Millennial Burnout


I am having a hard time imagining you without your shit together, based on your posts here.


That’s honestly very kind, thank you!

But yeah, you didn’t know me from 16-20. Not a great time of my life. Survived it, but boy did I make some dumb decisions along the way.


Reading this thread, I think I went to college at just the right time. I went to a state college (U of Missouri- Rolla, now called Missouri School of Science and Technology, I believe), and the cost was around 6K - per year. My parents paid for my first year so I could get a good start, but after that, I went back and forth between a co-op and school, and I made enough money co-oping to pay for school, and just worked a part time job for spending money during the school year. With the way co-oping worked, I ended up going to school for a year straight at the end to graduate in five years, and did have to get a loan for that. But I finished with a loan of only about 5K - which really was nothing.

I’m not a big fan of free college - I think people do better when they have to pay at least a little if their own way so they have a stake in their own education, but I definitely think we need a way to make college as affordable as it was in the 80’s.


I remember knowing in a background sense that my dad had been saving up a little bit at a time my whole life to help me pay for college, buying government bonds and rotating CDs and all that stuff. He’d worked his way through 5 years of college as a teenager and built up a solid middle class wife for mom and I, despite her being an immigrant without any college education to speak of.

When time to came to start assessing colleges, looking at options, etc., I remember dad was very proud of what he’d managed. It was, in absolute fairness to him, a very generous sum of money, and even though he’d always earned a good amount of money (afaik, his starting salary out of college in the early 80s is probably right about what I make now, if not more, and he’s almost tripled that over the years), it obviously represented a major, major investment for him, and the accumulation of a ton of sacrifices.

The total in the savings was equal to about one semester at my eventual school of choice, Boston U.

He was just utterly floored. Shocked. It took him weeks to wrap his head around how the costs of college had exploded since he started in the 70s.

Luckily, I was bright and half-Hispanic, so I got a big National Merit Hispanic Scholars award. I got a small supplementary scholarship from the university. I worked all through college, including summers and even Christmas vacation. And he spent even more of his money year-to-year after the savings was gone.

I still graduated about $25k in debt, because I was not equipped to evaluate the long-term value of a print journalism degree from one of the premier universities in the country at the tender age of 18.

My girlfriend, who has exclusively attended state schools her entire college career (spanning about 7 years total, including an abortive Master’s attempt cut short by illness), is about $70,000 in debt right now, and that’s after two straight years of wage garnishments. She doesn’t really anticipate ever paying off her college loans, and really, unless her income raises significantly, we’re easily more than a decade away from it, assuming we don’t have any major expenses along the way.

Like, say, the car she just wrecked :-/


This terrifies me because I have 2 young kids and I have no idea how they’ll pay for college. I’m just hoping the college market crashes before they’re 18 and this all sorts itself out.


Well, I can tell you what I’m doing, got a couple of 529’s started for my kids that I throw some money into each month. And hoping to hell they don’t decide to go to private universities.


This is something I wish I understood better when I went to school, but if they can get into private school, it might actually cost them less money because many of the private schools have more money to give for things like scholarships, grants and the like towards anyone low income or high achieving. It’s worth looking at at least.


It may be worth it for their educational value but that’s not how we are treating college as a society. A lot of majors people go into because they don’t know what they want to do and those majors don’t translate directly to jobs, and thus if you are going to college solely to get a career (which society has pushed) then these are pretty worthless outside of passing the bare minimum HR bar.


They are valuable in the workplace too. Again, it’s about what you want to do and how you sell yourself. My department has hundreds of degrees. We don’t restrict hiring based on the specific degree someone has. Neither do most the sites I am familiar with. Having a degree helps a lot, any degree, helps a lot but even that requirement can be exchanged for experience. This again, is very field dependent, but those degrees are not worthless unless they’re trying to get into a field that has specific degree requirements.


You are kind of proving my point that I"m probably not articulating very well.

There’s nothing about the specific degrees that you guys care about, you just care they went through some educational process. There’s no reason that has to be a high debt higher education college but instead a trade or vocational curriculum more suited to the job itself, which it sounds like you’d still hire for based on the “can be exchanged for experience”.

In other words my point is we are pushing people into high debt situations because “college is important no matter what you specialize in”, but that’s a requirement we are putting on as a society, there’s nothing innate to the nature of the workplace that’s really benefitting from it.


One thing that came to me while reading the recent posts is that the older Millennial generation in the US went through a phase of being mostly oblivious of societal / organizational factors that is making it difficult for them to financially succeed while the younger generation is entering the workforce hearing nothing but of these systematic problems.

