College graduates should fight for independence

For college seniors, graduation means finally entering the “real world,” but many students are taking a detour and moving home with their parents.

In a 2009 poll, 80 percent of college graduates moved in with their parents after graduation as a way to save money in a tough job market.

Just because moving home may be a necessity financially, seniors should not use it as an excuse to put off the job hunt. Moving home shouldn’t be the default option.

Moving home after graduation has been my biggest fear this semester. I have enjoyed the freedom and independence of living on my own for the last four years. Although I know moving home is always an option, I try to pretend it isn’t so I’m motivated to find a job.

The millennial generation (people 18 to 29 years old) has been called lazy, unmotivated and even spoiled. I would like to think most college students do not want to associate themselves with these negative stereotypes.

In the Pew Research Center study, “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change,” the millennial generation was the only generation that didn’t mention work ethic as one of its “principal claims of distinctiveness.”

Millennials surveyed said their technology use, pop culture, liberal nature and intelligence make their generation unique. Sadly, work ethic was mentioned by only 5 percent of the surveyed group, the same percentage that mentioned clothing and fashion.

I resent this depiction of our generation because I see many motivated students at St. Thomas. These students have spent the last four years working hard in and out of the classroom so that they can get the most out of their college experience, graduate with a degree and be prepared for the “real world.”

For these hard-working, motivated students moving home after graduation will be temporary, because they are driven to be independent and do not want their parents to hold their hands any longer.

I would hope the percentage of hard-working, motivated students at St. Thomas outweighs those who are lazy and unmotivated, but we all know there are some students who have only done the bare minimum during college.

These students have usually relied on their parents to hand them everything in life, including money for rent, food, gas or tuition.

I have seen evidence of this firsthand, and students who have grown up like this often view moving home after graduation as the norm. Some actually look forward to it because they will be able to sit in their parents’ basement without a care in the world as their parents cook them dinner, wash their clothes and provide them with everything they could possibly need.

These perks may seem nice, but didn’t we go to college so we could be independent from our parents? Students like this think having a college degree means jobs will be handed to them. If they can’t easily find a job because of the poor job market, they move home without even making the effort to apply for jobs and live independently.

The unemployment rate may be 7.3 percent in Minnesota, and there may have been 36,000 jobs cut across the U.S. last year, but this should not discourage us. It should definitely not stop us from filling out job applications and making an effort.

College graduates should not be discouraged by the terrible state of the job market or by the high percentage of college graduates who have moved home. Moving home may be a necessity, but it is important to treat it as a step on the way to independence, not as a destination.

Being a college graduate should give students a sense of pride, but it is not an end. It is a beginning. Proud graduates should be motivated to fight for their independence and should not settle for their parents standing over their shoulders, steering them through every move they make.

Moving home may become a reality for many students because of the poor economy and job market, and that’s acceptable, as long as graduates ensure it is only a temporary solution. Graduates need to stay motivated and optimistic so they can find a job and break free from their parents. Our generation is better than the unmotivated stereotype we are associated with, so let’s prove it.

Brian Matthews can be reached at

One Reply to “College graduates should fight for independence”

  1. You are part of the generation that has been well documented due to the wealth of the generations before you. As a member of this generation, you are capable of receiving the benefits of schooling in masses, financial freedom most probably paid for from your parents or by grants. I paid my way through college and was enlisted in the Marines Corps from 1989-1993.
    I am proud of the fact that you are among the FEW… in regards to the populous of Millenials . that have finished school. Do it on your OWN… BE proud of being AMERICAN. BUY AMERICAN , BE RESPECTFUL.

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