Whatever happened to progress? What happened to the idea of gradually living better than our parents? That vision is gone in America, especially among young people, replaced by a dour culture of just getting by.
Let’s leave aside the data for now and dig into what life is like for today’s young college graduates. Much depends on training and experience but one case in my mind really sticks out because this young man did everything right from secondary through college and graduate school.
He chose an Ivy education that was very expensive and focused on American and European literature, receiving very high marks throughout college, exactly as high-soaring SATs would have predicted.
At 24 with a master’s degree, he is super well-educated and erudite, not to mention mannerly, mature, and earnest. But now he confronts the one thing that his education never prepared him for: getting a job out of college. It’s incredibly cruel how this works. Once the university has cashed your final check and handed you a degree or two, they completely wash their hands of you.
He has discovered within a few weeks that the job boards like Indeed are completely useless. He sent off 100 well-formed applications with customized resumes. He heard back from 8 of them. Of those he received three interviews, only one of which called him for an in-person interview. That went well, he thought, but never heard back from them, not even so much as a polite no. They ghosted him completely.
So here he is with high credentials, the best possible education, flawless manners and speech, and is unable to get a job that fits with his years of training. In the old world, a person like this would work for a high-end publisher or perhaps an encyclopedia publisher or a cultural publication. Those jobs are in high demand now because there are ever fewer of them. Every institution out there is also hiring from within existing networks of which he is not part.
It doesn’t help that nothing about him checks any of the boxes to enable him to become tokenized in the name of diversity compliance. That’s because he is a white male, which these days serves as a mark against him, as he was daily reminded in college. . .”