financially.

Family Mission Planning is a cornerstone of McManus & Associates, a top-rated estate planning law firm with offices in New York and New Jersey. So, the firm headed up by John O. McManus shared with us these great ideas that can help families stay on track with their individual mission statements as soon to be college freshmen leave the nest.

Balance – take it easy: Pre-med, Pre-law, Engineering, Science and Math majors frequently require challenging courses in the first semester. Many schools, however, have core requirements, as well as mandatory courses in areas outside your child’s expertise. For the first semester, encourage your child to take at least one or two courses that have a lighter workload in areas that they really enjoy; the adjustment to college life and all of its demands will be significant enough without an overwhelming amount of work. Some schools such as MIT and Johns Hopkins have “covered grades” for freshmen, meaning students take courses PASS/FAIL for the first semester or first year, taking the GPA pressure off and making the transition into college more sustainable.

Grades – yes, they do matter: A wise man once said, “College is a great time to have fabulous memories that you take with you the rest of your life, but grades also travel with you the rest of your life.” There are many significant aspects of learning both inside and outside the classroom that enrich the college experience and make for better human beings; there is no question your child should embrace every aspect of the college experience. That said, your child’s course load (over four years) and GPA will be leading indicators for the first job your child will land or the graduate program into which your child will gain admission. Surely one’s first job or graduate program is not the dispositive indicator for a rich full life, but a strong start is advantageous.

Walk, walk, walk and take public transport (and a cab/Uber when it’s late at night!): If your child’s campus and surrounding town are walkable and/or have ample public transportation, do not have your new college student bring a car to school the first year, if it can be avoided (McManus & Associates would encourage equal restraint in the following years, unless having a car is absolutely necessary). Walking and taking public transportation will enable your children to further enhance the college experience as they enjoy their surroundings and appreciate the life they have. When it comes to a night out, your child impaired behind the wheel is a horrible risk, but your child in a car with an impaired friend driving is equally unacceptable – lives can be ruined in an instant. Encourage your child to plan ahead and take a cab or an Uber.

How much did you spend?! For many children, college is a liberating time marked by freedom from the shackles of typical parenting when they lived at home. Parents may avoid putting their child on a budget because they feel as though they are constraining their child’s experience – until the first credit card statement arrives. It’s important in advance to discuss expectations of budget and to monitor the monthly burn. It’s the best lesson you can give your children in managing finances and helps prepare them for the time when they are truly out on their own and providing for themselves.

My child is not returning my calls, my texts or my FaceTime efforts. Should I call his or her roommates? Let your child lead on the communications front. In time, if you make the conversations interesting and supportive, your college freshman will likely want to communicate with you as much as you want to communicate with your child. Let them volunteer what’s going on in their lives. Update them on the positive stuff going on back home so that you’re not viewed as clinging to their lives, trying to vicariously share college with them.

Yes, you can enjoy college with your child, too! Stay plugged in with your children and gently give them confidence during periods when they feel homesick. Look through the event calendar at your child’s school and propose going to see a performance, premiere or lecture, to which you also invite your child (beyond Parents’ or Family Weekend). Save up for a hotel and schedule a special dinner, allowing them to break away from the now routine cramped quarters of a dorm room and cafeteria food. It may wind up being the best night of the month for both of you.

Oh dear, my child is a legal adult, but I have learned that the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until age 25. Strong high school grades, solid ACT/SAT scores and acceptance into a good school do not mean that a child has developed the full discerning ability to make the best decisions all the time, especially when out at a celebration (and, particularly, if alcohol is involved). Whether your children like it or not, they need your guidance and expertise (help them come to that conclusion with you). Be that sage advice giver, but use it sparingly and be laser-focused about the issue being addressed.

Your child may be consciously excited AND consciously anxious to leave the nest: If parents think it’s tough watching their child leave the nest and spread his or her wings, imagine the confusion and consternation of that child who daily seeks to fly, but periodically seems so vulnerable and uncertain. He or she boldly, and possibly insolently, demands independence but occasionally looks over the top of the nest to see how far the drop is. This push and pull of confidence and vulnerability will be the paradigm for many years. Put aside, therefore, the less memorable times during the demand periods and be ready to welcome your child when he or she seeks the compassion and warmth that only a parent can provide.

