What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Barriers to Entry

So I am applying to PhD programs again this year.  But as is the American motto, it takes money to make money (or even to try to get the chance to learn how to make money).  This is an issue for me.  I am poor.  I have made maybe 4 to 5,000 dollars this year so far.  I've been staying places for free, working whenever I could find money - political fundraising, childcare, construction, catering, whatever.  All the while looking for real work and doing volunteer stuff.  Nothing has been materializing in my over/underqualified world.

So here I am, back to the old dream and applying for schools.  This of course is met with a broad smack in the face at America's true shame: the barriers to entry faced by low income individuals.  To get into programs I need to "apply widely" (as I've been advised) to increase my chances of entry.  This is something I intended to, but did not do last year for various reasons mostly revolving around my involvement with Occupy.  But the shear barriers to be able to apply to a number of programs are immense.  Between application fees, the cost of sending GRE scores ($25 per school), and transcripts ($25 to send them from all three schools that I attended), is a lot of money.  If I want to apply to ten schools, that is $250 for the GRE scores, and then another $250 for one set of transcripts each (though many schools require you to send two), before you even look at application fees.  The cost of fees which are usually between $75 and $100.  So that's $12-1500 to apply to ten schools.  I have 18 on my short list and 12 that I feel that I need to apply to.  So I'd be looking at $1600 minimum and over $2000 to apply to the bulk of them and give myself the best shot at getting in.  NOt to mention the cost of my time to do the research and write the applications.

Now granted some schools offer application fee waivers for low income applicants.  But not all.  Three of my first six don't.  And it is $275 for those three.   I had been counting on them all having waivers, but there are solid schools for me that I really have to apply to for the best chances of admission.  Two of these I have connections at already working for me that are strongly encouraging me to apply.  But I may not be able to now.  To everyone that thinks America is a meritocracy take a second look.  I may not even be able to apply to some schools because just I don't have enough money.  And one of these mentioned is my fall back school.  I have to apply, it is the only way to try to guarantee my acceptance.  

But what if I was rich?  I could apply to 20 schools, 30 school, whatever.  My chances of getting in would be greater, thus my chances of success in this field greater.  But no.  Not mine.  I'm low income.  I have to make strategic decisions (such as the one that I made last year and then didn't get in anywhere).  I have barriers to my entry.  The Lohan's, Kardashian's, and Hilton's, and Drake's of the world throw money around on glitter, bottles of champagne, strippers, and superficial material things, yet a person looking to go back to school and make both themselves and hopefully some day the world a better places can not do it for the simple cost of one of those bottles of champagne. 

How can anyone say this is the greatest country there is?  We claim to be a place where you can do anything!  Well I may not be able to apply to go to school because I am not wealthy enough.  In most places in Europe, school tuition is free, never mind applications.  If you are good enough to go, you get to go.  I may not even be able to apply, and for no other reason than that I am poor.     

No comments:

Post a Comment