Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass provides survival skills in dangerous economy

My brother has almost completed his first year at the University of Delaware. After a five and a half hour drive from the University of Massachusetts once a semester, I arrive at the town of Newark, the home of my brother’s school.

Newark, Del., and UDel itself mistakenly demonstrate some of the great, problematic contrasts in America. Newark is a microcosm of what is happening on a much larger scale around the country, demonstrating a problem that is especially important for college students looking for jobs.

First, it’s important to paint the picture of the UDel grounds. Briefly stated, UDel’s classically collegiate atmosphere of small brick buildings and beautiful, flawless landscaping make the look of my brother’s school all you could want in a college campus.

Well-kept brick buildings are abundantly placed across campus. Just a half-mile away from the center of UDel’s perfectly groomed grass fields there are a few bars, a couple of nice breakfast joints and enough UDel culture to safely call this part of Newark a great college town.

A shut-down General Motors plant sits less than a mile away from this picturesque campus in the opposite direction of Main Street.

UDel seems to inhabit another world from that of the year-round residents of Newark who relied largely on the GM factory to support themselves and their families.My brother, Zachary, has earned the right to attend a great school like UDel but the people in Newark are in much worse shape then the students that live on campus.

There are reasons that a school of rich college kids is mostly ambivalent to the pains facing those who live so close by. Bill Clinton’s support of his treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, and the former head of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, started a lot of what caused the current financial crisis. As the country watched regulations fall to the wayside, the foundations for a financial collapse were being poured.

Wealth in America has trickled up since the late ’60s from the middle class to those who make the most.

The increased separation of wealth has resulted in many Americans fitting into two categories, the wannabe middle class (former GM employees in Newark) and the upper class (the UDel student body).

UMass is in a different situation than that of my brother’s school. There is no GM plant here to support a large, working middle-class citizenry. There are minimum-wage jobs at retail stores in Hadley, Mass., some small businesses as well as UMass professors and staff.

Those who are ready to graduate and those of us who will be here next year need jobs. Unfortunately, college students are finding themselves in a trying situation.

Friends of mine who are graduating with high GPAs and impressive r’eacute;sum’eacute;s are still clueless about what their future will bring, no matter how many applications they have sent out.

So what kind of world are we entering into after UMass?Will our future look more like the pleasant life of a college student or will it more closely resemble the citizens of Newark, Del.? It’s hard to say ‘- a lot depends on how the economic situation changes in the next year.

As a journalism major, I’m scared. I don’t have the ability to call up someone I know in the industry and get myself a job upon graduation; a situation that is probably familiar to most other students on campus.

So what is there to do? The first thing that comes to mind is the importance of being conscious that what’s outside the walls of UMass life is going to be hard for a while. The crummy jobs I’ve held in retail outlets have pushed me to work harder in school so that I would never have to go back to stocking shelves and dealing with customers again.

Then again, there has traditionally been great opportunity for entrepreneurship in bad economic times. UMass students are naturally good at this as they have had to find their own way through this school from the time they walked in th
e door.

That is what our advantage will be as UMass graduates. Unlike so many others ‘- smaller schools that coddle and coach their students through their four undergraduate years ‘- UMass students have always been allowed to make their own mistakes with little or no safety net in place for a do-over.

A UMass student knows how to figure out how to get through and we’ve always been even better at this with each other’s help. Advisers are in place to assist with job placement here ‘- they have been quite helpful for me. Use them.

Now is the time to use the self-preservation skills UMass taught us. The recession will end, jobs will pick up again and hopefully when I graduate, print journalism will still be alive.

If we’ve made it through UMass with so little guidance and room for error, then at least we’re more prepared than most to weather the current storm.

Soon, the clouds must clear.

Michael Phillis is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *