10/25/2012 06:49 pm ET Updated Oct 26, 2012

College Board, Roadtrip Nation: Enough About Bayonets, Binders And Big Bird, Students Call for Politicians to Talk About ED

College: sure, it’s parodied as four years of avoiding real work while your parents support you to improve beer pong skills. But the truth is, the college years make up one of the greatest explorations of your life. You’re exposed to complex chemical reactions, French government debacles, metaphors in old British books—and the world around you begins to open up wide. The constant exercising of your brain in new and challenging ways teaches you how to think; it builds a foundation. But as college students around the country write last-minute research papers while chugging questionable energy drinks, the fact remains: most of this country won’t ever step foot on a college campus.

The path to higher education is not the norm. In fact, if you went back to 9th grade and looked at 100 people around you, you’d find that only 70 of those individuals would even graduate high school. Of those, only 44 people would join you in college. And only 21 of the original 100 will obtain a bachelor’s degree.# Which means that while you’re doing fraternity rushes, your peers who didn’t make it to college are rushing to work—most likely, at jobs that will pay them 84% less over a lifetime than you’ll make when you graduate.# You’re doing keg stands…they’re standing in line for food stamps, Medicaid, or unemployment. You’re studying for mid-terms...they have a greater likelihood of being mid-term in a pregnancy with a child that is also likely to drop out of high school. You get the point.

You might be thinking, “Sucks for them, but I made it to college. This doesn’t affect me anymore.” But it affects everyone. When people are unable to cultivate their own unique skills, there are fewer people to cure cancer, design bridges or invent sweet new apps for that smartphone of yours that you’ll play on while a professor is talking (hey, no judgment. We all do it). The issue seeps into every facet of our society, crippling our health, national security, and reducing our competitiveness in the global economy. The proof is in the numbers: The U.S. now ranks 25th in math and 21st in science out of 30 countries we compete with.# Let’s face it: Other countries are kicking our ass.

It’s clear that our education system needs some serious help. And since education is a crucial element in providing the tools needed to figure out who you are and what you love, HuffPost College is working with an organization called Roadtrip Nation, which made it their objective to jumpstart this crisis. They’ve partnered with the College Board’s “Don’t Forget Ed” campaign in the hopes of making education a priority in the upcoming election.

Ultimately, the goal here is to spread the word and get politicians to address the needs of students. Tell a friend; tweet a senator; make a meme about it with a picture of a sad kitten and post it to Reddit—anything to make your voice heard. With the presidential election just weeks away, everyone wants to talk about the economy. But nothing determines the future of our economy like education.

Alyssa Frank
Managing Editor, Roadtrip Nation