Joshua Kushner Confused by Kids Who Want to Work to Earn Money

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Photo: nytimes.com

This morning, we got an e-mail from billion-heir Joshua Kushner, brother of Observer owner Jared. It asked us to write about his website, UniThrive.org, an admirable project that connects undergraduates at Harvard in need of financial aid with microlenders outside of the school and federal aid systems who can help them out. According to his bio, Joshua "understands the importance of having a mentor or adviser available to help one navigate through college" because he had an older brother go to Harvard before he did. But reading through the New York Times article on UniThrive, it doesn't quite seem as though Joshua understands the students he's trying to help. (Could it be that Jared wasn't on financial aid?) Witness:

“I have friends who would spend 10 hours a week when they are not in class working at a coffee shop or in the dorms,” said Mr. Kushner, 24, referring to time that he considered wasteful. “I think the most special thing about college is not just what you do in class, but what you do out of class.”

Let's move beyond the fact that this hilariously presupposes that actually working for money is a waste of time.

Work-study paychecks don't simply get dumped back into the university's coffers — in most cases it's money that goes toward, and usually beyond, meeting the budget that the school has set down for the student's room, board, books, etc. That is, it's his or her spending money. The more they work, the more cash they'll have to spend on dinners, clothes, and most importantly, beer. It's like anybody having a job, except the school gets federal aid for kids who are registered in a work-study program. Again, just relying on loans creates a situation in which a set income is determined by the lender. Work-study enables flexibility on the part of the student, which can make life a lot less stressful. It's the same reason many students not on financial aid get jobs in college, also.

For example, Intel Chris was a tour guide (of course), paid to spread the word to closeted boys visiting from across the land that, yes, his school was filled with high-functioning homosexuals. Intel Dan was a book researcher (of course) for a thrilling-sounding title called Tabloid Justice. Intel Jessica was an underage cocktail waitress and, for a short while, a door bitch at Karma Club on Lansdowne Street in Boston. Of course.

I’m Going to Harvard. Will You Sponsor Me? [NYT]