Temporary economy shouldn’t alter lifelong goals

New York Times columnist David Brooks outlined a few lesser-known principles this week that may make those of us headed for graduation in May want to beg Bradley to take a few credits off our transcripts.
A brief summary: America needs to produce 10 million jobs to regain its footing, and it’s likely unemployment will linger around 8 percent for several years to come. Men are worse off than women, with an average of 185 women graduating college for every 100 men that have done so at age 22.
But, if history repeats itself, almost all college grads entering the job market are out of luck in one way. During the 1981 recession, college graduates earned an average of 25 percent less than graduates of similar demographics had before and continued to make less money throughout their careers as earning rates didn’t increase at faster paces.
“Recession kids can expect to earn $100,000 less than their luckier cohorts,” Brooks explained. 
He also says those of us who enter the workforce during a recession are more likely to be psychologically altered and less likely to obtain or switch to a professional level job throughout our careers.
Yikes.
Thinking back to why we decided to come to college, it’s likely we share at least one common thread – we felt an education was necessary to prepare us and propel us into the careers of our dreams.
But as a large percent of us face graduation in one of the worst economies in decades, that dream career seems a lot further out of reach, even with all the proper lines on our resumes.
As a journalism major, I’ve found myself especially dumbstruck in the face of folding publications, hiring freezes, layoffs and buyouts. Generally, people tell me to consider other fields or go to graduate school when I tell them I want to be a writer.
I went to the fall job fair to explore these other options. I interviewed for jobs that weren’t in line with my goals, preparing to sacrifice that vision in my head of my large New York City office with the title of editor on my nameplate.
But then I had a revelation – if I didn’t care what I did with my future, I wouldn’t have come to Bradley and worked hard to acquire an education worth tens of thousands of dollars.
But I do care about what I do with my future. I didn’t just come to college to acquire a job that pays a salary and benefits – which is why I’ve decided to stick to my plan of trying to climb up as high as I can on the publishing ladder, even if there’s a couple rungs missing along the way.
Although this recession may affect us “unlucky ones” for the rest of our lives, there’s no reason to sacrifice everything we’ve dreamed up until now. If we’re not going to be making a lot of money, we at least deserve to be doing something we love.
Emily Regenold is a senior journalism major from Cincinnati. She is the Scout managing editor.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to eregenold@mail.bradley.edu.