Millennial Burnout


The GF’s daughter is a high-school senior so the GF has been a real attack dog about finding college opportunities. A couple of interesting possibilities that the daughter eventually passed on was going to school in Europe. There’s a program at the University of Grenoble designed to attract foreign students. The kid’s a science person and they had that covered with a three year degree – they cut out the stuff that wasn’t relevant to the degree, like humanities. The first two years are taught in English and the third in French. Pretty that third year scared her off.

Then there was a 4-year degree at the University of Bologna in Italy taught in English. She decided against that, too.

The amazing thing is both of these were cheaper than the average American college. International undergraduates pay less than 3000 euros a year for Grenoble. I don’t remember the Bologna costs, but it was also affordable. Here’s a link about the costs of Grenoble:


I did a year in Masstricht, but it was focused on European Studies and Economics. Probably not something she is interested in.

I’m not sure about all of Europe, but I know the Netherlands is a different experience from the US. Very striped down. Just the University and the Library. Housing was through an outside agency. Fraternities and organizations are also independent of the school (and from my understand, a good deal more expansive). When I studied there, I had classes and library time, and everything else, I was on my own (with the help of my parents who lived in the Netherlands at the time).

Avoid the US universities in Europe. They are expansive and the education is based around the idea that you’ll be travelling almost every weekend.


I’m going to throw out what I know is probably a goofball unpopular opinion.

I’m almost 50. I work 40 hours a week. That’s pretty steady. Overtime for emergencies, maybe three or four times a year. No emails or calls when I’m off-duty. I make decent living in the Seattle area, and that’s not working for Amazon or Microsoft. I have savings and I’m putting two kids through college. I’m a homeowner.

(Bear with me. I’m not just bragging.)

I credit almost all of my current security up to my time in the military. Outside of VA loans and G.I. Bill college funding, going into the military after high school instead of going straight to college gave me a leg up in a lot of ways that many of my peers lacked.

I traveled and saw the best of the world and the worst of war. I was exposed to a wider variety of colors, creeds, and cultures (both in and out of the Army) than I would’ve had I just stayed in the States. I learned a solid work ethic, down to simple stuff like “show up to work on time” to more advanced things like how to complete staff work or write effective emails and memos. I managed projects and had teams of “employees.” I did manual labor (literally burning shit in barrels in Iraq) and created and presented intelligence briefings to generals. I learned how to interview thanks to the formal NCO board review promotion process. I saved money because it’s hard to blow fun bucks when you’re in hostile territory. I learned how to put on a tie and wear a suit. (I’m always shocked at how many guys don’t know how to wear one, and don’t have one when it’s needed.) I took classes that had nothing to do with a degree. I bought multiple new cars. I made invaluable connections with people that have remained solid sources of job offers and advice.

This is all before I ever walked into a civilian job!

Meanwhile, my hometown friends were racking up college debt, sometimes in degrees that no businesses cared about, while working in mimimum wage retail or service jobs to get by. Jobs that didn’t even value punctuality in any serious way. Just grinding through employees like balsa wood. When they started jobs they actually cared about, they didn’t know how to write emails or talk to co-workers without acting like dorm room idiots or waiters.

The flipside of the deal was that I was in a war, so it wasn’t all job training and fun. Caveat emptor and all that. It’s not a social program or charity. They work you hard and you risk your life.

I feel that a big part of the Gen-X/Millenial woes comes from not having that boost from the early military service. We “honor” military service, but after Vietnam, I feel like we really teach kids that only poor people and losers enlist. There’s no draft, and going to deploy in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever is a shit option for kids that can’t get into college. Like, you don’t want that, right? Better go to college!

I’m rambling. I don’t think the military is for everyone, and I don’t want a draft, but man I am eternally grateful for my time in the Army.


She’s narrowed it down to three schools. One is in Newfoundland and looks like a great opportunity. The other two are private schools in Florida. She’s being flown down next week to one to interview for a full ride scholarship.

She’s been accepted at all three, including into the honors college at one. She wants to study marine biology and neuroscience. The marine biology is at all three. The neuroscience is only at one, but it’s affiliated with some famous neuroscience research center next door.

I just hear bits and pieces about all this, but her mom has spent probably hundreds of hours researching possibilities for her. She’s also taken her on four college visits, so she’s been super-mom.


Personally I think military service is a valid option for some kids. I think college is a valid option for some kids. I think apprenticeship is a valid option for some kids, and for others it’s just straight to work.

The perception given by and to society seems to be college is the winner. When I went to school, they pushed two things: everyone needs to go to college, and it should be a state school. I didn’t even know you you could your application fee waved, and my parents would only allow me to apply to two colleges because of the fees.

What I don’t understand about military though is I hear from people who say it helped them when they came back and others say their experience didn’t mean anything to the employers. If the employers don’t value that experience, then there’s work to be done there too.


That’s the difficult part, isn’t it. You may be killed. You may be maimed for life. You may have psychological damage. It’s not an easy choice to make.

This is from 2006 so I don’t know if it’s still accurate, but it seems if you want to go into the armed forces, join the Air Force:

Branch of service: Marines are paying the highest toll in Iraq. Their death rate is more than double that of the Army, 10 times higher than that of the Navy and 20 times higher than for the Air Force . In fact, those in the Navy and Air Force have substantially lower death rates than civilian men ages 20 to 34.


Not to completely bring down the entire thread.

