I've been thinking about what it is that could be encouraging for 20 something year olds these days. The price of living is sky high, jobs are scarce, the environment is being assaulted on every front, the Middle East constantly threatens to explode (If North Korea doesn't beat them to it) , and there are mean people out there everywhere. I sought a little input from friends on this question, hoping to boost the spirits of a couple of 20 somethings I know who are struggling with the "Why Bother Blues". Specifically, I wondered how to encourage these post college kids who wonder about the value of graduate school when it is so costly and there are limited jobs. I got some answers.
For one thing, have you ever heard anyone declare that he or she regretted furthering their education? Wether we are talking about finishing high school, getting an undergraduate degree, getting a masters degree or completing a professional degree, no one seems to regret the expense in either time or money for such an endeavor. Education opens professional and career doors as well as personal doors. The people you meet while studying tend to be engaging and intelligent and often strong friendships evolve out of shared passions. These educational and personal experiences also build strength, confidence and the ability to take on new challenges. What's not to like? Money.....
My focus group and I seem to agree (from our vantage point in life) that money should not be an obstacle to continuing one's education. Yes, it is scary and cumbersome to take out yet another $50,000 - $80,000 in student loans but money will take care of itself. There are ways to get some of that debt forgiven, if you don't mind being adventuresome and contributing time to undeserved communities. And loans can be reconfigured to be paid off in smaller increments over 20+ years. What the heck! Without the higher education, your career opportunities and earning potential are limited. So what if it takes 20+ years to pay it off? You are working in a field you enjoy and you are being adequately compensated. There is also hope that the Obama administration will offer some relief, one way or another, for people with student loans. You never know what the future will hold and it is possible that, again, one way or another, your financial situation will improve. People marry people who have strong earning potential and no student loans. Inevitably and morbidly, parents will someday die and a house may come into your hands. Who knows what is out there?
And that very nicely plays into the bottom line: faith. Tough one for me to accept but it's true. You really do have to have faith that things will work out. You have to dream. You have to plan. You have to find and feed your passion. You have to take chances You have to act as if. And, as my friend Megan says, in the end, you have to let go because the outcome is always unknown. As frightening as letting go can be, it can also be freeing. Letting go is the top of the roller coaster. Eyes wide open or eyes shut tight, it doesn't matter. You are free falling and you can enjoy the fall or you can worry about the fall. So let the wind fly into your face and jump into grad school, jump into life.