In May 2014 I saw both my cousins graduate out of college, both my cousins came to this country 8 years ago straight from the islands of the Philippines and they’ve been job hunting ever since. I really am proud of them and, I admit, a bit jealous. They’ve worked hard and, believe me, their families didn’t have much to begin with. They live in a 500 square-foot two bedroom apartment with their parents and two other siblings, one is 16 and the youngest one is 4-years-old. They have a old, nagging women that lives below them– constantly complaining every time they flush their toilet. They say she resembles Professor Snape from the Harry Potter Series. I remember they cycled through the same clothes every week for months and months. They worked on top of going to school, bought some clothes and now they’re probably the most fashionable people I’ve met in my life. Their styles are impeccable and so is their determination to start their own lives here.
Though, I can’t help but worry about their futures. I want them to be successful and happy and find meaning in their lives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a report in 2012 saying nearly 242,000 graduates with bachelor’s degrees worked at minimum wage or below with an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. In 2013 they made a chart chart showing median weekly earnings and unemployment rates relative to what kind of degree a person holds.But I know they have a better chance at getting a job with those degrees than just having a high school diploma. I’m reading this article on the NYT: Upshot section and one of the expert sources for their article says that not having a bachelors degree would cost someone half a million dollars in the long run. I found that hard to believe but it did put my mind at ease, kinda. Luckily, the majors they studied are in-demand fields (Accounting and Chemeical Engineering) right now. But will they be happy?
I’ve recently made an oath myself to finish college, if it does take me 10 years. I’ve been on and off from school, not really knowing what exactly I wanted to do. I just finished my first year in journalism and I love it. It satisfies my eagerness to learn through interviewing people and finding the right expert sources, reading through a countless number of documents and reports online. I really enjoy the work and being accurate as possible when relaying information. It gives me a sense of value. Now the reason why I say it would take me 10 years is because I have a job. A job that doesn’t do any of the things journalism offers me, but it pays the bills. More than that, it’s paying my tuition to get through school. I wish I could say I want to quit, but deep down I just can’t. I’ve buried myself with to many obligations thanks to this job and at the same time I’d be stupid to quit with the skill set I have and with this stagnant economy. It pays real well. The only thing that would get me out of their is a layoff or my completion of a degree and finding another job.
I do believe that we’re coming to turning point in our working economy. We have to change this shitty education system that we have running and get students ready for 21st century jobs. I think some of the main reasons for this huge gap of inequality is because of the decrease in manufacturing in this country. We’ve got people of different countries ready to assemble car parts for less money. I guess you can consider that a downside for being part of a global economy. But workers of the future I’m currently reading the updated version of Tony Wagner’s “The Achievement Gap”, a book about how schools are having trouble teaching the skills children need to succeed in America. Most of the trouble comes from this countries obsession with standardize testing. I won’t go into detail but all of his talking points are backed by solid data from credible institutions or from his own experiments. It’s a great read and if you’re a parent who plans on sending their kid to school in america pick-up this book. It’s not a be-all and end-all, but it is very an interesting perspective.
That being said I’m hoping my cousins are ready. We’ve talked back and forth about these topics and I hope by me sharing my experiences in life they’ll understand the importance of finding a career that they will enjoy. It’s not going to happen for everyone, but I’d like to think we have better chances at finding a satisfying career than not.