I can just see myself now, in some bar sitting next to the Piano Man, rambling on about how I could do so much more with my life, just like John at the Bar and Davie, who’s still in the Navy, and probably will be for life. And Lord knows the last thing I want is to be some washed-up hipster quoting Billy Joel.
More and more, we are hearing about the increasing difficulty young people have paying for a college education. President Barack Obama won the hearts of many young adults by maintaining policies which make paying off student loans more manageable. The Federal Department of Education outlines the “Pay As You Earn” program that allows loans to be paid off as a proportion of one’s income. Still, however, along with the increase in talk about paying for college, it has come to my own collegiate consciousness that which jobs pay the most is also a hot topic. It has recently become evident that my dream of a happy-go-lucky four years of reading books and “learning what I love” is a popped bubble of unrealistic expectations. You tell someone you’re majoring in English, and you get a sad, knowing, look that makes you flash forward ten years to thousands of dollars of debt and unpaid student loans that all came from the not-so-lucrative practice of extensive reading in college. It isn’t fair that people should not be able to do what they truly love because money is the most important indicator of success. Incentives must also be provided for the “soft” sciences, the humanities, the “liberal arts.” John Lennon said, “When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.” So in all of these monetary concerns, and stresses about majors and internships and eventual professions and paychecks that we are consumed with on a daily basis, are we really happy? It is an old saying that if you do something you love, you won’t ever have to work a day in your life. Yet it seems that doesn’t matter much anymore, because a working class is what keeps our nation moving, not a bunch of passionate hipsters at bars, right?
Although John and Billy have their thoughts on what people need to be happy, and what the point of living is if you can’t do what you love, the harsh reality is that money matters. When I graduate from this expensive out-of-state university, and Mommy and Daddy stop holding my hand, I will have bills to pay just like the rest of the world. I’ll have to get a job, which means some golden opportunity will need to present itself, because at this rate I won’t be able to sustain a very comfortable American dream with my degree in English Literature. I could shoot for the logical option, and go to grad school for Psychology. Settle down eventually. Live an utterly normal life. Or I could check out the classifieds: “Wanted: Professional Philosophical Thinker; Book Analyst; Champion of Introspection.” But what if those imaginary listings were not my only options? What if teachers made great pay, and were given freedom to teach a flexible and extensive curriculum? What if publishing companies looked for young aspiring authors to hire to brainstorm new novel ideas? What if actual political teams, not just news media, looked for credible English majors to become political analysts on the global scale? You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. John and Billy have my back.
McAdams is a member of
the class of 2017.