One social issue in the world today that I care about is equal access to education. I do not come from a wealthy family by any means, but it was easy to be oblivious to it as my parents never made us worry about it – my sisters and I were just told that our “job” was to do well in school. Growing up, it was never about “are you going to go to college?” it was about “where are you going to college?” and “what do you want to study?”- it was expected that I would be going. Having two older sisters and watching them graduate high school to go onto college, it did not occur to me that for some people it was not an option. I realized this my senior year in high school when one of my best friends, an amazing kind-hearted and brilliant girl, broke down in tears because she did not get the scholarship she was a finalist for that would have allowed her to become the first person in her family to attend college. The quarter-of-a million price tag attached to a 4-year college education is a privilege which makes me wonder if it would be possible for businesses to work towards making it more accessible to the everyone.

I’m honestly not sure if there are any business solutions to solve this social issue. Sure, there are things that they can do such as starting even one scholarship with the millions in revenue that they generate every year. We are the future as we’re so often told, so why not contribute to educating even one more person in the world who simply cannot financially afford it? Whether or not this is a “smart” business decision, it would definitely have a huge impact on the lives of the recipients of the scholarships. However, I do not think that any business would be able to revamp the education system that is currently in place.

Starting a company with the goal of solving a social issue would definitely influence its focus towards stakeholders because helping others would be the drive behind the existence of the company. The company would obviously still care about its shareholders since it must be sustainable in order to survive and it cannot do that without ensuring that the company is making profits (and making shareholders happy) but its business practice itself would not be geared towards maximizing profits, it would be geared towards solving an issue which will most likely make the employees more passionate and driven in their work.

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5 thoughts on “

  1. I find this topic very interesting especially due to the current controversy about Bernie Sanders wanting to make college free by taxing every trade on the stock market. I also had a close friend go through a very similar decision and he ended up going to a local junior college the town over from where we live and then travelling to Ecuador and Peru to work on a plantation in the jungle. This is not a common path, but he found that the unusual college experience was the best bet for him. In California, and in my county, we have a very strong junior college system where it is inexpensive to attend school and then after 2 years you are able to attend a University of California school if your GPA is above a certain point. This allows the student to work during their two years of junior college to then help pay for the UC experience and decrease the loans. He is now at UC Santa Barbara and even though he will graduate a year after I graduate, largely due to his travels in South America, he will still receive a diploma from a well known university. It is a good alternative from the extremely expensive private university experience.

    Mona, I didn’t want it to make it seem like I was berating you or your friend, I just wanted to explain what my friend decided, due to his economic situation.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Peter! I definitely don’t feel as though you’re berating me or my friend at all – my town had a similar program like the one that your friend went to where you go to a junior college for two years and then can transfer to college such as Northeastern, etc. in the Boston area. I think my friend’s situation was a little more unique since she couldn’t receive any financial aid to help her. She took a few years off to work and save up for college and is now attending Amherst College. I think there definitely are some opportunities for individuals who can’t afford to go to college straight out of high school, but I think higher education can still be made more accessible with the help from corporations if they chose to do so without making a huge dent in their revenues.

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    2. Good move on your friend’s part; Jake and I did the same. I’m sure he doesn’t feel deprived, neither do we, and honestly he’s probably among the more rounded and beast people on this planet due to his choice. The stories of like these sometimes make us feel that if we could do it and we’re better off for it, so can others. For myself though I catch a fallacy in this cut and dry thought – I didn’t really do it. My family, friends, and a series of circumstances that I don’t chalk up to pure chance, had as much to do with it as I did. So while I most likely agree with you on your view of completely free education in the way that Sanders envisions it, I am also aware of the fact that I got one (I’m here on a scholarship). I “earned” it based on grades, which are a result of far, far more than just my intellect and choices alone, so I earned it because of what my family did? My community? People I’ve met along the way? No, not really. So, I would just caution that just because some “Make it,” that we can’t really simplify it to, “If you’re motivated, you’re smart, and work hard, college options are out there for you no matter what. So, the system is fair.” Those things are a part of the whole, but there are people I’ve known who could’ve had higher IQs, more potential, more drive, and just missed one of those pieces and never made it.

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      1. (That previous comment was to Peter, and hopefully doesn’t sound like I’m just being argumentative)

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  2. This post reminded me a lot of the discussions that took place my Education 101 class last year. We talked a lot about how poverty was cyclical and education, the fact that it is not equally accessible to everyone depending on their family’s income or where they were raised, was a driving proponent in this never-ending cycle. For example, someone who grows up in a poorer neighborhood but works equally as hard as someone who was raised in a wealthy neighborhood with a great schooling system, despite working equally as hard, most likely still wouldn’t be afforded the same opportunities as the child who was raised in the higher income area. With that being said, economically speaking, it makes sense that more prestigious colleges charge higher tuition— schools are trying to make money and the price is reflected in higher demand. However, is it this high price that sets children who just happen to be born into a lower income family up for failure? I think that this social problem of unequal education also ties into the much larger problem of cyclical poverty as a whole.

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