Luke sat down with me to talk college debt and how it has effected him.
Graham and Emma experienced highly distracting family conflicts while at college, yet each handled them differently. How have you dealt with conflict while under the pressures of classwork?
Music courtesy of Arcwielder (“Into the Cave”)
Jennifer is a thin, alternative beauty with crazy-colored hair and elaborate tattoos.
After a long talk about her experiences with anxiety and depression, I finally asked her, “Why do you think you do it?”
She responded almost excitedly, “I’m glad you asked because I’ve actually given this a lot of thought and I think I’ve figured it out.”
Her gaze turns down as she caresses her rippled wrist.
“When I’m feeling [depressed and anxious] the feeling is so intense, yet so confusing. Where is this coming from? When will it end? Stuff like that; but then I cut, and suddenly those same questions are answered. I know where the pain is coming from and I know that it’s going to end. I can even see the pain! You just don’t get those luxuries with anxiety.
I guess that’s why I cut.”
We were walking down a street in Oakland where plastic chairs and broken bottles pepper each side of the road. Every other building is abandoned; the streets seem to dissolve into the grass.
“We’re almost there,” Theresa said, detecting my uneasiness.
We stopped when we reached an overgrown field that inundates a massive abandoned church.
“This is where I slept,” she said.
“In there?” I ask, alarmed and pointing towards the church.
“No,” she laughs, “I parked here and slept in the car.”
“Theresa” has always worked hard. She’s a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh, she works part-time at a retail store, and she holds a second job on the weekends. Surely, Theresa is a model citizen and student, but she claims to have one fault: “I don’t like to ask for anything,” she says this as we’re sitting in her third-floor apartment just outside of town.
“I’d like to live closer to school, but the cost is just too much,” she says.
Theresa had a rough time her first few years of college. Although Pitt is a public university, the costs were still overwhelming. As a non-traditional student, Theresa had little-to-no parental support and little hope of finding scholarships that would fit her situation.
“Oh, it was awful,” she says remembering the adjustment to a four-year university, “I clearly had no idea what I was getting myself into.”
The “what” in this situation is the cost of attendance. Collegedata.com states that the average monetary sum of a year at Pitt is upwards of $33 grand; that includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and a category simply marked, “other expenses” (which totals $3,222).
“I was scared shit-less when I first got to school,” Theresa says cynically, “I refused to buy anything out of fear that I would need it to buy a book or a fucking pencil for Christ’s sake.”
She stops suddenly and looks up to the ceiling, imitating herself, “I remember laying in bed repeating the words, ‘I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry’ just to convince myself that I wasn’t [hungry].”
[End Part 1]