I had a profound moment at the grocery store this past Saturday night.
I don’t usually do my best thinking at Gerbes, but on my way through the checkout line I had the chance to chat with the guy who helped me sack my groceries. I had a small window to leave the conversation and get back to things that I thought were important when I decided to stop and hear him out. And I’m glad I did.
He mentioned that he’d wanted to get to school but had turned it down, so I simply asked him, “What do you mean?”
Well, it turns out he’d gotten a scholarship to an area community college to take his basic classes, but knew he wouldn’t be able to afford school beyond that.
“It’s just a flawed system,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to fight for scholarships, be born rich or take on debt with student loans to get an education.”
I can’t help but agree and I know there a lot of people feel the same way, so this wasn’t shocking. But as he went on, though, he said something that really struck me:
“I got a scholarship to MACC and I thought I could go there and get my basics out of the way,” he tells me. “But getting my basics isn’t enough anymore.”
What a fascinating way to look at the current state of higher education. That’s something the Missourian would call “framing,” where we take a look at an issue or an article through a certain lens and/or from a certain perspective. Ideally to approach something in a fresh, revealing way.
Although he had obviously read plenty about education and knew his stuff, the real truth for this young grocery store employee was that his ambitions to be an IT professional are on hold because “getting the basics” isn’t enough — and that’s all he can afford.
I just thought it was powerful that given the chance to share, this young man had something really honest to say that I hadn’t considered as an education reporter and editor. Perhaps taking a long look at “the basics” is something we could tackle at the Missourian this semester.