College a graveyard for some dreams

The reality of the job market shouldn’t deter students from their dreams.

The reality of the job market shouldn’t deter students from their dreams.

In a perfect world, my life-long objective would still be my childhood dream of succeeding the Dark Knight as the guardian of Gotham City in my matching black-and-gold pajamas.


Unfortunately, in the real world, reality eventually sets in for all of us, and we must learn to evolve our dreams to fit the ever-changing landscape of a world amid a global recession.

For Emmanuelle Delpech, acting – not crime fighting – was her chosen path.

Delpech, who emigrated from France to the United States in 1998, was passionate about her work as both an established actress and a teacher before she took a job overseas with a Philadelphia-based traveling theater production, a job that fulfilled her dream of performing on the American stage. While in the U.S., she had a child and soon realized that directing could afford her more opportunities to express herself and could make more money to support a growing family. She applied for graduate school to learn the trade, which evolved her dream without killing it.

“A dream gives you energy to move forward,” Delpech, 37, said. “A dream gives you the inspiration to make decisions about what you want to do. But the reality out of college [is you] realize not a lot of people are hiring, so your dream needs to be dynamic [and] come back to reality at some point.”

After graduating in January 2011, I’ll have a six-month window before I have to start paying back my student loans. Though I’ll still be on my parents’ health insurance plan until I’m 26,
thanks to the health care bill, I’ll still have to pay for the care in some way. Add on my desire to pursue a career in journalism with a serious lack of job opportunities, and my greatest dream is slowly becoming my worst nightmare.

My family and friends are encouraging me to make a distinctive choice between pursuing my life-long goals or playing it safe and applying for some tedious desk job with average pay and decent benefits, with an emphasis on the latter.

But I disagree.

College is where you’re supposed to build a dream and acquire the skills and tools necessary to complete it. I can still find a way to promote the greater good using words in the caped crusaders’ image; I just need to change with the times.

Colin Lenton, an instructor of mine, chose photojournalism instead of film when he came to Temple in 2007 and formulated dreams of creating an historical impact with still photography in the black-and-white pages of a daily newspaper. As a photo intern at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Lenton said he realized “with buyouts and the way the economy was, newspapers were dying or would be dead in the next few years.” He said he decided being his own boss as a freelance photographer was a better option.

“It wasn’t sincerely that I gave up on my dream,” Lenton said, “or that I felt like it was impractical. It was more like, with that knowledge, my dream changed.”

It’s funny: Americans of all ages and income brackets continue to grow increasingly unhappy at work, based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households conducted for the Conference Board by the Taylor Nelson Sofres market research group. The group’s findings discovered that 45 percent of those surveyed say they are satisfied with their jobs, up from 61.1 percent in 1987, with those currently under age 25 expressing the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded by the survey for that age group.

We can’t all pay the bills with childish dreams like fighting crime in a costume, but we can find happiness if we allow our dreams to guide us and are willing to change as the times do.

Tom Rowan Jr. can be reached at

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