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Question 4

Are you in your position because of your actions or the economy?

Photo prompt #4: Use ten objects to illustrate how much of your current situation you attribute to your own actions and how much to the economy. On the left: your actions; on the right: the economy.

I’ve never been one to feel entitled or blame others when something hasn’t worked in my best interest. I have a shy demeanor, avoiding rejection, but I have never been one to pass the blame for the direction my own personal choices have led me. To that end, I believe that the position I am in currently is partly due to my own decisions and partly to factors outside my control.

Expanding on that, I chose to go into the field of history and teaching — a field that I’m passionate about and have a genuine interest in. Outside factors have led to the devaluation of history and the liberal arts, especially in terms of high-salaried positions within this field. But it was my own decision (and no one else’s) to enter into this field, knowing well that the field wasn’t going to lead to a pot full of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I do not agree that my generation is the “entitlement” generation. If we were so entitled, then why are housing costs so high? Why are we racking up student loan debt while the cost of colleges continue to rise? I’ve never felt entitled to anything, but I do believe that I am warranted to have my share of expectations for how the society that I work for, contribute to, and strive to improve treats me as a citizen.

Furthermore, I believe it’s unfair for any group of individuals to call another “entitled.” In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the times are changing — fast. While technology grew and changed rapidly during our parents’ generation, it continues to evolve ever faster for ours. Globalization has been further redefined within the past decade with advancements in the Internet, and it all equates to further stress on the economy and the job market.

Therefore, for anyone to sit back and call our generation “entitled” is only advancing the problem and misconception, and I personally find it disgusting when one age group feels the need to target another and hold themselves on a soap box to justify struggles that all generations go through (in different forms). All that does is weaken our nation and further divide an already bipolar America.

For the past half century upon entering high school, the American Dream has taught us that college is the necessary path to take. College, it is told, will open up paths and jobs that are not available otherwise and move a student forward out of a public-school system designed to breed manual workers. But if what they said about college is true, why are so many degree-holders currently working at coffee shops and reception/admin jobs?

College grads should have expectations. We should expect to get a well-paying job upon graduating that we couldn’t normally find without a degree. Of course jobs should not be handed to college graduates, but they should not be forced into advanced schooling when our society doesn’t have the job market to support the growing influx of advanced degrees. Let’s face it: our government can barely afford to keep our space program operational yet our schools continue to pave students towards a college education. Likewise, college graduates should expect to make above minimum wage after graduating from college.

Otherwise, why did we go so far into debt for something that isn’t aiding us?

Expectations have changed drastically. The U.S. higher-education system has opened the floodgates and allowed too many students to attend college, thus making Bachelor’s degrees only a step up in value over high-school diplomas. Yet, what really gets me is that while this devaluation of our education is occurring, the cost of college education continues to rise, and our politicians do nothing.

And while I don’t believe I feel entitled, I think college grads like myself SHOULD feel entitled. We spent tens of thousands — hundreds of thousands — on a college degree that isn’t taking us (all) where we should be going. We’re consumers. We purchased our college experience, some went for high-end private schools, more frugal others like myself chose state schools, so we should be entitled to a society or system that values our commitment to education and the purchase we made. Yet we graduate and find that this is not the case.


  1. Phoenix Tso at 8:54 pm, October 17, 2012

    “The U.S. higher-education system has opened the floodgates and allowed too many students to attend college, thus making Bachelor’s degrees only a step up in value over high-school diplomas.”

    I don’t think this statement is true (less than 30% of Americans have a college degree, and with attending college so expensive, I find it hard to believe that the majority of Americans have access). It’s also an incredibly classist thing to say. If college is in fact the key to prosperity, everybody should have the opportunity to attend. More people attending college doesn’t devalue your degree at all. As you touch on better in the rest of your essay, there are other factors at play that don’t make a college degree the guarantee that it once was.

  2. Vincent Capone at 12:10 am, October 18, 2012

    I think you misconstrued what I meant. I do believe that the system is over-saturated for the available and demand for advanced education degrees in America. However I do not believe that college is the only recipe for success or prosperity in any sense, and I believe that is something that our public school system is gravely over-pushing onto students.