ART BY ESTELLE ZHOU
By SARAH CHUN
“Money can’t buy happiness.” But in today’s world, it technically can.
In modern-day society, one’s financial standing holds an unnecessary weight on his or her life and future. Affluent people have a dramatic advantage over those who are not.
From childhood, one’s parents’ financial status can either put them way ahead or way behind others in the game of life. Children in financially contrasting households live differently, from the experiences they are exposed to, to the material items they grow up with.
One of the most prominent scenarios demonstrating an advantage based on financial status is in one’s academic career. Rich and knowledgeable parents put their children through extra programs in hopes of giving them an advantage in standing out in college applications. While this is completely understandable, the less fortunate families cannot afford it. They are essentially forced to accept the fact that they will always be at a disadvantage from others.
For example, Child A and B grew up taking the same classes, have a similar work ethic and are in the same Pre-Calculus class. However, Child A is born into a richer household, so his parents pay for his extra math tutoring, allowing him to excel in the class and avoid staying up until sunrise studying for the class. On the other hand, Child B’s parents cannot afford to pay thousands for extra tuition, so he studies hard and manages to barely pass the class, not fitting the requirements to take AP Calculus AB. Success and enrollment in AP classes are critical to college admissions, and Child B is now at a disadvantage.
Another example of this is in extracurricular activities. College admission officers look for good outside-of-school activities, such as musical talent and sports. Years of piano lessons and support in athletic activities require great financial investment. Because the financially underprivileged cannot support their children with this, they are at an even higher disadvantage in college admissions. This is unfair to those that are not able to afford these programs.
Later on in life, when applying for jobs, in a pool of candidates with similar qualifications, the financially lesser individual will fall short solely because of their upbringing. Because their parents were not able to afford extra tutors and activities, they will be rejected from prestigious colleges, making them appear less competitive among candidates who were able to enjoy these privileges.
This does not mean that the well-off should not be taking advantage of their own money. The point is that the luxuries the rich are paying for hold too great of a weight in one’s life. One’s college application can look less appealing than the next just because they have a lower SAT score, but what college admissions officers do not know is that the former paid thousands for preparation classes, while the latter did not. College admissions are too focused on factors that are not accurate measures of one’s abilities.
Aside from academics and careers, another factor in one’s life that is affected by money is social acceptance.
People are amazed by people who wear Supreme and carry Gucci and disregard others who do not own name brands. Affluent people feel superior to others because they cruise around town in their new Tesla, while their neighbors drive a Toyota Camry, and most of the time, they actually are superior in that they receive more respect from the community. People are more likely to approach someone wearing high-end clothes than those wearing discounted clothing, taking social opportunities from those with less money. In the end, the affluent have it easier gaining respect because of superficial factors, such as material belongings and wealth.
In conclusion, it does not seem at all fair that money continues to define our academic abilities and social status and who we become throughout our life. These factors are directly tied into our success and happiness both short and long-term. Why is it that factors that were originally supposed to be solely based on effort and personality are now able to be purchased with money?