I've taught for over 20 year, and have watched the rise of entitlement and expectation on the part of children and parents. And the inability of educators to disabuse students of this. And the media's willingness to capitalize on this. Children have been taught that this is what to expect, praised for expecting it, denied exposure to the mundane realities to follow, and inculcated into the cult of 'TV reality' that SL so rightly describes.
I can tell you... my best interns are mothers in their late 30s-40s who are looking to improve opportunities for themselves, and thereby their children.
That said, the solution is easy. And it is not merely turning post graduation employment opportunities into a nightmare of failure. We can manage expectations. We can raise the bar. We can expect more from students in high schools than standardized scores, and continue that level of expectation into college.
Rule one for anyone that I know to be a self-motivated successful individual is that failure is a requirement. They don't put it that way. If you've never failed, you have never tested yourself or pushed yourself to the extreme of your abilities. You've never tried something radically new, if you've never failed. You expect success and you anticipate the attainment of your expectations if you've never pushed yourself.
Children learn to push themselves from the models that they observe in their parents, teachers and social contacts... so if grads aren't what we expect, then we, collectively, have not been setting a good example. Blaming the victims of our collective failure is easier than our solving the problem from the ground up... and if we don't, then we're actually the same as those we're deriding.
IMHO of course.