The new American dream

Many millenials are forgoing the traditional staples of the American dream — homeownership, children, and independence from parents — not always due to choice, but to student loan debt.
While the definition of the American dream has changed with each generation, the ideals behind it remain the same — the freedom to achieve your dream, regardless of background.

One reason for the shift to student loans is the cost of college rising disproportionately to the rate of inflation. The cost to attend a public university has doubled in 15 years.

Student loans are an industry that’s ballooned to $1.5 trillion. In the current student loan system, the only ones profiting are the debt collectors being paid $800 million to collect student loan debt. The situation is so bad that the top federal official in charge of monitoring student loans stepped down after claiming the government was protecting predatory lenders.

In Texas, state funding for college has gone down while enrollment has only been increasing. A college degree has become devalued.

In order to avoid college debt, students are losing sleep so they can get good grades to receive scholarship money. The school system has become increasingly competitive — all because of our rising awareness of student debt. Though opportunities for scholarships exist, they won’t be handed to you — you have to search for them yourself.

While the system isn’t as helpful, Gen Z needs to remain realistic. You can’t major in music and expect to find a high paying job right out college. An education is valuable, but it isn’t worth going into deep debt for an unnecessary degree.

If you want to succeed in a competitive field, accept that you will have to work harder than your parents did to achieve the same goals. Have backup dreams, have realistic dreams, and come to terms with the idea that our lives are always changing. Your foolproof plan to your dream job may not work, but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying again. Many people that find success in competitive creative fields such as writing, journalism or art, had a backup career first — and they find ways to incorporate their passions in their current job.

Outside of PreAP and AP classes, and especially outside of Marcus, it’s common to hear students not even considering college. Many don’t realize even with average grades, it’s possible to get into a good school, and even get scholarship money. However college may not be the best option for everyone — and that’s okay. Our school needs to help students who are not going to college develop life plans and career aspirations. We are only hurting ourselves by viewing college as the only viable option after school.

No matter what path you choose, receiving some form of education after high school is important. We are creating a group of high school graduates who are stuck in a cycle of laziness — either still living in their parent’s home or barely making it by with a starter job and apartment. This generation and Millennials already have the stereotype of being lazy — don’t let it stay that way.

Millennials, the ones most affected by rising tuition rates and high interest rates, always rank last in voter turnout. If we want any real change to happen to the cost of education, we need to vote, and research candidates that will assist in stopping the rising cost of college.

This generation’s pathway to the American dream is different from our parents. We’ll need to work harder to achieve the dream of our parents, but it’s not impossible. We shouldn’t accept student debt as an inevitable future, or view a four year college college as the only viable option.