'Poor college student' term overused, students say

As far as the 'poor college student' mantra goes, some students are doubtful over the legitimacy of such a claim.

Some students say the term is applied too liberally and might make it harder on the real poor students.

Jaime Dinkens, a Mid Michigan Community College junior from Gladwin, considers herself to be counted among the poor college students but said she still makes room for entertainment.

“I would say that I am poor,” Dinkens said in an email. “But I allow myself to live life a little and allow room in the budget for entertainment sometimes even when I shouldn’t, because you only are young once, and some opportunities aren’t around forever, and it gives me something to work towards that isn’t a necessity but rather something to show that your life is more fulfilling when you enjoy it."

Through her volunteer work at nursing homes and gathering donations of school supplies for local school-aged children who can't afford supplies for themselves, Dinkens has learned more about the people in poverty.

“It has showed me that everyone needs help sometimes, and it's OK to take it, when necessary,” she said. “But sometimes society is too selfish with their time and resources to help each other out once in a while. It seems that because of a few people who live off assistance, the people who don’t have worries of being poor think that most poor people choose to be that way."

Dinkens said she thought students at MMCC tend to be less affluent than typical Central Michigan University students.

“I think that there are more poor students at Mid,” Dinkens said. “Mainly because of the cheaper tuition prices, it is inevitable. I am a student that would like to go on and achieve my bachelor's degree, but I can’t justify more loans to afford the tuition at CMU. It took me four years to get my two associate's degrees as of this coming May, and I can’t imagine any more tuition, let alone at a higher cost than what I am currently paying."

Clarkston freshman Kara Weightman said three places on campus that she tends to spend more than she should are The Market, Starbucks and the CMU Bookstore.

She said it consisted of a lot of small things from The Market, coffee trips at Starbucks and books from the bookstore. Weightman added that her friends often influence her trips to The Market.

"For The Market, yeah, it's usually my friends; we'll all travel in a pack and go together," Weightman said.

Brighton freshman Jaclyn Fellwock disagreed with Weightman on the peer pressure but agreed on her top three spending locations on campus. Fellwock said she has three classes back to back and goes to Starbucks to pass the time.

"(At The Market) usually (I buy) the snacks, but they're so overpriced that they just get you really good," she said.

Grand Blanc Junior Anny Cheung said she felt like she wasn't poor or rich, but comfortable, and said she sees some friends who claim to be poor college students, whose perceptions are skewed.

“Some say they are really poor, but they tend to party more and push aside their homework. Shouldn't they be valuing their opportunity to be in college and taking their classes more seriously?” Cheung said.

Ping Los, a junior of Mount Pleasant, also said the term 'poor college student' is overused.

“The term 'poor college student' has somewhat lost its meaning, despite the so-called recession,” Los said. “With that said, college students come from a variety of backgrounds. Some students may actually fit the bill of the 'poor college student,' but for the most part, I feel as though the term is being overused these days."

While many students, in various financial circumstances, make purchases, Los said few actually track these purchases and he recommends that they pay closer attention to their finances.

“Students should look at the money they currently have and the money that they can potentially make from their jobs (if applicable),” he said. “It would probably be best to set a budget for yourself. Don't spend over x dollars every month, or something along those lines."

Dinkens said many students are living with their parents as a way to get by. However, she did say that students should be taught how to be financially responsible adults by their parents, even if they rely on their parents for room and board.

“I believe it would be wise to involve your high school age children in your finances to prepare for adulthood, and so they grasp the reality of what it requires,” Dinkens said.


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