Your chick is growing alongside chicks from other nests, too: A mature and understanding relationship with your child as he or she starts a new adult life away from home is the goal. But keep in mind that your child’s roommates and friends may not have that same relationship with their own parents. Showing affection and interest in your child’s friends’ and roommates’ lives will not only win your child’s companions’ affection who come to see you as a great parent, but your child will view this as support of their friendships and life choices, strengthening your bond during their maturation process. Your child may also view this open acceptance as an opportunity to share more frequently the events that occur in their social life, which will enrich your appreciation for your child’s experience and may also provide you opportunities to offer them wisdom.

Let’s get legal (So, who is in charge when your child is in danger?): While your child is an adult who can enter into a legal contract, vote for a public official, and choose his or her path in life, this does not mean he or she is immune from making suboptimal choices. The fickle fate of life means that they can get sick or hurt, resulting in hospitalization. At age 18, our kids are adults in the eyes of the law, and parents do not have the legal right to make decisions on behalf of an infirm child. The only way to protect against this is for your newly adult children to elect individuals to act on their behalf if incapacitated. This includes a Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Living Will and Release of Medical Information documents. Each time McManus & Associates learns about a child turning 18, the firm recommends that they come to its offices to prepare and execute these documents naming their parents and other loved ones to act on their behalf in case of an emergency. When John McManus’ daughter left for John Hopkins, she was no exception; indeed she wanted to know the relevance of every paragraph and negotiate every term before signing but, in the end, the whole family knew that this was in her best interest.

“Your child is like a kite that you fly on the beach,” McManus shares. “Sometimes you have to run with them to get lift off, sometimes you have to hold them back to avoid them getting swept away, but always you must enjoy their beauty as they soar through the sky. Most of the time you cannot fly alongside them, but never let go of that mighty rope and always be prepared to make that occasional save when there might be a temporary nose dive.”

Just Because Nayla Kidd Was Found Safe, Doesn’t Mean Everything’s Okay

May 17th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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In second grade, when my best friend wanted to tell me a secret she didn’t say, “Don’t tell anybody.” She’d say, “Don’t tell anybody. Not even your mom.” It was understood that, in my life, my mom was privy to most information. My mom wasn’t just anybody, she wasn’t, as she made sure to let me know, one of my little friends. More often than not, she was unfazed by our elementary school drama. But, if she was interested, even as a child, I appreciated her insight. (And if Alexis is somewhere reading this. Please know, if I said I wasn’t going to tell my mom, I honored my word.)

Honestly, since second grade not all that much has changed. I’m 28 and I’ve talked to my mom three times today.

I love and treasure the relationship my sister and I have with both of my parents but there have certainly been times, from childhood to adulthood, when other people didn’t really understand it. And because they didn’t understand it, they sought to try and belittle it or shame me for that closeness. Most recently, a family member, one who married in, offered a backhanded compliment, saying that my sister and I were perfect, goody two shoes, simply because we had open, honest communication with our parents.  It was a thinly veiled insult that didn’t go over my head.

Anyway, today, when I read the story of Nayla Kidd, the once-missing Columbia student, who disappeared simply because she “wanted to get away from it all.” I wished that she felt like she could talk to her mother, the way I talk to mine.

For those who aren’t familiar. Nayla, a 19-year-old from Kentucky, was on a full engineering scholarship at Columbia University, an Ivy League School, when she mysteriously disappeared two weeks ago. She hadn’t been in contact with any of her family or friends and had missed all of her final exams. Her mother and friends said that it was simply not like her to put off her school work. Not only that, her Facebook account, credit cards and cell phone had all been deactivated.

But today, it was reported that Nayla had been located. According to the New York Daily News, a police source said, “Basically, she just wanted to get away from it all. She rented a place in Brooklyn. She didn’t want to be at school anymore.”

Anyone who’s ever gone away to college, even if you personally didn’t have some type of culture shock, emotional of psychological breakdown, you know someone who did or came pretty close to it. Leaving home and everything you’ve known all of your life, to be faced with the rigors of collegiate coursework, and in Nayla’s case Ivy League coursework, is no joke. It can be daunting. It will be stressful. And you will absolutely need someone.

Interestingly enough, when the story was reported on some outlets, because Nayla was found safe, writers made light of her story. They joked about the fact that she moved to Williamsburg. And commenters, following suit, talked about the places they would run away to if they chose to get away from it all, as if Nayla simply went on vacation. They didn’t seem to grasp the fact that just because she was physically safe, that something was obviously wrong. And she didn’t feel like she could tell anyone about it.

