Tuition fees are on the rise. But one thing many people don’t consider is that despite the financial cost of a college education, a degree is more attainable than ever.
Possibly one of the most striking of these stories began 98 years ago this Sunday with the birth of Sydir Krawec, my paternal grandfather.
Born in a village in what is now the northwestern region of Ukraine, he had it better than most.
For one, my grandfather’s surname was originally longer — Krawec-Klemczuk. Two distinctly Ukrainian last names were a characteristic of nobility. Though the Ukrainian nobles and peasants both lacked material goods, the gentry owned their own farming equipment and land.
Also, in his rural hometown, higher education was not really an option.
Considering he ended up marrying my grandmother, a woman who dropped out of elementary school in order to help out with her family’s farm, the people’s priority was work, not school.
Nonetheless, my grandfather had a lot of interest in some technical aspects of farming. He had a particular fascination with growing apples, so he did something extreme: He ran away from the family farm to attend technical school.
In a world in which high-school graduates are oftentimes expected to go to a four-year university, that seems foreign. The most amazing part? That happened about 80 years ago.
Granted, 80 years ago in a notoriously backwards region of Europe is not 80 years ago in the United States, but it still hits close to home.
So much has changed in so little time. When my grandfather was a boy, airplanes in the sky were a rarity, and heating and air conditioning were unheard of. Even families of his class would bring their livestock into their homes on cold winter nights so everyone could stay warm.
But look at what we have now: It takes days to go around the world rather than months, and only a small portion of our population farms for a living.
Most remarkably, going away to college is encouraged to the point where many people take out loans to cover the expenses.
Overall, as university students, we should all make the most of our experiences. We should ensure that we study and that we go to class — after all, that is what we are paying for in our tuition bills.
And as for my grandfather, the rest of his life was remarkable. In 1938, he fled his home country in hopes of farming in Argentina (his hometown was not in Soviet hands until a year later), but ended up becoming a printer. He edited two newspapers, one in Buenos Aires and one in New York, and even had a self-titled literary magazine in Argentina.
Maybe it’s not that odd that I’m a journalism major.
Moriah Krawec is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. Send her your family’s stories at email@example.com.