Director Reza Khastou

Is the American Dream dead?

Historian James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book Epic of America. According to Adams' definition, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. "The U.S. worked hard to create the American dream of opportunity. But today, that dream is a myth," says economist Joseph Stieglitz.

The American Dream might seem dead for a university graduate with $30,000 to $40,000 in debt, who is unable to find a job and is living at home. According the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt has reached a new milestone, crossing the $1.2 trillion mark. What this report neglects to announce is that the $1.2 trillion is just the money students borrowed and doesn't include the money that parents borrowed. Debt is painful for many students, and an increasing number of graduates are unable to pay back their loans on time. Delinquencies on student loans have risen dramatically over the past decade.

For a Bright Future program graduate, the dream is very alive. During the last 15 years, especially since the "Great Recession," Bright Future graduates have been experiencing much different realities. Bright Future graduates, by entering the program, already saved more than one year and thousands of dollars in tuition and fees, even before graduating from high school. With a high school diploma, an industry certificate, a mountain of skills, knowledge, and confidence, no debt, our graduates are successful whether they continue their education or work.

According to the data just received from the Seattle Community Colleges District, from 2002 to 2012, 114 former Bright Future students have attended Seattle Community Colleges. Of these students, 68% or 78% were Seattle Vocational Institute graduates. These students completed 71% of the more than 5000 credits they took at the other three campuses of Seattle Community Colleges. This percentage is superior to those students who come to our colleges right after high school or those who have been away from the education scene for some time. Earning college credits is one part of the positive outcome of the Bright Future program model. Employability is the other positive aspect of the model. We are working with the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges to find out how our graduates are performing in the world of employment. We will share that data with you as soon as it is available.

For our students and their parents, the American dream is alive and well. They are here, attending Seattle Vocational Institute, because we all believe that the road to a bright future begins here.

This message also appears in the current newsletter but the newsletter has plenty of other news, including some updates about past graduates of Bright Future. Click here to see the Fall 2014 newsletter.