And I’m not just talking about a mother or mother figure. Nayla didn’t even have a friend that she could talk to about her plan to drop off the grid. And perhaps that was the point, that no one would know. But at 19, in college away from your family, with parents, getting away from it all, without explanation, is not an option.

Someone mentioned that if they were Nayla’s mother they would beat her a**. And while I could understand the sentiment after all the stress and heartache she caused for more than two weeks, that’s clearly not what she needs right now. She needs someone to listen to her, someone to sympathize with whatever it is she might be feeling right now. Perhaps someone to tell her that they’ll stand by her if she decides not to go back to school now or ever.

And it hurts me that she felt that she didn’t have that person.

Hopefully, now that she’s been located, she’ll receive the care and attention she so desperately needs.

Aisha Tyler To Students: Think Beyond Black Colleges And Universities

May 5th, 2016 - By Allyson Leak
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Nowadays you can’t turn on a TV without seeing something race-related. Whether it’s police brutality, a racial hate crime, or even a celebrity who’s said something politically incorrect, racial tension in the US is definitely at an all time high.

But when it comes time to choose between all of the colleges and universities, comedian and actress Aisha Tyler wants young African American students to stay open minded and not just apply to schools where they are the majority.

Tyler is a proud graduate of Dartmouth College. According to the Dartmouth site their 2019 class has 1116 students and eight percent of that group is African American. The school has also had its fair share of attention in the media ranging from sexual violence allegations to racism on campus.

In 2014 Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon said the Ivy League school was being “hijacked by extreme behavior,” when he addressed a group of faculty two weeks after a group of students staged a two-day protest in his office, demanding a point-by-point response to a 72-item “Freedom Budget,” that addressed sexual violence. And in that same speech he also announced the formation of a presidential steering committee who would be tasked with researching possible reforms and presenting them to the Board of Trustees.

However, Tyler thinks African American students should face these schools head on. During an interview with Money she was asked what would she say to students who might be put off by hearing about racial incidents on a campus?

And she replied:

“When incidents of discrimination happen, that is the real world. You know, if someone doesn’t write something nasty on your dorm door, that doesn’t mean they are not thinking it. I applied to Dartmouth the year the school had a big demonstration against apartheid. The students built a shantytown on the green, and some students, ultra-conservatives, destroyed the shantytown with sledgehammers. I told my high school counselor I was going to Dartmouth, and he asked me: “Why go to a school where that happened?” It’s not for everybody. You have to decide what you can tolerate. But my great-great-great-great- grandfather escaped slavery in Texas and eventually went back into post-reconstruction Texas and built a successful business. What would we be like if black people didn’t go into the heart and didn’t try to change things? We would have made no progress in the country. Bravery is the engine of change.

When asked what advice would you give African-American high school students who are thinking about where to attend college she said: “I’d say: ‘Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t pick a college that replicates what you did in high school. Test yourself in an unfamiliar context so that you can learn to succeed no matter where you are placed, so that you know you can excel’.”

Here’s The College Malia Obama Will Attend

May 2nd, 2016 - By Allyson Leak
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Credit: Mario Mitsis/

Credit: Mario Mitsis/

For many high school seniors deciding what college to attend and how to begin life after high school is no easy feat but Malia Obama has finally made her decision. After months of speculation and the masses following her college process, the White House announced on Sunday that the 17-year-old will attend Harvard University.

Malia did consider other schools and according to the Associated Press, some stops on her college tour included the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford; New York University; the University of Pennsylvania; Barnard; Tufts; Brown; Yale and Wesleyan.

Both President Obama and Michelle Obama attended Harvard Law School so Malia will keep their legacy going when she graduates from Harvard in 2021.

After graduating from the prestigious Sidwell Friends High school, the eldest of President Obama’s two daughters plans to take a year off before beginning her freshman year in 2017, according to a White House Statement.

Higher education experts tout the off-year as a way to travel, engage in a long-term special project or otherwise use the time in a constructive and meaningful way and Mrs. Obama has said Malia wants to be a filmmaker. Malia spent a summer in New York City interning on the set of HBO’s “Girls,” and in the summer of 2014 worked as a production assistant on “Extant,” a CBS sci-fi drama featuring Halle Berry.

