Education Is a privilege

College classroom full of students and one professor helping a student

The ability to pursue higher education is the greatest privilege I have ever had. It is one that I am proud of and could never take for granted. In today’s world, however, it is difficult to use that word, privilege, without being ill received. Commonly used in place of words like “entitlement,” it has become an inappropriate term to celebrate. I want to dispel that stereotype. Traditionally, privilege has been used to mean “honor,” something that has been earned. When I say that my education is a privilege, I mean that I have worked hard to attain it. Not only that, but my parents worked hard in order for me to have the opportunity to attain it. The story of my path to higher education begins with them.

My dad did not have a lot growing up; he lived on a farm and milked cows before going to school everyday. As soon as he was old enough, he got a job in an auto shop and started out by sweeping the floor. By the time he graduated high school, he had earned enough to go to college, but he did not stop there. He worked his way through all four years of college and graduated with honors and a degree in Civil Engineering. A short while later, he met my mom; a few years later, I arrived. Even then, they knew that it would be important for me to go to college and started saving money.

As I went through grades K-12, I did so with the knowledge that I would one day attend college. It wasn’t a given, I knew that it would be a difficult road, but it was one that I was excited to travel. The path that my dad took to earn his degree has always inspired me; I wanted to honor that sacrifice in any way that I could. I joined several extracurricular activities and took the necessary steps to earn A’s in my classes. That is, I studied as long as it took to fully master the material. I knew that if I did my best, I could get into college. Admittedly, there are things that I did to “puff up” my resume (like join Key Club), but most of my time was spent doing extracurricular activities that I enjoyed, such as Student Council and the Theatre Guild. In short, I enjoyed high school and the challenges that it brought, but acceptance into a university was never far from my mind.

When the time came for college visits, I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go; I just knew that I wanted to leave my home state. Unfortunately, that plan fell through when I took a tour of Saint Louis University, a whole hour away from my house. I fell in love with the campus, the people, and the Jesuit mission. I did not fall in love with the admissions requirements; I knew that I would have to give the application my all. I took the ACT a total of three times to get the score I wanted; I spent countless hours on the admissions application and even more on the scholarship application. A few months later, I got the call of a lifetime, offering me admission and a half tuition scholarship. I had finally achieved my goals.

My journey didn’t stop there; hopefully it won’t ever stop. My four years at Saint Louis University have helped me to grow in ways that I never knew were possible. It has inspired me to achieve new heights in moral and intellectual growth. Now, as I apply to graduate school in Higher Education Administration, I hope to continue gaining knowledge and inspiring others to do the same.

 

About the Author
Tara Ernst

Tara Ernst

Tara is a senior Psychology major at Saint Louis University where she is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and the Honors Program. She currently serves as a Regional Coordinator for the PCA program and loves every minute of it! Fun fact: the world’s largest hot dog cart is located in her hometown of Washington, MO!