I'm Paying for a Piece of Paper

I'm paying for a piece of paper.
I'm paying to take classes with information that I can find online with the click of a buttton.
I'm paying to stay in a dorm where rules are constantly broken, and my sanity incessantly tested. 

Why should I have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the chance that I might land a halfway-decent job and make enough to scrape by with a future family? 
Why should I have to be so far in debt by the time I'm 22 that my credit score is laughable? 

I'm surrounded by students who are so stressed out by the pressures packed on their shoulders that they're overdosing and developing legitimate mental diseases and disorders. 
I'm surrounded by professors who belittle and patronize us, and then expect us to perform as fully-functional adults.

Why is so much of my life dependent on these four years, when since before I can remember I've been told to "sit down, be quiet, raise your hand, don't talk back?" 
Why is so much of my life dependent on a piece of paper that isn't fairly earned by many of it's possessors? 

I could easily be one of the students popping pills to stay awake for all-night study sessions over course material that has nothing to do with my major. 
I could easily be one of the students whose parents' money comes in handy when paying other students to take their exams and write their essays. 
I could easily be one of the students who "knows someone" who took all the same classes previously, who rides on their friend's test scores to boost their GPA. 

But instead, I'm just a student who's actually trying to honestly succeed in this system, who is being passed up by those who can afford to buy their grades, accepting scholarships they didn't earn, receiving praise for playing the game better than I can because of where I come from and how much I'm willing to spend.

I'm not paying for the college experience. 
I'm not paying for vast knowledge and opportunities. 

I'm paying for stress. 
I'm paying to place myself in debt. 
I'm paying to be hopeful my success will not be undermined. 

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