When did women come to a point that they were satisfied being completely ordinary, not wanting to reach for more success or a more enriching life? Women have come to the conclusion that writing a memo for a boss making five times more than they are is completely fulfilling, especially considering they spent four years in college getting a degree in business along with attending night classes to improve their typing skills.
This brings me to the fact that if you are coming to America with the high hopes of obtaining the American Dream, is it necessary to have an education? In my case, college did not prepare me for the business I owned and lost for the sole reason of our weakening economy and lack of social structure. I had no tools to arm myself when the business started to falter. My American Dream was ripped from my clutches and all of the money that I spent in college to prepare me for this moment just felt like a big waste of time. And so the question remains that if you want to achieve the American Dream, is it necessary to have a college education? According to past practices and present situations, I say absolutely not.
The American Dream is simply characterized by complete financial stability. According to Robert Longley, a writer for US Government Info, adults aged 62 and older (23%), those from 45 to 61 (29%) and adults aged 23 to 44 (26%) cite financial security; only 5% of 18-22 year-olds did the same. Being financially secure drives the perception of the American Dream for African-Americans and Hispanic adults .According to Amnesty International, a publication introducing us to the life of girls in Haiti, gender based abuses have the effect of denying girls their right to education-including sexual violence-only serving to reinforce discrimination, inequality and poverty.
Most Americans believe that the American Dream is becoming harder to achieve due to social restrictions and class discrimination. A survey, conducted in August by KRC Research, found that more than one in three Americans feel that they are not living the American Dream and nearly half think it is unattainable for them. In all actuality, the US government makes it even more difficult to achieve the American Dream. From the personal experience of owning a business, success is not defined by the amount of education that you received, but it is clearly defined on how deep your pockets are and who you pay to back you when times get tight and costs get higher.
It used to be that the American Dream was reachable for mostly anyone that wanted to work hard, even without a college education. Around the 1950’s, mom and pop business’s were popping up on every street corner. These small establishments were built with a platform that emphasized personal attention and reasonably priced goods and services. There were shoe repair stores, clock shops, dry-cleaners, diners, and laundromats that were all independently owned by families that operated for years and years, until they would pass down the business to family members. It wasn’t a college education that helped these individuals obtain their goals, but a drive to achieve the American Dream, which was much easier to obtain back then since the government wasn’t lurking behind every corner, trying to capture your last dime to cover taxes and impact fees for a city that would never use them.
Unfortunately, times kept changing and corporate companies and franchise establishments were popping up on every corner, and the small businesses were few and far between. Places like Tijuana Flats popped up when Brian Wheeler, the visionary and student, was given $20,000 to start a restaurant by his parents. Where was it that he obtained his education to run a restaurant? Surprisingly, Brian attended University of Central Florida where he specialized in bar hopping, partying at local restaurants, and marketing. Granted, this chain of Tex-Mex restaurants is thriving in communities offering overpriced burrito’s, simple and boring hot sauces, and let’s not forget the one bathroom that resides in the back of the crammed restaurant, provided for your inconvenience. However, it does give hope to the aimlessly lazy that there is life after high school, and it doesn’t include a fancy education at a Culinary Institute.
Have you ever heard of Microsoft? This may just be the best drop out of college success story in the world. According to Microsoft, a computer company started by Bill Gates in 1974, Gates attended Harvard University where he initially met his future business partner Steve Ballmer. Gates never had a concrete study plan while at Harvard, but he did see a ripe opportunity to start a computer company in the summer of 1974 when he saw the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU (Microsoft 2002). Gates dropped out of Harvard, much to the surprise of his classmates, and the rest of the story is history. This just goes to show you that deep pockets can buy the American Dream. It’s quite alarming to come to the realization that this country is controlled by a Socialist society. Socialism is starting to take a dominant role in America and in certain cultures when it comes to education. Access to education is limited to many societies because of social restrictions and poverty levels. However, regardless of these cultures believing that education is necessary to obtain the American Dream, there is no control over the ability to obtain these resources.
In fact, the Haitian government “tends to rather trap children in a situation where they have no rights, they are subjected to inhumane treatment, without regard to health, education or personal development” (Amnesty International Publications 17). Haitian mother’s put a strong emphasis on higher education much more so than American parents, whom actually believe that a high school education is much less important than a college education. According to a survey prepared by Public Agenda and released nationally by several independent nonprofit organizations, the results are a “towering 87% of Americans who believe that a college education has become as important as a high school diploma used to be. And three out of four Americans (76%) think that there cannot be too many people with education and training beyond high school” (1). In my case, I was ill prepared for what lay ahead even though I went to a highly valued educational institution that tried to emphasis bettering one’s self by obtaining a job that paid big bucks.
Haitian women still see this country as a rising super power and a way to break the mold of a typical housewife, which in their country is a common profession and sometimes the only option. These women don’t dream about becoming rich. They dream that there is a life outside of being raped by their own fathers and law officers. A life that is free from bloody palms where they spend hours on end in the cane fields. These women dream of an education to obtain the American Dream, where their accomplishments can be admired and praised by a country that still considers all individuals as equal.
An education for these women is a gift, something all individuals should not take for granted. Americans have become so caught up with personal gain that they forgot about what this country truly stands for. This is the land of opportunity, so outlined by the inspirational figures of our past.
I believe that this is a country that no longer reaches out to the citizens and asks for advice on how decisions should be made. This is a country that steals money from educational budgets to build highways so more immigrants can flood the country in order to receive more discrimination from our own government. Something has gone horribly wrong in America and I just don’t believe that people are aware that our rights to the golden key have been shut down, not by access to higher education, but by corporate monsters and criminals that have the access to all resources in the country.
So where does that leave us? And where does the American Dream fit in when it comes to an education? Unfortunately, Americans have become so obsessed with the fact that if there is a way to make money without spending 4 years in college, they will find it. Although, Americans are willing to make sacrifices to send their children to college regardless of their wishes, but they would like the colleges and universities to do a better job of keeping tuition low without cutting quality. This situation is becoming increasingly difficult considering the institutions are trying to provide a quality and reasonably priced education without cutting salaries for qualified instructors.
Students from low-income families often find it hard to afford the expenses and forgone earnings associated with pursuing a college education, and immigrant families are considerably more likely than the general population to be living in poverty. More than a third of Latin American immigrants, for example, earn incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The low-income status of any immigrants may be compounded by the need to send remittances back to their countries of origin (Longley 1).
There is a great divide between who can afford education and who really deserves to receive it. More importantly, many of the individuals that can afford it are dropping out to start their own businesses; whereas the majority of the population cannot afford to do so. In fact, I believe that Americans think that the gateway to the middle class is by going to college. Since the definition of the American Dream is defined by financial stability, Americans and immigrants believe that obtaining an education will pay them enough money to start a business in this country or buy a home. However, the point that everyone is missing is that the structure of our society is set up so that the poor will fail, no matter how many business classes have been taken or seminars have been attended. There is no right path or set of instructions that will guarantee success in this country.
The only choice to be made is to take the path less traveled and have faith that at the end of the road you will find your answer.