From birth people are raised to believe that education is the key to success and if they want to be successful they must put their all into school. By doing this they lose themselves in school and are no longer themselves but, they become is just more estranged the more they put into school. The college student decreases in comparison to the objects he or she creates i.e. homework, tests, quizzes and etc. At some point in the students’ college career they become known for what they have done or accomplished, not for who they are. This represents the first type of alienation: the estrangement of the worker from the result of his or her own work.
Furthermore, as time goes on the college student begins to lose themselves in the work they put into school. The work that the student creates does not quite belong to them but, the student does everything that is given to them. The act of doing homework, quizzes, tests, projects and etc. are all just merely acts to survive in school. Without doing any of these things, the student would fail his or her classes. All of these acts are not performed for the student but for the teacher, who is ultimately the decision maker on what grades are appropriate for the student. Once the student passes the class, he or she can either no longer or does not choose to use the work they have completed. This is simply because the work they have created was not for themselves but, for the teacher. This is a representation of the second type of alienation “estrangement from the process of working” theorized by Karl Marx. However, this is not the only way students are alienated from the world.
Many young adults are taught in school at a young age that in order to procure a happy and financially stable life, they must first get a degree. The young adult goes on to college, not aware that they will obtain debt that they will spend most of their lives trying to repay. “In 2009, the unemployment rate for private student loans borrowers who started school in the 2003-2004 school year was 16%”. (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, pg 4) This percentage shows that although a student has went to college and obtained a degree in hopes of a better future, many were still not able to get a job. On top of being unemployed, the students are in debt because they took out loans and have no means to pay them back. People spend most of their lives working whether it is in school, at work or etc. The work that people do constitutes to a life purpose.
For human beings, being productive is a life purpose. According to Marx, yet in more simplified terms, humans like to always be productive and working is a way to be purposeful. In relation to the college student, they often do not mind working hard because they feel it will pay off in the long run and they know that what they are doing has a purpose. They spend college years working hard on papers and studying and most even balance having a job to either support themselves or to pay back loans. Whichever the case may be the student does whatever it takes to get the degree to become successful. While doing all of these things, the student begins to lose his or her self in the work that they create. They no longer belong to themselves but, to the work that they create. The student misses out on the social life that they could have had or sense of identity. This can be seen as a representation of Marx’s third type of alienation “species being”.
The fourth and last kind of alienation is the estrangement from man. Marx theorized that since the worker’s creation belongs to the owner, the worker’s view of this person is “alien and hostile”. The worker feels distant from the whole system of private property. The college student is a representation of this through his or her disdain for certain teachers when they do not get the grade they wanted or the source from which they have borrowed money from. In an article written by New York Times reporter Annie Lowrey. She interviewed 33 year old Shane Gill who is a high school teacher in New York. He has a college degree and is $85,000 in debt. Shane’s investment in his future has provided him with job, good benefits and decent pay but, he has many financial constraints. Shane is worried about if he wants to get married and start a family because he does not know how he will be able to afford it. This is an example of estrangement from man, Shane was once a college student and he is now an adult that has become alienated from men because he is afraid of not being able to pay for anything.
Through the theorization of estrangement of labour made by Karl Marx, one can see the relationship between a student and school. This relationship proves to be supported by Marx’s theory of alienation. The student faces all four types of alienation due to school. Whether it is from working hard to be successful in school or working hard to pay back loans taken out for school. The more the student puts into their work the more powerful the work becomes (school, lenders). Karl Marx’s theory of estrangement helps to broaden ones view of the life of a worker and to give insight on how the product created affects the worker.