The prevalence of a ‘me-first’ mentality

From the Mound

By Benjamin Chase
Posted 3/16/24

In this From the Mound, the writer examines a recent decision by the South Dakota Board of Regents

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The prevalence of a ‘me-first’ mentality

From the Mound


“You know talking about you makes me smile
But every once in a while
I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one, oh my, me my”

“I Wanna Talk About Me” — Toby Keith

The late Toby Keith was actually not the first choice for “I Wanna Talk About Me” by songwriter Bobby Braddock, a County Music Hall of Fame songwriter who’s been the writer behind 13 number-one songs in his life.

No, the song was intended for the debut album of Blake Shelton. However, Shelton’s reputation in the industry at the time was of singing “sweet” songs, such as “Austin” and the song did not test well with him singing it.

That led Braddock to reach out to Keith, who had done similar songs with a similar spoken word style in the past and some level of bravado to the lyrics.

The song had an unfortunate release date of August 20, 2001, less than a month before terrorist attacks on the country at large would significantly change the mindset of the average American.

This song was swooped up in a bit of chest-thumping mentality that prevailed after 9/11 and took off, as did Keith’s follow-up album that strongly capitalized on patriotic sentiments at the time to give the singer a string of chart-topping songs.

The prevailing message in the song is that one partner in the relationship feels that their needs are not being met in the conversations in the household. Rather than focus the conversation on the partner, instead, the writer wants the focus to shift to them and their life.

This past week, our own South Dakota Board of Regents made an announcement that was extremely frustrating, but not all that surprising in the grand scheme of things.

The announcement was that the long-standing reciprocity agreement with colleges in Minnesota, where students from that state would receive in-state tuition rates to attend South Dakota schools, while the same applied to South Dakota students who attended schools in Minnesota, would be ending, by decision of the S.D. board.

Why, you may ask?

The S.D. Board of Regents stated that their decision was part of a goal to make South Dakota schools more attractive to students, and in fact, the board announced that Minnesota students would be included on the Dakota Advantage financial aid program that would bring those students to in-state tuition rates to attend South Dakota schools.

So, really, the reciprocity was ended one direction.

Students who want to consider a school in Minnesota but happen to graduate from South Dakota high school would now face out-of-state tuition rates.

The announcement was made just last week, and it was effective immediately, meaning that students who had been admitted - and had accepted admission, in many cases - to Minnesota schools would be now facing out-of-state rates in fall 2024, something that could have significantly influenced the decision on a school.

The Regents’ argument is that they will be attracting more students, and more students will bring in more money, which will allow for better facilities.

I’m one of thousands of students who has utilized the reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and South Dakota to receive an education.

With excellent test scores and an activities resume that was consistently questioned as not real — when you graduate with 15 classmates, you can be involved in plenty of extracurriculars with those same people, I had very good response sending out college applications to some of the biggest and best business schools in the country as a senior.

The University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, and Penn State were all elite schools for an undergraduate to get into, but the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business was accepting just its second-ever freshman class, and I’d already had experience attending football camps on the campus, so I knew it well.

I received priority admission to each school to which I applied, ultimately choosing to go to Minnesota, and that early/priority admission decision needed to be made before Christmas in my senior year, which is why this decision two-plus months after S.D. senior students would have needed to make those sorts of decisions is really a poor look for the Regents.

Beyond that, while the quality of S.D. schools has risen significantly, especially in business offerings, since I matriculated to be a Golden Gopher, there is simply a long, long way for those programs to go to reach the esteem that other nationally recognized schools have achieved through multiple facets, and that’s okay!

That doesn’t put down the South Dakota schools…it offers a choice for exceptional students who truly want an elite educational experience.

There are many issues spinning around that are being looked at primarily through a “what can/will it do for me” or “how can this be altered to better benefit me” lens, politically, socially, and in so many aspects of life.

There are always those who end up feeling the brunt of these self-focused decisions, and as they often do, this short-sighted decision will affect children.

The really upsetting thing is that this decision is likely to cause those elite South Dakota students who do want to pursue a high-end university to get there and never return to the state.

Fortunately for those students who already had their decision locked in for fall of 2024, the Minnesota Board of Regents has chosen to honor in-state rates for those students beginning this coming fall, and throughout their undergraduate experience. However, that applies only to those students who are incoming in fall 2024 or are already enrolled. Future generations will have to consider Southwest State University in Marshall akin to the University of Georgia or University of Washington for cost.

That’s focusing on “me” by the Regents, not the future of the students in the state.