One of my best friends from high school went to college and basically flamed out. It wasn’t for him, he was always interested in the military. We had been in Boy Scouts together, he wanted to be a Marine, but he had asthma. He joined the Army, did the Ranger training etc. When he broke it to his family, his Mom was understandably distraught, youngest son dropping out of college, joining the military? I talked with her about it, how it was something he kind of always wanted to do. That he could get an education through the military. I think deep down, she knew it too, but just needed someone to talk to about it. He did great, Ranger training program, etc. Got engaged.

In 2011 he volunteered to be deployed with the special forces in Afghanistan. In mid september, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize at work, it was his older brother’s wife, a mutual friend. She called to tell me he was killed in action while deployed in Afghanistan when his unit was caught by small arms fire. That was one of the worst phone calls I ever received.

So yes, the Military has its upsides. But, there are downsides too.


Totally agree about my time in the Navy. VA loans have been the key to our ability to buy homes in pricey markets and get ourselves established financially. The work was absolutely grueling and the lifestyle terrible, but the lessons learned were very valuable. I don’t want my kids to learn them the way I had to, but my wife and I have been encouraging them to find some kind of service or work with travel before heading off to college full time. I think it makes a big difference.


That does happen. Some folks think only illiterates or criminals (the uneducated or poor) come from the military. After all, if it’s not a good enough path for your kid, why hire someone from there?

Mostly, I’ve found that employers take what you can frame for them in your military service. That’s a skill that some people never learn. For example, if you were 11B straight infantry soldier in Iraq, some people would just say, “I was in a war learned and how not to get killed. Worthless for an office job.” I would say you learned how to manage a team in the highest stress situations possible while being responsible for over $20 million worth of equipment.


Heh, the “right time” was back in the 60’s, where it cost basically nothing and if you went to college at all, you could write your own ticket, even in fields that had nothing to do with your degree.


Okay. Well if this is just people bombing the interview and not really employers not caring about military experience that’s different. I don’t come from a military family, so it’s hard to picture that route, but I know a number of families that are.

When someone is young, I think everything should be on the table, but also think those senior counselors that push kids to college so they can brag about college acceptance rates and scholarship money earned by the graduating class (and I am assuming other schools have these too), that role needs to change. It’s not really a Senior Counselor / Adviser… it’s a college pusher.


If I had kids right now and they’d be so inclined, I’d seriously point them to being a tradesperson like an electrician or a plumber. Damn if it isn’t near impossible for me to get them out to do some work on my basement, and they’re making a killing. This is even with my contacts in the industry and getting “friend and family” discounts.

I don’t know why my generation grew up being told to go to to college and be an office drone lest we end up like them. They’re all making a killing around here and don’t have tens of thousands of student loans to boot. I’m wondering how much of a problem it’s going to be in the future, because it seems like they’re all in the 40’s and 50’s or older. What happens when they retire?


I am 63, and I spent 7.5 years getting my degree, due to working and some travel. In those days I paid less than $1k +/- a year (including books). JC was $80, plus books. You could afford to take your time, change majors, party if you wanted.

Today the same school costs $3k +/- per semester plus books. The local JC costs $80 a unit plus books. If you are spending that kind of money you should be doing it for a reason, hopefully future employment. I understand the feeling that a college education should be about growth as well, but today going to school for that, unless money is no object, seems kind of iresponsible.


It’s funny, I come from a family full of military veterans from all branches, during wartime and in peace. And when I was looking at options as I was graduating high school, every one of them advised me against joining the military. Each of them said I would be a fool to pass up college. So I never really considered it.

Of course I also have a reputation in my family as a clumsy egghead, and they all probably figured I’d end up shooting myself while cleaning my rifle or something.


Hah, my last meeting with my financial advisor went something like this:

— I’d like to remind you that there are no fees associated with my services.

— Right, speaking of fees, there was a fee when I took money out of my stable income account (basically, barely a step up from a savings account). I didn’t know about that and it meant that my account got overdrawn and I got charged interest before I could discuss it with you.

— Oh, those weren’t fees, they were interest rate readjustments. And the interest you were charged was, well, interest. So sorry about that.

— Huh, ok.

— While we’re on the subject of fees, you could switch from your present account to one where I don’t talk to you anymore. Basically, you’d be on your own with the software, BUT you’d have 0,20% fewer fees on that actively managed mutual fund you own.

— Wait, but I thought there were no fees associated with your advice?

— Ah, but the fee is not with me, it is from the mutual fund because of me. Very diffrent.

— Quite. Speaking of which, I’d like to get some of those index funds. I’d like… [bla,bla,bla]

— Oh good. But you’ll have to do it yourself, because if you do it, it’s ten bucks, but if I do it for you, it’s 40 bucks.

— Wait, that’s a fee, associated with you, right?

— Very droll, sir. Of course it isn’t.


It’s pining for the fjords!


There was a movement at some point to make sure Financial Advisors acted not just in the interest of their company but the interest of their clients. I think that was killed in Congress. There are also one time fee based advisers, like you pay them 50 dollars for an hour of their time, budgeting, investments, that sort of thing but I don’t think that group is very large at all.



Yep that’s the one. I guess not killed by Congress but dead is dead.


I hear you. I’m certain my own Army experience was different from yours in every way, but I’m also certain that if I hadn’t done it I would never have had the success I had afterward. It was much, much better for me — much more developmental, given what and where I was at the time — than college would have been.