Navigating CU as a Low-Income Student

person with book on their head Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels

I remember sitting at the UMC alone, chowing down five cups full of half-frozen mangos, thinking to myself, “If I see another girl giggling to her friends about how many AP classes she took at her high school, I'm transferring to Mines. If I come across some gym-rat-business-school-frat-boy, I'm also going to transfer to Mines.” 

The experience is isolating. The economic diversity at CU is so low, that only 3.8% of students came from low-income families, according to a NY Times article.

I'm in college now, and apparently, I haven't grown out of my angsty, envious self. Everyone has problems and it's not anyone's business to invalidate them. Shut them down. Tell them that their feelings are invalid. However, it's really isolating. It's a lonely feeling when you're the only person you know at this school because the University of Colorado Boulder is for people who probably don't share the same experiences you've had. 

Sad woman with smudged mascara holding a fake smile Photo by Sydney Sims from Unsplash

Most students I know knew they were going to college early on, while I had no idea until senior year of high school. They went to hang out in mansions with their friends when a lot of my friends dropped out of high school for selling morphine. When COVID hit, I witnessed people of my race getting beaten up at subway stations while others partied on St. Patrick's day. A lot of people around me have turned to sex work and bikini-bars to pay rent, but the word “slut” still remains as a casual title to insult women. They were doing sports after school while I had to deal with the unpredictability of my home life. And as much as I love my family to death, I feel like I'm still holding my breath when I'm around them. They had boyfriends while I was beaten up for kissing a girl. I took the tests some plagiarized on, covered in aches and bruises.

I'm jealous. Many don’t realize the pain that less privileged people have to face every day. The lower-class. People of color. Women. Queers. The disabled.

However, I overcame that pain. I'm in a good major doing something that I love. I'm doing things that my younger self wouldn't imagine doing. But I'm drowning in a puddle of my self-pity. Because it feels lonely to navigate a sea of beautiful people when you're anything but. But I know within those 30,000 people, there's at least one person who understands. And I appreciate that. I just want everyone else to be acknowledged.