Louis Betty, a professor of French at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, recently wrote an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which he cast an ominous shadow over our futures. In essence, he said our generation is lazy, unskilled and altogether out of touch with reality. The article is scathing, and as someone who devotes most of my life to my school, my part-time jobs and my internship, it’s especially hurtful. Lazy? I’m sorry, lazy? I have half a mind to call him up and let him know just how lazy I am. Outside. By the dumpsters. We’ll settle this right here, right now.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. We go to the College of William and Mary. Good grades don’t come easy; we have to work ridiculously hard. We pull all-nighters in Earl Gregg Swem Library, running on espresso shots from Greenberry’s. On top of it all, we’re involved in part-time jobs, internships, community service and other activities that turn free time into an abstract concept out of a philosophy paper. Free time? What is free time?
Clearly, we’re not lazy, but I’m more hesitant to dismiss Betty’s other arguments. Are we unskilled? By that, I mean, are we unprepared for the real world? Are we out of touch with reality here in the bubble that is Williamsburg, Va.?
Maybe he’s right in saying that our courses don’t sufficiently prepare us for our future careers. There is only so much experience that can be gleaned from textbooks and lectures. However, he doesn’t give us credit for what we do outside the classroom. For example, has there ever been a generation that travels as extensively as we do? When our parents went to college, it was rare for someone to go abroad; now, it’s the norm. But say we don’t make it out of the country. What about our involvement in local organizations or community service? In the same way that classroom learning opens our minds and gives us the tools to prepare for the real world, our extracurricular activities give us the practice. Out of touch with the real world? I think not. We know what’s out there. We know what awaits us after we graduate.
Even if we are prepared, most of us are terrified of graduation. We’re very aware that the job market is tough and the economy is weak. Plenty of qualified candidates are shooting for the same position as us. But does that mean we should walk around with rainclouds over our heads?
For one, if we don’t believe ourselves capable or worthy of finding a job, why should potential employers think so? To don constant pessimism is to wear a badge that reads “Don’t Hire Me.” Call it corny, but there’s power in hope.
Email Samantha Farkas at firstname.lastname@example.org.