A lifetime of movies and television shows has created a false reality where, directly after high school, one packs their bags kisses their parents good-bye and goes to the dormitory of a far away prestigious university.
The narrative usually progresses to tell either one of two stories.
The first story is about the wild child who drinks alcohol in excess, has casual sex with beautiful people and does not go to classes for half a semester, only to pull through enough at the end of the term to earn a passing grade and realize the error of their ways.
The alternate storyline involves a bookworm who spends the majority of their time in the campus library with books stacked in front of them, sending emails full of questions to an endearing professor or in a coffee shop sipping from an exuberantly tall cup while finishing an essay. This character will come to realize that, while grades are important, one should enjoy at least some other parts of the college experience.
Both stories are so far away from reality it is almost impossible to know where to begin to debunk the myths.
So, forget statistics about alcohol abuse’s prevalence in Anchorage, sexually transmitted disease rates in people 15-24 years old and the $2.35 price tag on a twenty ounce cup of plain, black coffee. (An anonymous Starbucks employee confirmed via telephone that a 20 ounce cup can cost somewhere in the $8 range “depending on what you throw in there.”)
Instead, the attack on the Hollywood reality can start at its beginning— the illusion that moving into a dorm room at a pricey university is still feasible for the majority of Americans.
The CBS News website reported June 21 that student debt in this country hit $1 trillion last year, more than credit card and auto-loan debt.
The report quotes Rohit Chopra, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauas, writing, “The lines of job-seekers are long, states are reducing their higher education budgets, and household budgets are straining.”
The University of Alaska Anchorage, at about $200 per undergraduate credit hour for Alaska residents, suddenly seems like a steal.
That means one could potentially pay $4,800 for a full time course load. But that does not reflect the price of tuition paid because it does not take into account financial aid, scholarships or grants.
This university may not have the prestigious stamp of Princeton or Harvard, but there is something smugly satisfying about the prospect of a debt free bachelor’s degree.
However, don’t “settle” for going to this university— embrace it.
Use the resources at the University of Alaska Anchorage to make it fit your expectations.
According to the UAA website, there are over 80 registered clubs on campus and there is an easy policy in place to create a new one to suit other interests.
The website also states that there are 11 sports competing at an NCAA level, and the athletics department hosts recreational opportunities throughout the year.
The ratio of professors to students is about 1:20 and many have experience in the field they teach or are nationally recognized for their work. Who better to learn from and in what better environment to learn?
This university can become anything you want it to. It can be a place of great learning, of growing and of fun.
Or, it can be the place someone settles for.