Education: To succeed, just be good enough

My head is spinning….I am sure if you were to step inside my office, you would see a scene from The Exorcist!

Why am I so on fire today? With the direction from David Mullen (@dmullen) (H/T), I read the CNN article, Alumna sues college because she hasn’t found a job. To sum up the article, a 27 year-old woman (ONLY one year younger than me) is suing her school for cost of tuition plus an additional $2,000 for the stress of an unsuccessful job hunt. Instead of taking initiative to find a job, the woman is expecting the school to do it for her.

Please…take a minute to read the article and the fabulous quotes from that bright young mind.

At least she learned to pass the blame.

dmullen: @vargasl The obvious entitlement that seeped out of her quotes was pitiful. I couldn’t stop shaking my head. I had no idea what to say.

I am not flabbergasted by this entitlement attitude. I encounter this phenomenon every week in my classroom. Students expect for texts to be regurgitated, answers to exams given before test…basically, instead of earning an education, these students want it handed to them on a silver platter.

I don’t think so.

What happened to hard work? Responsibility?

LindsayMAllen: @vargasl It’s especially offensive to someone like me; I gave nearly 7 yrs of hard work to an employer and have been jobless since May 1.

This is not a Gen-Y isolated problem…this is an epidemic across all demographics. Nor is the attitude isolated to education. Turn on the television and find out what the government will do for you because you deserve it.

Is deserving the American dream?

seakisst: @libbykrah @dmullen @lindsaymallen @vargasl What is this world coming to? The American Dream should not equal entitlement, but hard work.

I don’t remember where Martin Luther King Jr. talked about deserving anything.

shawnthinks: @vargasl @libbykrah @dmullen sad part is that this is same attitude that’s working through biz world. Dot com boom started it IMHO

With all this rant…what is my solution? Solve for YES, right?!

I am only one person and cannot control others, but I can control myself. I would be hypocritical if I did not admit that a time or two I have been resentful about not receiving something because I thought I deserved it. But I recognize that dangerous line of thought…and I back away.

I am only one teacher. In my class, I will not give you the test answers and I will help you to the ends of the earth if you, the student, show me due diligence in solving problem on one’s own.

It will take many single individuals to rebel against entitlement. This attitude is not evolutionary thinking. This is how a race becomes extinct.

What will you do to combat entitlement?

UPDATE 8/5: It appears our class act former student has been offered a job by

“Either Ms Thompson is a cunning out of the box thinker and we want her,” said Bellamy “or she isn’t, and her position would not last long.  Either way, the law suit would no longer be clogging up the courts because there are now no damages.  She now has a bonifide job offer.  She just needs to call us and go over the details.  But it is real and valid.  If she is this feisty, we’ll try her out.  But if she is playing the victim card and pushing her problems onto everyone else – then her job wouldn’t likely last long.”

Feisty? Is that what people are calling this behavior?

Interestingly enough, as my daughter was sitting with her reading tutor last night, I was reading The Traveler’s Gift. A fascinating book about the seven decisions that determine personal success. So far, I am wowed by this book!

“The words It’s not my fault! should never again come from your mouth. The words It’s not my fault! have been symbolically written on the gravestones of unsuccessful people ever since Eve took her first bite of the apple. Until a person takes responsibility for where he is, there is no basis for moving on. The bad news is the past was in your hands, but the good news is that the future, my friend, is also in your hands…the buck stops here.” -President Truman via The Traveler’s Gift

As a teacher and also a parent that may be the one thing I can teach and make a difference…maybe not immediate, but one day…the buck stops here.

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  • Richie Escovedo

    Lauren, I had a big problem with this news today. It is interesting to read it from your POV as an educator.
    From my perspective, I need to view this from a parent’s POV and make sure I am doing what I can to raise my kids to not rely on things like “deserve it” and “entitled to” rather they should be challenged and then achieve through effort. Hopefully, through hard work *others* will see that they deserve their something grand.
    - @vedo

  • Linda Ld Jacobson, APR

    You’ve identified a problem that I think is fast becoming pervasive in our society. Where does it stop?
    I believe in teaching students how to think, which will get them a lot more mileage later in life than teaching the answers to a test. Kudos to you for having that objective.
    I don’t think this young lady will last very long in her *new* position. Based on her behavior thus far, she’ll either play the corporate blame game for her mistakes/failures, or she’ll threaten to sue her new employer (odds are!).

  • Rick Hardy

    Lauren, having taught at the university level, I understand your frustration and affirm your stance. You’re right, it does cut across demographic lines. But higher education gets a heavy dose of it. Part of the job of higher education is to treat our consumers as students. They need to be challenged. It’s part of growing up, thinking critically, becoming a lifelong learner, etc. My next blog post that I’m writing now is on this subject. I think it’s important and what you’re saying is important.
    As an illustration, yesterday, @AmoryMarketing tweeted this:
    Perhaps Ari’s take on Entourage offers some real-world entrepreneurial advice for Gen Y. watch:
    Ironically, it was the character of Ari who took responsibility to challenge this attitude.
    Hang in there. There’s nothing like teaching. You’re making a difference!
    Thanks for your post.

