Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dude... so, like, what's a high school student to do these days?

One of us is the parent of small children and visited school this morning for a teacher conference. When the two of us got into the office later on, that experience got us talking. In particular, it got us thinking about what it must be like to be in high school these days and to be looking out at the prospects waiting for you after graduation.

What does a guidance counselor tell high school students these days? Well, at least when we were in school, kids graduating from high school had three basic options to choose from:

Behind door number one, you can pursue a higher education, whether it's college or some sort of trade school. There's never been a more expensive time to try to get a college education than now. And with millions of Americans out of work, the prospect of having Mom and Dad pay for school or being able to co-sign loans is increasingly bleak. This makes the promise of a college education more difficult than ever before to access.

That brings us to door number two – going straight into the workforce and getting a job. This is indeed a bleak prospect, with a national unemployment rate of about 9 percent. It's particularly difficult because some older Americans are underemployed as a way to get work after being laid off. As older Americans take these jobs, it's tougher for less experienced workers to obtain entry-level work.

Finally, there is door number three – serving your country by entering the military. This time-honored career is still a viable option for youth graduating from school. But, with America engaged in several ongoing conflicts and with trouble spots spanning the globe, it's a more dangerous option than it has been for years.

So, what's the solution? We don't really have one to offer, that's not the point of this post. It's mostly just an observation that for many high school students today, one of the most important promises of the American Dream (that you will inherit a world that is better off than it was in your parents' generation) is an increasingly-empty promise.

Are you or someone you know a high school student right now, looking at these options? Care to share your story? Any high school guidance counselors? What are you telling your students? Please post a comment below. We'd love to hear from you.


  1. I'm surprised at you... are you sure this isn't Obama's fault, or at least the Democrats in Mass?

    The American Dream was and always will be a false propaganda campaign. This situation you describe has been the norm for all poor people in this country for as long as this country was run by white people. Now that it suddenly applies to lower middle class like yourself it's time to care?

    Your beloved Republicans have been sending us on this path for a long time, but you never cared to notice until it affected you personally. WAKE UP!

  2. Anonymous 12:17pm, thanks for your comment. However, we're not really sure why you'd choose to bring race into the equation, or even party politics. We didn't. This is an American problem, and we prefer to believe that the American Dream is more than just "propaganda."

    We'll leave you with this quote from Barack Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream:

    "I wonder, sometimes, whether men and women in fact are capable of learning from history--whether we progress from one stage to the next in an upward course or whether we just ride the cycles of boom and bust, war and peace, ascent and decline."

  3. You are naive to think race or class don't factor in to who your American Dream applies to. Wake up to the real America! As white folk raised in middle class families you have no concept of what that means for the poor in America. To them there has never been nor ever will be an American dream. So by all means continue to believe in it because it helps you sleep at night, but know that the people you help get elected.. (ok, so maybe not this year :( ) are pulling the American Dream out from even your children's feet.

    To pretend that on a political blog written by a pair of Republican shills that party politics don't influence every word written is just plain insulting.

  4. Anonymous sounds like a Cheerleader for the next depression. And it appears the aggressive tone of the prior posts is maybe an outlet for their personal frustration or inability to have successfully experienced the American Dream. Or maybe they are just trying to stop the blog. Your original post was sincere....and not partisan or racial. It is not naive to have a dream for a better world. Didn't Martin Luther King say he had a "Dream"? Was he being racist or by my thinking, was he being a real voice for equality? Seems like that is why so many people try to come here illegally, as they dream for a better situation for themselves and their families. Maybe Anonymous needs to find a better blog or start one to express their personal frustrations and political agenda.


By submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our policies on comments noted in the sidebar.