By Vivian Sanchez – @vivalaviviannn
#HelpMeImPoor, #Brokecollegestudent, and #HireMePls are popular hashtags seen across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. They are often used as a joke in memes and posts but I believe they depict true concerns of our generation. As college students, we are thoroughly concerned about the opportunities we will have once we graduate. Is our field hiring? Are there enough chances to “make it?” We are fortunate enough to even have these concerns, when higher education is not an option for so many that do not have the opportunity or resources to attend college. But the issue begs the question, is a college degree enough to gain mobility in life?
America has a deep rooted belief in the power of the individual. For that reason there is a wide-spread notion that anyone has the power and ability to raise their class rank or socioeconomic status. This thinking, however, is flawed compared to research that suggests that it is harder for Americans to raise their level in society. The majority of the studies refer to familial ties, rather than compiling data on a person’s status next to their peers. This drives away from the aforementioned emphasis of the individual. Nonetheless, the numbers produced should produce some curiosity on our part. As college graduates have we crossed that threshold or are we fated to remain in the same status as our parents and grandparents?
According to an article by the New York Times, researchers concluded that, “About 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, and […] similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.” These numbers are highly related to much deeper rooted issues in America, of poverty and education. Those living in poor areas will have limited access to a higher quality of education. Moreover, the likelihood of having enough faculty and staff (such as counselors) to help high schoolers understand how to get in college and succeed is unlikely.
By this point, it may seem that our environment has more of an impact than originally believed and limits starting from a young age will translate into adulthood. But the case is not lost for col-lege. After all this is said and done, the research favors college degrees in the current economy. Although it is hard to move away from rough beginnings once in a higher education setting everything changes including the outcomes.
According to Time Magazine, high school graduates only earned 62 percent of what a college graduate would. The article concluded with the thought that, “Virtually everyone should consider some post-secondary training if they do not want to fall down the economic ladder.” As a first generation college student hearing from multiple people that “its about who you know not what you know,” it can feel like a stab in the heart. I want my degree to matter, and thankfully it still does.