2016 Essay Competition - View all entries

My Purpose to Higher Education

Selina Street - Coeur d'Alene, ID, United States

There are many definitions for higher education but to me it is to gain a degree which has a good if not great career opportunity and to gain understanding of yourself and others. Higher education can mean a lot of different things to different people because it has such broad meaning; a certificate, hands on training, technical fields, associates and bachelor degrees all fall under the scope of higher education. For me I know exactly what I want to gain, the diploma because in the end it makes all the challenges and experiences worth it. Although my main objective is to get a degree is does not mean that is my only purpose to education. From the time I was young child I have always enjoyed school. I like talking to friends and learning about new things everyday: sure, I had to go the "special" reading class in 6th grade for some random test that I got a low score on. That didn't stop me from enjoying go to school.

Now to explain my joy of education I must explain my past. To understand my past, first try to envision my home. It's about 2 miles up Butler Creek mountain top and consists of 18 acres of beautiful large pine and cedar. I lived about a block away from my grandmother who was an English teacher married to a math teacher. This along with the extremely quiet woods woke me up, most the time, at 6:00 am to get ready for the bus that arrives at 6:40 am every day with a smile on my face. I was told by my grandmother, pretty frequently since she was my closest neighbor, "Selina you are smart, strong and beautiful". With this kind of influence no wonder why I am so driven.

I always knew college was a possibility but I never thought of it as the only option, it was one of infinite career opportunities available. I've never been one to look at my life in black and white, instead I look at it like a painter's palette with a whole spectrum of colors. I remember the moment I decided to go to college, I was sitting on my couch, talking to my dad at the kitchen sink about my future. I was in the process of writing my freshman year career paper and was looking into the medical field. My dad and me where talking about ultrasound since it was at the time expected to increase by 70% in job opportunity in the next couple years and the program was only 4 years long. I began looking into the career field and loved everything that I found. The soundwaves have little to no effect on the body. the machine is super fascinating how it works and its abilities are still being improved.

I was raised in the small, and beautiful town of Sandpoint, Idaho. Sadly, it consists of more tourists than residents at certain times of the year but it was safe and comfortable and a good place to start my path. Luckily Sandpoint high school had lots of advanced and Dual credit classes to occupy my time along with different art classes that gave me an artistic lookout on my education. I tried glassblowing and drawing, made a few paintings but nothing drive me more than knowing I could going to college and getting degree that could take me anywhere and still live a comfortable lifestyle.

Although education is broad, it is up to the people devoting their time to that education to give it true meaning. The understanding or knowledge that is acquired is also up the individuals within this system including the students. My purpose for higher education was influenced by many different experiences throughout my life including parental influence, education system influence and personal experiences I have had. My purpose for higher education is to gain an associate's degree in diagnostic ultrasound and to gain an understanding of myself and the world around me.

My first priority will always be myself, my grandma taught me this at very young age. She believed that the only way one can truly care for other is if they care for themselves and I think that still holds true today. I think the only way I can truly get something from higher education is if I am doing it for myself. This theory reminds me of "Maslow's Hierarchy of needs proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper, "A theory of Human Motivation" (105). Maslow theory is "parallel [to] many other theories of human development psychology, all of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans" and is represented in the form of the triangle with the physical needs at the bottom leading up to mental needs at the top. This holds some significance to me and my purpose to education because I am going to college to grow and develop mentally and use this knowledge I obtain to fully understand my past. One of my main purposes to education is to gain more of an understanding of myself and I believe my "physiological needs" and my "safety and security" already meet in my life by having a full-time job and a warm place to call home. By attending education I can as Maslow suggests I can now focus on and expand in my life in "love and belonging", "self-esteem", and "self-actualization". I like many others have suffered through a childhood with a stubborn mother and complicated family matters, but that will not hold me back. If I can learn about what true hardship and struggle looks like maybe it will give me the patience to look past some of the mistakes my mother has made or at least an understanding.

