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Going to college an opportunity, not a burden

By Alaina Allred
On April 20, 2011

"Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country."

This quote by John F. Kennedy has a lot more meaning to me now that I am attending college. Going to an institution of higher education not only affects those students attending, but also our country as a whole and the society we live in.

Having the privilege to attend college in America is something we, as Americans, must strive to maintain and make better. Unfortunately, there are some Americans who don't believe going to college will bring any sort of benefit to them or to our society.

In a recent conversation with my sister, I asked her if she was thinking about going back to school. She had just received a promotion at her job, and things were looking up for her. She has never attended any sort of educational institution after graduating from high school other than a few years at a hair school. To answer my question, she ranted about how college is unnecessary for the betterment of her life.

"If the government wants me to go to college, then they should pay me to go, not the other way around," my sister said.

This conversation set my mind in motion. I don't believe college is something the government is forcing people to do. The government forces you to attend kindergarten up until your senior year of high school. You attend a college or university if you choose to do so.

On the other hand, I can see where my sister gets her logic. Sometimes it seems as though the government has its dirty hands in every aspect of society, including institutions of higher education. Expending so much time and energy for a letter on a piece of paper may feel tedious and superfluous, making the stresses of college not worth the effort on occasion.

I am guilty of having these feelings countless times throughout each semester. But I have something to say to my sister and to all of you: Being college educated is something to be proud of.

We are lucky to live in a country that has institutions that, most of the time, harbor free thought and the expansion of knowledge.

According to "College student enrollment facts and figures," by Lincoln Rigg published by on Oct. 9, 2010, more than 70 percent of high school graduates were enrolled in an institution of higher education in 2009. Ninety one percent of them were enrolled full time in a four-year university. Do you think the government was forcing them? Do you think they all got money from the government? I sure don't.

The chance to go to college is something that brings people here from around the world. Having a college degree can make your life easier and your bank account bigger. It can set you above others in certain aspects of your career and your life.

Now, to address the idea of the government paying you to attend college. That does happen: It's called financial aid. Granted, there are certain limitations when it comes to receiving government funds to attend college, but it's there and people take it.

I've been attending college for the last two years with grants the government gave me. I wouldn't be in the position I'm in if it weren't for the thousands of dollars I receive from our government every year. I am thankful with every passing semester I get the chance to better myself with higher education.

If the government can't give you money it will lend it to you. That's more than a lot of parents could do for their own children, mine included. You have to pay it back, but in the end you'll be making more money than you would make without it, according to "Education Pays," posted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 27, 2010, and available at

Saying college is something the government is forcing upon its citizens is not true. It's an option, a choice. No one is being held at gunpoint. No one is choosing between college or jail time.

Attending an institution of higher education is available to those who believe they have the stamina and the drive to do it and really make the most of it. People who want to better their minds and better their lives choose to attend college. These educated people enter the workforce and contribute their time and energy to their country and their chosen field. This adds to our society in a number of ways.

We all made a conscious decision to attend Dixie State College. The government didn't corner us and give us an ultimatum. We made it happen. We took the necessary steps to get ourselves here, and we're striving for something better. Unfortunately, those who still believe the government is forcing its hidden agenda down our throats and don't attend college to stick it to the man will be left in the dust.


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