Thursday, May 23, 2024

Some of the most basic questions about money are also central to figuring out what and who you want to be: What do I have, what do I want, how does that compare to others around me and how should I feel about it?

In The New York Times’s 10th year of publishing teenagers’ college application essays about money, work, social class and other related topics, all four writers grappled with these questions in their own ways.

How should I handle my parents making a drastic change in how they earn their living? What will I do to get money, and why? What can I learn from careful attention to physical money itself? And how should I best process the riches and poverty that coexist within feet of each other — and of me?

None of the questions have easy answers, or correct ones, necessarily. But learning to ask the hard ones is a giant step toward understanding your place in the world.

Sydney Carroll “We took ‘family owned and operated’ to a new level.”

Franklin, Tenn. — Battle Ground Academy

When you meet new people, there are things you immediately know: their hair color, their height, their fashion sense. As for me, I also immediately know who they voted for, that they’re a proud N.R.A. member, or that they support the “sanctity of life” and Southern “heritage.”

That’s because I work at my family’s carwash, so naturally my first introduction to people is their bumper stickers.

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