This is the last time I will complain about the GRE and the higher education system.
In two weeks, I will travel downtown, sit in front of a computer and tester, and take a $200 test that I struggled to pay and study for. The test will comprise of math, reading, and analytical writing sections where I will have to answer several multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank type answers. It will be scored. I will then pay $100 to have those scores mailed to schools that I could have easily mailed myself, except they will not accept it unless I go through this expensive portal. Afterwards, I will struggle to look for letters of recommendation from professors who don’t like or don’t remember me, because they require at least one professor. Then, I will pay for these schools to reject me.
As I scoured the internet in search of an online practice test (because I have been practicing solely in print and I could not find a single print testing center in San Francisco and working on computers makes me flustered), I thought about a spoken poem called “Angry Black Woman” by Porsha O (attached below). In it, she says she’s mad “because education is the key, yet they keep the poor locked out.” For what I want to accomplish for myself, my actual career and education goals, I need grad school. I need grad school because there’s a lot I want to learn. I need grad school because a piece of shit bachelor’s about absolute nonsense designed for rich white kids who want to seem worldly can’t get me a job doing anything other than poorly teaching non-English speakers the names of colors in English. I need grad school because I’m a poor black millennial woman and poor black millennial women are infinitely worse off when it comes to employment and opportunity. I need grad school because I was off starving and looking for paying jobs to feed myself, so free research and pumping up the ego of my professor who doesn’t like me for an internship wasn’t on the itinerary, so I have nothing of value to offer anybody. And nobody cares about research I performed on my own.
How is education the key when bachelor degrees can’t get you shit unless you’ve got a trust fund or a computer science degree? How is education the key when poor kids (like me) can’t afford to do internships for experience because internships don’t pay and we need money to eat? When we’re isolated and can’t afford transportation? How is education the key when I’m looking at $500 as a minimum for application expenses and there’s no guarantee? What if that $500 is the difference between rent and only the possibility of opportunity? How is education the key when argumentative essay graders statistically care more about length than content? How is education the key when schools discount you because you been bagging groceries at a drug store? How is education the key when I spend every waking moment worried about this because I know how I will be judged and how I am always seen? How is education the key when no matter how hard I try, I’m not good enough because I’m an small obtuse triangle-object trying to fit in a large square hole? And there are only square holes? How is education the key when my lived reality is discarded in a major thesis I need for graduation because the professor doesn’t live it? How is education the key when my teachers didn’t understand that I couldn’t go to class because I was having panic attacks because my family was toxic as fuck, and they penalized me for it, regardless of my ability to master material?
I am poorly trained and so severely out of practice that I feel like I haven’t been in school in 10 years. I am so weak that you wonder where this $48,000 in student loans came from because I don’t feel educated. I feel like my creative and analytic lens have been beaten out of me for being penalized for going too far, connecting too many dots outside of the lesson. I am being judged on my ability to tell you if perspicacious is being used in a sentence properly, which reinforces that standard, “proper”, pretentious as fuck English is the superior and key to education. (I can be intelligent and not know the meaning of “perspicacious.” Intelligence is in your ability to recognize and understand concepts, not define them in thirteen-letter words.) I am being judged on obtuse ass standards that do not exhibit talent, empathy, compassion, intuition, perseverance, or creativity. How the fuck will a number on an arbitrary test tell you anything about me? Or my ability to succeed and learn in a real, encouraging environment where I’m allowed to learn what I want? (Because let’s be real, undergrad programs are gatekeepers of knowledge and grad school is essentially the only place where you’re allowed to learn anything in depth unless you were privileged enough to go to preparatory college programs that I couldn’t afford even if I sold both of my kidneys.)
What will a recommendation from a professor I showed up in her own class for being an ignorant ass bigot tell you about me? Please explain when calculating the lengths of three-dimensional diagonals and being able to appropriately use the word paean will come up in my study of demography and anthropology in a certain linguistic context. Where, if I don’t use paean properly, all of my work will be discarded and disqualified? Please explain how my inability to calculate said diagonal’s length tells you anything about me other than my inability to calculate said diagonal’s length off-hand. (Because like normal people, we don’t know something, WE LOOK IT UP.)
Why am I lining the pockets of the very institution I despise, just because I need education to destroy it? Why am I participating?
All I’ve learned as an adult is that everything is an unnecessary scam of money and/or respectability, and I will never win this game. I am trying to learn the balance between personal responsibility and whatever the fuck this is, but I can’t erase where I came from. I can’t just start fresh. I can’t shed baggage when that baggage is attached to my social security number. A rock can’t erase how erosion has shaped it.
I have never seen anything that expresses why I’m angry quite like this.