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30 is the New 30

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By Shun McGheeart-of-listening
Contributor, Career Services

A few years ago the phrase, “30’s the new 20” was coined by renowned rapper Jay-Z. At the time, Jay-Z was nearly 40 when news of his age began racing through the hip hop community. He rebutted any questions regarding his age by stating 30 is the new 20, a theory which could be applied to any age, as 40 could be the new 30, 50 the new 40 etc… It was critical for Jay-Z to make such a statement, as unlike their colleagues in other genres, rappers are not supposed to get old.

When rap music became popular, its critics said it would never last beyond twenty years, and as such, it stood to reason the careers of rappers would be equally as short. Now 40 years old, rap has out lived some of its critics to become a credible force in music. Much of the success the genre and its poets have experienced is attributed to the youth of its followers, with young followers being attracted to young poets. While these are all factors supporting the birth of the phrase “30’s the new 20,” it is important the phrase is placed, viewed, and dissected in its proper context to reduce improper application.

For example, the median student age at American Public University is 32. Can you imagine what it would look like, if 30 year-old students made decisions like they did when they were 20? What if 30 year old guys started choosing their degree programs based on the number of women they heard were choosing the same program? What if a large number of 30 year olds filled the cafeteria dying to know who was going to this weekend’s pajama jammy jam (that’s a co-ed pajama party)? While I could make an infinite list of things 30 year-old college students should not be doing, I will instead set my sights on the things they should be doing.

Students in their 30s should be utilizing resources such as career services well before graduation to discuss possible career paths. Prior to requesting assistance from a career coach, it is ideal to have already researched industries of interest to have an educated discussion about their career options with the career coach. Finally, 30 year old students should abandon Ponce DeLeon-ic quests for the fountain of youth, and instead acknowledge that their best work is in front of them. Remember, Dr. Martin Luther King was nearly 35 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Quincy Jones was 50 when he completed his work on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. While it is acceptable for a person to look younger than they are, it is unacceptable for a person to act younger than their age. Never forget that immaturity is an undesirable trait in most social, academic and professional settings.

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