The World Is Changing Fast: 3 Reasons Why We Need To Help Millennials Adjust

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Young adults today are in a weird spot. Our most recent wave of societal issues are nothing like the ones from generation’s past. But why should we help millennials when no other generation got any special treatment?

I’ll tell you why. Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, anxiety and depression are consuming minds at alarming rates, and heavy debt early in life has become a social expectation. While our youth have much more power at their disposal, they are also prone to face many more issues. 

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a historical precedent for a beast like Twitter…. The way we approach our problems in this new world will have to be different.  Handouts are certainly not the answer. We need to help millennials by pushing them to persevere through a community atmosphere.

Below I have outlined the areas I believe need the most focus.

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1. Technology is Changing Faster Than People Are

Our world has evolved more over the last 10 years than it did the previous century. Brick and mortar stores are falling off the map, cars basically drive themselves, libraries are located in our pockets, and we connect with thousands of friends on a daily basis (sort of). 

And the change is only getting faster.

It took the landline telephone 75 years to hit 50 million users. Airplanes took 68 years, automobiles 62 years, light bulbs 46 years, and television 22 years to hit that same mark..

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter did it in four, three, and two years respectively…

And oh yeah, Angry Birds did it in 35 days.

Entrepreneurs are producing more innovative and disruptive creations than ever before thanks improving digital platforms. Big data and artificial intelligence are making our lives so much more intuitive and connected to everything around us.

So then why do we need to help millennials?

Skills that used to bring families financial stability have been dipping into irrelevance faster than Uber Eats can pick you up a cup of Starbucks coffee.

Disruption is an incredible thing. It’s one of the greatest benefits of a free market in my opinion. But the rate at which is happening is unprecedented.

Our thirst for thousands of social connections have reduced quality interactions to skin deep gestures.  Constant streams of data and notifications are in our hands on a minute by minute basis.

Humans haven’t had time to adapt to a world of that many stimuli. The more advanced we become more we will ultimately be capable of as a people. But also, the more “human” short circuits we will ultimately experience.

We need to help millennials by building real connections with them. Not skin deep networking. Become a mentor that is there for quality face to face interaction.

2. Mental Health Issue Are Skyrocketing

Anxiety and depression amongst millennials have risen at alarming rates over the last few decades.

The Higher Education Research Institute at U.C.L.A. has tracked incoming undergraduate freshman stress levels since 1985. The percentage of freshman reporting that they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” more than doubled by 2016. It went from roughly 18 percent to 41 percent. (Dennis-Tiwary, 2017)

A similar study College Health Association found that undergraduate students who faced overwhelming stress has risen from 50% in 2009 to 62% in 2016.

The Internet and American Life Project done by the Pew Research Center technology experts in 2012 concluded that millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives. Their findings support that millennials can more effectively find and sift through large amounts of information because of their adaptability to technology.

However, those same people may be made impatient, subject to frequent distraction, desperate for constant entertainment, and more susceptible to various psychological disorders because of their dependence on technology. (Soltan 2012)

Sorry. I’m not trying to throw research that supports my opinion in your face. But the data, while not perfect, is statistically significant.

Mental health issues are growing and over stimulation has something to do with it. Help millennials in your life by pushing them to live their lives in the present moment. Go outdoors and have quality conversation. Disconnect from daily distraction as much as possible and enjoy what’s real. 

3. Massive Debt Has Become a Social Expectation

Finally, my “favorite” issue because it is literally slapping me in the face as I write – student loan debt.

Expectations on millennials from family, friends and employers to get a college degree has become absurd in our culture today. Young people without a degree are being stereotyped as less intelligent or incapable amongst their peer groups and in the workforce.

There are plenty of extremely successful individuals that never went to college. Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, Anna Wintour, Michael Dell, and John D. Rockefeller to name a few, so don’t be discouraged if college is not the right choice for you.

I don’t think anyone expects 18 year olds to understand the consequences of long term debt.  Most kids don’t even take out their own loans. But we have been socially conditioned to take on massive amounts of it. College can be great, but young adults start their lives under massive financial stress is not.

Take the time to learn about student loans before making any commitments. Here’s what it’s come to when deciding to pony up the $100k+ bill of higher education.

High school diplomas don’t cut it financially

Because of the over-saturation of college graduates, getting a decent job out of high school is nearly unheard of today. The average salary amongst people whose highest form of degree is a high school diploma is around $35,000 a year assuming no layoffs or firings.

Most companies that offer starting salaries above $50,000 a year will not even review applications from workers without a college degree. In 2016 the New York Times reported that unemployment amongst young people with only a high school degree was 17.8%. While underemployment amongst that same group was as high as 33%.

The common exception to that rule is jobs that require intense physical labor. But that’s not an easy career to maintain over the course of one’s life.

College definitely helps you make more money but….

Going to college is definitely a stepping stone to higher income. The average salary for workers with a bachelor’s degree was about $59,124 in 2017.

That’s great, so isn’t the answer just to work hard and get a degree?… It’s not that simple. Cost of attendance is rising to the point where it can easily leave students with upwards of $50,000 in debt (the average being about $37,000) and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Young adults today literally have to put their lives on hold. Living with your parents at age 25, getting married at 35+, and only having 1 kid (2 max) have become the social and financial norms.

Just 26% of millennials are married. When they were the age that Millennials are right now, 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the Silent Generation were already married according to the Pew Research Center

69% of those millennials not married also said they would like to be married. But currently lack what they believe to be the prerequisite income.

“Millennials are also the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations (Gen Xers and Boomers) had at the same stage of their life cycles.” – PEW Research Center

There are so many students with a college level education, and not enough demand for the positions they qualify for. The working benefits of a Master’s Degree or PHD are akin to a Bachelor’s Degree 20 years ago. We need to start approaching this issue differently before it gets even further out of hand.

Tuition prices keep getting worse

I’ve heard so many individuals brag about how they paid their debt through hard work and grit. Kids today are just lazy and want everything handed to them they say.

In a sense maybe they’re right. I do most of my best work in my undies on the couch. But as far as an entire generation struggling for financial stability because they’re lazy. That’s just absurd.

Here is a breakdown by decade of the rise in college tuition payments reported by CNBC in 2018.

Private nonprofit tuition of four-year institutions

  • 1987-1988: $15,160
  • 1997-1998: $21,020
  • 2007-2008: $27,520
  • 2017-2018: $34,740

Public tuition four-year institution

  • 1987-1988: $3,190
  • 1997-1998: $4,740
  • 2007-2008: $7,280
  • 2017-2018: $9,970

The rise in tuition far outpaces the growth of annual household income and monthly repayments are becoming more difficult to manage. Thus far in 2018 average monthly payments for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years is a whopping $351 according to Student Loan Hero.

There are plenty of millennials, like myself, starting out with payments over $800 a month. And it’s changing our lives in ways we need to let people know about.

Buying a home, getting married, or having kids won’t be on our radar any time soon. We’ll have figure out the whole biological clock thing later.

I’m personally banking on that having kids in your mid forties will be a safe option in the near future. If not, oh well i guess.

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