The American Dream can be defined as- “a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful.” (Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary) As we watch our country’s struggle throughout financial crises, we, as citizens, are torn in the belief that the American Dream is still possible. Although the outlook for our country includes events ranging from an apocalypse to another Great Depression, I am optimistic my “American Dream” can still be achieved, although it might be difficult.
Although the Merriam-Webster Dictionary pinned the nail straight on the head, I see my American Dream as one with one day having a husband (who I do not divorce), children, a job teaching 2nd grade preferably here in Cortland, and a big brick house complete with a two-car garage and a vast backyard. I am aware that this essay is not about how my life should look like in about 10 years, but it is about if this dream is possible to becoming a reality. By the looks of our economy, by a college student’s perspective, the sky rocketing prices of education and the cost of living in a middle-class household, my American Dreams may be put on hold.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “Between 1999–2000 and 2009–10, prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions rose 37 percent, and prices at private institutions rose 25 percent, after adjustment for inflation.” (“Tuition Costs for Colleges and Universities”) Everyone tells students to go to college to get an education, because without one, one will go nowhere in life. If I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be a millionaire, therefore not needing to be in college. Although having an education is very important to make any sort of significant amount of money in one’s life, sometimes it is impossible for many middleclass households to put multiple children through a 4-year institute.
I find the amount of tuition many colleges are charging is ridiculous. Since the recession, it seems prices in all aspects of life have been raised, especially education. I understand college is important to succeed in a particular career, but a student has options. There are many alternatives to spending unnecessary amounts of money on 4-year institutions. One of which is going to a community school. Community college is a sufficient alternative for saving significant amounts of money. Communtiy colleges are also very apprpriate for many professions that require less schooling like criminal justice, firefighting or even nursing, all of which are professions with substantial incomes. Why waste money on an expensive 4-year school to land the same job? Another solution to spending less money on education is to not go to college at all. I know this might sound bad first hearing it, but in many cases, parents and teachers are the driving pressure for students to go to college. We have been told ever since we were adolescents that we need to be something impressive when we grow up, but what if the student does not want to be something that requires going to a 4-year institution. If the parents and teachers truly let the students figure out exactly what they want to do with their future, then many families could possibly save a lot of money, making the American dream much easier to be achieved.
Another issue that usually results from going to college has raised much concern for the graduating seniors: the job outlook. The recession has played a large role in the loss of jobs, as well as the difficulty to be hired. After the economic downfall, recent college graduates paid the price. “New college graduates had 40% fewer job prospects,” says Hibuh Yousuf of “CNN Money”. Due to the stats like this, many graduates believe that this is still true, and in some cases, it is, depending on the field of choice, but there is a solution to this problem. NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) states, “Students earning engineering degrees have seen some of the highest salary offers.”(Baden) They also go on to advocate that, “Students earning engineering degrees have seen some of the highest salary offers. As a group, the average salary offered to engineering majors rose 2.8 percent from last year’s average, to $60,291. The average salary offered to petroleum engineering graduates grew 7.1 percent to $82,740, making it the highest-paid major, according to the report.” (Baden) As one can tell, jobs in the science and math fields are much needed and have an impressive job outlook. If one choses a career that they enjoy and has a good job outlook, then the American Dream is not that impossible after all.
No one ever said it would be easy, but I believe the American Dream is still alive, even for us poor college students. I feel as though through the recent hardships our country has faced many people believe the American dream can no longer be achieved, but they only think in those terms because America has become lazy and we have forgotten how to work for what we want in life. Unfortunately, there is no solution for America to be more motivated, but the future is truly in our hands, and we have the choice to fight for it.