A recent segment on the PBS News Hour covered the difficulty many college graduates presently face finding a job. According to Andrew Sum, a Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, only around half of all college graduates 25 and under are working in jobs that require a college degree. The rest is working in jobs that don’t require a degree, or are not working at all. Graduates fortunate enough to be employed in jobs that do require a degree, are earning 40% more than graduates working in jobs that don’t.
One student who was interviewed, a graduate of Georgia State University, after a long search found a part-time job washing trash cans. He said he was grateful, but washing trash cans part-time didn’t pay enough to eliminate his need for food stamps. “It’s hard to call back home when you feel like you’re failing,” he said.
We all want to believe if we do what we are supposed to do – get a college degree, get good grades, and stay focused on propelling ourselves forward – things will work out. We’ll one day buy a home, invite family over for the Holidays, and live comfortably. We’ll plan for our retirement proactively, without a looming sense of anxiety, and we will be careful with what we have, but we will not find it necessary to obsess over every penny.
For many years, I subscribed to this lie of necessity. And part of me still does. If we do not believe our efforts will generate greater possibilities, who among us would have the energy to get up every day, carry on, and move in the direction of our future?