“You wont pay for school
so we can educate the public…
I’m not free to pursue my dreams
Cuz there’s no money
and I don’t think you get it...
Why wont you let me be who I want to be,
making me get a college degree.”
Where’s the Meaning?
A key aspect of the American dream is that it is accessible. Work hard, and you can do whatever you want to do, be who you want to be. “Open Letter” is an angry commentary on the price tag on dreams. Access to societies most coveted jobs requires a college degree – a costly proposition with minimal viable alternatives. This coupled with strong social pressures to attend means that many students who might not need the degree feel obligated to take on significant financial burden in the form of student loans to attend, a scary and binding threat to their financial well-being.
While increased college attendance has undeniably positive outcomes for society as a whole - promising higher wages, increased opportunity, and wider social and career networks. On the individual level these are not always the outcomes and for those that choose not to attend options are being constricted, as college degrees become a requirement for an increasing number of jobs. This has resulted in higher upfront requirements and costs for an increasing number of people even to access middle-income jobs.
The extent to which our professional lives are predetermined correlates strongly with our wealth. As wealth gives you access to the institutionalized systems upon which access to opportunities are built. To gain access requires substantial financial investment. “Open Letter” analyzes this problem in relation to the immense impact that wealth has on opportunity as it affords you opportunity and status. Why are the costs of education so high? And why are there social stigmas around those that seek alternative career paths and educations?
For a deeper dive into these questions and the inspiration and methodology behind the song, check out our podcast with Brendan and Emma of Nah. here.
As college tuition costs continue to rise, should American’s be increasingly evaluating alternative education options or career paths?
Should there be an increased focus on developing pipelines for people to prepare themselves for careers with alternative forms of higher education?