Saturday, November 17, 2007

College Debt May Pose a Problem for Young Freemasons and what we can do about it

According to the Project on Student Debt, college graduates are graduating with about $20,000 in debt; most of the debt coming from student loans. I know people, including myself, that are over $100,000 in debt. I think one of the barriers that young men may be experiencing that their fathers and grandfathers did not have was this huge amount of debt upon graduation. During World War II, servicemen were able to take advantage of the G.I. Bill with a higher rate of return on their investment in college. The G.I. Bill allowed 51% of servicemen to take advantage lower cost education, with 72% of Vietnam Veterans taking advantage of the G.I. Bill.
The problem of debt also has a silver lining. Many more people in Generation Y are college graduates which means that they are highly educated. This situation is very good for Freemasonry because many of the young men that will join the Fraternity have a desire for knowledge. This desire is directly correlated with the interrogatories ask of all of our candidates. We need these highly educated individuals to keep the strength in our Fraternity.
I am not suggesting that we lower the dues for these young men or that we lower our standards. Dues for the Blue Lodge have been historically low. However, most young men don't know that dues are relatively low compared to many other service organizations or more importantly the networking possibilities. Hopefully, young men will begin to realize that the amount of networking that they can accomplish strongly outweighs the dues paid. As many more students graduate from college, they need these opportunities to network with people that can help them get a job. One program that we could institute is a multitude of guilds based on different professions. Young men should be encouraged to join these groups. Minnesota has a lawyers guilds that law students, lawyers, judges and other legal professionals can join and interact. There should be guilds of many more professions, such as doctors or engineers, etc.
The way to stay relevant in today's society is to realize that we are a Fraternity of mutual support committed to not only to brotherly love and truth but dedicated to the relief of other brothers and their families. Our commitment to relief should include helping young men to enter the workforce. With this proposition for increased networking, we can remain important and relevant to society.

1 comment:

Clayton V said...

I am a Freemason, and I also have over $100,000 in student loan debt. One of my lodge brothers recommended me for a job and I'm grateful for the opportunity. It won't be much, but in addition to a 2nd full time job, and a 3rd part time job I just got, I'm hoping to be debt free in a few years. I'm in Michigan, and I like the idea of guilds within the organization. I've been in contact with a few other media folks (I work in video production) but if there were a mid western guild that helped folks to create movie or tv projects that reflect our values, that could compete with all the zombie movies Hollywood puts out, I would love to take part. Anyways, keep your chin up. Don't let the stress of the debt get you down.