As of this summer we will be the parents of three college graduate daughters. We are engaged in plenty of the typical graduation rituals and family celebrations that go along with it. A good time will be had by all.
In the case of our oldest who graduated college at the tender age of 20, we already know that specific nature of the degree notwithstanding, it serves as a proxy for all kinds of things from employment to marriage. If what we witness is any indication, this is pretty much the standard operating procedure. Young people who actually finished their degrees, are reasonably articulate, and know how to work the “system” can land decent paying jobs, even outside of their degree fields.
One of the biggest mental hurdles for the millennial woman however, is not falling prey to the cultural memes of “Find yourself!”, “See the world!”, and “Experience life!” We have explained to our daughters that there is never a time-if you’re still breathing- when you’re not experiencing life.
Thankfully, our daughters see the advantage of saving their money and planning their lives with their as yet nonexistent families in mind. Now. Because life is the sum total of the choices you make today, not something that just happens when and how you desire it.
Why does experiencing life necessarily mean a life free of encumbrance? We were 21 and 23 years old with three children under the age of two. If that wasn’t life, I don’t know what was. Which brings me to the point of this -hopefully short- post.
Experts said “terrifying” demographic shifts had created a “deficit” of educated men and a growing problem of “leftover” professional women, with female graduates vastly outnumbering males in in many countries.
The study led by Yale University, involved interviews with 150 women undergoing egg freezing at eight clinics.
Researchers found that in more than 90 per cent of cases, the women were attempting to buy extra time because they could not find a partner to settle down with, amid a “dearth of educated men”.
I am college educated. My useless degree is shoved in our filing cabinet somewhere and I probably couldn’t find it if you paid me. My husband is not, but he is well educated in his specific career field and is constantly ensuring that his skill set doesn’t become obsolete.
In reality, he is far more educated than I am and has used what has been an admittedly fortuitous trajectory, considerable talent, and focus into a life that has had him the primary breadwinner for our entire marriage and the sole breadwinner for the last two decades of it.
Suppose when I met him I’d decided that because he wasn’t in college like I was, he wasn’t “worthy” of my time or attention, especially considering his rather edgy way of life at the time. I might have easily been just another statistic like the women in these articles, particularly since I am a black woman. The disparity of educational accomplishment between black men and women is greater than perhaps all other demographics combined.
Last month I had breakfast with a friend who was genuinely shocked when, as we conversed, I noted that my husband didn’t have a college degree. She “never would have thought that”. Her husband had met up with mine for the express purpose of picking his brain because he was that impressed and convinced that my husband might be able to provide some insight, even though he is both older and more formally educated than my husband.
It is with this frame of reference in mind that I remind our daughters that they will be making a grave mistake by limiting themselves strictly to suitors who are formally educated, using the acquisition of a college degree as their standard.
There is indeed, even with the stipulations I note, a dearth of marriageable men.
Given that reality, it makes very little sense to dismiss well earning electricians, plumbers, or other such tradesmen out of the sense of snobbery our culture works hard to infuse into women based on the fact that they have a college degree.