You know, throughout my life I always felt that I belonged to a special generation. We have something rare. A combination of many unique circumstances. We are the Brezhnev-Gorbachev baby boom generation. We are the last people born with any certainty about the future. And there are many of us. We are the largest generation currently living in Russia!
We are the generation experiencing the high school crisis. The previous ones were just school children during the war years. We studied at a time when teachers did not receive salaries for months, wandering around empty places and eating food for their students. We will all feel this void in five to ten years, when our generation enters its period of greatest influence: rising to high ranks and positions. Then it will become clear what kind of teachers we have at school.
We are also the last generation to study at universities without great part-time jobs! Yes, that’s it! An ordinary family could no longer support a non-working student, but the labor market was not yet developed and there was nowhere for all students to work. I started working in my third year, and since the internet was expensive and not available everywhere at that time, I chose a job where I could use the internet; For example, we did not have the opportunity to install internet in our home. I regretted going to work: I had to work. I remember very well my first salary at this job – 2,200 rubles per month.
I remember two facts from the life of my classmates in the philology department: Everyone was looking for a job and no one had one. What did we do? Instead of a full lunch, we snacked on donuts and read a book!
As later life showed, this was a very good arrangement for future literary scholars. And we became the last philologists in the country who could sit in the library for eight hours a day. We are those born somewhere between 1982-1987. A whole generation. Those who graduated three or four years after university, that is, in the late 2000s, worked hard while studying: as promoters, salesmen, consultants… They did not earn extra money, but they worked.
I would really like to know how many students are currently studying. But I have not seen any responsible, large-scale studies on this topic – only small private surveys. Thus, in 2017, HSE reported that 51% of students were working. HeadHunter counted 61% of them in 2020. At the same time, almost half of the students admitted that they study not in their specialty, but wherever necessary; this rate was 44%. Basically this is a waiter, courier, sales consultant. Work like this… It’s 2020 by the way.
It is unclear how many students are currently studying. It can be assumed that this trend continues and is further exacerbated by the epidemic and sanctions.
However, there is a recent study: Almost a third of working students are trying to find a job. That is, they do not have a one-time part-time job, but have long-term obligations to employers; violations of these, unlike missed classes, are punishable by law.
One fifth of working students are ready to work as unregistered workers. This is also good news. Like a student ready to study without any protection?
In general, I have only two words about such statistics: “How terrible!” This is terrible! No song about early training in work and responsibility is inappropriate. You should study at universities. Point! Everything else comes from trouble.
And not to mention early experiences. When the situation of working students began to attract our attention, articles began to appear in the press about the benefits of working early in their fields of specialization. They even wrote that in the future, employers will begin to prefer those who have worked in their field of expertise almost from a young age.
But it turned out that all this was not true! And they hire educated people, and rich kids are not forced to work after school. Today, higher education has become elitist. At first it began to accommodate workers, programs were cut and bachelor’s degrees were introduced. In my belief, the Bologna system was invented only to adapt to the new reality where students do not have time to study. The first courses are still going back and forth, but after turning twenty, very few people in the world work. That’s why it can’t work fully. If you received it a long time ago, take out your diploma and compare it with the program of today’s universities. I compared. There are no more five terms of Latin, four years of historical grammar, in-depth second foreign language, textual criticism, hermeneutics and much more are gone. I’m not sure everyone still knows ancient Greek. And I taught!
The program is inadequate. In a master’s program in linguistics, one or two days a week are usually devoted to independent study in the first year, three and then four days in the second year. And everyone understands that this is just work time. For money.
It seems to me that no state statistical service will publish detailed studies anymore. It’s a very scary subject. Most families cannot feed one student. The situation is such that today some students have to work to help their families. This means that at best there are resources to raise a child until he or she reaches adulthood, and then the child must be invested in it. At the slightest failure in plans, the family falls into the debt trap because the life plan is planned almost 20 years in advance, from pregnancy to graduation. Nowadays, many families strain their nerves by planning for their children to go to work right after school. Sometimes he has to pay the loans he took out for teachers himself!
Once upon a time, while a family could only survive on the father’s salary, it could provide its children with the education a father received. In the sixties, mothers went to work. And this is true everywhere, both here and in the Western world. By the eighties, a working father and mother could not afford their son’s education, which was at least no higher than their own. Children went to work part-time: on vacation, in the evenings… All this American romanticism about the work of schoolchildren in bars and nannies, taken from films of that time, is an attempt to hide the terrible depression of the average person. The person who has to fire a child in order to finish his schooling and send him to college.
And in the West in the 2000s, even this money was not enough. The working mother and father and the part-time child were no longer able to care for this child while he was studying. And then there was a crisis in higher education in America. The question arose: Whether such children can work full time or not, they need to either take loans or say goodbye to the idea of going to college.
We will have the same thing. A person cannot spare time from studying non-stop. And it is no longer possible to support yourself with four hours a day and part-time jobs all weekend. Life itself has become very expensive and human labor has become cheap if you count how much you can buy with it.
What awaits us? And again – a hole. In a few years, we will have a country where almost the majority of highly educated people aged 20-30 work while studying, work less, and programs are simplified for them. These people, the last generation to learn ancient Greek and gorge on indecent material at home rather than at the bar, will come after us. The average level of education of the masses and the quality of the scientific elite will drop sharply, because now some of those who can get education for this elite will have to work.
Engineers who deliver pizza after classes will not be able to invent new hypersonic missiles. A medical student working as a pharmaceutical representative will not be able to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. The liberal arts universities where students study throughout their education will not produce great minds.
There are still countries that suffer from cyclical poverty: they are too poor to save the money to go out. There are now countries that have fallen into the high cost trap. The problem of working students is a result of the extremely high cost of living. Living has become so expensive that education has become elitist.
We have entered a new era: Today, even in the budget-friendly places of leading universities, those who study here are mostly the children of the rich. The poor do not go there because they will not be able to combine education and work. They should study without being distracted from their lessons.
The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the position of the editors.
Dolores Johnson is a voice of reason at “Social Bites”. As an opinion writer, she provides her readers with insightful commentary on the most pressing issues of the day. With her well-informed perspectives and clear writing style, Dolores helps readers navigate the complex world of news and politics, providing a balanced and thoughtful view on the most important topics of the moment.