Increased costs of living offer bleak future for graduates


A wise fortune cookie once told me, “You’re aging rapidly in college.” I am a young, convivial and delicate soul who is 42 years old at heart and refuses to age. From a naïve kid’s standpoint, I was totally devastated to learn such hilariously unfortunate news from a fortune cookie.

I began to contemplate my future after realizing that I’m growing up at an exponential rate, and retirement and death are within sight. So I started my very own personal savings fund that will guarantee me some money after paying off all my tuition in this fast-paced world. I can retire and be like “The Little Prince” by moving to my little island with a smile on my face.

I started to save up money by finding a summer job because I know college will only get me to the “degree” part, not the “money” part as purported by the trustworthy academic pamphlet. I saved 20 percent from every paycheck to make sure I’ll have adequate money to spend by the time I’m old and feeble. I’ll actually start to live my American dream as an 80-year-old alcoholic grandpa whose rickety body is hopelessly confined to a wheelchair. As I was preparing for my post-retirement plan, I started to appreciate that the lowly economy has given me an opportunity to think about managing my personal finances more carefully.

However, just before the semester started, I was upset that the total amount of money I’ve earned over the summer wasn’t even close enough for me to pay off my $20,000 tuition for the upcoming year.

Since when and how did college tuition become so unaffordable over the past few decades? I started to question the buying power of students in the past and students today. How does a student earn $20,000 for 12 weeks each summer working for minimum wage? For a miserable student like me today, at best, I would be able to earn a little over $4,000 over the summer with that same wage. So how does that equate to the buying power of my father, who sent me to old Rutgers? Well it doesn’t! To equate my father’s buying power back in the 1970s to today, a student would have to earn around $50 per hour just to make the amount needed for the next school year.

It takes talent for our federal government and all its presidents since Richard Nixon to take away this much value of the United States dollar. Nixon took what was left of our gold standard and took the U.S. dollar off gold, essentially making it worthless paper. And the inconvenient truth is that this generation, along with all future generations henceforth, will pay for the sins of the federal government. Our government keeps giving away money like candy by endlessly spending as if it can go on forever. At this rate, it will be no surprise if in five years the average in-state tuition for a year of college will be well over $35,000 — and this number will keep getting worse as our government continues to spend dollars that have no real value.

I sometimes imagine my future self in 60 years. He’s an 80-year-old alcoholic grandpa who is unsurprisingly confined in a wheelchair because I’ve already predicted that part just paragraphs ago. Surprisingly, he’s embroiled in huge debt and is depressed in the midst of an economic depression caused by the government spending from this decade. Thank God I wasn’t smart enough to get into the Ivy League, or my debt would’ve been through the roof. That’s one more reason to make myself feel better for not getting into good schools.

College is way too expensive and unaffordable. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe I should just forgo college and join the bottom 8.5 percent of dropouts who don’t have college degrees, such as Mark Zuckerberg and LeBron James, by becoming a freelance humorous columnist. Despite what is happening to the climbing tuition today, I don’t blame the states or the colleges and professors for earning high salaries because all they’re doing is trying to keep up with the declining purchasing power of the dollar. Even at a college professor’s salary today, they still do not have the purchasing power that a college professor had back in the 1970s. Instead, I attribute and blame the weak economy to fortune cookies because they’re deceiving little devils that give me nothing but misfortune. I think from now on I need a bigger fortune cookie so I can have a bigger and better fortune.

Henry Yeh is a School of Arts and Science sophomore majoring in sports management and accounting.

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