Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by 2016-17 International President Andrew Porter.
Education is a way to improve oneself and one’s chance at securing a better future. That’s why I returned to college after my active military service.
At that time, I was deciding between a community college and a university. I chose community college for many reasons, one of the most important ones being the financial cost. My options were a lower-cost community college or a (much) higher-cost university. I was fortunate to even have those options — many people don’t.
What if my financial situation was not affecting which educational institution I could attend, but whether I could attend college at all? Many people face that choice, and it makes me wonder if education is a right or a privilege.
I recognize, and am thankful, that I had the means to go back to college. In fact, most of my education is paid for in part by the GI bill because of my time in service and veteran status from serving in Iraq. Some people will offhandedly remark how lucky I am to have my school paid for by the government. I look at it as an investment in me in response to the investment I made in our country.
I don’t feel it is a handout, but rather a way to show belief in potential. That investment encourages me to do better and to give back to my community.
Think about what an investment like this could do on a national level. How would our country look if community college was free for students? How would it affect you? I pose these questions to you all because Phi Theta Kappa is a collection of students who do work hard, who value their education and who are dedicated to improving themselves and their community. I want to know what you have to say, and so does the world.
Recently, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with leadership from organizations working to make community college free. They are searching for students like you to be the difference and take action to further this initiative.
Heads Up America is a nonpartisan, grassroots campaign to make two years of community college free for all hardworking students. You can sign their pledge at headsupamerica.us or learn more about their campaign by joining a webinar they’re hosting on August 29 at 4 p.m. ET. Register for the webinar.
Another group, Young Invincibles (YI), is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for young adults. YI researches critical issues facing Millennials, builds campaigns to fight for solutions, and engages young people across the country. You can follow them on social media @YoungInvincible and email Krieg Rajaram to get more involved in their work to make higher education accessible to this generation.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this conversation and all the possibilities to which Phi Theta Kappa has given me access. I know that I made the right choice in attending community college and joining Phi Theta Kappa.
By making community college more affordable, we can make the difference for others who are deciding whether they will attend college and invest in others so they may have a better future.
Regardless of whether you agree free community college is the answer, I urge you to apply the principles of research and be involved in this conversation because the world is listening. I believe that greater access to education is an undeniably positive goal to work toward; however, to achieve this goal effectively, we must understand this issue from many perspectives.