Tomorrow the college where I teach is holding their graduation. The students will hear the usual congratulations and exhortations to go out into the world and “live your passion”, “achieve your goals”, and so on and so forth.
This past week I have been asking my graduating students just what their biggest fear is leaving school. The answer didn’t surprise me all that much — paying off their student debt. They are worn down already staring at that mountain of debt.
I thought back to when I went to college in the early 1970’s. During those days at City College of New York I paid a few hundred dollars per semester. I was able to work a job as a NY Telephone Company cable splicer earning $45,000 a year (with overtime) and go to school at night and pay off my student costs. It wasn’t a big deal paying for the education. The harder job was getting into college in the first place. Admission requirements were very, very high and just earning the privilege to sit in a college classroom was an achievement.
In those days I believed, absolutely, that a college degree would allow me to “flourish” once I left school.
Today the promise of flourishing isn’t there for many young people. In spite of an education and hard work and perseverance, they feel as if there is not only no place for them to flourish but there is no CHANCE for them to flourish.
I would like to tell all my students and graduating students that yes there is a chance to flourish. It will take even more hard work…even more dedication…even more desire. That’s just the way it is today.
In order to have a CHANCE we need to do the one thing that is the hardest for any human being to do and that’s to CHANGE. Then we’ll all FLOURISH.