What does it mean to be “over-educated?” That’s what I wondered yesterday when I saw two articles on the #OccupyWallStreet protests going on now in New York.
David Talbot wrote the first in a Sunday piece for Salon.
“‘Like everyone our age, we’re overeducated and unemployed,” said Patrick Bruner, a 23-year-old native of Tucson, Arizona who recently migrated to Brooklyn. Bruner said that he and his fellow protestors were prepared to “hold the Wall Street square for a long time.”
Yesterday the Guardian posted the second. Marisa Holmes, of the protest-planning group General Assembly, tells the UK paper:
“We are the over-educated and under-employed. Our future has been totally sold out. Politicians have failed us and the square is somewhere where we can speak out. This is the beginning. It’s direct democracy in action.”
I was feeling philosophical about language (that is, procrastinating on a deadline). What would be the evidence, I wondered, that you were over-educated? Smarter than your parents? Too smart? Doesn’t seem plausible. The generation just out of college has done some cool stuff, but it hasn’t cured cancer. In fact, a few of the ones at the protest thought Ron Paul would make a good president. Have they confused educated with anti-establishment?
Of course you probably already guessed that the point of education is to get you a job, especially during a downturn. But if all it means is “un-” or “under-employed,” sorry but why say over-educated AND under-employed? If they’re so well educated, why the redundancy?
I couldn’t find an email address for Patrick Bruner, so I emailed Marisa Holmes to ask her what she meant. She wrote:
“I was trying to convey the fact that there’s an entire generation of young people who have college degrees, are burdened by debt, and can’t find employment.”
Ah. Read: overcharged.