I’ve been reading through the “We Are the 99 Percent” and other related web sites. A constant refrain is that young adults went tens of thousands of dollars into debt for degrees and now they can’t find even minimum wage jobs. I don’t think they really understand the purpose of education.
This one complains that, “I have a Magna Cum Laude BA, and not even the grocery store will hire me.” This one says, “I’m over $100k in student loan debt and my career isn’t even in the field I went into copious amounts of debt over.” This one says, ‘My husband and I both went to college like we were “supposed” to do.’ This one says, “I am 25 yrs old and months away from a master’s degree. My bachelor’s is in literature/9-12 education…Well over $30K in student loan debt.”
Carefully missing from most of the complaints is the type of degree they got, but I think it’s fairly clear that most of these people got liberal-arts degrees. Moreover, there is no evidence that they pursued these degrees with any eye towards practical economic returns for their considerable financial investment.
I really get the sense that many of these people simply don’t understand that an education is supposed to equip you with skills that make you valuable to other people. Instead, I think these kids have somehow got the idea that college is more of a ritual you have to go through, a kind of right of passage, that entitles you to a middle-class or better life-style while pursuing a job you find interesting and emotionally fulfilling.
They’re just shocked and amazed that they’ve gone through all the rituals, got the degrees and the accolades of their professors and nobody out in the real world gives a damn.
We need to think long and hard how so many young people simply don’t understand the purpose of education. Where did they get the idea that a liberal-arts degree automatically entitled them to a middle-class income that could easily pay off tens of thousands in student loans?
I don’t think it was Wall Street.