To the Class of 2012 – Congratulations. You graduated college. You did what you were supposed to do. It prepared you for life after college about as well as putting nice feathers in their hair prepared the Indians to fight the invading, industrialized armies of our forefathers. Your lack of preparation isn’t your fault. You did what you were told to do.
Which really leaves me with nothing else to say to sanctimonious, deluded individuals like Bret Stephens, who in his brilliant article for The Wall Street Journal, attacked college graduates for, among other things, their unjustified sense of entitlement.
Pot, meet Kettle.
Make no mistake about it, I agree with a lot of what Brett has to say: graduating college probably did require less than a heroic effort, this is likely the least prepared graduating class we’ve had in history, competition is global and fiercer than ever, employers can smell bs (though they sometimes struggle to distinguish the scent from their own), and there will always be a market for smart, driven, and prepared, good people. I believe in all of that so much, I wrote a book about it: The Young Professional: Life After College Doesn’t Have to Suck.
But Bret, give me a break. Who made the system we were put through? Who broke the system they were given? Answer: your generation, and your generation. Our grandparents’ generation overcame the Great Depression and made the world’s greatest economy. Our grandparents’ generation fought Nazism and Communism. Our grandparents’ generation still won wars.
Then their kids came along, took a goose that laid golden eggs, ate it, and told the waiter that one day down the road we would pick up the check. You can’t possibly tell me that we are somehow to blame for designing an academic system that prepares us from kindergarten to college graduation to be devoured by the first feral creature we encounter in the wild of the so-called “real world.” I’m not sure the generation that bankrupted our country with unprecedented irresponsibility and unconscionable ethical lapses should be criticizing anyone else for being entitled.
My friend in the blogosphere, Kayla Cruz (if you don’t follow her blog you should, it’s great), ended her well thought out response calling for a truce. She is clearly, as you would describe, a person who falls in your category number 4: smart, humble people who will be successful.
While I respect Kayla’s civility, I can voice no similar desire. I’m angry. I’m angry the system is broken. I’m angry your generation broke it. I’m angry people like you misplace your criticisms on us, whose only fault was trusting that what you all told us to do was good advice.
I don’t think our generation should let go of our passion. I know we have the passion and ability to claim this moment in history and make it ours (you’ve already missed your chance). If we find our passions, and channel our energies behind them to create the futures we want and deserve (yes, deserve) we will wake up one day and look back on these times with an appreciation for where we came from and what we accomplished.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I learned quickly that the system was broken. I learned quickly that I would have to work very hard to create the life I wanted. I succeeded. I know the rest of us can too, that’s why I wrote a book for all of my fellow young professionals and college graduates about just that. And when we make that success, the success your generation squandered, we might have a little celebration – after all, we’ll be entitled to it.
– John Murdock, The Young Professional