Burgeoning adulthood

My experiences with young adults has been varied and interesting.  Many with whom I work are lively and enthusiastic.  A few are slugs.  We work together well, and some of the things I have observed are encouraging.  Others, not so much.

I don’t think that young college students really anticipate the cost of their education.  They enter college with high hopes for the future without understanding the amount of money that they will owe when they graduate.  It’s stunning.  The time has come again for me to fill out the FAFSA form for my son’s tuition. Filling out the form is an enormous hassle, but I am impressed that my son has tackled the initiation of the form every year without my input.  As a matter of fact, he is the one who gets after me to complete the form.  All of us parents of university students go through the annual event of filling out this form in hope that our sons or daughters will be eligible for a grants or scholarships, but alas, it seems that the only thing for which our students qualify is student loans.

As parents, our goal is that our children do not pile up mountains of debt with student loans, but really, the options are few. It’s true that the student loans have low interest, but when I see the accumulation of loan debt, my mind reels. How can a guy graduate from college and have $40K or more of debt?

What a great way to start life…with no job, to boot! We encourage our children to try to live life debt free, but when they get out of college, they have a cloud of gloom hanging over them. Of course, some grads just don’t pay any attention to that.

One thing that I notice is that many of the young adults have no idea what is going on in the adult world.  They don’t really understand paying bills, health and life insurance, paying taxes, responsibility for property.

I admire parents who have forced their kids to assume responsibility for their own expenses along the way.  A new cell phone costs $700. What young person has that amount of money lying around for a cell phone, but never fear, the phone company has the answer. Spread that amount across 24 months and you can manage it, they tell you. Our children fail to forsee the monthly charges and the taxes that are added to the bill to the tune of at least $100 month.

Then there is car insurance. Some kids pay more than a $1200 a year for car insurance, and unless you are proactive as a parent, the insurance company will continue to charge as much as they can until you call them to seek for adjustments for good driving, age, and defensive driving classes.

Our children have no idea of the cost of health insurance. True, they probably don’t need as much as we do, but the cost is insane. When I look at my own reports for a simple procedure to unblock my ear, done by the nurse let me add, and see that the cost is $248, I am in shock. How can that possibly be? That is what they charge the insurance company, but then a short while late the insurance company makes an adjustment and I get to pay the balance.  Just the same, it’s very intimidating.

Taxes.  The youth have no real idea that they will need to pay taxes on everything.  One day our bosses handed out our W-2s.  One of the young lady wanted to know what the statement was, so I told her that the form was a statement of the amount of money that she had been paid and the taxes that she paid out of her income. I explained that she needed it to file her taxes so that she could get her money back.   She looked at me askance.  “The government took money out of my check? I have to pay taxes?” She was completely shocked.  What a fun time I had attempting to explain the concept to her.

However, I must say that I enjoy spending time with these young adults.  They are fun and full of anticipation for the future.  One thing is for sure–young adults realize the importance of relationships. They don’t all love to work, but work is part of life and beginning a job in a small business is a good thing.  The young people learn to interact with their bosses, with other employees, and with customers.  These experiences help them to develop people skills that they will need to use all of the lives.  The mature fellow employees and bosses give advice; they learn to problem solve and compromise.

Yes, they have a lot to learn, but we have an opportunity to encourage them, counsel them, offer advice, and listen to them.  I can tell you from my own experience that I have learned a few things from the ones with whom I work. (The picture above shows a small sampling of my young adult friends from the Village Grille.)

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