Would you give back to your college?

Would you give back to your college?

The other night I picked up a phone call from a number that I’d been avoiding. I knew it was my former university calling for donations.

A polite freshman introduced herself and asked me about my time there. What was memorable about my college experience? What was I doing now? Afterward she asked if I would be willing to donate toward the university’s freshman scholarship fund. She was sweet so I chatted with her for a few minutes. When I asked whether I could think about her request, and donate later (or online), her answer was vague and basically sounded like no.

I don’t blame the girl for trying to pressure me with her response. I’m sure she was just following a script. It’s exactly what I expected when I ignored that call many times in the past few years.

The fund I would be donating toward is solely for freshman, and funded exclusively by students and alumni. I remember getting emails before graduation and seeing the fund advertised with motivating reminders. Seniors received a pin if they donated a small amount and showed that they cared about incoming freshmen. The annual sums were relatively small compared to the large donations that are usually recognized. I always found it strange that they targeted students with loans, books to buy and probably, low-paying jobs.

I wanted to consider the request again so I watched a video on the university website. But the sad, adopt-a-puppy music didn’t do it for me. Neither did reminder that a school’s rankings increase when alumni give back and participate.

I have always been on the fence about donating to my university. I really value the fact that the fund goes directly to student scholarships. The reason I’m so hesitant is that I assume that a large university, which essentially runs like a business, could spare a couple thousand dollars in scholarships a year. There are personal reasons that are definitely less relevant. One is that I don’t feel that my school helped with my career path. Of course I’ve heard a million times that I shouldn’t have expected too much. I should’ve picked a better major or knocked on more doors. Universities are businesses after all.

I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I’ll put off donating this year.

What would you do?

2 thoughts on “Would you give back to your college?

  1. A year or so after I graduated from Duke, and I was working in NY and going for my MBA at night at NYU, I got a call from a student fundraiser. I was still paying for the loans I took out from undergraduate (before Reagan cut off Guaranteed Student Loans to middle class families like mine) and taking out additional loans to pay for the NYU tuition above and beyond what my employer was paying. This woman asked me to commit to giving $5K. I politely refused, explaining my loan situation. She persisted, saying that I “didn’t have to pay it all at once.” At that point I wondered what trust fund planet she came from, and ask her what part of “I’m already paying of one set of loans and taking out another set to pay off my MBA” don’t you understand?” And then I hung up. But the other reason I have somewhat bitter feelings about donating towards my alma mater is this: one day I was in my apartment mates bedroom and I noticed she had this fancy little tchoztke that said “Dean’s List.” I had made Dean’s List, too, but I hadn’t been given one of those. Apparently, you only got those if you made Dean’s List AND your parents had given X $$’s. And that made me sick. Dean’s List is supposed to be based on merit and they were making that about money, too?

    1. Thanks for commenting Sarah. Stories like that really boil my blood. I can’t imagine being under that much financial pressure. I would’ve hung up too, if not much more.

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