The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology

REFLECTIONS OF AN INVISIBLE STUDENT

Janice Motoike

I am a student in the Department of Psychology at CSLA. Sometimes I question the veracity of this statement. I am one of the so-called "invisible" students who, through a set of life circumstances, works in an office full-time and attends the university as a part-time student in the evening. In other words, I support myself, pay taxes (rent, insurance, etc.), and generally function in the universe as a "financially responsible" adult.

At present, I am "conditionally classified," and therefore I am not really in the master's program. I need two more classes to advance to candidacy. Unfortunately, these two classes are not offered at a time when I can take them. This is my third quarter at CSLA in which I will be taking an alternative, non-required course because the classes that are required are not offered in the evening.

It has been suggested that I quit work (give up my medical, dental, and hospitalization insurance, 401K, means of support), obtain a student loan (go into debt), and become a full-time student (how do I pay my rent? Auto insurance? Food? Gas? Medical expenses?). It fascinates me that a school would advocate such a strategy, especially considering the job market for graduates with an M.A. in Psychology from CSLA. Is it truly wiser to be financially irresponsible? I understand that debt is the American way, but I seem to be experiencing cultural conflict with this concept.

Iunderstand fully that if and when I enter a Ph.D. program this route will most likely become inevitable, but the seeming lack of concern at this level of education for students who must support themselves could be interpreted as a lack of concern for those students who do not have money. If I didn't know better, I would say that it appears to be a strategy to eliminate poorer students from attending universities. Only those whose parents (or spouse) can afford to support them will attend universities. Those who are older and/or do not fall in the above category are simply out of luck.

Ihave an alternative suggestion. Classes could be scheduled to start at 8:40 am, rather than 8:10 am, on Tuesdays and Thursdays (or Mondays and Wednesdays). Classes could then be offered from 5:40 p.m. - 7:20 p.m., for those students who do work. Given that classes are still offered at 6:10 p.m. - 7:50 p.m., this would not be significantly adding to maintenance costs any more than currently exists.

I have been told by more than one of my professors that I will probably be able to get into a good Ph.D. program when the time comes. I hesitate, perhaps because my vision does not yet carry me that far into the future (albeit not too distant a future), perhaps because I cannot even manage to get into the master's program at CSLA. Perhaps it is easier to get into a Ph.D. program than it is to be a part-time evening student at CSLA.


Prepared bymroffe@calstatela.edu

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