  • Lindsay M. Allen

    In addition to “It’s not my fault,” another phrase that needs to disappear from our vocabulary is “It’s not my job.”
    And, in my experience, “It’s not my job” is just as common among old-school workers (the ones who’ve been working for decades and hand EVERYTHING off to a secretary, even if it would be more practical and take less time to just do it themselves) as it is among younger workers.
    Of course, it’s also entirely possible that I am just an endangered species of worker (when I have a job, that is) …
    And thanks for quoting my tweet, Lauren. It really is how I feel. It’s hard to not be more than a little put off by someone who JUST earned a degree and is upset about not having a job when I am experienced, hard-working and loyal … yet unemployed!

  • Sherry Carr-Smith

    In addition to the sense of entitlement is the need for instant gratification. I’ve been out of college a little over 10 years, and from the beginning of my job search (6 months before I graduated), every professor and counselor I had gave me the warning that finding a job takes time. We all know that looking for a job is a full-time job, and can take a while (definitely longer than 3 months!)
    My husband is graduating in December with his MBA, and has begun looking for a job. While he’s hopeful that he’ll secure a place before graduation, he’s also realistic in thinking that he could graduate and spend several more months looking before something opens up. And he’s not getting ready to sue anyone to do it.

  • SaraKate

    Having both been a teacher and having been in this young woman’s position myself, I am angered by her attitude of entitlement. When I was a recent graduate and unemployed, I worked at finding a job as if it were my full-time job. I got up every morning, searched job ads and spent all day writing cover letters and sending application materials to potential employers. For a time, I worked in a restaurant as a hostess to earn money while I was searching for an appropriate post-graduation full-time job. It was a long time before I got a “real” (read: traditional or office) job and yet I worked at it. I used my university’s career center, but never once would have thought to blame the university or its career center for my lack of job. I was a good student with a great work record and it took me longer than this woman to find a job in better economic times.
    When times were tough, I thought a lot about what my grandparents went through during the depression and what things are like for people less fortunate than myself. At least I always had a roof over my head, the capability to work, and the education and work experience to get some kind of job. I knew that, as a young person, just out of college, I was unlikely to get my dream job right away and was prepared to put in the time and effort and ‘pay my dues’. It’s frustrating to look at someone like Ms. Trina Thompson, my age and just finished with college, putting this out there, representing my generation as one that has a lack of work ethic and such a broad sense of entitlement.
    I’ll be interested to find out where her job offer leads and what the outcome of this filed complaint is. I would love to see you do a follow-up piece if/when they report more on this issue.

  • Lauren Vargas

    @Richie – Excellent point…how are *we* raising this next generation?
    @Linda – Maybe the writing is not on the wall, but I do not see long term success unless she takes responsibility!
    @Rick – Thank you!We must keep challenging!
    @Lindsay – thank you for taking part in the discussion and good luck on your job hunt!
    @SaraKate – Too true…it is a nasty reflection on the entire demo. We must act to change and set the example.

  • Beth Harte

    Lauren, you and I have talked about this attitude so many times. I guess it was only a matter of time something like this happened. It won’t be the last time either…
    As an adjunct professor this doesn’t surprise me at all and in fact almost reinforces my thoughts on stopping teaching altogether.
    What’s next? Suing a prof. because you didn’t get an A, but attended every class? I just encountered that situation…being threatened because students didn’t want to do homework.
    A 2.7 GPA isn’t even a B. Did she sleep through class?
    Having taught kids and adults, I can tell you the entitlement absolutely cuts across demographics. The adult perspective is “the customer is always right…now give me my damn A!”
    You know what kills me? I put myself through undergrad and grad school while going to school full-time and working full-time (sometimes 2 jobs!). I was respectful of my professors AND feared anything less than an A and worked my tail off to get it. My schools didn’t help me find a job…whaaa! Maybe I should have sued them, eh?
    Ultimately, this is about people not wanting to do well, not wanting to succeed, etc., etc. Too many people are happy with the status quo and not doing any more than they have to. Oh, yeah, and they don’t want to work hard either…it’s too much effort.

  • Kami Huyse

    I am with Richie on this one. My husband and I were talking about this VERY issue last night in regards to an intern in his office.
    As parents we need to be careful to reward REAL effort in our kids instead of praising them for going down the slide, gravity does that not the kid. Instead praise them for overcoming laziness, working hard to succeed at something, or making an effort to get along with a sibling or friend that has irritated them.
    Right now there are too many that have the attitude, “I’m great, what’s your problem?”
    Self esteem should not come at the expense of reality.