Texas Metro News-June 16, 2018
It’s graduation season. Young people across the U. S. are graduating from high school or college making their families’ proud! They have proof they cracked opened a book every now and then. So what’s next? In the past several weeks, I have asked this question to recent college and high school graduates.
Let’s start with our college graduates. After four plus years of staying up to 3 a.m. “studying”, writing papers (courtesy of the internet), involved in campus organizations, while ensuring their parents they have not developed a substance abuse problem; young people across the globe are strutting across the stage from their respective colleges/universities with a college degree. They graduate with no clue as to what they want to do with the next stage of their lives. They accomplished graduating from college, shouldn’t that be enough? I’m confident its parents may say “No!” I remember that beautiful day in May 1998 when I graduated from Texas Southern University (All roads lead to Texas Southern University-Yes, a shameless plug). When the family gathered to take pictures with me, my mother looked towards the camera, posed and whispered to me, “You’re getting your car note in 30 days”, so sentimental mom.
From that moment, I knew I needed to add an addendum to my plan. I was already in my own apartment but now I had to be more grown-up to make enough money to now add a car note to my budget. I knew I was going into education but I did not have a job under my belt yet. So I decided to work at a temp agency while working on the additional education courses needed to be a certified teacher. See Mom, a plan! What is occurring now is graduates are completing their degrees with no clue what they want to do next. So instead of working to obtain job skills, they go straight into graduate school. Do not get me wrong; it is nothing wrong with an individual enrolling into graduate school soon after completing their undergraduate studies. The issue is when graduate school is used to “buy” them some time. At some point this generation has to face the real world. It is difficult to say you are “grown” when Mom and Dad is still paying the bills.
Let’s move on to our high school graduates. Across the United States, Generation Z walked across the stage receiving their high school diploma. The families are proud and the graduation parties commenced. After the ceremony, the congratulatory hugs and gifts, and picture taking, what’s next? In my day, you had three options: colleges, military, or get a job. The first two options are self-explanatory. The third option requires clearer instructions. My mother’s generation and up belief system is, if you are still living in their house post-graduation and do not wish to go to college or the military, the young graduate is expected to get a job in order to remain in their parent’s house. It sounds straight to the point but it is not. The addendum to the clause is The Graduate is expected to work full time to save money to be out of their parent’s house within six months to a year. Now this is where the helicopter parents missed the memo. This parenting style that allows children to work and stay at home have it easier than my generation. The theory sounds the same but it is not. When old school generation says get a job it is made clear the child is to find full-time employment. Rationale: You no longer have the constraints of school and have time to work and obtain your own money. Helicopter parents are allowing their child to remain in their house with a minimum of a part-time job with the rationale the child is trying to “find their way.” Question, they can’t “find” their way working full-time? What are they doing during that idle time? Reflecting on their life’s purpose is not what they are doing.
How can Peter Pan or Petra (gender bias) grow up if the parents are enabling the immature mentality and behavior? It’s not too late to save this generation and those following behind. Students in college, should be WORKING in order to gain experience to add to their resume along with the earned degree. This notion, “I do not want my child to work while in college” is crippling them on becoming independent. A degree without experience will not equal a career that comes with an livable wage.
For the under 18 still in grades K-12, parents should help their child(ren) by guiding them towards independence. Start by having realistic conversations on life aspirations and goals. Do not squash dreams but discuss with your child if the career they have chosen is attainable. He can’t be a professional football or basketball player if he has NEVER played the game or if he does not play he does not invest time in practicing to perfect his skills. What about your daughter? She can not be a Grammy award winner singing if she sounds like a one legged cat who has been hung up by its tail looking in the eyes of a ferocious dog. Not pretty! Or if he or she says they want to be a doctor but their math and science grades are so low you wouldn’t want them to check your pulse.
Is college for everyone? No, but a life’s plan is necessary to ensure you do not have a 30 year still living in your house working part time at a local sandwich shop. Congratulations Class of 2018. Go be great!(out of your parent’s house)~Doc Shep Speaks
Dr. Felicia N. Shepherd Twitter @getfinessed Facebook-facebook.com/fnsconsulting