If you’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of being anywhere within earshot of me this year, you’ve probably heard me grumble and moan something about the job market, my lack of health insurance or the impending exams I have to take to avoid the job market (I know, I’m a real hoot of a gal). But the truth is, I’m only a college junior and I’m worried about this shit.
So imagine how pissed off I get when I read comments like these telling Caitlin that’s she’s “ignorant” and implying that she’s lazy, coddled and stupid, especially for not knowing what a Roth IRA is.
Frankly, society, I’m pissed.
Caitlin, like the rest of us, was told that if you go to college, you will get a high paying job. It’s the American Dream. You bust your balls to get into a school like Wesleyan and you should have it made, right?
Well, yeah, they did when they graduated twenty years ago.
I don’t want this to sound like a fatalistic rant and say none of you guys will ever find a job after college. No, my point is that the economy is so fucking different than when your parents went to school that it’s not the same game anymore. The rules are different. And fewer people are winning.
What upsets me most is that we as a generation have let them define us as lazy, coddled and stupid. We buy into their explanations that the reason 48% of college graduates move back in with their parents after college is that we’re spoiled and conditioned to entitlement. We let them convince us that despite busting our asses to earn a college degree, we are unambitious because we cannot get a job.
This is horse shit. All of it. Our parent’s generation had the reigns of power long before any of us knew what college was and were playing with transformers under the kitchen table. They voted in Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush again–none of whom were particularly suited for building the economic foundation that would encourage job growth or financial independence for the young. Each congressional administration thus far has done nothing to alleviate the unbelievable hike in college costs. The maximum Pell Grant has remained at $4,050 all four years of my college education, while nearly every college in the goddamned country has raised its tuition each successive year. In fact, each year, it seems, they do their best to make sure that students are completely dependent on loans instead of grants for education costs and make it harder and harder for graduates to declare bankruptcy if these costs become too much.
The facts don’t lead me to believe that college students and graduates are lazy, coddled and stupid. Just the contrary. But the value of a college degree is declining each and every year as the costs to go to school keep climbing. Now, jobs that used to require only a BA now want a MA. Entry-level job wages have remained stagnant as housing, health and food costs have continued to rise with inflation. Many jobs you can get out of college no longer provide health insurance or retirement benefits and the job security you can expect from such a position is minimal.
But our parent’s generation, they want you to believe that you’re not working hard enough. That you’re unmotivated. That the jobs are there, you just aren’t looking in the right places.
It’s bullshit, all of it, and I’m sick of hearing it. Your movies, your sitcoms and your culture spoonfed us with a promise that knowledge is power and now we’re coming to terms with the reality that our education means little in the world they created. Frankly, society, I’m pissed.
Some facts from a book a completely recommend anyone and everyone to read called Strapped by Tamara Draut:
- By 1994, males 25-24 without college degrees were earning roughly the same amount as their similarly educated grandparents earned in 1949.
- The maximum Pell Grant award, the nation’s premier program for helping poor kids pay for college, covers about one-third of the costs of a four-year college today. It covered three-quarters in the 1970s.
- Three-quarters of full-time college students are holding down jobs.
- In 1972, a young-adult male with a bachelor’s degree or higher earned on average $52,087 (2002 dollars). In 2002, young male college grads earned $48,955.
- In 2002, Gen Xers worked on average 45.6 hours a week, nearly three hours more than young Baby Boomers worked in 1977.
- Roughly 33 percent, or one in three, of those aged 18 to 34 are without health insurance, the highest percentage of any group.
- Since 1992-93 the average college grad’s student loan debt has grown from $12,100 to $19,300 in 2003 (inflation-adjusted dollars).
- Between 1995 and 2002, rents in nearly all of the largest metropolitan areas rose astronomically: Median rents in San Francisco ballooned 76 percent; Boston, 62 percent; San Diego; 54 percent; even median rents in less costly Denver shot up 49 percent.