Guess what? When we were in high school, applying for colleges, doing sports, music, and community service to have that "well-rounded" application, no one ever imagined this as our lot. While I do believe in the value of a college education (both for the mind and the paycheck in the long run), it is amazing to me that adults in our lives sold us onto college with the idea of making money. Luckily, my parents didn't emphasize that (they just wanted us to be educated), but the parents of so many others did. Further, our teachers would in those "career clusters" we had to participate in. As long as you studied hard, you could make something of yourself.
They didn't tell us it was now more about networking. They didn't tell us that we may have to either afford to work at multiple full-time unpaid internships or do said internship and work at a part time job on top of it to pay the bills. Of course, for the latter, even if you swing the job, you still have to move to a major metropolitan area if you're not already in one. They talk, talk, talk about the importance of a budget, of the need to put money away for retirement, without realizing that there is no retirement. There are no savings, period. Many of us give up our weekends and hopes for vacations so that we can afford our rent. For many of us, moving back home is not an option (nothing in my field back home). What about grad school? I want an MBA-something that requires work experience and something I've been told to let someone else (an employer) pay for. Further, many of my friends who went to grad school or law school suffer even more, due to the increasing amount of debt and the dangers of specialization (study what you want, by any means, but don't pigeonhole yourself too much).
I know I have an opportunity for next year, something I've been very fortunate to have. However, I see the situation of several friends, who either intern (paid) full-time and still have to wait tables, who have applied to nearly 100 places with no interview and no, they won't allow you to follow up anymore, who went to law school and graduated at the top of their game with good internships only to find that no one was hiring lawyers anymore. I have friends who nailed that entry-level job only to find that it doesn't pay quite enough to live and they still need the college job on the weekends (sales associate, restaurant server) in order to even hope for anything extra. Even though they have enough, the economy takes a toll in a different way, the toll of little rest and relaxation.
People bemoan the destruction of values, of families. For many of us, values are important but survival comes first. As for families, we're told we should be independent of our families of origin and, even if we wanted to start our own, we're too poor and too unstable to do so. Trust me, God willing my own relationship survives a couple of years, I'd gladly marry my boyfriend and I always wanted to have my kids young. However, a lot of that depends on our ability to draw a steady paycheck. Everyone says the American dream is to give your kids better than what you had. Well, until I can attain something leading to that, I will not partake. Besides, a kid needs parents who are present, not parents who are working four jobs each to survive.