Hello; I am a Millennial with an unpopular opinion.
I think everyone is wrong about my generation. I really believe that we are uniquely situated in history to create the new economy from nothing. First, we have to understand and overcome our challenges, so let’s cover those first.
We are quite possibly the first generation to grow up in a vastly different world than our parents. Everything about our daily lives has changed in the time it took us to grow into adults. Everything about the way that we see the possibilities that await in our future has changed; if it hasn’t, it’s time to update our perspectives because the future that waits for us in the next 20 years will be so far removed from the history of the world thus far that it would have been nearly impossible to have imagined it 20 years ago, when many of us were born or were small children.
All of this makes us the first generation that was unable to get adequate information from our parents about how to go about our lives. Our parents could tell us about love, but couldn’t anticipate “ghosting”; Our parents could tell us about finances, but they didn’t know that overdraft fees would become a multi-billion dollar a year market in the US alone; Our parents could tell us about investing, but couldn’t anticipate that the stock market would plummet and completely reimagine itself several times since we became old enough to invest in it; Our parents could tell us how to write a resume, but couldn’t really explain how to use the internet to market ourselves professionally or teach us the basic computer skills that have become perhaps the most widely relevant job skill.
It’s not that our parents were worse than any other Generation’s parents were; we were simply both lost in the New World together, at the same time. Or, simply, you can’t teach a skill you still haven’t learned.
So, here we are out in the new world, almost completely alone, and I feel that a great deal of us are spinning our tires — the one thing I have to give our critics credit for being completely right about. They’re right. We are having a lot of trouble gaining traction in this new and shifting economy. We are by far a more depressed and anxious generation than the ones that have come before us. We are a more unemployed generation than many generations that have come before us in the same period of our lives. We have more debt by far than generations previous to us. This last point isn’t because we, on the whole, spend more frivolously than those who have come before us; in fact, the contrary is true. We have become a far more frugal and financially conservative generation as a whole than the ones that preceded us.
Much of this comes largely because our student debt has skyrocketed over the last 20 years.
“Here’s a quick breakdown of how schools in each category performed, looking at data reported by ranked schools that were included in editions of the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings from 1995 to 2015:
- The average tuition and fees at private National Universities jumped 179 percent.
- Out-of-state tuition and fees at public universities rose 226 percent since 1995.
- In-state tuition and fees at public National Universities grew the most, increasing a staggering 296 percent.”
Despite all of that, we’ve acheived some amazing milestones, and even more so when we work together, but more on that next week in the conclusion to this three part series.