Friday, December 19, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: My generation is NOT spoiled (mostly)

I'd first like to start off this post with a cartoon from

Now, I know most of my older readers will probably be unhappy and proclaim "Well, that's just a generalization! Not all old people are like this!"

The fact that you have to use the "not all X" argument says something: you recognize that there is indeed a problem, but yet you want to try to water it down by trying to say there's a few good apples in a barrel that seems to keep yelling at my generation for being "too" connected or "too" whiny or *gasp* asking for a job!

But here's the real kicker: my generation is having to fight an uphill battle in an economy that favors those who should be retiring.

Yes, I just did make that statement. And I'm not in the least bit sorry about it.

Now, I can hear the demands for examples and facts. I can hear the stories of my generation "having everything handed to us" and that we were "raised in a society that says you can have it all now" and that there are "no morals anymore".

Let me just shut you down in the most eloquent way possible: my story.

You see, I was not raised in a household that said "if you want something, all you have to do is ask". The truth couldn't be farther from that; I worked for and earned almost everything I wanted or set out to acquire, my own college education included. I didn't get good grades for looking nice or being a teacher's pet; I spent ridiculous amounts of hours doing homework and studying so I could make a life for myself, struggling especially with math and science. I was raised by a mother who took care of three children on her own, one of whom being a handicapped child. I'm going to a private university that costs close to $112,000 over the course of 4 years, but my family pays a small fraction of the cost with the scholarships I earned and maintain with grades, band, work-study, and engagement in school activities. I'm running this blog to earn a little extra money and I recently accepted an offer to be a contributor for a college life advice section on a website that is trying to help college-bound students get in contact with universities across the United States. I am applying for grad school next year so I can earn my M.A. in 2018 and eventually become a college professor.

I try so. freaking. hard. And I am getting so sick of hearing this crap about my generation being lazy when variations of my story echo across the country. Two of my friends had to transfer to schools closer to home because their families came across tough economic times. I can name you about five of my friends who have graduated but can't find a job in their field and, at best, starting with minimum wage jobs just to get by.

This isn't your good 'ol economy of the 1950's, ladies and gentlemen. This wasn't the age where you could take a summer job at the local burger joint and earn the money to pay for a year of college; nowadays, a burger joint paying a student minimum wage for 260 days out of the year for 8 hours a day can't even pay for one year at Stephen F. Austin State University, for example, even with in-state tuition. Let me give you some exact numbers:

One year's salary on federal minimum wage: $15,080
One year's expected cost at SFA (in-state): $23,782

Granted, a student could potentially earn scholarship money to cover the costs or take out a loan, but even then those are quickly snapped up. We're also talking a nearly $8,000 gap here at a state university; a $32,000 scholarship for state universities is largely unheard of, and SFA's highest scholarship is at $16,000 for 4 years. And loans? With morbidly high interest rates, we'll get suckered in to paying them off for virtually the rest of our lives.

I'm definitely not mad at most people in the older generations; a majority of the people I have encountered have been extremely sympathetic since they've had children go through college. However, when I hear talking heads on TV say we're privileged or spoiled, see cartoons like this, or see more bills in Congress that want to cut education funds or increase student loan interest rates, I get mad.

We, the millennials, the post-Y2K generation, are not asking for degrees to be handed to us. We are not asking for jobs we don't deserve. We are asking for the same chance you all had. We are asking for the madness to end that leaves most of us without jobs or in low-paying positions (see: the unnecessary jokes made to Starbucks baristas).

We're asking for the land of the free that was trumpeted to us through elementary school. We're asking for the opportunity that was promised as long as we stayed in school, worked hard, and had upstanding character.

That's all we want.

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