There's something very interesting about the entire back-to-school rigmarole. It's been taking place for over a week now at Berkeley, and it is something so commonplace that I am quite positive it also occurs at other campuses.
What I've been observing for the past few years as a college student is no doubt associated with my generation of college students--commonly referred to as Millenials, Gen-Ys, or a personal favorite: Boomerangs.
During the first week of classes each semester, the anticipation begins to mount like a 22 year old virgin at the strip club, and it's always the same: who's in your classes, what are your professors like, and perhaps, will the graduate school instructor be attractive enough for that slim chance to flirt your way to earning maximum "participation points" without sacrificing your standards.
These common yet sometimes nerve-racking features during the first week of classes are always fun to observe, but I don't think they can compare to the unique little phenomenon I'm referring to. It's the one that happens shortly after thousands and thousands of young college students at UC Berkeley each receive a few thousand dollars at the exact same time.
Financial aid disbursements . . . cha-ching!
Immediately following this incredibly liberating deposit into the hands and pockets of the young and restless Millenials a few days before the start of the semester creates the anticipation for you-name-it indulgences.
This all recently dawned on me during a trip to Target as I approached the checkout counter with my items. I could clearly tell from the look on the clerk's face that the indulgences of the financially enabled students of Berkeley were upon her.
After a few items were scanned, I thought to ask how she was planning to prepare for this, but I merely said in the nicest way, "So it's about to get very busy in the next few days with everyone getting their financial aid, huh?" No smile at all. Instead, I watched her shoulders drop, and I could definitely sense that she was not impressed with my inquisitive nature. All I can say in her defense is that she might have been working at Target during an August when this has happened.
What is so unique about all of this is the inevitability for the instantly gratified Gen-Ys to spend a very large portion of this money right away. Beyond a shadow of doubt, it is happening all around me. I see it everyday and in every way, and it is absolutely hilarious--probably because I do it too.
What's even funnier is that all this shopping and spending and buying and consuming is consolidated in such a short matter of time, the retail stores probably hire temporary help for the month of August and the month of January. For those two months, it's better than Black Friday for the restaurants, grocery stores, bars, and shops in this college town.
Once the realization sets in, however, things quickly settle down, and it suddenly becomes much easier to make a reservation, buy a drink at the bar, or find somebody to help you locate that jar of maraschino cherries that is always in a different damn spot in every damn grocery store.
For the younger students, those still under parental control of sorts, the spree slows down when an auditing of the debit account occurs and parental reprimands ensue. For the rest of us, it's the personal auditing of our purchases and bank statements after the first few weeks of school, where we essentially say to ourselves, "I need to make THAT last until MAY?" Priceless.
I'm not here to offer any sage advice on the matter, but I will say this: I've take an opportunity to invest a portion of my disbursement money into some stocks last year. It was something I was interested in doing, but from what you've read and now know, each of us clearly have the resources to do it. It didn't take much research to figure out how to purchase stock on my own, and with a little help from an online account, it was all done very cheap and easily. Plus, it was fun, and you know what the best part was? I made money, and not only that, it was just sitting there waiting for me when I needed it.
Well, it's now 9:19pm in Berkeley . . . on a Saturday night . . . during the first week of classes. I think you know what that means . . .