Redefine success for younger generations

As generations come and go, expectations for success become more and more malleable.

Maria Weyne, Staff Writer

“So what do you want to do after you graduate?” is a question students often face. Generation after generation, young adults are expected to be just as successful as their relatives. The way society has changed makes it hard for careers to remain the same, which makes it hard for generations to accept one another’s ideas. 


One of the main issues that are brought up now in the non-traditional path to success is the idea of being successful without college. Older generations seem to have a problem with influencers and business-creators whose success happened even without a college degree. The sole idea of creating an online business that may or may not be temporary creates a sense of insecurity among traditionally successful adults. 

The diverging ideas that millennials and generation Zs brought forth also helped pioneer a new meaning for success. A very clear example of non-traditional success is seen with Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate change activist whose message was heard loud and clear through her protests. Thunberg set out to travel from Sweden to the United States on a zero-carbon emitting boat, making her arrival even more noticeable. She has much success, and at just 16, she managed to leave a mark all over the world. 

Thunberg may not have taken the traditional route of success. She is 16, has no job, no money of her own and chose to miss out on a year of school in order to focus on activism against climate change. All these factors hinder her ability to get her high school and college degrees in time for what is considered the “appropriate” age.


Being successful is not a concrete idea. You can be successful in what you do without living up to someone else’s expectations. Many times, we expect to follow the usual path of finishing grade school, going to college, getting a job and starting a family, although things just do not go that way anymore. 

In the late 70s, college tuition cost an average of $2,275 per semester according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The cost increased by over 600% in ten years, putting it above $15,000 on average per semester. At Biola, tuition costs $20,988 per semester. This increase creates a new obstacle in the way of achieving an undergraduate degree before 25. 

Although this makes things harder, as many well-paying jobs require experience and degree, success has still been achieved without following the expected steps. Success is relative and may not look the same as it did to previous generations, but you can still do what you love in your own way and time while being successful.

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