College is a Privilege, Not an Entitlement

This whole Rachel Canning story has me up in arms. As a mother, I just can’t imagine my own child suing me to pay for him to live outside my house. This is probably because I too left my own home at the tender age of 17. (You can read the story here).

Many don’t know this story, but I actually moved to South Carolina with a boyfriend before I even graduated high school. I was taking college classes at the time, so I actually came HOME to graduate. Crazy, right? But I can understand as a teen wanting to leave home. That age is a tough one – you really want to be independent, but you don’t have the funds to really make it happen. So you’re at a cross roads. And well, let’s be honest, sometimes there are parents that just aren’t very good parents.

The thing is – at that time, I NEVER thought about suing my parents. I just wanted to get away and be my own person. No one helped me pay for college. In fact, no one helped me MOVE into college. I remember that day clearer than any. I pulled up on campus at Clarion University and couldn’t find my dorm. It was one disappointment after another, and I cried in my room that first night when I didn’t even have enough money to buy a drink at 7-11 let alone the books for college.


But that was the game changer for me.

I knew I had a chance. I was here. This was the defining moment that I would either succeed or I would fail. Unlike Rachel, I couldn’t go home, or sue my parents. I would have to learn how to do this all on my own, or what – live on the streets? Be a stripper? OMG – THAT WASN’T HAPPENING.

So I decided right then and there that I would finish college, no matter how hard it was for me to accomplish. That next day I walked into a bank and got a loan for books. I am almost 33 years old, and I am still paying off college, but I am also here to tell you not only did I graduate, I went on to get my Masters – ALL. ON. MY. OWN.

I don’t want to judge people and say some feel entitled to something these days – but um, we do. We expect breaks and hand outs, we don’t want to work hard to get where we are or want to be. And trust me, if I could do it – anyone can do it. I just always knew that failing was NOT an option. I did it for myself – and that’s why I am sitting here today to tell you about it. Maybe not everyone can have the strong mentality I have, I understand, but society isn’t making it any easier. We live in the day and age now that we think it’s easier to work towards a payoff then actually working for it ourselves.

And when did it become entitled that you should go to college and someone should pay for it? Even just a few years ago, not everyone went to college and not everyone got accepted. Actually, lots of people went to trade school, and that was just as good as college! What happens if people STOP going to trade school? Where will all the mechanics, plumbers, electrician and contractors be? Maybe little Miss Canning should go out and get a job and make it happen for herself. You’re not weak and defenseless at 17/18 – that’s your prime. Go out and make something of it.


Me? I got into bartending. It was the smartest thing I did. I made a lot of money at a very young age – but I was also working really hard. Ask my sorority sisters about me driving to Pittsburgh every weekend to work nights instead of partying. Or how I drove home from work every Saturday at 3 am back to campus just so I could relax on Sunday with my friends and then be ready for class on Monday. That’s sacrifice, but that’s how it’s done. Take note, Miss Canning.

Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the hard work we do put in, but if you feel entitled to have someone else pay or do it for you, what have you really accomplished?

By | 2017-11-20T05:48:35+00:00 March 8th, 2014|Motherhood|4 Comments

About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for


  1. Allison Cooper March 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

    As always, your honesty is amazing! So many teens need a wake up call and to understand the true meaning of hard working and going out and making things happen for themselves. So proud to call you my friend Ms. Barnhart and of ALL that you have accomplished! Love you!

  2. annagain March 8, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Terrific Stephanie. I too am so angry about the Rachel Canning situation. (I just can’t believe it!!) Thank you for sharing your story, you are amazing!

  3. Destiny Paquette March 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    You are an inspiration, and I love learning how you made it happen! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Stephanie Barnhart March 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

      awww thanks Destiny 🙂 I never thought of myself as inspiration, but if i can encourage just one person to do it themselves, then i’ve done my job!

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