President Obama admitted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in February that Malia’s departure would be difficult for him and said “I was asked if I would speak at her graduation and I said absolutely not. Because I’m going to be sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing. She’s one of my best friends, and it’s going to be hard for me not to have her around all the time. But she’s ready to go. You can tell, she’s just a really smart, capable person and she’s ready to make her own way.”

Here’s Why Black Students Carry 7 Times More College Debt Than Whites

April 1st, 2016 - By Tanvier Peart
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Parents will do just about anything to ensure their children can pursue and achieve their wildest dreams — including attend college. They’ll save. They’ll bookmark scholarship websites in their Internet browser. They’ll even crowdsource (if they have to). And while all of these valiant efforts might grant your kid access into a college institution, sadly, if your son or daughter is black, he or she will likely graduate with a significant amount of debt.

A new study published in the March issue of the journal Race and Social Problems is taking a hard look at college students and debt — specifically the disparity between Black and white scholars. Though most of us know all too well that people of color aren’t on a level playing field with Caucasians in many arenas when it comes to access and opportunities — and our children’s future — these numbers are quite disheartening. According to researchers, Black college students carry 68.2 percent more debt than their white counterparts. NBC News reveals that Blacks who earn a bachelor’s degree are more likely to leave college with a higher amount of student loan debt than whites.

The study, aptly titled Young, Black, and (Still) in the Reddoes more than just present numbers and say “Here’s the problem.” Researchers wanted to try to find an explanation for this generational divide, especially when you consider that wealthier Blacks find themselves in the same boat as those who either make less or didn’t save much for college.

“The racial disparity in student loan debt is highest among those who come from the wealthiest families. That is, young adults from wealthy white families hold significantly less debt than their less affluent counterparts. In Black families, not only is debt higher, but there is no difference between wealthy Black families and less affluent black families,” notes the report.

In addition to things like family background and prior wealth — stuff we clearly know plays a part in the need to take out a loan — researchers found that Blacks have a harder time transferring their financial assets to their kids. So, what does this mean you might ask? Even if a Black family put away more for their child’s college than a white family in a similar income bracket, Blacks either had significantly less home equity or not as much liquid assets (think stocks and bonds) they could use to put towards higher education.

Simply put: Black college students are less likely to benefit from the transfer of wealth — and that inability is quite costly.

“Not only is it harder for Blacks to become middle class, but Blacks are also at a greater risk of falling out of the middle class than whites. Our findings suggest that rising student loan debt may serve to make the Black middle class more fragile, because the latest generation of Black young adults are more burdened with debt while also getting fewer payoffs to college,” notes Jason N. Houle, study co-author and Dartmouth assistant sociology professor. “In a society where a college degree is increasingly necessary to enter the middle class, and yet college costs have risen dramatically, Black students take on a great deal more risk, and seem to experience fewer rewards than whites.”

As much as numbers don’t lie (we learned that from Jay), I’m determined. I’m determined to continue saving for my sons’ college futures (they both have 529 plans). I’m determined to continue living as debt-free as possible — that enables me to keep putting away for the future — and I’m determined to do my best, so that my children don’t have to rely so heavily on student loans. Thankfully, my college was 85 percent financed which enabled me to keep loans to a minimum. Heck, my little grown sister (I have to call her that because she’s 21 now) is finishing up her junior year in a business honors program at a university that’s paid. (Gotta love scholarships and good grades.)

This study was a huge wake-up call to me, especially the part about there being no real difference in debt among affluent Blacks. In many ways, we’re still playing catch up as those who came before us didn’t have great opportunity to leave wealth for future generations. I feel inspired to continue trying. Call me optimistic, but all I can do is try (and pray).

Education Shaming: Please Stop Reminding Me That I Went To College

February 2nd, 2016 - By Raven Carter
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By Kiara Morgan

After doing something foolish, I often hear, “C’mon on Kiara ! You’re a college graduate.” Most people wouldn’t be bothered by this comment, if it were used in a different context. But the connotation in which it is said displays so much contempt. It’s basically saying, “You’re too smart, to be this dumb.” There have been countless people who have uttered these words to me. Crazy enough, most of the people who have said this to me have not finished college. Yet, they had the audacity to challenge my intellect.

I must admit, I’m not a genius, not by a long shot, but I was smart enough to get a four-year degree–something that not everyone around me has. I don’t go around telling people that I went to college because every time I do, those around me hold me to some ridiculous standard. They even expect me to know things in areas of study I didn’t take up in college.

