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Gloria talks to the kids

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2006-05-22


I’m getting more recognized because of my column, but so far no one has asked me to speak at any college graduation ceremonies. And that’s a good thing. You don’t want me there. Why? Because my speech would probably go something like this:

“Yeah. So we’re all here, most of you sitting on uncomfortable chairs, waiting for me to get through my spiel. You’re stuck with me flapping my jaws, hoping I won’t bore you to death before they hand the diplomas out. Ah yes, those ever-so-valuable pieces of paper. What are they up to now, $50,000? A hundred thou? Depends on where you go, I suppose. None of you parents out there could have possibly saved the whole amount, and your kids aren’t really that special enough to get scholarships, so that means the bulk of all that education was funded by student loans. Don’t forget—payments are due in six months, right?

Which brings us to the subject of jobs. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there aren’t any jobs. Well, okay, there are SOME jobs, but the compensation offered won’t even come close to providing a living. Kids, that means you have an important decision to make—either move back home, or live in a cardboard box. And forget about heading off to the big city. The rents will probably be twice what you make in a month, but I guess you can swing it, if you find a half dozen or so people to share an apartment with you. And if you work two or three jobs.

Yeah, you’re all sitting out there thinking, ‘I have a degree, don’t I mean something to society?’ Uh, NO. And for all you suckers, er, I mean graduates who majored in English, the pain is only beginning. An education meant something years ago, but not these days. It’s not your fault, really. How were we to know jobs would be ‘outsourced?’ How were we to know there are people on the other side of the Earth who are willing to work hard and do the jobs Americans do for a fraction of the cost and none of the benefits?

But one thing we can’t export are those important retail jobs. The cool thing about college graduates working retail jobs is the conversation level goes up a bit. Chances are the person making your latté knows how to play Euchre and has written a composition or two. You might even engage in a thrilling conversation about Picasso or Socrates, maybe even bond over the demise of Hunter S. Thompson!

So all you graduates out there, don’t think your college education was a total waste of time. Think of all the parties, the friendships, the papers bought off the Internet, the poker games and the hangovers. Think of the memories. Most of all, think about that high school counselor, and how he or she emphasized a college degree would be the ticket to middle class bliss. That was four or five years and God knows how many thousands of dollars ago. The past is the past. The future awaits! And it no longer holds health insurance or a decent wage. Those days of carefree summer days and a weekly allowance are gone forever. Well, until you file for unemployment, which for some of you might occur in a few weeks. Enjoy it while it lasts! You won’t be young forever! Carpe Diem!

And for all you parents out there, that kid on your doorstep isn’t collecting money for some well-known charity, he or she IS a charity. Better start getting their old bedroom ready. It will be all they can afford on their wages—assuming they can find a job. Don’t forget about those loan payments! And as your final assignment, read “Generation Debt,” by Anya Kamenetz. Remember—we’re all in this together! You’re not alone! Thank you—and good luck.”

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