Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Millennials and college

One of the articles on the Today show this morning was about the youngest current generation of adults: Millennials. I am proudly in the middle of Generation X, and my future bride is just as proud to be squarely in the middle of the Millennials.

Here are some of the facts that define the generation according to the show this morning...
  • Ninety million strong, making it the largest generation alive
  • 75% are on Social Media, hands down the largest generation represented on FB
  • 25% do not have a declared religion, the most of any generation
  • One in five have posted a video of themselves online
  • The best way to distinguish one in the wild is you can't see their eyes because they walk everywhere with their heads down looking at their phones
And while most Millennials won't argue those points and aren't angered by them at all, this last fact makes them furious...
  • This generation will be crushingly disappointed when they graduate from college and find out they aren't as special as they were led to believe.
I've talked to Alli extensively about this last point, and have heard it be the topic of more conversations with her peers than anything else. Every child born from the BabyBoomers until today have been taught and retaught and urged and re urged towards the idea that a college degree gives you a better future than not having one. And on at least some level that is true for every generation, every generation except Millennials that is.

Generation X saw the decline of factories and mills as the fallback jobs they once were for those who weren't smart enough or interested enough to be a so-called professional. But there were still brick & mortar jobs to be had, the same for our parents, the Boomers. But unlike those times, this current generation is falling victim to the same technology they love so much, and the same job that once employed five to ten people now only requires one person and a computer.

The issue I take with this is not that technology is stripping away manpower jobs, but the fact that these poor kids were and still are being force fed the college magic beans. "Go to college and you'll be guaranteed a job!" I understand adults need to be responsible for their own issues and crying, "Life's not fair!" will only get you limited sympathy, but I'm not feeling sorry for this generation as adults, I'm feeling sorry for how they were treated as impressionable teenagers. Under the direction and suggestion of adults I trusted, I did a lot of things as a fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year old I would never do with the knowledge I have now; heck, we can all probably say the same thing. What frustrates me is no one is saying sorry to this group of kids-now-adults who are paying back horrendous school loans without the good jobs they were promised.

To make it worse, this group is paying back these school loans working for low wages, often at multiple jobs, and almost never in the field their degrees are in. In fact, I heard a number once that only one out of every three Millennials will ever work directly in line with their field of study. All of this while living under the constant comments they are a lazy generation who desires only instant gratification.  

There is a lot more I could rant about in regards to this but it would make the post way too long. I guess my main issue is the college thing which has been a frustration of mine since I myself was nineteen years old and saw so many young adults in the unemployment lines even though they had college degrees. All these years later, that annoyance is renewed as I see Alli's sixty thousand dollar school debt hover over her head, and no jobs for her anywhere in sight. (Certainly not for lack of looking.) 

If the next generation is indeed the future of our country, all we can hope is that they don't hold a grudge for all the lies.


Blogger Jeffrey and Melissa said...

Wow. I have quite a few arguments floating around in my head on this one. However, I am going to focus on the one I feel the most strongly I went to college. I have a Bachelors degree. I had student loans that I paid off. I DO NOT have a job. Although, I'll admit that I CHOSE to be a stay at home mom, I would not trade my college education for anything.

I think we are giving kids the wrong message about college (and have been for years). Going to college is not a prerequisite for getting a good job. In my opinion, college is about education...not job experience. I truly believe in education for the sake of education. I believe that with a strong education you will be more successful that those without one. College is an opportunity to expand the horizons of what you know, and in many different areas. That is why this generation tends to get jobs outside of their field of study. I see it as a bonus. My brother in law has a degree in microbiology. He got a job working for a pharmaceutical company a few years back, working in the lab. After working in that environment, he decided that wasn't the right job for him. Because of his strong knowledge in computers, he was able to move to a job in the IT department, within the same company. I think kids have a preconceived notion of what they want to do, and often times find that the educational path they take does not lead them to the place they thought they were going, but in many ways it opens the doors to opportunities they didn't even know existed.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I am teaching my kids that they will go to college because I believe education is important. They aren't going to college so they can get a better job...or even a job. The more you know, the more opportunities you will have. Whether it is college, the military, trade school, or doing it the 'Good Will Hunting' way and just getting books from the library. In our ever changing economy, the more know, the broader your horizons truly are, and the more doors that will be open for you.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Amen, Melissa. Well said.

We need to be pushing college for the education aspect, not the, "JOBS JOBS JOBS" bullshit. I have some friends who are still in college right now, and at the beginning of every semester each student gets an email about the importance of finishing their degree and what that means for their future job opportunities. Every student, every semester.

Like I said in my post, I've had issue for years with the propaganda fed our teenagers. These impressionable kids look up to counselors and such, but unfortunately those adults aren't giving a full, clear view of all the options or the fact that there even are options.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Hollie said...

I'm going to jump in here. I teach at a university but I do NOT think that college is for everyone. "Learning" if for everyone but I think that can happen in a multitude of different ways.

Some high school graduates can immediately become employed at.....let's say, Subway. They can learn the business and eventualy own their own store(s) making more money than some of the college graduates.

On the other hand, college education will open doors for you faster than a high school diploma. It will also help you keep a job when te company starts downsizing, etc.

There are a lot of ways to look at this dilemna and I think that in todays world, it's not a cut and dry answer that works for everyone Maybe a 2-year tech. school will be enough to get someone where they want to be. I think every student needs to evaluate their own goals and see how and what type of education will get them there.

My heart goes out to the students left with a huge loan and an income that doesn't cover it.

3:30 AM  

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