I’m turning 25 next March. When I was 16 years old, I imagined myself very differently at 25. I narrated my lavish lifestyle using my naive imagination. I was supposed to have a nice house, a ton of money, and an engagement ring. I have neither of these checked off on my list. I don’t know if I have myself to blame or if society is working against me. Most of my 20 something friends are in a similar situation and we feel robbed of what we were promised when we were kids.
Living in southern Europe has further confirmed the fears for my generation. At this point, I don’t know who is worse off, the Italians or the Spanish? Unemployment rates are skyrocketing among young people, and we are blaming ourselves. We are highly educated. Most of us have a bachelors degree, if not a masters. When the universities came to recruit at my high school in Ontario, Canada, they all had a really nice powerpoint presentation prepared for us. Photos of smiling, multicultural campuses, students reading under the trees – it was a form of sugary propaganda. We were the fresh meat, ready for student debt slaughter. My education cost me nearly $30,000 for 4 years, and I lived at home. Two years after graduation, I’m making around €1,200 which is the equivalent of around $1,800 CAD. After paying my rent and other living expenses, it’s hard to make a dent on my student loan payments.
Staying in Canada wouldn’t have provided me with a world of opportunities either. I would have had to move to a bigger city, rent an expensive bachelor pad, and probably work as a bartender or waitress. I prefer teaching English as a second language overseas. My former classmates opted to enter the public education system, forcing them to move halfway across the country where rent is three times higher than Ontario, and it’s really damn cold. I don’t want to come across as a brat who isn’t willing to make life changes in order to find career options. What I’m pissed off about is that our post-secondary institutions are nothing but a money making scam.
The university brain-washing must stop. I was sold an idea that was completely untrue. My teachers and professors promoted the overpriced North American university system as if it were a godsend, when after all, I could have avoided the student loan hell and got an E.S.L teaching certificate that costs around $1,000. It would have provided me with the same amount of opportunities, especially abroad.
Education is supposed to be the key to freedom, but it has been nothing but a heavy chain preventing me from achieving any sense of financial independence. The average cost of tuition at a reasonably sized Spanish university is around €1,000/year, while Canadian universities start at around $3,500-4000 annually, excluding textbooks. If I’m going to be unemployed or earning minimum wage, I’d like to be debt free at least, but it seems that ship has already sailed.