Nov 102010
Authors: Sarah Millard

College students are frequently reprimanded on the fact that we have yet to encounter the “real world.” Our idealistic views of reality are not yet distorted by income taxes, health insurance and mortgages.

We come home to roommates making Ramen burritos, not multiple wailing children who latch onto our pant leg and leave jelly stains on the good furniture. We can go to our parent’s house to do laundry instead of investing hundreds of dollars on a mediocre washer and drier.

When put in this context, our lives are seemingly perfect.

And yet we disdain the older generation for insinuating that our lives are such a utopia. They have no idea what we’re going through.

And to some extent, this is true. Multiple studies shown that college students today are put under greater amounts of stress than when our parent’s were in college.

Every evening, the news reports the grim actuality of job losses in this country. With the current unemployment rate at 9.6 percent nationally, students today are faced with the very real possibility of not finding a job after graduation. Industries like electrical and nuclear engineering are booming, but then we discover that more of these jobs are being exported overseas to highly educated workers who will accept lower wages.

Then imagine how a liberal arts student feels. Seriously, it’s not very promising.

So we decide on grad school, which requires taking the Graduate Record Examination, which is lovingly referred to as the GRE. That costs $160 a go, so depending on how well you do, you could be spending $160 to $800 just trying to get into graduate school.

Then come the transcripts. Each copy is $8 plus $2.25 for shipping. Each school requires at least three official copies. And again, depending on how many schools you are applying for, this can cost up to $100.

Meanwhile, back at home, your bank account is slowly feeling the pain of mounting student debt. With CSU having the flexibility to raise tuition another 20 percent next year if administrators see it necessary, you may find yourself weeping in a corner, surrounded by piles of financial papers that you do not understand.

When the transcripts are ordered and your GRE score is acceptable, you need letters of recommendation. Again, most grad programs require three, so your next daunting task is figuring out which professors knew you the best and awkwardly asking them to take time out of their schedule to write you a letter that states you were a mediocre student at best.

Once they agree to write you a decent letter, they send emails asking for thousands of documents you’ve never even heard of but were apparently supposed to have.

You rush home, retype your resume and wonder for the next 30 minutes what you even want to do with your life while you write up a two page personal statement.

After all, how can you write a personal statement if you have no idea what statement you want to project?

Nevermind how your parents are constantly reminding you of all of the expenses you cost them, like car payments, insurance and the hefty loans they have taken out to help you pay for a degree that will virtually mean nothing if it isn’t accompanied by a master’s and a PhD.

Currently, this is where I am in my life. Hundreds of dollars later, I am no step closer to getting into grad school and only steps away from becoming another statistic of students who wither away in a cardboard box outside of a New York City subway station, all the while pushing their life’s manifesto on unsuspecting tourists.

Graduation is looming closer, and political science/journalism majors are not exactly sought after.

You pick a major depending on what you love, and then what? You realize all of your dreams and ambitions will be crushed the minute you walk across the podium.

The harsh reality is that, as students, we may not have to deal with everything an adult does.
But given the current economic climate we will unwillingly be thrown into, mixed with our poor choice of majors and hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, I would assume it’s safe to say that yes, we are all a little stressed.

Sarah Millard is senior political science major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be reached letters@collegian.

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