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The Young and the Jobless

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Today’s uncertainty is tomorrow’s unemployment. At least that’s the way it seems to most of us who are teens and young adults. And so far, no one’s told us different.

We are growing anxious. The job market is down. College tuition is up. More and more, it feels as though the deck is stacked against us, with government busy looking out for the unemployed of the present, neglecting the unemployed of the future, and the private sector ignoring the unemployed all together.

Beyond that, we face a decision that seems to be lose-lose. If we graduate high school — which, believe me, many of us do not — we have the choice to go to college (if we can get in) or start hunting for work (if we can get an interview). The former situation guarantees us hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt over our next few decades. The latter means going weeks, months or years without an income. Naturally, many of us are wary, weary and wide-eyed.

Will there be jobs awaiting us on the other end of our educations? Our leaders have confidently indicated that for most of us, the answer is No. That’s more than tough to hear after so many years being told by parents, principals and politicians that college is the golden ticket.

We do have a few good things going for us, though. There are thousands of universities in this country, and there’s one to fit the needs, academic and financial, of almost any student. We happen to have a governor who will listen to communities if they speak up. We also have a president who has the best interests of young people in mind, and has the good sense to quit enforcing “No Child Left Behind.”

But for them to do anything, first we must do something. We should remind our elected officials that while those of us under eighteen do not now have the power to vote, we will when they next run for reelection. Also, we need to demand from Governor Brown, especially, that the University of California and California State University tuition hikes be reversed, not just stopped. Californian students like myself should want to go to a U.C. or state school, but the tuition hikes and budget cuts, paired with tax breaks for those who don’t need them, have turned many of us off from applying.

Ours is the tech generation. We’re smart, we’re capable, we’re connected, we’re concerned. Now all we need is an ally.

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