Has College Student Debt...

Killed The Entrepreneur In You?

by Arturo F Munoz

College student debt has many faces. Meet one of them. Meet Mr. Sutter. He is a very recent college grad who I met recently over a professional social network. He's young. He's bright. He has what he calls an "absolutely awesome" job as an analyst doing marketing at a reputable firm. His degree is in sociology.
college student debt cartoon
Sutter was attracted to some questions that I asked regarding the impact of college student debt on graduates.

I wanted to know whether this type of debt was a burden keeping recent graduates from starting their own businesses. Consider that the average college student debt amounts to nearly $25,000.

That, along with other subsidies, scholarships and personal savings that some of these students depend upon for no less than 4 years to complete their studies are most definitely more than sufficient funds to buy a running, profitable business – a business that could eventually pay for some sort of academic certification in cash, if so desired.

Instead it all has gone for college.

My question fundamentally was "Did college pay off if what you got in the end was only a sheepskin and neither a job nor a business of your own, given also that today 1 in 10 graduates 25 years and younger are unemployed with poor prospects of employment, plus half of those who are employed are working at jobs that don't require a degree?"

This is a pretty sad situation, right?

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Well, Mr. Sutter agreed. Remember, he's no dummy. He's the sociology major in the batch of graduates employed at a job that did require a degree.

But check out what he said about himself and his generation regarding life and work and college student debt. It is highly revealing.

Would I Be Worth More Without This College Student Debt?

Read the following and ask yourself "What's the true measure of a man's value?"
Dear Mr. Muñoz, I appreciate your cross-cultural analysis.

Currently I've been with an undocumented girlfriend. She is fortunate enough to have a tip-based job which allows her a certain amount of financial freedom.

I recall the days working in a restaurant, alongside recent Latin American immigrants, who were not educated in their own language, let alone English. I remember the multiple 'hustles' of their lives, selling or 'flipping' used cars, jewelry, etc.

However, I recall distinctly a dishwasher who came to the states illegally and with a debt of $5,000 owed to his brother. He managed to work off that debt in a year, and eventually land his own room and car at $9.50 an hour.

These people are incredibly resourceful and persistent.

As a recent college grad with a decent job, I still feel the paralyzing grip of my freedom. I am not following my heart. I want to travel. But I have to pay off a small loan. I want to move away and do a conservation internship. But I don't want to move back a year later broke and with no job prospects.

I am going through a legitimate crisis. This phenomenon is pretty selective to the twentysomething graduates, who struggle to find their calling in a world of unlimited opportunities.

We see our peers who have done so much. They've traveled, lived abroad, worked in fulfilling positions, and we begin to question our entire life path.

For us, as compared to recent immigrants, our fight is not for survival, but for individual fulfillment.
average debt of college student cartoon After reading his message to me I asked myself, college student debt aside, how can someone so privileged be so honestly unsatisfied with life?

He expresses such a clear longing for emulating peer behavior all the way into his mid-twenties to gain purpose in life, while also admiring the tenacity of those less privileged than himself, yet failing to see that life is a struggle and that he is fairing far better than most.

I would like you to ponder this please and share your own experience with the visitors of this site knowing the following, that I do agree with Mr. Sutter about his assessment of his generation. I do believe that this angst is commonplace among people in their twenties and thirties today.

But the enterprising spirit is a purposive spirit. It seeks to fulfill its destiny. So what did college do for that spirit in this young man? Where has the sense of wonder gone from age 5 to age 25 in his generation, such that what remains is chiefly a desire just to see the world and work for free?

Where are the dreams being put into practice for making a difference where you're at; for being of significance to the neighbors that you're surrounded with where you live? Where's the initiative to start in community for the goal line and never relent, rather than look upon life as if it were a tour down some Caribbean beach front?

College Student Debt Is Owed In More Ways Than Financial

As you prepare to share your views below, please also consider my reply to young Sutter. It is characteristic of my worldview and what drives me to accomplish those objectives that make my life of significance every day. Here's what I told him.
Thank you for a very candid message. I truly appreciate it. You said that as a recent college grad with a decent job, you still feel the paralyzing grip of your freedom, and that you're not following your heart. Good. You actually demonstrate a greater sensitivity to the facts of life than your peers.

Consider that there is no such thing as total freedom. Since free is only he who does what is good, as doing what is wrong makes you a slave to wrong doing, then freedom has limitations. We are only free to do what is right, thus only in doing what is right are you truly free. There is ample room to do what is right. So freedom is a vast space for the right doer. But it is not without boundaries.

If you follow your heart and your heart wishes for frivolities, you will be a slave to the trivial. You will waste your life, because concentrating your strengths on the trivial is not good.

It's interesting that you describe your condition as being paralyzing. Paralysis is evidence of conflict. You want to leave, but you don't want to be forced to come back. You want to experience what you cannot afford, but you must pay now for what you already experienced having used college student debt.

You're in your 20s and you see this pattern happening across your entire age group. You call it struggling to find a calling in a world of unlimited opportunities.

card college credit debt reduce cartoon The first thing to ask yourself is "Who is calling?" If you're not following your heart, because you don't have all the answers within you, yet you have a distinct sense that there is a purpose to your life, which necessitates intelligence to apprehend, then what intelligence is calling you to that purpose?

The source of all anxiety in life is our search in us for answers that do not exist within us. We are not made to fret. We're made to trust. Who do you trust?

Unless you begin meeting your purpose in life day by day, you'll never find fulfillment.

Write back if you want some tips.

He did write back. Now is your turn to write. So you have college student debt. So did I. What do you think as graduates we also owe to our neighbors and not just to a bank?

Return to Starting Your Own Business Overnight Home Page from Has College Student Debt Killed The Entrepreneur In You?

Tell us what that long trip to college
has done for your entrepreneurial spirit

So for years you dreamed of going to college. Maybe you've been to a community college, maybe to a 4-year institution. But now the trip is over or nearing its conclusion. What do you have to show for so far?

Are you employed? Are you your own boss? Are you more enterprising now or are you waiting to be told what to do next? Is college student debt keeping you from being entrepreneurial?

Share your view on what college has done for you to help you start a business venture to serve your neighbors and assume the risk for it.

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