Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead, by Tamara Draut. New York: Anchor Books, 2007. Located in the library at: HQ799.7 .D73 2007 or online via eBrary for SHU users.
By Stephanie Sorbara '15
There are many factors today that are holding people between the ages of 20 and 30 back from reaching their American Dream. To many, the American dream is not to be extremely wealthy or drive four different kinds of luxury cars, but rather to be able to start a family and not be drenched in student loan debt. The vast majority of people aged from 20 to 30 years old are struggling to build a career and a start a family and feel as though it is their fault. In Strapped: Why America’s 20-and 30- Somethings can’t get Ahead, Tamara Draut successfully outlines the struggles that people of today’s generation face as they try to build a career and future for themselves, and how it vastly differs from their parent’s generation.
The main component necessary for obtaining a future stable job that will provide benefits when it comes to starting a family and an income high enough to cover all living expenses stems from a simple college degree. Education is the key to getting ahead in life, yet it is the largest component that holds people back from creating their own future for themselves. College is extremely overpriced and not worth the results. Because college is so overpriced, many students are forced to take out an excessive amount of student loans to help pay for college. In the end they most likely receive their bachelors degree and sometimes even further their education to a masters degree. However, even with those degrees, the income they will be receiving when they finally find a job is not enough to pay off the immense amount of loans that build up from their college education. This debt builds up extremely fast and holds those college graduates back for years from getting a home of their own and starting a family. Not only that, but many students who excel greatly in high school must resort to community colleges because a four-year education is simply unaffordable. With increasing competition, one can be the brightest student out there, but be unable to further their education due to such high college tuition costs. Several bright students must resort to a two-year degree from a community college, when they clearly deserve to go to a highly ranked school. Students with a two year degree generally tend to end up with lower paying jobs and this prevents them from being able to live on their own as quickly as they had dreamed of. However, it is not their fault and is not because they are not a bright student. The aid granted to students who excel in high school is not generous enough to help them obtain a four-year degree. Basically, if a student’s parents are not in the upper class making a very large salary, a college education will not be very easy to obtain now a days.
Another aspect that holds people back from attaining their dreams of one day living comfortably in the middle class are the missing benefits that are not granted through their job. In our parent’s generation, it was common to work for a company that would pay for that person to go to graduate school while he or she worked at their company. Not having that extra debt to pay off greatly aided in that person starting a family and owning a home. Better yet, when it came time to starting a family, the people of our parent’s generation were granted benefits, such as paid maternity leave. Today, most of these benefits are extinct and cause much of our generation’s 20 and 30 year olds to delay starting a family because their jobs would be put at risk. The jobs that one can get from a bachelors and masters degree today do not provide as many benefits for one and do not offer a high enough income to pay for the current living costs. Draut clearly outlines the reasons as to why our parents had an easier start in building their futures, and this is only one of the many.
Tamara Draut explains the reasons why it is so difficult for 20 and 30 year olds to get ahead in life and achieve their dream of simply owning a home and starting a family. Draut does a great job in depicting the obstacles that young adults today are facing and proving that it is not at all their fault. Today’s current economy, job offerings and education system vastly differs from our parent’s generation. This book is extremely informative and pertains to everyone’s life in some way. It provides great information young adults need to be aware of when diving into their future.