Why is this important? Our physical world is deteriorating, but financial considerations, not cause based action, is dominating the young generation.
Case in point: As a freshman my son entered the engineering program at the University of Arizona (UA) this Fall. He said the teacher had each student in the UA Engineering Leadership course answer this question “why are you in the engineering program?” The vast majority of students gave a response that truly shocked him; 80% of students said “because the money is good”.
Only a small fraction of students, including my son, said “because I like to design solutions to innovatively solve problems”. Very sad, right? As I prepare to publish a book announcing a new career guidance method, I am not shocked.
After reviewing 1,000’s of pages of college and career guidance material with my research team over the last 2.5 years, the following reality has become clear: tuition costs are so high that many students are narrowly focused on choosing majors and careers that will help them pay off their tuition debt.
Runaway tuition costs have caused massive student and parent resentment, one UA Geology professor recently revealed to me. When you are enslaved by huge college debt, you are focused on the quickest way to pay that debt off, not on what the most meaningful career might be. College tuition has grown 149% since 1970, soaring above other financial product cost indexes, so students feel more squeezed than ever before.
Even if a student is more focused on finding meaningful work, instead of the most lucrative work, they feel lost in the college labyrinth. Statistics tell the story: students on average change majors 3-6 times. And each time a student changes a major it can add $20,000 to their tuition bill. The higher education system is like a dilapidated bus station, holding onto outdated practices, like requiring $1,000.00 general education courses that have no real benefit to the typical student.
Is it any wonder that statistics reveal the current college student population has the least hope of any previous generation? They are tasked with cleaning up the worst mess humanity has ever faced, and meanwhile, even less mentorship is available than ever before. The average caseload for a college counselor is about 1 advisor for every 200 students. Moreover, high schools and colleges are being overrun with skyrocketing mental health issues, and high school and college advisors have become hospital emergency room just trying to manage the overflow of students in crisis. It is rare for there to be deeper mentoring relationships amidst the hustle and bustle of students trying to fulfill their major requirements. The typical student I mentor tells me that they are lucky if they get a 15 minute conversation with a teacher.
So how can we expect the younger generation to address pressing, complex societal level issues when they are setup to feel lost when making the jump to college? Students are expected to go from a small set of course choices in high school to choosing from over 200 majors at the typical college? That is like asking a teenager who has navigated the local Ace Hardware store to now walk into a massive Amazon warehouse and efficiently navigate to the right package (i.e., major).
And even if a student thinks they want to go into a field, most fields (e. g., medicine, engineering) have 30-50 subfields within them. How can a student methodically sift through their options so they do not end up with career regret down the road? Unfotunately, bitter end of life career choice regret is the norm. One of the most common regrets of those near death is choice of career.
Essentially, the youngest generation is caught in a Catch 22: studies show they care more about meaning versus money, but they must pay the bills. This forces them to into a deeply existential reality. Even once idealistic students often choose the major leading to more money in this scenario. Can you now see why mental health issues are dominating college campuses?
Meanwhile, a recent statistic is that about 45% of people would not wish their current job on even their worst enemy!! Increasingly, there is a recognition that human at work are trapped in a Crisis of Meaning. I agree wholeheartedly. Many of my patients over the last 20 years have psychological problems because their work is not deeply meaningful.
If humanity wishes to prevent its own extinction, it must do a better job of shepherding each of its young individuals to find a career path that matters not only to their wallet, but to the world.
When a young person is mentored through a rigorous process where they can discover a career path that allows them to see how their collection of talents can change the world around them, that creates a perpetually positive chain reaction. They then realize that the fulfillment that comes from changing the world gives a far greater joy than the temporary feel good from the coins of Rome. And when they are inspired, they become truly exceptional at what they do, and they rise to the top of their field, and the money follows. But finding the right career path requires a systematic mentorship process.
My career guidance method, Precisely Engineered Career Gudance, is designed to ensure each person is connected to a career path that will give them the most sustainable honor and awe. Honor from facing and overcoming their limiters, and awe because they participated in something they previously thought was impossible. Great career guidance teaches you the Art of Impossible, which is also the title of a book I reference widely in my upcoming book.
The future of the world is not going to be secured by the government, but by the creativity of individuals who step up to the plate and take on cause-based leadership roles. But taking on a cause demands commitment, and a higher altitude perspective than one focused on your wallet.
We need to mentor our young more thoughtfully, because a more cause-based human is necessary to find innovative solutions to survival related problems. After listening to, and mentoring, 100’s of high school and college students over two decades, it is clear that college is most often a place where students get lost.
After 20 years of intimate work with over a 1,000 people from all walks of life, I am committed to helping humanity develop a reliably engineered career guidance method. So college can be a launchpad, not a darkly lit labyrinth. If you want to join me in the movement I am leading to evolve career guidance beyond its shallow “take a personality test” only history, sign up here. to be notifed of when my book comes out