Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Class of 2011....Now What?

Nana always used to tell me "Education is never wasted".

I think she just said that to make me feel better about squandering a ridiculous amount of money on an as-of-yet-incomplete attempt to get a fancy piece of paper with my name on it. 

I completed one year of college while still in high school. I completed two years of private university after high school. Three majors, 80 something credits and sixty grand or so in student loan debt later...I still don't have that piece of paper. But does it really matter? 

Ask me a year or two ago when I was job hunting, and I would have said "of course it does, damnit" because even the employment ads for coffee-fetching secretaries that paid 8 bucks an hour required a degree. Strangely, it often times doesn't even matter what the degree is in, so long as you have one. 

So what makes the fancy piece of paper so fucking special? To be honest, I still haven't figured it out. Other than the obvious...I wouldn't want a doctor or lawyer who had never attended college ("Hey nurse, what's this weird pointy thingy do?") is it really necessary for most jobs to require a degree?  The argument thats been given to me to justify the education aspect countless times is that it "shows employers that you are dedicated and motivated". Bullshit. Getting up to go to the same thankless job for slightly-above-poverty-level-wages for the last 13 years is fucking dedication! I have held at LEAST one full time job, with the exception of a month or two since I was 18 years old. I have had at least a part-time job since I was 15. 

But what does that get me? My very own cardboard sign and tin cup on the street corner. If I am lucky, it will be a funny sign. 

Erica, one of my closest friends since the third grade knows I suck at school. She has like 16 degrees and is incredibly booksmart (lucky bitch) and has an awesome future ahead of her in the medical field. Recently she sent me an article from CNN suggesting that perhaps college may in fact be a waste of time and money.  Education is important, without question, but is the ONLY way of obtaining it by sitting in a classroom, listening to lectures, taking notes and then regurgitating them on tests and papers only to forget them by the weekend? Could it possibly be that college is important because theres money involved for the institution? A LOT of money? The article even goes as far as to suggest that college prices are increasing at a far faster rate than inflation simply because the government will throw student loans at anyone who can spell their name correctly? 

It's really something to think about. Did you go to college? Do you plan to? Do you regret going or not going? Would you try to push your children to go? Do you think it is necessary to require a degree for most jobs? Is college the only way, or is there a better way? Leave your thoughts below


  1. I earned a B.S. in Psychology, which is one of the most useless degrees out there. So, I went back for even MORE school and got a Master's in Counseling Psychology. That led to my dream job. I worked for 7 years as a Career Counselor before deciding to become a stay-at-home-mom. At the end, I had burned out considerably. Someday, when I decide it's time to return to work, I have no idea what I'll do. I'm not sure I want to do the same thing. I did end up with student loans, but thanks to scholarships, parental help, and my own hard work, the loan amounts were not too bad. In fact, I just made my final payment about 2 months ago!!! :-) Recently, I read a similar article about how college may not really be necessary and too many youth are being funneled into college. They'll earn degrees and then get a waitressing job. I definitely think there is some truth to that. There are some fabulous trades that need new workers and that pay really well. Our schools would do well to offer more support to the kids who are interested in vocational training. There is just WAY too much focus on college prep. What about the other kids? Focus on helping ALL of them find their own career path.

  2. I am currently among the many unemployed and have been pondering this very same thing! It's seems impossible to even get an interview these days which can only lead a person to feel insecure and worthless.I have a great resume with loads of experience yet I'm either over qualified or i dont have a degree which makes me under qualified. I used to get jobs so easily, ive actually never had troubles like this. The problem must by the amount of many people looking for work, so many options, clearly the jobs are going to those with degree's, which pisses me off! Not because i think those with degree's are not qualified or smart (er) than myself, purely for the fact that if you dont have a degree your resume gets dumped in the DUMB file and interviews are selected from the SMART pile, thats my assumption anyway. I agree with you completely, Rose, getting a degree is not the only way to determine if a person is dedicated or motivated. Maybe the difference is that those with out degrees want to avoid debt and have to work more than just 40 hours a week to support themselves in the first place.. want to experience life on their own instead of just reading about it in a text book... maybe, just maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with dedication or motivation! but what do i know, i dont have a degree to prove i know anything anyway..

  3. I always thought psychology was a good degree, I guess I was wrong! I know philosophy is pretty useless too. I bet it feels great to be done paying the student loans! I will be paying mine till the end of time.

  4. I am glad you agree. Sometimes I wonder if it's just a crazy thought, but it just seems like it's not the best way for everyone...not even most people.