Does anyone know what defines the American dream? Does it even exist? When do you know that you have achieved “the American Dream”? Does it occur when you buy your first home? Earn your college degree? Start a new career? Buy your first new car?
Before the glut of modern technology, life was easier. As a child growing up in the prehistoric days of the 1970s, our parents raised us without cable, internet, a microwave, air conditioning, cell phones, video games, or computers; life was primitive, yet simple.
So what defines this American dream that our parents and grandparents always mentioned at dinner time? For myself, the answer is two-fold. One is to find an excellent job with benefits and the other is pursuing the required education to qualify for a specific career. For example, to become a doctor, attending an accredited medical school will become your focus. But that’s only if you complete an undergraduate degree, do well on the MCAT and get accepted into an accredited program.
With education in mind, I will focus on the educational goals of fellow Cincinnatians. Allegedly, higher education is more relevant today than it was in the past.
In the past, the average person could find a construction or factory job right out of high school. Many of these individuals maintained a career, bought their first home, and raised a family. Furthermore, many did so with only one income because many mothers stayed home and cared for children while their husbands worked.
But those days are long gone. With technology and job outsourcing to China, India and Mexico, the American worker is becoming as extinct as the Dodo Bird.
If your American Dream is to pursue higher learning, you may qualify yourself for an opportunity to compete against your peers for a specific job.
So how important is education to Cincinnatians? From 2005-2009, the census bureau has reported the following:
82 percent of people 25 years and over had at least graduated from high school and 30 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Eighteen percent were dropouts; they were not enrolled in school and had not graduated from high school.
The total school enrollment in Cincinnati city was 91,000 in 2005-2009. Nursery school and kindergarten enrollment was 9,000 and elementary or high school enrollment was 47,000 children. College or graduate school enrollment was 35,000.
Here is a breakdown for education achieved in Cincinnati from 2005-2009
- Graduate or professional degree 12%
- Bachelor’s Degree 19%
- Associate’s Degree 6%
- Some college, no degree 18%
- H.S. diploma or equivalency 28%
- Less than a high school diploma 18%
Recently, Men’s Health magazine ranked the top 100 smartest cities in America.
Cincinnati, Ohio finished at 48.
The ranking was based on education levels of each city’s population.
I think it’s fair to assume that most Americans want a decent paying job so they can care for their families. And if you have read the fine print for any higher paying job requirements, a degree or a specific certification is required. And in some cases, they will bend the education requirement for experience.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much going on in creating jobs in our economy. Our governement is unsuccessfully trying to stimulate job growth. For some odd reason, people think it’s the government’s job to create jobs. And this is a misconception. The government is supposed to create an environment to encourage businesses to hire workers and grow their companies.
Since the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement Act (NAFTA) by former president, Bill Clinton; millions of former American jobs have been shipped to India, Mexico, Timbuktu, China or some other country you may or may not have known existed. Think back to the last time you called a customer service representative. Most likely, you were assisted by someone speaking in broken English.
So have you achieved your American dream? If so, was it based on home ownership, a career or receiving a college diploma?
If you haven’t achieved your American dream yet, you still have time. It will just be a little more challenging for you than it was for your parents and grandparents.