Because every somersault was a perfect somersault

It dawned on me today why the Occupy movement is mostly populated by frustrated 18 to 24 years olds camping out. The age group has been hard hit by unemployment. They have boatloads of college debt that won’t be forgiven. And then there’s this:

I don’t think he’s kidding.

Here’s what I know after putting two through college (and one currently there): The colleges make promises that can’t possibly be delivered. This young man’s $75,000 a year is one of them. My kids would come home with stories of salaries to be expected in their field. Their dad and I would smile. No, it surely wasn’t going to be the $24,000 start we had – after all there was a lot of inflation to count for in the last thirty years – but it probably wasn’t going to be the $100,000 out of school that was being tossed around. (Perhaps the young man above thinks he’s creating a bargain?)

But I must confess a lot of the problem is the way my generation parented. Every somersault was a perfect somersault. Every time they pooped in the toilet it was a rewarded event. Every achievement was fantastic. Every child was going to earn a scholarship playing soccer. Every family spent every week exhausted trying to keep up with their incredibly gifted child’s (children’s) activities. They’d drive hundreds of miles for gymnastic or dance or select this or that competitions with the ultimate understanding to shake it off because the line judge had made a mistake.

It’s not a mistake that $75,000 he’s requesting is not likely to come through.

President Obama took some heat a couple of weeks ago for saying America has gone soft. While I argue he’s not the one to mend the problem, I have to agree. We have a generation of youth wanting $75,000 a year for being a college graduate.

Now how do you fix that? How about we start with a set of realistic expectations for the next decade. Wants are not needs. You don’t graduate college with a new car and dinner out every night of the week and a long pub crawl on the weekend. We have failed a whole generation by failing to teach them they are average, not like those guys on tv, and that’s just fine.


  1. I’m now 11 years out of college, and maybe MSOE was just more realistic, but I never had those wild expectations of salary getting out of school. I had a good salary coming out, and an idea of where I could eventually get to… but nothing crazy like that.

    I think another part of the problem here is that people associate “college degree” with good money… but don’t consider what kind of college degree. Why should someone with a degree in Women’s Studies, or some other generic liberal arts degree get a good salary coming out of school? I think there is a disconnect where people don’t consider the type of degree they’re getting, and whether its worth the money.

  2. I was flabbergasted by the number of “Social Justice” degrees awarded by Marquette a couple of years ago. A degree in Social Justice? Really?

  3. Randy in Richmond says:

    In my mind kindergarten graduations, same trophy or award for just participating, not keeping score, everybody has to play so many minutes or innings, pass/fail grades, thank God he/she’s just drinking and not doing drugs, and general PC discipline across the board–most likely contribute to thinking I’ll get it all when I graduate. And having a President who for over 3 years has been preaching the evils and ills of business and capitalism while pretty much ignoring the good and rewarding aspects of same.

    And you’re right Cindy, not all leaps are 6.0 ‘s. (former scoring system)

  4. Another variable with a lot of kids is that they have never had “Intro to the Workforce” which would be a part-time job and the perspective it gives. In some communities the kid/their family is seen in a negative light if they do have a part-time job.

  5. Anonymous Politico says:

    I once dated someone with over $100,000 in student loan debt with a major in art history. I ran.

  6. J. Strupp says:

    $36,000 salary with a Big Ten marketing degree, 2 weeks out of college during the recession of 2001. I was DAMN happy back then. That was pretty darn good money to start for us. And my job actually related to my major believe it or not! Most of my college buddies were just as happy with that salary or less. If your buddy found a job pulling in over 40 grand to start, he bought the first pitcher at the bar.

    I can’t put my finger on it, but I think this sense of entitlement is much more recent than we think it is and I don’t think it’s simply attributed to being raised by the boomer generation. The 30 somethings of today generally don’t think this way and our folks are in their 60’s. I began to see the entitlement generation beginning with kids a couple of years younger than me all the way back to new college grads.

    I’m still trying to figure out what changed?

  7. I’m not kidding when I say I think it was the easy access to funding college. That fed professor salaries which fed entitlement attitudes.

  8. J. Strupp says:

    That’s definately an idea.

    And there’s a very strong possibility that we have one hell of a bubble going on in college tuition because of it.

    How’s it possible that I can spend $4,000/year on undergrad. tuition back in 2001 and pay almost double that ten years later? I don’t buy it for one minute that this trend is sustainable.

  9. I agree there’s a bubble. What I can’t do is convince the spouse that maybe college isn’t necessary for ours until that bubble breaks. It’s quite the dilemma.

  10. J. Strupp says:

    State schools are still affordable enough that it won’t bury them in debt by the time that they get out, right?

    Thankfully, mine aren’t college age for 15 years so I have some time to let things run their course.