Hear me out on this one. Every day, I’m bombarded with messages about how my generation is made up of spoiled, entitled jerks who don’t know how to do anything for themselves and expect everything handed to them on a silver platter.
Last year, I worked at the financial aid call center of the university where I earned my two worthless degrees. Unable to find a job in my field, I was forced to take a $10/hour temp job at the college, answering phone calls. (Everyone else there was a college grad working for ten bucks an hour, too, in case you’re thinking I’m just lazy or not applying myself or majored in Star Trek History or whatever.)
As you can imagine, ten dollars an hour really isn’t enough to deal with the onslaught of assholes I encountered, but that’s what the job paid and it was either that or work at a fast food place for $7.50/hr, so whatever, I did it.
Now, you probably think I had to talk to a lot of spoiled, entitled Millennials, don’t you? You’re half right: I talked to plenty of spoiled, entitled jerks, but almost none of them were Millennials. Maybe two or three were actual students; the rest were parents of students.
Quite possibly the worst asshat I talked to the entire summer was a guy who blamed the university for his son flunking out.
“I can’t believe my wife and I are paying forty thousand dollars a year to send our son to that fancy, overpriced school, and you people can’t even call and tell us when our son stops going to class and doing his homework!” he bellowed.
(For the record, this was a public university, not a fancy schmancy private school.)
Because I needed the fucking ten bucks an hour, I made an effort to be polite to this jackass when explaining that legally the school can’t call an ADULT’s parents and rat him out for cutting class. College isn’t elementary school. It’s not a daycare for 18 to 22-year-olds. It is, in fact, against the law for us to give private information about a student (like grades, attendance, whatever) to someone else without express written permission.
(Sidebar on that: If your parents hand you a bunch of papers and say you have to sign them for school, read them carefully. If one says FERPA, that’s giving someone, most likely the ‘rents, permission to access any and all school records. You are not required to list your parents or anyone on this form; if you leave it blank, all your information will be protected. I highly recommend doing that, unless you really want your parents to know about every bad grade you ever get, or it’s a condition of them paying for your education.)
So, back to Mr. Millennial Parent. He railed at me for a good ten minutes that the school had no right to suspend his sons’ financial aid due to his poor grades, because the son wouldn’t have had bad grades if his parents had been informed the minute he started cutting class. Also, why weren’t his professors showing up at his dorm room to ask why he hadn’t been to class? Why didn’t the school send someone to drag his ass out of bed and deposit him at his 8 AM American History final? Why didn’t they dispatch a team of tutors after his first flunked quiz?
If this sounds like bullshit to you, you’re right. Part of going to college is learning to take responsibility for your own shit. This school, like most universities, had a tutoring center, counseling center, medical center where you could get a note excusing you from class for pretty much anything including a runny nose, study groups, etc. There are plenty of resources, but you have to figure out how to get off your ass and go ask for help. If you can’t do that, you’re not going to manage in a real job so there’s no point in going to college (not that college guarantees you’ll get a job doing anything but answering stupid phone calls from asshats, but universities love to imply it does).
I would have liked to tell Mr. Asshat that due to privacy laws I couldn’t discuss it with him, but unfortunately after the kid flunked out he added his parents to the FERPA, I’m assuming so they could keep up with his grades from wherever the hell they were. So I had to sit there and politely explain that Son of Asshat could file an appeal to get his financial aid back. Instead of thanking me, the moron continued yelling at me for the school’s failure to be a nanny organization for his son, a legal adult.
Was his son also an entitled jerk? I have no idea. I do know it wasn’t the Millennial himself who called and yelled at me, it was his father. I never had a student yell at me for the university’s failure to remind him he had a test or drag his ass to class. Overall, I talked to far more parents who were entitled jerks than students who were.
Responsibility for going to class wasn’t the only issue, either. I had more than one person who made six figures a year complain that they couldn’t afford to send their kids to college without additional financial aid. (To be clear, everyone, regardless of family income, can get $5,500 a year in unsubsidized loans, so they weren’t completely SOL.) One woman, whose household income was $150,000, yelled at me, “This is so unfair! I know it looks like we make a lot of money, but we’re living paycheck-to-paycheck here.”
I had to bite the hell out of my tongue not to tell her how much I would love to live paycheck-to-paycheck on $150,000 a year.
Now, I know some of you are thinking you can be rich and wind up broke in certain situations beyond your control, like major medical expenses. To be clear, I had already ruled out things that would allow her child to get more aid, like massive medical bills, recent death of the person making all the family income, etc. They were simply living beyond their means. Apparently the idea of selling a polo pony had never occurred to them.
Again, it wasn’t the kid who called and complained the situation was unfair – it was the parent. So before you call my generation lazy and entitled, please do yourself a favor and take a good, long look in the mirror.