A newer iteration of the American Dream is that now college education is touted as necessary in order to achieve success, or at least garner a higher income. Little is noted; however, what a high price is paid for this dream and how often it becomes a nightmare of debt often without the benefit of a career based on that college degree, if one is earned at all. What is often lost amidst the drive for degrees in careers that require a college education is that a student actually care about the field rather than the money. The message that many hear is that money is the key to the dream even if the interest or talent isn’t present and also that the jobs are limitless for anyone who gets a degree.
It’s hard to get an alternative message across that says, while money is certainly a big consideration, it should not be the only factor in career choice. Often the dream is following ones dream despite the money, but more significant for almost every young person starting school who is told that college is necessary for a successful dream is the fact that there are not enough college-level careers available if every student who hears the never-ending mantra “you gotta go to college to get a good job and make money” was actually able to follow that goal of a college education. Sure, it’s a positive thing to tell all first graders that they can and should go to college, but the raw fact is that the inequities in education across school systems and within school systems bar many from that goal, but more to the point, someone has to clean the bathrooms and pick the tomatoes and work the mundane jobs that allow those who can get to and through college without accruing unmanageable debt find the dream.
Maybe instead of lying to the kids about the possibilities available to everyone, we ought to get to the real basic path of education which is to give all students the opportunity to achieve literacy, become knowledgeable about what is going on around them and learn how to think independently and make decisions about the choices, both personal and political that affect them and all of us.