When I was pursuing my degree, my status was used against me. Often times, when I needed help from others, one cousin in particular would throw it in my face. She would say, “C’mon on. You’re in college; you should know this!” I guess being in college magically made me exempt from needing help from others. Ironically, she studied a similar field in school for two years, so asking her for assistance wasn’t really all that crazy.

After college, when I really just wanted any job to make money, my degree became a dark cloud over my head, like a past mistake or a crime everyone kept reminding me of. I often dreaded family gatherings in fear that they would inquire about my non-existent career. And most of the time, they did question me about it, and I would shamefully admit to my current situation. I got to the point where I avoided these gatherings altogether. My inability to measure up to what college was supposed to make me made me upset.

Initially, I started taking jobs at temporary agencies and during one of the interviews, a male interviewer asked me: “So why do you need this job if you went to college?”

I became nervous. It wasn’t that it never occurred to me that he would ask this question. I guessed that he would. I just felt embarrassed. I didn’t know how to answer him or what lie to make up. I wasn’t a skilled liar and just wanted to tell him the truth :  I needed the money. I had put in countless applications, printed out countless resumes and did a ton of phone interviews — all to no avail. I’ve always had a problem getting jobs. The only reason I got my first job at McDonald’s was because my friend recommended me. Needless to say, I failed that interview.

I often ponder what I was actually taught in college. I learned about pathos and ethos and a few other things in regard to rhetoric, but I still find it hard to write research papers or even understand some research studies. If I could describe college in metaphorical terms I would say I was drowning. I was extremely depressed, isolated from others and struggling to do work. I could never concentrate on what I was reading because my mind was always somewhere else.

So it’s safe to say I don’t need a reminder of the dark days when I questioned if I was an idiot. When I asked myself, “Why wasn’t anything easy for me?” and “Why I couldn’t measure up?” Yes, I went to college and I never want to go back, because I learn things at a slower pace and I hate stressing over grades and writing papers that I don’t understand. I don’t miss the days of staying up late writing English papers about Walt Whitman. Nor do I need the put downs behind my back from cousins saying that I didn’t turn out like they thought I would.

I know I was the first and only person in my immediate family to get a degree. I’m grateful that my grandfather spent some of his fixed income to buy my books and pay some of my loans. I admit that I’m flawed, and at 25 years old I’m still finding myself and it’s not easy due to personal challenges. I take part in hours of self-talk, crying due to constant feelings of doubt and just feeling like I’m a failure. I’m always brainstorming ways to make myself a success to fulfill the image that everyone thought I would be — the image I thought I would be.

As a little girl, I always knew I would go to college. My cousin used to say that I reminded her of Rory from the Gilmore girls because I was planning college before I was in middle school. But life didn’t turn out like I thought it would. I didn’t handle the rejection or being fired from two temporary jobs well. I would question if I could do anything right. It always seemed I was doing things wrong.

But I vowed to myself that I would stop living in other’s people image and stop crumbling like glass when people project their insecurities on me. I can’t carry the weight of other people’s goals on my shoulders. I won’t swallow my pride or bite my tongue when my family makes rude comments. I deserve my humanity and respect, no matter what I do in life. We put so much emphasis on what other people do in life. There are a lot of rich people in this world who are often arrogant and selfish. Yet, the doctors and lawyers in this world are treated better than the most giving people. When we die, the majority of our friends and family will remember the type of person we were. Our titles and professions will not be how we are remembered.

I don’t want a title to define me. So 10 years from now I can’t make any promises about what I will be doing; hopefully I will have a published  book. Maybe I will have started a successful business. What I can promise is that every decision will be my own. I won’t be living in someone else’s shadow. So now, when I do something that is wrong or say something that is disagreeable, I hope that I’m not going to be told, “C’mon on you went to college.” If they say this, I might just say, “And you didn’t.”

Kiara Morgan is a writer, who has been published in Blavity, For Harriet and Adore Colour. Her writing usually shines light on the complexity of African-Americans and the need for proper representation in the media. You can follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.

5 Things To Know When You’re Going Back To School As An Older Student

January 27th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Going Back To School As An Older Student intro

Source: Corbis

Michelle Obama inspires us from our living room or our television screens. So it comes as no surprise that meeting her in person might just change your life. That’s what happened with “The Real” host Tamar Braxton when she sat down with FLOTUS for a special episode where the co-hosts made their way to the White House.

