It’s that time of year again. Summer is around the corner, the days are getting a little longer, and people from an older generation of academia are gallivanting across the country, offering their advice to cap-and-gowned college graduates in universities nationwide.
Jason Gay, a sportswriter for the Wall Street Journal, tried to take a funny and light-hearted approach to his list of real-world rules. The first? “Relax. Nobody expects anything from you for the first 80 to 90 years.”
Well, Mr. Gay, I get what you’re playing with here. I’m going to live a long life. In fact, life expectancy has been on a steady rise from 69.77 years in 1960 to 75.2 in 1990. So, if I am able regulate my exercise and my consumption habits, I will have effectively taken my sip from the proverbial fountain of youth. Okay. But what I’m not getting is this suggestion that I can just put the world on hold for a while until I feel like contributing to it. In fact, because of the state of the nation that you and your generation left me with, there’s really even less time for me to “walk around Barcelona barefoot” than there may have been for you.
Now, listen, I know Gay was kidding in his compounded list. Please don’t think I’m actually in any way upset with the author. But know that it is also no joke that with the projected longevity of our lives, millennials should be preparing for 60 or more years of work in multiple different career fields. And new college grads might also have to work a wee bit harder than previous generations at keeping themselves gainfully employed. The increasingly faster pace of changes in technology and the global economy will present a premium placed on keeping skills and knowledge current in the upcoming years. And with student debt at an all-time high, there aren’t many new graduates who will be frolicking around waiting for their interest to accrue. The time to work is now.
The good news: if scientific and health research advancements pan out as they are projected to, I will be able to live a long, healthy, fulfilling life. But please, Mr. Gay, understand that the new world for millennial college graduates is not going to stand idly by until we’re ready. It’s going to pull us in quickly and hold us there tight for a good long while.