What is it like to be a poor student at a very rich university or high school?


获得22554好评的回答@ Virginia Kettles:

During my first year of college, I went on a trip with a group of other classmates to New York City to network with alumni. At the end of the day, after spending hours going from one company to the next, several of the students talked about hanging out in the city for a while before getting dinner.

“It’ll be so much fun,” they said. “You should totally come with us!”

I said I would be happy to tag along, and I followed the group onto a train headed towards another part of town. When we finally reached our stop and climbed out onto the street, I suddenly found myself surrounded by clothing stores and restaurants as far as the eye could see.

Feeling a pit in my stomach, I followed the group into a store they decided to enter at random, and walked idly around the interior as I gazed at the golden lights, the shiny surfaces, the hard edges, and the beautiful clothes.

I saw a pretty jacket and checked the price tag. $530.

“That would look so cute on you!” One of the girls in the group, Melanie, was suddenly standing beside me, taking the jacket from the hanger and holding it up against my chest. “It totally goes with your hair color.”

“I think I’m good, thanks.”

“Are you sure?? It’s totally cute.”

“Honestly, I’m okay.” I paused, noticing the piles of clothes Melanie held clutched against her chest. “Did you find anything you like?”

“Oh my gosh, yes! It totally sucks living in a college town because there are, like, no clothing stores. I honestly try to come to NYC as much as possible just to shop.”

I almost laughed, thinking she was joking, but when Melanie turned away to inspect a $1,000 dress hanging from the wall, I realized she was serious.

The other students in the group ended up spending thousands of dollars at the store, their purchases being folded carefully and tucked away into colorful paper bags. It was only when they had finished that they decided to eat dinner at a place across the street.

In the nicest restaurant I had ever been to that year, I ordered the cheapest appetizer I could find, and sat in silence as the students around me reminisced about the private schools they had gone to, their most recent vacations to Europe.

When the dinner was over, a student suggested seeing a broadway play, and one of the guys pulled out his phone and told the group Cabaret was playing for only $250 a ticket.

“What a steal!” Melanie, wearing her brand-new jacket, cried. “We have to go!” She turned to look at me and gave me a big smile. “Do you want to come?”

I knew I wasn’t going to be spending $250 for a show.

“I have a lot of homework,” I said. “But thanks anyway.”

Melanie shrugged, and after paying for our dinner, the group walked out of the restaurant into the chilly New York City air to head towards the show. I walked back to the hotel alone, and spent the night studying for my upcoming Sociology exam.

When I had finished studying, I lay back in the starched sheets of the bed and wondered what it was like for those classmates of mine, who had grown up with the ability to spend thousands of dollars on clothing, to go on trips to big cities to see expensive shows and blow even more money on fancy restaurants and stores. Who went to summer camp, private schools, who lived in big houses with maids and housekeepers, who went on vacation to foreign countries, staying in beautiful hotels.

To be very honest, I find it fascinating to be surrounded by classmates who come from wealth like I have never experienced. I’m not embarrassed for being unable to afford the things some of my classmates buy dozens of through online shopping. I’m not embarrassed for growing up being told “no” again and again, because my family simply didn’t have enough money.

I’m proud of who I am, and where I’ve come from. And that’s enough for me.


获得2302好评的回答@ Michael Cheng:

I didn't think I was a poor student until I arrived at USC for my MBA program. I had worked hard and saved up $150K, which was to last me exactly through the $100K in tuition for two years and $50K for basic living expenses.

As soon as I pulled into the student parking lot, I could see all the late model cars, many of them luxury marks. This was the undergrad parking area. One blond undergrad roared her shiny white Cadillac Escalade down the ramp as I looked for a spot.

During our casual meeting time with fellow students, productively labeled as networking, I heard about the kind of massive homes in exclusive neighborhoods that were the norm. Many of my classmates had gotten new luxury cars just for school and had fancy upscale condos for partying during school. But, that was just stuff. What really blew my mind was their attitude about money on a daily basis.

Many would invariably go to night time parties two or even three times a week, all during some very intense course work. While I looked for ways to stick to my $25 daily food budget, they had no problem splurging a few hundred dollars a night each time they were out. At the same time, I knew they were taking out massive student loans to fund their gratuitous consumption, along with tuition and basic living expenses.

Their lack of concern about repaying an extra $50K just surprised the heck out of me. I wasn't dead broke and could tag along, but I just didn't see the benefit of such free spending. Eventually, I settled into a more middle-class normative life-style and was comfortable.

Then I saw how naive I truly was.

One of my classmates had gotten to attend the MBA program on a merit and needs-based scholarship. He didn't have any money. While his tuition was waived, he still needed to pay for daily expenses.

Instead of a fancy high floor condo or even a modest downtown condo, he lived in one of the roughest neighborhoods just off campus. I lived nearby and can hear the police patrols and random gun fire where he lived. My place wasn't much but at least it was secure. He lived on a couch in a shared room right in the middle of regular gang and drug activity. Running water wasn't always available, but it was cheap, just a few hundred bucks a month.

Obviously, he didn't have a car and relied on brisk walks to get anywhere. He didn't have many friends as he couldn't afford to go hang out with anyone. When we hung out, I made sure we didn't need to spend any money.

He couldn't even afford food, so he worked part time at university food service to make a few dollars and grab leftovers for meals. While others dined in fancy Beverly Hills and Hollywood hot spots, he was scraping pots for a bite. But, he never complained about the squandered money of our fellow students. He knew his values and was content on focusing on his goals.

He certainly kept me grounded as I felt like a spoiled brat using money so freely and buying myself a burrito whenever I felt hungry.

So, here I was moping ridiculously about my relative paucity; he showed what real determination and pride in the midst of deprivation looked like.

And, even at the MBA level, there's a bias to spend money. My freespending classmates all got six-figure jobs right out of school from their “networking” efforts and were able to quickly pay off their huge student loans. Meanwhile, my poor friend is still struggling financially.