By Heather Duthie
It’s commencement season again, a time when thousands of bright-eyed students dressed in oversized polyester robes line up to hear celebrity commencement speakers impart wisdom that, in the words of Jon Stewart, will “ease their transition back into their parent’s basement.”
Commencement speeches don’t change a whole lot from year to year. Speakers tell students to take risks, follow their dreams and above all, make the world a better place.
Meryl Streep talking about problems in the world and students obligation to right them at the Barnard College commencement.
But perhaps not the most practical with unemployment reaching record highs and new grads finding themselves competing with recently laid-off professionals for temp jobs that provide little security and zero benefits. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics almost all of the top 30 fastest growing industries, which include retail sales clerks, security guards and food servers, require little to no formal education.
During his speech at Tulane University in 2009, Anderson Cooper couldn’t help but poke fun at the optimistic speakers of yesteryear:
Anderson Cooper at Tulane University.
Sadly, Jon Stewart could be right — many graduates this season may indeed find themselves moving back home, working the same jobs they had in high school. At his 2004 speech at the College of William and Mary, Stewart gave students heading out into the harsh reality of post-college life what they really deserved – a good old fashioned apology:
Jon Stewart at the College of William and Mary.