Kaitlin Mahar: Those aren’t mortar boards. They’re combat helmets.

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Diplomas are handed off like batons for the inescapable rat-race. Tassels are twirled, caps thrown into the air, and, as soon as those optimistically-decorated hats hit the ground, disorganized chaos sets it.

These are no longer graduation caps, but war helmets.

Once graduates are flung from their safety nets and into the real world, majors and alma mater no longer matter. You’re nothing but another faceless résumé, just like millions of others who’ve found themselves in the same, debt-ridden boat. We can’t simply find a job we enjoy – the average student loan debt is $35,000, though many owe hundreds of thousands. Options are even slimmer when employers demand that applicants have one to two years of experience for entry-level positions. How exactly are grads supposed to get jobs to gain experience when we need experience? We’re forced to expand our horizons, applying to jobs that have nothing to do with our studies, and where do we end up? McDonald’s, the one place our parents threatened us with should we not get our degrees.

Isn’t it painfully ironic that opportunities to make a living are least common in the land of opportunity? Yet, no matter how many studies explain that college does indeed cost this generation more money than the previous, or that those with bachelor’s degrees now need master’s degrees to get ahead, those with the loudest voices refuse to acknowledge that “America’s future” is drowning in its own spit.

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