How To Make A Million

As much as my Freshman year remains muddled or thankfully forgotten, the day remains vivid: the teacher walked to the front of the classroom with nothing but anticipation in his eyes as he glazed the room of students. He breathed once, not hesitating to spit the question outright:

“How can you make a million dollars?”

You would think that such a question would spur some type of discussion. Minds began to race, trains of thoughts were set into motion, and responses were being manufactured but the cold taciturnity of the room didn’t hint to this.

Admittedly enough, my mind stationed to selling narcotics off a street corner or facilitating human bodies off a country’s border as means of amassing such a large quantity of legal tender. I assumed he referenced to a legal way of obtaining a plethora of Washingtons, and it was upon this conclusion that it dawned on me that this task had become much harder.

“Money is only a tool,” says Ayn Rand, a famed Russian-born American novelist. If this is so, money is one Hell of a utility: it’s existence is not without regulation, precaution, or lust. The power of money presents itself as one so potent that it holds responsibility for the earth’s rotation as well as bloodshed and resolution. Today’s society presents money as the ramification of a lifelong competition to see who can make the most of it and be as competitive as this may, it is usually the “blooming” generation that resides somewhere in last place.

With the given scenario, our mission is to simply make a million although this is not to say that the challenge became any easier.

They say the best way to attain money legally for a millennial is to graduate college but what is lesser cautioned is the cancer that sits just at the gate of graduation: student debt. Student debt sees no end to its growth: from a somewhat conquerable $18,650 in 2004 to a hardy $30,000 in 2012 to a now projected $35,051 in 2016, students wield only a bachelor degree worth an average of $45,478 a year to battle this beast. A battle, I add, that takes an average of 21 years to play out.

Something to look forward to, truly.

From the stillness of the class, a hand rose.

The response came from a seemingly erudite child. “You could go to college,” he began, “And get a degree that’s worthwhile. After a couple of years, you should have a million.”

It surprised me to how something as hefty as student loans could just fly over his head that easily. The way he causally said “a couple of years” as well really disturbed me.

Nonetheless the statement was spoken eloquently enough and the soft nods from a handful of surrounding students corroborated as much. The teacher, however, held a countenance that expressed slight discontent, nonverbally admitting that the child was wrong.

“That’s completely plausible, I agree. But I’m talking about you.”

Question marks were contoured unto the faces of many.

“I’m talking about in this day and age,” the teacher continued. “What can you do, right now, that can get you a million?”

Again, I assumed he was talking legally. And practically.

A part-time job then came to mind.

The average teen begins work at sixteen or seventeen and I use the term “work” lightly as minimum wage warrants nothing greater. Doing the math, a median income for the average 15–25 hour work week for adolescents comes to a whooping $110 to $182, or a median $146 for simplicity. With further calculation, we find that it will take at least 6,849 weeks to accumulate the desired million, this all to say that it would take nearly 132 years to achieve supposing the ideas of vacation, mental health, and tax were nonexistent.

It grew on me that my answer would not suffice.

More answers came as the solution became increasingly sought after. Many suggested investing in stocks, others by overseas manufacturing. As these responses meandered more and more than what our ages could allow, one girl suggested that she could utilize her webcam as a means of income. Needless to say she was shot down.

The teacher chuckled and instinctively we hushed in anticipation of the answer. He looked around the room at every individual, then came back to the conversation.


A creeping feeling that a sick joke was about to played at our expense gripped my judgment but I subdued this feeling to listen to the full effect of his words.

“Passion is a necessity to all things,” he elaborated. “It provides a reassurance that money alone can’t possibly substitute. I know very well that being a teacher will not grant me a million anytime soon, but it doesn’t have to.

“Companies and businesses alike are driven by money, yes, but the true fuel to the flame is the affinity to what they are doing. I doubt anybody would have slave through a 9 to five or a college education without the slightest hint of enthusiasm to what they are practicing and if they do, then 4 years suddenly feels like a lifetime.

“And as for you all, just worry about finding something you love doing rather than trying to squeeze into a tax bracket. Start a business, get some friends and collaborate, apply what you know to the real world. Notice how I never said that you had to wait make all these things possible.

“Statically, the average American will make over a million over the course of their lifetime anyway, so why not make the path to yours enjoyable?”

– Michael A.

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