Posts tagged Money
Beyond The Bag

When I think about the role of higher education and wealth building for college graduates from a working-class background, I can’t help but think that the wealth building as a relay race. A relay race is no doubt a team effort that not only requires speed to win but a successful baton exchange. I am afraid that when it comes to college graduates from a poor and working-class background, we think that higher education is so powerful that it enables one to sprint to wealth. Now, by sprint, my focus isn't on speed but a race where winning is incumbent on the individual athlete, not the team.

To help you understand what I mean by wealth building as a relay race rather than a sprint, allow me to tell you about two talented young men from Houston’s Sunnyside community, a historically African American community where the median household income is $28, 817. As you will see, they are both interested in the arts.

Please keep in mind, these young men's stories aren’t unique because of their interests in the arts. Their stories represent the masses of black and brown college students seeking to improve their quality of life.

Working Class College Student A

College student A has musical talent and is currently pursuing Jazz Studies at an excellent liberal arts college in New York where the tuition is more than $60,000 per year. This school was on his list of colleges among other equally impressive colleges but selected because of the stellar faculty in the Jazz Studies department. This young man has musical talent and dreams of being a music producer and wants to be the best.

But he faced a problem: A remaining balance of $30,000. Eventually, the college awarded additional scholarships, but it was still not enough to cover the remaining balance. How was this talented young man able to attend this excellent liberal arts college? You guessed right; his mother had to take out loans to cover the remaining balance.

While he had a remarkable freshman year, the cycle continues More loans to continue his education.

Working Class College Student B

College Student B is currently attending Houston Community College after transferring from a 4-year public university, also known as reverse transferring. This young man is a talented abstract artist who too wanted to be taught by the best.

Like Student A, he needed more funding to attend his dream college even after qualifying for the maximum amount of Pell Grants and federal loans. Unlike Student A, his mother could not take out additional loans because she wasn’t deemed creditworthy. The financial aid administrator received authorization from the Department of Education to award him additional federal loans.

About a year later I followed up with his mother to check his progress, and she informed me that he transferred to Houston Community College. She plans to improve her credit so she can qualify for additional loans so he would be able to go back to the 4-year public university.  

The Lesson

What is the lesson that these two talented and capable young black men’s story ought to teach us about higher education and wealth building? When we consider the average starting salary (just over $50,000) and the college debt of a college graduate, it teaches us that it is unlikely that college graduates from a working-class background will be able to build a substantial amount of wealth in their lifetime.

Several factors compound the problem of wealth building for said group, but one element is the role educational attainment plays in shaping their taste and preferences. For instance, a student from a low-income household who grew up in the hood does not have the desire to move back to the hood with their parents and siblings, grandparents, and other relatives. Low-income college graduates once they secure employment are more likely to spend money on housing on top of college debt. After taxes, housing, transportation, and college debt, there’s nothing left.

For college graduates from a background that matches their tastes and preferences, moving home to save up is a viable and preferred option. I am reminded of a friend who moved back home with his parents in Katy, TX after graduating from law school and securing a job at a top law firm in Houston. He continued living with his parents for about two years. It wasn't because he didn't know how to live in the real world or needed to develop life skills, his mindset, and his parents' mindset was wealth building.  

Unfortunately, for college graduates from the hood, moving home is not a preferred option. For the masses of college graduates, higher education not the key to wealth building.

For African American’s living in a capitalist system, I think we should start considering Du Bois’s view of education, which is that the responsibility of African American higher education is not the creation of wealth but the cultivation and preservation of African American culture. When higher education becomes a tool to develop human souls and create beauty, the next generation will be better positioned to secure the bag.

- Jarvis Taylor, Founder of Project College Counseling

Securing the Bag

 “In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” – Chester Karrass

In our last episode about salary negotiation, Latricia shared some data regarding wage inequity in the workplace, namely that (1) in 1979, the average black man in America earned 80 percent as much per hour as the average white man. By 2016, that shortfall had worsened to 70 percent, according to research from the San Francisco Federal Reserve, which found the divide had also widened for black women and (2) analysis from Institute for Women’s Policy Research says if the wage gap keeps narrowing at the pace it has been the last 50 years, Black women will not catch up to white men until the year 2124 (that's 106 years from now), Hispanics until 2248, and white women until 2056. 

Considering that the reasons behind the issue of wage inequality are far-reaching and complex, it would be irresponsible and intellectually dishonest to claim a single behavior would solve it. With that in mind, we believe that strategies around salary negotiation could tip the scales in our favor, even if only a small amount. With that being said, let's dive into the key points of effective salary negotiation as explained by Kyle Mosley, senior executive recruiter with Walker Elliot:
Do Your Homework
Do you know the details of the role you are applying for? Do you know the financial performance history of the employer you are interviewing with? How about the background of the CEO? These are just a few easy things you can google and research ahead of the interview so that when your interviewer asks "what do you know about us?" or "why do you want to work here?" you have something thoughtful to say. Remember, Google is free and has a strong ROI! 
Speak to Your Practical Work Experience During the Interview
Part of being able to tie your practical work experience to the job you are applying for is dependent upon you doing your homework. Remember, the goal of your interview is to communicate your value to your potential employer. Being able to tie what you have practically done and seek to do helps connect those dots for the company seeking the best fit, and when it comes to finally getting to the brass tax of talking salary dollars, you will be better able to defend why you want a higher number. 

Ask Questions
Kyle shared that this is the main space that he sees POC falter in compared to their white counterparts. Do you know the salary range of the job? What about the benefits? Do you know who will be involved in your interviewing process and more specifically, who you should be speaking to when you get onsite for in-person interviews? Do you know how long the company has been seeking to fill the role? These are questions you can't Google, but you can ask during the interviewing process. You want to be equipped with as much information as possible to (again) inform what - and how - you negotiate.

Kyle also mentioned building your network through LinkedIn. This doesn't just mean reaching out to employers, but recruiters as well (reach out to Kyle here!). They can help you prepare for making the next move and perhaps, securing the bag. 

- Zach

Copy of LC_Icon_color_02@1920pxTransparent.png