Originally posted on The Millennial Chat Blog
There’s no doubt that times are tough for students in California. Deep budget cuts have been bad news for the public education system, resulting in less classes, less financial aid, less support services and higher tuition. As a current student at a California State University, I can personally attest to the mess our higher education system has become. Believe me, it isn’t pretty.
But the story doesn’t end at CSUs and UCs. Perhaps the system hit hardest by this whole debacle is the Community College System. Often seen as a safety net for students unable to go directly to a four year university, the community college system is becoming increasingly difficult to both afford and attend. In fact, it’s estimated that 670,000 students will be turned away from California Community Colleges this year alone.
And while it’s common knowledge amongst Californians that these problems exist in the educational system, the personal stories of students dealing with these issues seem to be missing. We see the facts and we know the figures, but without knowing how these facts and figures effect people, these numbers mean little. People respond to emotion, struggle, and triumph; information that is difficult to garner from simple statistics.
It’s that fact that led Mobilize.org’s Millennial Meetup for Edu2Tech in Berkeley last Friday. Designed to provide Community College Students with the skills and knowledge to utilize technology to tell their stories, students across Northern California got a chance to meet and discuss many of the issues surrounding engagement in community college education.
As a trainer at the event, I got the chance to help students understand how Social Media can be leveraged to improve student involvement on campus. It was truly incredible to see so many passionate, driven, intelligent, young people working together on the same goal.
By improving student engagement, the student body becomes a powerful force. By uniting community college students, they can become more effective in making their stories and their voices heard.
By making their stories heard, those statistics become real. Those facts and figures aren’t just numbers anymore, they become people doing the best they can to educate themselves despite facing incredible adversity and extreme barriers.
While the media doesn’t always show it, we truly have some amazing young people working very hard to advocate for both themselves, and their fellow students.
And while the future may seem uncertain, I am so inspired by all the passion, drive, and determination exhibited by the young Millennials I’ve had the privilege to work with.
We may not have an immediate solution to the problems facing the education system in California. And we may not have one for a while. But I’m more than confident that with the skills this generation has, we can and will work together to make accessible education a reality in California once again.
Megan Emme is the New Media Coordinator at Mobilize.org and runs their blogging program, The Millennial Report. Megan is a Junior at San Francisco State University and also works as the SF Regional Coordinator for the Revolution Hunger Campaign. She hopes to pursue a career empowering young people to advocate for themselves as well as make a difference in their communities.