Give and Take

Photograph by Emily Kennedy

The student gives $2000 for tuition,
The student gives $5000 for rent,
The student takes homework and assignments.
The student gives $3000 for a meal plan,
The student gives $500 for text books,
The student takes good or bad marks.
The student gives time and effort,
The student take an intangible sense that they might be accomplishing something.

The student gives money,
The University takes money.

The student gives work,
The University takes time.

The student gives what else is there to give – their soul, their sanity,
The university gives an education.

The student takes a degree, debt and a diploma that represents the money they gave to the university. I suppose money is a lot like grades or a diploma. It is symbolic, abstract, and meaningless unless it is in the right context.

University is the exchange of symbols; the symbol of wealth for the symbol of education. We pay money to look smarter. Whether that appearance is real or not is irrelevant. What matters is that we have that diploma to tell people we are smart.

What matters is that we have the grades to tell people we are smart.

We might have cheated, we might only be in university because we have the money to pay for it. We might not have earned the grades or the money. But that does not matter. What matters is that we have the grades. What matters is that we have the money.

University is full of abstract symbols that tell us what we are worth.

Give me $2000.
You get an F.