Back-to-school time is bittersweet

By Alexandra Newman - Contributing columnist

As everyone goes back to school, I am reminded that I don’t get to/have to go back this year.

It’s probably even worse because I graduated early, so all my friends still have another year.

It’s one of the oddest sensations too; knowing I’ve gotten as much education as some of the great leaders of our country.

Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan only had bachelor’s degrees. I could be president!

Carrie Underwood has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. She could be doing my job right now.

Spike Lee holds a communication degree from Indiana University and Meg Ryan studied journalism at New York University. Mark Harmon graduated from UCLA with a degree in communications. The list is endless.

I’m on the same level as the people I grew up watching. I have the same amount of education as my parents (although my mom gets credit for at least half a master’s degree).

According to the U.S. Census, as of last March, 30.4 percent of people over age 25 in the United States held at least a bachelor’s degree.

I am only 21. Breaking down statistics. POW (I couldn’t find a statistic for the number of 21-year-olds who have a bachelor’s degree, but I’m sure it’s not that many.)

I’m definitely not ready to be that much of an adult yet though. I do not want to own a home. I do not want to have children. I do not even want a pet. Too much responsibility. I’m going to stay young, innocent and free for as long as possible.

Children are in such a hurry to grow up these days. A girl I graduated high school with is married, has a 9-month-old child and is pregnant with another. That is just unfathomable to me.

I went through my high school yearbook the other day and out of the 350 people I graduated with, almost 75 have a child, are married or have a kid on the way.

We’re still babies! We shouldn’t be having babies! We should be hanging out with our friends, singing and dancing till our lungs give out, and hurting our livers a little bit.

The average age of marriage for women in the United States is 26.5, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data. In 1960, 72 percent of all adults ages 18 and older were married compared to 51 percent today.

According to a 2003 report from the CDC, the average age at which women in the U.S. have their first child is 25.2 years, but that number’s in flux. In 1970, for example, the average was 21.4.

If the trend is people are getting married later in life and having babies later in life, why are all my Facebook friends getting hitched and reproducing?

We shouldn’t have to worry about finding a babysitter or deciding on what crib is the safest. Now, if you want to do that, go for it, but if you have the choice, go out and live your life, be completely silly, we’ve got time!

According to a report on mortality in the USA from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for females is 81.2 years and for males, it’s 76.4 years.

I’ve only lived 17.052 percent of my life. I have more than 80 percent of my expected life left. I’m excited, I’m optimistic, and as Conrad Birdie sang in the 1960 Broadway production of “Bye Bye Birdie” — “I’ve got a lot of livin’ to do.”

By Alexandra Newman

Contributing columnist

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825 or [email protected]

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825 or [email protected]