By that what I mean is that my memories into the mid-2000s is this message that all career success is on YOU - as long as you have a college degree and grind hard enough you should be able to find success. It’s been many years since I’ve heard anyone state this with a straight face when looking at the current world economy.


Ain’t that the fuckin’ truth.

This is a great path to take, but we have debts we’re still paying 8% or more on. Saving money is much, much worse than paying off our existing debts. Sorry, kids. We’ll do what we can.


Well getting a degree just gets you past the HR department. The type of degree, what you learned and how you learned it… we can take someone with an English degree but if you spend your entire time telling us what books you like and how good you are with e-mail, you’re not going to get the the job. Most the people who enter an IT type department with a non-IT kind of degree has interest in computers, maybe some classes in college, or they are familiar with the industry… that sort of thing.

If you’re trying say you don’t need to go 200k in debt to say do what I do, that is correct. I would say paying 80k for school is not even on the high side though, and I don’t know a single person who wound up in these positions having even the slightest idea they would doing this sort of thing. I don’t expect college kids to know either.

If someone pays like 300k for a music degree, I would assume they want to be in music. I have no idea if that degree will help or not. I am wary that they will be able to pay that off.

But 100k ish, assuming you weren’t an RA, you’re parents make too much to be low income and didn’t and couldn’t contribute much, that’s not even outlandish.

Hell even our community college is so expensive now!


Based on the projected costs of Umass when they’re of age I’d need to bank $1000/mo per kid. That ain’t happening.

I’m doing what I can but I’m expecting a situation like Armando described, where I save for years and it covers like 1 semester.


I’m curious (genuinely) why “burnout” affects you personally then. You’ve said:

But you also said this:

I got out of school with more than $20k in debt (10 years before you did, so $20k was worth more.) My parents paid $0 toward my college, though they did provide me a roof: I lived at home for the first three years. I worked part time, sold plasma, scraped by for books and grubbing-around money. I joined the military to help pay for my senior year, and spent 5 years stalled out career-wise because my military experience was useless in industry. 5 years after college, I was doing entry level work in my field. I didn’t have kids until I was 30. Didn’t own a house until 35. And yet, I’ve never felt “behind” or “burned out.” Where does that come from?


You need to take advantage of the power of compound interest, dude. Even if you can only afford to sock away a little bit at a time, that will multiply in the years between now and when they enroll in college.


So two semesters then!

Sorry to snark, but at current cost growth rates there is fuck all I can do to meaningfully prevent that. And I’m one of the lucky ones who has meaningful savings. Despite not making more than $54k in a year prior to last year, when we bought our house, our down payment was larger than our loan. So even as someone who is financially better off than many of my peers, I realize that preventing my kids from having six figure debt, at current rates, is unrealistic.


Well then, that would be two fewer semesters they would have to self-finance yes? Sometimes you take your victories where you can find them.


I chose a private school, partially because I didn’t get into UW-Madison (at least right away) even though my GPA and ACT scores were top notch, I suspect my heart really wasn’t into the applications process there, I got waitlisted (like a lot of people) and never followed up. Because, we went on a tour of a private school, who had just built a new science lab/building, and they had some pretty aggressive scholarship offerings. They were Catholic, which my Mom liked, and they were in Madison, which I liked. But I got something like 7,500 a year in academic scholarship, a 1000 a year music grant, a 500 a year music performance scholarship, honors program enrollment. I got to work in the IT dept 20 hours a week, hired as student-staff, including 40 hrs/week in the summers.

Like, at the state school, I was just one of thousands of kids filling out applications, Edgewood wanted me there, they wow’ed me. I know that I wouldn’t have even gotten close to the opportunities at the state school. And they were willing to apply me to every scholarship I could imagine. You went to choir in H.S., join our choir and get a grant! I got more money in my JR/SR year as they had money for those who stuck with it via fine arts scholarships. I got a bunch of other scholarship money from high school as well, being in the top nth %.

Really great experience, wouldn’t trade it for the world. My parents had 1 year saved up for me, and I paid the rest (20k when done) in 10 years. Getting the RA gig and on campus IT job were key to that, as they paid for room/board books/food for my last 3 years.

I think that the state schools a great, but a lot of the private schools work really hard to get you to go there, especially if you have great academic scores.


Though, just as a reminder of how horrible college tuition prices have gotten.

When I started it was 16k a year, it is now 30k a year, 11 years after I graduated.

Holy bajeezus