The opinions shared in this article do not reflect the overall position of The Herald, but rather offer insight from the author.
When I arrived at the Colleges from New York City in August of 2019, I was bewildered by the socio-economic status. What struck me was the colloquialism in how people spoke in conversation, dramatization, performative actions, and taste in social life. These interactions were naïve to me growing up in Queens with a particular variation in the way of doing these things. These colloquialisms became familiar as I interacted with some of my peers. At times, my peers discussed investing and different types of brokerage accounts. This was a lingo that I was not attuned to and importantly, it wasn’t discussed at home. I call this “transfer of knowledge” through the cluster of different social groups.
As I cane to learn, investing is a time game through the mathematical phenomena compounding, rather than how much you invest in a given time. I was baffled by the fact that financial literacy was not discussed nor taught in the public school education curriculum. A National Student Financial Wellness study done at Ohio State University found that 70% of college students feel stressed about their finances. To me, finance should not get in the way of pursuing your educational studies. As a first-year, this was a learning curve in understanding how to manage money, retirement accounts, and how to invest in different financial funds. This goes back to the idea of knowledge spillover, as HWS attracts many wealthier students who have inherent knowledge from their communities and socially conditioned information. If I wasn’t talking to the students or sitting at different tables, I wouldn’t have been able to understand the importance of investing early.
HWS is a higher education system that caters to a private educational system with some of the best faculty on campus, a top-tier alum network, and well-maintained landscaping. Although, it comes with a hefty price tag with it. However, HWS does make a place to make it affordable for students of diverse socio-economic statuses, given that 96% of students receive merit scholarships or need-based aid. These awards are worth $60 million in scholarships and grants, with a price tag discount of roughly 50%. Public Economist Raj Chetty’s research at Opportunity Insight has found that economic integration and opportunities for cross-class social engagement have a profound impact on social and economic mobility. Increasing connections across class lines can help improve rates of upward mobility in the United States. This can be seen at the Colleges, where cross-class social engagement helps in economic connectedness based on the extent of creating friendship across class lines and the transfer of knowledge.
An argument can be made that there is bias in who students become friends with, especially those who share a similar socio-economic background. However, early exposure and the reduction of friend bias can help increase social mobility. HWS is an institution that can catalyze low-income students for social-economic mobility. As a senior now- graduating in a few days, I hope the Colleges continue to foster these commitments to the student body, where a high-caliber education is not undermined by the backgrounds of any students: a place where diverse backgrounds can learn and lead together.