It comes as no surprise that college graduates are looking for the big paychecks on Wall Street, but many educators are asking why that seems to be the only acceptable option for many Ivy League graduates. Is everyone selling their soul?

Don’t get me wrong, jobs on Wall Street are impressive and highly competitive. I know of one attractive young woman who is dying for one. Hundreds of applicants with top grades, stellar references, and high aptitudes are turned down almost everyday for entry-level positions at the big banks. It seems like one of the big reasons for the clamor to be a corporate suit is the high debt incurred while completing one’s undergraduate degree at a top-flight institution.

With student debt at an all time high and tuition bills skyrocketing, many students see a Wall Street job as the only way to pay for their recently acquired Harvard degree. Maybe that’s the problem?

The New York Times ran a seemingly very slanted piece on college students’ obsession with Wall Street careers. I found myself asking, “So basically, NYT, you’re saying there’s nothing socially rewarding about these careers? Really?”

To combat the desire for instant financial security, some universities like Tufts are offering to pay off student loan debt for graduates entering a public service profession. Other schools are shifting more towards offering grants as the main source of financial aid, as opposed to loans, in order to avoid the burden of payback after graduation. Teach for America is another example of a program that uses talented recent graduates to give back to needing communities in the form of school teachers.

None of this seems to be enough though, the lure of Wall Street is too strong. But what’s so wrong with that? Apparently, from the NYT interviews, you’re a corporate whore if you accept one:

“You have to be part of the competition. You have to prove to yourself and everyone else that you can do it.”Bryan Barnhill, a Harvard senior from a public high school in Detroit, took a semester off and will graduate next year. “Some people say it’s a selfish thing to do,” he said, referring to the lucrative jobs. “They say you should be using your talent for something beneficial for your community. Terms like ‘corporate whore’ would be tossed around.”

That’s pretty harsh. But what are we expecting from these kids? Do we want them all to be doctors, politicians, and pro-bono defense lawyers? Should they save our city, our country, our planet first while foregoing a handsome ‘selfish’ paycheck?

It seems that many educators and jaded adults are unhappy with the current state of affairs. Rather than letting their children and country’s young people indulge in some luxuries they were not afforded, they would rather these bright young stars figure out how to save us from ourselves. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe the NYT article is right and we’re just becoming a self-serving society that only looks out for number 1.

If you’re still on the fence about your future career, might I suggest these or this.

This is definitely something you should weigh in on at the comments section.

NYT: Lure of Big Paychecks or Service? Students Are Put to The Test, June 23, 2008