TED TALK – How college loans exploit students for profit.


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Dear Young Person, -The Future is Scary.

Dear Young Person,

Grab a cup of tea, glass of water, whatever you like to drink, and sit down for five minutes. Push everything to the side that is weighing down on your mind right now, and read these words, -because advice is free or at least it is at the moment. This blog is really aimed at teenagers, but I urge everyone to carry on reading. My words may help you see the world a little differently.

If you’re about to make a major decision, choosing subjects for GCSE’s, A-Levels and university. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide on an apprenticeship or a work scheme, or you’re like my younger self and you just don’t have a clue? I could tell you that everything will be fine, that you don’t need to panic, that the future isn’t so terrifying… but I’m not writing this blog to ease your fears, I’m writing this blog to make you think.

The future is scary, but the future has possibilities, more now than ever (always remember that). The world may seem smaller due to technology, a lot of us have mobiles, tablets, or laptops, but this same technology has opened thousands of doors for job opportunities. Careers and the idea of climbing a career ladder is sadly, (or rightly), becoming an old fashioned and out-dated lifestyle. The truth is, the world is constantly changing, our parent’s generation, and their parent’s generation, all lived in a completely different world from the one we live in today, and the world of our future children and their children will be completely alien to all of us. It’s mind boggling, and some of you may be shaking your head, others will feel the small pinch of fear in their chest, but it’s evolution. Technology will always evolve, and competition, us, are pushing it at break-neck speeds as companies try to out-do each other.

So what does this have to do with you? Young person, are you worried about your future job prospects? Are your parents consciously or (most likely) subconsciously, steering you towards a career they think will earn you a big salary? When you go into school? college? university? work? are you excited by your subject/subjects? Do you want to study your subjects, or even go into work? Or are you sighing and wishing for the end of the day to come as soon as possible? (Are you that person who updates their facebook status with ‘can’t wait for five o’clock’, or ‘I wish it was the weekend but it’s only Tuesday?’ Are you doing what you do because you enjoy it? Or is it simply money and something good to have on your CV? Are you living your life the way you want to, or is it because you want to make your parents, friends, and family, proud? Have you ever stopped to think, ‘if money wasn’t a concern, where would I be right now? what would I be doing?’

Life is both too short and too long. Unfortunately most of us don’t realize this until something terrible happens (like it did with me), or until we are far too old to do anything about it. I wish my older self could travel back in time and talk to my younger self, but then again that’s hindsight for you, and that is why I’m trying to help young people now. I’m not telling you to do nothing, because simply doing nothing will not help you, we have built a society that demands our time, and you have to do something with your life, it’s healthy for your mind.

Now, this is the important bit so pay close attention. Don’t, and I mean, do not. Do not choose your subjects, or job, because of money or status. Choose your subjects, job, everything you do in life, because it makes you happy, because it fills you with excitement and puts a bounce in your step, because it makes you smile every morning when you wake up. You’re probably shaking your head or rolling your eyes, but this is a simple truth I am about to tell you. If you truly enjoy your work, it won’t feel like work and you are more likely to do well in your life. You are more likely to succeed. If you are unhappy in your job or subjects, it will always feel like hard work and you are less likely to succeed. Some of you may still choose or feel pressured down certain routes, and some of you may be content with that, and some or you may not be, but I am telling you now, life is far too long and far too short to be doing something that makes you miserable, regardless of how much money it has attached to it. It may even be that our current education system is just not for you, and as much as that may be frowned upon, that is a completely logically thing to conclude.

‘But’ you say, ‘everyone is different, everyone has different pressures?’ Well, it comes to this really. Money is always the noose around people’s necks. Whether it’s paying a mortgage, rent, bills, school fees, tax, etc, money is always, the ever changing variable. Money comes into your bank account and then it’s gone again, it’s like some dark magic out of Harry Potter. The thing is, young person, you have to decide what it is you need, over what it is you want. A lot of the things you think you need, are just actually things you want. Take a few minutes, or half an hour, or an hour, and really think deeply about the things you need, yes, need. What is it in your life that you would never ever be able to live without? You’ll possibly put down laptop and mobile, but dig deeper. It’s not the materialistic item you need, it’s the ability to contact people and the desire to stay in touch with the outer world. You need a means to communicate, but you don’t need a ridiculously priced shiny smartphone or laptop to do so. See past the materialistic items that you use everyday and think about their function as opposed to what they are. Also think about the people in your life, some of them are more important than you give them credit for, which people truly care about your well-being, and truly listen to what you say? Write a list, write a short or long list, but write a list and then go over it again and pick out the important things. This might take you a few hours, or a few days, or even months and years, but it will be worthwhile.

Young person, when you realize what it is in life that is truly important to you, then you can start to think about what makes you happy, and what you actually enjoy. Perhaps it’s traveling that you enjoy, my first port of call would be to look at airlines, cruise ships, world tours, etc, find out what sort of work is available and think about whether or not you would be happy to do it. Maybe you love food, look at restaurants, chefs, hospitality, maybe you could be a critique or write articles? Maybe you’re a musician or would love to learn a musical instrument, god with the internet there is music in practically everything, you don’t have to be a famous pop star! Music is used in advertisements, games, films, etc, etc. There are so many opportunities out there, despite what the news says, and with the internet, there are more and different opportunities too. You today, and the future children are not necessarily going to have one major job, they are likely to have multiple jobs, doing small things here and there, with a lot of them being online.

There are courses all over the internet which can help you to write, edit, learn a language, start a business, or perhaps volunteer? There are online communities and groups who you can talk to, though please, please, be careful and never give out your personal information. You can even learn different or specific subjects such as coding, or a sport, or a musical instrument, or even how to paint both by hand or with computer programs. You can do it at your own pace too, without a teacher or parents breathing down your neck, without the fear of having to remember everything in order to sit an exam in a few months time. Youtube and blogs can help you to find the things in life that make you feel, well, alive, and it won’t cost you anymore than what you’re already paying for your broadband.

So young person, do not worry about money, or making your parents and teachers proud, do not stress over your grades in those subjects you know hold no spark for you. Listen to others advice but don’t follow their advice if it doesn’t excite you. Also, don’t worry if you’re older and you end up changing your mind, it’s never too late to think about your life and to change your future. Sometimes you may have to say no to those closest to you, and they may not always understand straight away, but if you’re happy, you will find a way to succeed, because you will keep trying and keep pushing, you will always chase the one thing that makes you happy, and one day, everyone around you will see it too. The future is full of possibilities and the first step is always the scariest.

Yours Faithfully,