Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Silly Checklist

I'm posting this mostly out of a lack of ambition to post a few other things that will take a bit more effort. In other words, this is more for curiosity/fun than anything substantive.

I got this from Chickpea's place. Here's the checklist, with bold for those that applied to me, and commentary on them all.

When you were in college:
If your father went to college, take a step forward.
If your father finished college

My father not only went to college, he has three post-bachelors degrees, including a JD, an MBA, and a MS in Computer Engineering. I just have a JD and I doubt I'll get anything else.

If your mother went to college
If your mother finished college

My mother also has a Masters. And it should be mentioned that both of my parents came from dirt-poor families. My dad's parents were divorced, his dad was in the military. My mother's mother was a school teacher (until they fired her when she had kids) and her father was an iron ore miner. They basically clawed their way into the middle class through education.

If you have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
As noted above, my father has a JD, though that was a second (or possibly third) career for him.

If you were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
I'm just assuming this to be the case. Probably most of my school was middle class.

If you had a computer at home
If you had your own computer at home

Technically yes, but it was a POS - my parents didn't get a really decent computer until after I left for school. Which I always thought was pathetic since my dad was at one time a computer engineer.

If you had more than 50 books at home
If you had more than 500 books at home

There are so many bookcases in my parent's house, it is ridiculous. I myself probably own over 3000 books now. That is definitely an infection.

If were read children’s books by a parent
I don't recall specifically, but I'm going to assume yes.

If you ever had lessons of any kind
If you had more than two kinds of lessons
I had swimming lessons. That's it. I don't know if that really counts for this - I would hope most everyone gets taught to swim.

If the people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
You could probably find examples in the media of positive and negatives for every ethnicity imaginable now, so this seems a rather limited question.

If you had a credit card with your name on it
I did not get my first card until in College. I still have it.

If you have less than $5000 in student loans
My parents were wise enough to scrimp and save and so they had money for college for me. It probably helped that I was seven years younger than my older sister (giving more of a break between college) and also that my parents had me when they were older than average (so they had better income than if they had had me sooner). This has been a big boon for me - it is probably the reason I have never, ever been in debt my whole life. Probably part of that is habits learned from them as well, but habits or not, school is damn expensive. For law school, I managed to get a full ride scholarship, so I did not have to pay for that either (my parents would not have helped with that). But that was a second career and I was working full time while in school, so I did have income (as it turned out, more than I have now as a lawyer).

If you have no student loans (see above)

If you went to a private high school

Nope. I didn't even know what schools in my area were private.

If you went to summer camp
If you had a private tutor

I acted as a private tutor in college, but never had one myself. Never went to camp.

If you have been to Europe
I have only been there once, and I wonder if this is less significant if it was mostly to visit my grandfather, who lives over there, and whom I've only seen that one time.

If your family vacations involved staying at hotels
My parents wouldn't be caught dead camping.

If all of your clothing has been new and bought at the mall

If your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
More handmedowns! I had two handmedown cars before I got a real job and bought my own.

If there was original art in your house
The only art that I can recall was from street artists in France, and I don't think this is what this question is getting at.

If you had a phone in your room
If you had your own room

If you participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Nope, but then, I have always been a multiple-choice-test-taking-ninja, so I really didn't need to. (Any lawyers out there who could see my LSAT score and my Bar Exam score would probably weep)

If you had your own cell phone in High School
If you had your own TV in your room in High School

If you opened a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College

Never even knew what such a thing was at that time.

If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline
On several occasions.

If you ever went on a cruise with your family
Still never been on a cruise.

If your parents took you to museums and art galleries
I love museums - though this one I do wonder about, since most musuems are cheap or free to get into - how is this "privileged"?

If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
My mother made damn sure I knew how much things cost, at least generally. Probably in part because she came from such a poor family.

In the end, what I get from this list is that I grew up solidly middle class and that now I'm solidly middle class. Not really a surprise or a revelation. One tends to end up in the same class you are born into. But obviously there is mobility. My parents were born lower class and made themselves middle class, which they then passed on to me and my sister. I'm middle class and I hope my kids will be. I'll probably never be anything but middle class. Though losing a job and a medical problem could easily knock me down to lower class, as it has with so many. I try to put insurance in place against that ever happening, especially now that I have kids, but when things go to hell, often there's not a lot you can do about it.

I really don't have any thoughts on this beyond what I've said. I think what benefited me the most (and as Chickpea and Apostate pointed out in their own cases) was that I had sensible parents who passed that sensibility on to me.

1 comment:

BadTux said...

What is amusing is that some folks who had a fairly privileged upbringing deny it when they take this test and take a number of steps forward.

Here's how I score:

If you had more than 500 books at home: Yes. I was quick to scavenge books from wherever I could find them. When one building of a local school burned and they threw all the water-damaged books from their library out the upstairs window onto the school grounds to be hauled off as unsalvagable trash, I was quick to jump in and haul out all the books that looked the least bit interesting. Oh sure, they were water damaged -- wavy spines, whatever -- but they were readable, and that's all I cared about.

Lessons: Yes. Took swimming lessons when I was 7 years old at the municipal pool down the street.

That's the only things on the above that I scored a step on. Doesn't surprise me. I knew we were poor at the time. Yet you still see folks who take a step forward on all of the above whine they no, they were not privileged when they were a kid, because they didn't have staff, they didn't have a nanny, they didn't live in a mansion... or they try to poke a hole in one question or another, "yeah, but that question doesn't mean I was privileged!", completely misunderstanding that the point of correlational studies is not a perfect correlation between any particular question and class, but, rather, a high correlation between total aggregate score on the test and class as measured by things like economic status or social power. Having lots of books didn't make my family rich. But having a low aggregate score on the test pretty well correlates to what my family's true social status was.