My second purpose to pursuing in higher education would be to gain an associate's degree in diagnostic sonography. I started this path long ago in freshman year and that has left me a lot of time to critic and analyze every aspect of this career. I knew at a very young age that I didn't like making finite decisions which I think has driven me towards a technical field where I don't have to diagnose anything. I am not going to lie, the money is also a considerable factor, with average pay of Ultrasound Technicians in Idaho around 66K with barely any experience. Another benefit it that I can choose to work close to home or in any country I want because Ultrasound is such an expanding and diverse field. Now the dynamics might be great but I was more concerned with what the actual job consisted of. That's why in sophomore year in high school I did my first job shadow and it was awesome. It was a quiet and the appointments all scheduled between 9-5, you don't have to life or deal with bodily fluids, most of the time anyways.

I have chosen community colleges to entrust my time and money simply because it is cheaper and in the long run I'll have the same degree. I've always been good in math and to me the number of dollars you put in the cost-of-college formula usually only outputs the same number of degrees earned and universities just never seemed worth it to me. Although an expensive university might not be worth my money but a college education is and the article "The value of college, in 2 graphs" by Jacob Goldstein shows some graphs explain why it is so worth it. With every year, more and more babies are born, and the rate of blue collar jobs however sadly isn't. The ratio of blue collar job is dropping and with the more technologies comes the need of educated peoples to run those technologies. As the graph "Unemployment Rate for Adults Age 25-34" shows the unemployment rate of high school only educated peoples has increased from 2008 to 2010 by 7% leaving it at 14% (114). That is pretty significant compared to the unemployment rate of college graduates at only 5%. This just shows how vital it is to actually graduate because without the degree, financially the experience just isn't worth it without it. This and personal experience with my parents and discussions we have had on some of their poor financial decisions they have made has, not only, influenced me to pursue a higher education but also make it count. I can't waste my time or money taking a college course more than once so I have to give it my all the first time around.

The third purpose to me attending to learn more about the world around me including different ethnicities, different religious perspectives, basically some form of cultural diversity; now the small community college might not seem like the best place with it total of probably 10,000 students and teachers. I'm an optimist and in my mind any experience is a good experience, and North Idaho College like many students is my fist stepping stone of a long path. The path of life so I am going to enjoy every moment of it. That's why I am not that concerned with grades and GPA. Yeah, we all know they old value in the education system, but in the end, they are just numbers and letters. I'm not going to worry about every C I get on a test, I'm going to take that C and say what can I learn from this, where did I go wrong, and most importantly where did I go right. A great essay that talk about this is "Life is not measured by grade point averages" by H. Bruce Miller where he tells a story about a girl who let ambition for perfect grades get the best of her and she paid the price by losing everything she had worked for (127). He has advised for the upcoming generations, "your life will not be permanently blighted if you get a B-plus instead of an A… 15 years from now you're not going to remember the names of the courses you took, much less what grades you got" (128-129) And he is right, I'm not going to remember the names of those courses but I will remember the teaching that I can apply to the world around me and the people in it.

This dedication to get a higher education did not come without hard work and challenges along the way. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger and there was points in my life when I thought it would just be easier to chance my luck in the industry without a degree. Flashback to senior year of high school. Sweat dripping down my forehead as I try to focus on printing and organize stacks of paper consisting of my resume, application booklets and my high school transcript trying to fill out as many scholarships due before due date, along with a full high school schedule. It seemed like I could never have enough time to do all the things to prepare for college but I did it and now I have my own apartment and a decent GPA. If life doesn't offer you struggle enough then the student loans and the expenses of college can be enough to pull your hair out. Especially when you parent themselves are buried in debt and have no spar cash for a college degree for any of their children.

Although there are many challenges and difficulties that I must go through to achieve my purpose of higher education as they say "what doesn't kill makes you stronger" and these challenges will only persuade me to keep working because it means I'm getting closer to my goal. I also am thankful I have my family and friends there for me to push me when I get stuck. There have been many influences to my pursuit of higher education but I can mostly thank my parents for showing me their mistakes, my high school for having lots of concealing and advancement opportunities, and my personal experience working in the medical field as a Certified nursing assistant at an old folk's home. All of these influences have created a strong dedication to pursue an associate's degree in diagnostic sonography and gain understanding of myself and others.