Make graduates worried about their future | Lynn Ashby
THE AUDITORIUM – Hello, class of 2022. It’s your start! (hold for applause) This is the time you write funny slogans on your cap, get your picture taken with your parents, and have to sit here while a boring speaker tells you to come on and to disassemble.
If you don’t know the direction now, it’s too late. So opening speeches are like receiving a roadmap once you’ve arrived at your destination.
But still, I’ll give you some advice. Don’t trust anyone who calls you “Dude”. Don’t buy a used car with watermarks or bullet holes. Don’t eat at a restaurant that has a “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring” sign in the window. This means they are understaffed and the leader is in the witness protection program. Service will be slow and tasteless.
Something to do. Admiral William McRaven caused a stir a few years ago in a commencement speech at UT which recommended: always make your bed. If you work well, someone else will make your bed for you.
Because of the pandemic, for two years you went to school by Zoom, by e-mail, without attending
class and not see your teachers. You can sleep until noon and wear a bathrobe all day. And you think, “What’s your point?” But you also missed the real meaning of college life: drunken parties, football games, and the search for a wealthy spouse.
After you graduate, you can move in with your parents, sleep until noon, and wear a bathrobe all the time
daytime. (hold for applause) That brings us to jobs. There are 11.5 million job vacancies. Most of them require employees to come to work Monday through Friday, wear decent clothes, and take orders from their superior. Stay at home. To get a job, you must have a resume. Don’t stress that you graduated from Pecos Community College & Arc Welding School with a major in locksmith apprenticeship. Simply affirm that you graduated from Yale. It’s pretty close.
Don’t pay attention to summer time. This will disrupt your circadian rhythm. If you’re an hour late for work, say you thought you were in Denver on Mountain Standard Time.
You, with a degree in philosophy or Peruvian history, may have a harder time getting a job. To learn how to say “Please proceed to the next window for your order”. If you can fake a smile, there are openings as a Walmart greeter. The Houston Texans are looking for a quarterback who won’t cost them more than $10 million to sit out the season, which they paid their former quarterback who was charged with 22 civil harassment lawsuits sexual. The Ukrainian army is recruiting deminers.
The people here at Pecos Community College & Arc Welding School hope you find a job so they can shower you with relentless begging. No organization runs a more widespread program than universities that offer money to their graduates.
Speaking of money, in “Hamlet”, Polonius advises his son, Laertes, before he begins his visit to Paris and college, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”. Good news, graduates. You can borrow because there is a free lunch. I’m referring to your student debt. Let me set the scene. Over the past 30 years, tuition at public four-year colleges has risen from $4,160 to $10,740, and at private, nonprofit institutions tuition has risen from $19,360. $ to $38,070, adjusted for inflation. I have never been able to understand why these tuition fees are so expensive, increasing so much more than, say, the income of most Americans.
To pay these ridiculously expensive tuition fees, the need for student loans has exploded. Today, more than half of students leave school in debt. Total student loan debt (including federal and private loans) is $1.75 trillion owed by more than 45 million people. This amounts to $28,950 owed per borrower on average. (The average Texas student borrows $27,001 while 55% of them graduate in debt.)
About 92% of all this debt is federal student loans; the remaining amount is made up of private student loans. About a fifth of federal student loan borrowers have attended for-profit colleges, those slimy outfits that promise graduates fortunes, but they don’t. Half of the students who leave these for-profit schools end up defaulting on their loans. There is a program that allows you to cancel your debt. Don’t count on it: 98% of applicants are rejected.
But help may be on the way. During his 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden said the government should pardon at least $10,000 per person. (Joe made a lot of campaign promises, like reversing the decision that immigrants should be excluded because they might have a virus. So 120,000 of them are waiting on the other side of the Rio.) That $10,000 per student would cost $321 billion, but it would still cost leaving nearly 70 percent with debt. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats want the rebate to be $50,000 and Sen. Bernie Sanders says the entire amount should be wiped out. Due to the COVID-19 disaster, debt payments have been postponed six times. Now the deadline is August 31. And what about the 40% of students who took out loans but did not graduate within the required six years?
Forgiving the full amount could cause problems. Where does that put those students and their parents who saved and saved to pay off their student loans? Is forgiveness retroactive? Do they get a discount? Can a nation with $30.4 trillion in debt — that’s $91,368 for every American, including you and me — wipe out more IOUs?
Finally, assuming you find work, next year another class of graduating students will be sitting in those same chairs, all thinking the same thing: “When I graduate, how can I take his job? ” You be a year ahead. To be busy. (hold to moan)
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