By the time Braxton left the building, she decided she was ready for a life altering change. She posted this message on her Instagram.

Source: Instagram

Source: Instagram

If you have been inspired like Tamar or have been making plans to go back to school for a while now, here are some things you need to know.

It’s scary for everybody

Whether you’re entering college as a pimply faced 17-year-old or a the 57-year-old who has college aged kids of her own, going to school for the first time or returning is often a daunting task. But that should never keep you from accomplishing your goals. The point is to know that you’re not alone in your fear. But the desire for knowledge and self improvement should be greater than the doubts in your head.

Hone your focus

One advantage you might have over the younger students, as you return to college–or go for the first time– is that you might have already experienced all the partying that will enthrall and entrap the young ones. I’m not saying don’t turn up or get it poppin’, but remember why you came. Make sure you’re majoring in something you actually enjoy and will utilize once you leave school so you don’t waste time or money.

Your real world experiences can work for you

The experience you have in “the real world,” in the workforce, with varying personality types are all tools you can use while working toward your degree. As the saying goes, nothing from your life will be wasted. Use your experiences to not only give you a leg up in academia but also as a way to help other students who may not have had those same experiences.

Don’t be scared to ask for help

Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you know everything. No one does. And as much as we all know and understand this universal fact, it can be difficult to humble yourself when you’re the one who doesn’t know something. But now is not the time for pride to take over, love. Put it to the side. Remember the ultimate goal is graduating. Let nothing stand in the way of that. When you cross that stage, then you can let pride cook for a little bit.

Know what you want your degree to do for you

Do you want to earn your degree just to prove that you can do it and then go back to the status quo once you’ve crossed that stage? Do you want to completely change your career path or just pick up a few more skills so there is more opportunity for advancement? Whatever your goal, be very clear about it when you enter. Things might change along the way but then you should shift accordingly. The point is, if you go in unsure, it’s easy to look at all the money you’re spending, the difficulties and all the effort you’re exerting and become discouraged. Be clear with yourself about why you’re there.

Good luck!

Those of you who have returned to school as an adult, chime in! What lessons or pieces of advice would you give to those trying to get their education at a later age?

John Singleton’s Son Launches Go Fund Me To Pay For College…Are Parents Obligated To Pay Their Child’s Tuition?

January 20th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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John Singleton's Son Launches Go Fund Me To Pay For College

I had a good friend who, after our freshmen year of college, learned that her parents would no longer be paying for her education. She was on her own. They hadn’t lost their jobs. In fact they were doing quite well financially. And, as far as I knew, she hadn’t done anything to displease them. She’d done well her first year. But for one reason or another, her parents felt it was time she stand on her own two feet and pay for school. So she had to take out some additional loans and work a part time job in addition to her coursework.

And while she made it, graduating a semester earlier than the rest of us, I know it wasn’t easy.

Apparently, my friend is not the only one facing this type of challenge.

Director John Singleton’s son, Maasai, has created a Go Fund Me page to help finance his last semester of college.

“So I’m using Go Fund Me to get tuition for the final semester because I was fortunate enough to be helped by my father up to this point but I need to make it this last semester on my own. And the timing of this information is such that I’m not eligible for a lot of financial aid options.” 

In an update for the page, Maasai writes that he was denied for a Sallie Mae student loan because he doesn’t have an established credit history of his own. So this means he applied without a cosigner.

I don’t want to be all up in the Singleton family business, but since Maasai is appealing for money, I do wonder why.

Is this some type of test to prove that Maasai can make it on his own in the real world? Is John trying to teach his song about the ways in which less privileged children live? I don’t get it. Perhaps this was Maasai’s idea. Maybe the two had a falling out and now the elder Singleton is forcing his son to come up with nearly $30,000.

It’s all strange to me.

I get parents not being able to pay for a child’s education. I even understand the merits and character paying for your own schooling will allow some people. What I don’t understand is leading your children to believe you’re going to be taking care of the bill only to spring a surprise on them later.

But that’s just me. I only know how my parents and I financed my education. They paid and I took out loans to make it happen.

Perhaps some of you have a different experience.

Did your parents stop paying for school at some point, before you graduated? Did they give a reason? Were you able to make ends meet and pay tuition or did you have to drop out?

In the case of John Singleton and his son, should people give to him, knowing his father has the means to pay for at least some of his schooling?

What do you think?