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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

‘With great power comes great responsibility.’

<rch 1, the New York Times printed an article titled “More College Graduates Take Public Service Jobs.” The article followed a 2009 college graduate with a business degree as she embarked on a public service job after college. She was quoted as saying that if she had graduated in 2005, when her older sister did, she would have probably had a “normal” corporate job. Now, she works on behalf of the country’s most unhealthy children, advocating for their needs.

The article said that applications for programs like Teach for America and AmeriCorps have skyrocketed in the past three years, especially from elite colleges. Instead of being able to leap immediately into a high-paying, fast-track, business-oriented job, college grads now have to take some time and give back.

Whether this trend is caused by the recession or by President Obama’s promise to make public service jobs “cool,” it’s a phenomenal one. The kids who get to attend these colleges (like Carleton) are undoubtedly some of the brightest in the country. By going to a prestigious college, we are presented with a huge array of opportunities that few others have access to. We are surrounded by incredibly intelligent people for four years, and we learn from devoted and brilliant professors. We live in a world where our thoughts matter, where the thrill of finally figuring out a good thesis for a paper is deeply rewarding and where we learn how to articulate ourselves.

We are very, very lucky that we get to do all of this. Sometimes, we forget that there are people who aren’t like us – people for whom college was never even an option. That’s not to say that those of us here haven’t overcome great challenges. It’s just that we’re very fortunate to be here.

As part of this selective population, don’t we owe it to everyone else to do some good? Once we walk out into the world with our expensive diplomas and our brains full of high-quality knowledge, is it really fair for us to keep all the advantages we have to ourselves? Self-centered thinking has never been a priority at Carleton, and it shouldn’t be after we graduate. We should remain thoughtful, generous individuals who recognize the privileges that we have. We need to continue to recognize that with our education comes a responsibility.

Contrary to the schools that the New York Times article cited (mainly east coast Ivies), Carleton has always been a place where post-graduation public service jobs are highly sought after. In that vein, we’re preaching to the choir. Still, no matter what the motivations, it’s heartening to see our generation embrace their elite educations by going out and doing some good with them.

The editorial represents the views of The Carletonian editors.

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