Newsflash! College kids are more depressed now than ever!
Awww. Poor babies. It must be hard to come to the realization that the world doesn’t owe you anything after years of being told that you can do whatever you’d like, as long as you want it enough.
I’m not surprised that so many college kids are stressed out, and even though my recommendation to them would be to suck it up and get over it, I actually do feel kind of bad for them. By the time most kids get to college, their parents, teachers, and counselors have been giving them a crock of horse crap for 17 years.
I was in high school in 2003 and college until 2008, and the whole time I heard a literal ton (2,000 pounds) of garbage like this:
- You can be anything you want to be!
- Get paid to do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
- Go to college.
This advice is not just bad; I believe it is truly detrimental to the psyche of kids who hear it and then get slapped in the face with reality. Our society is sending way too many kids off to college to accumulate debt and struggle through their first 10-20 years of adulthood, professionally and financially. I think it’s time that we updated the advice we are giving our young people and started telling them what they need to hear; not what we want to believe is true.
You can be anything you want to be – You can be anything you are qualified to be
When I was in school, I saw a lot of people who wanted something so bad they could taste it, but they never did a darn thing to prepare themselves for it. Jim wants to be an engineer and has a history degree. Tim just wants any job and has an engineering degree. Who is going to get hired for an engineering job: the guy who wants it or the guy who is qualified? I hope I don’t even have to answer that question.
Here’s another one. Sara got a marketing degree and LOVES animals. Tara got a marketing degree and just kinda likes animals. She was also president of the marketing club in college, had three summer internships with reputable companies, and started a small marketing firm that did projects for local businesses and student groups. Who do you think will get a marketing position with the Humane Society?
If you want to do something, stop wanting it and start making yourself qualified to do it.
Get paid to do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life – Get paid to do what you love and all the work it took to get there will probably be worth it
First, there aren’t many kids (or people for that matter) who could even tell you what they would LOVE to do for work. If someone does know, this saying makes them think they will just love their job forever.
In many careers it takes years of unfulfilling, low paying grunt work to even get to a position where you are qualified to do what you love. It is amazing how many college seniors feel entitled to their dream job immediately. I believe anyone giving career advice to a young person has a responsibility to make them aware of how difficult the work will be to get to that dream job.
Go to college – Go to college if you are good at and love math, science, or computers. Otherwise, let’s talk.
This is the worst of them all. If you like math and science, then there’s a really good chance you’re going to find a stable, well-paying job when you are done with your degree. Here are a few “top jobs” lists I found from CNN and CareerCast:
By my count, 13 of those jobs require a technical college degree (math, science, or computers), two require business degrees, four require either a certificate program or no college at all, and one requires a liberal arts degree.
Our parents and counselors are sending boatloads of kids to college for business, psychology, and liberal arts degrees, and there simply aren’t enough jobs for them. College can still make sense for the kids that want to study these things, but a default recommendation for these kids to go to college is, in my opinion, ridiculous.
In summary, I think we have a responsibility to give young people good advice. With over 50% of college freshman stressed and unhappy, it would be foolish to continue giving the same advice we have been giving. I don’t want to discourage kids from following their dreams; I want to give kids a better, more realistic idea of how to reach their dreams and how much time and money it will take to get there.