The Cost of Education

I grew up in a small, quaint town in the middle of nowhere in upstate NY and I was raised in a relatively affluent and liberal household and community.  Like anyone else, I gained a lot of my opinions and values from my surroundings; my views on education being one such thing.  Having had my nose to the educational grindstone for the past eighteen years my views and understanding of education have evolved in the process.

I value education, to put it mildly.  I see huge benefits of learning and growing on a daily basis.  For me, I like the challenge; I feel some kind of weird euphoria learning new things – plus, it keeps me from feeling bored!  I want to emphasize that a college degree isn’t the only kind of learning – self-learning, certificate programs, and experiences can all provide many of the same skills that a formal education can – and college isn’t a goal for everyone.

Growing up, I picked up the idea that if you didn’t go to college you wouldn’t get anywhere in life.  I don’t remember anyone telling me this outright – I suspect I picked up the idea from my mother’s ideals and the media – and this idea was probably more relevant in 1970s.  Back then, a degree was gold and did almost guarantee the degree-holder a great job.  Today however, a lot seems to have changed.

This mentality – that a college degree is required – still exists, but it no longer guarantees you a good job.  Internships and connections are now an added expectation, but even with these assets under one’s belt a job can still be incredibly hard to come by.  Recent graduates struggle to find a job as (for lack of a better word) “legitimate” employers class them as under-qualified and retail/service employers class them as over-qualified.

This struggle, combined with the increasing cost of tuition and loan interest rates, begs the question, “Is it worth it to get a degree?”  For me, the answer is still yes.  I attended two wonderful, small private colleges, with enriching communities.  I paid more for my degrees than many and while I don’t regret the experiences I had and the education I received, I often wonder where I would be if I had opted for a cheaper public institution.  Certainly I would have less student loan debt.  Educationally speaking, I’d like to think that I would be in much the same place – although I had extremely small class sizes, which contributed greatly to my learning.  Would I have more/less valuable experiences?  Would I have more/less prestigious and rewarding internships?  Would I have more/less networking contacts?  I ask myself these questions frequently as I search for a job in marketing or communications.

I still firmly believe in the value of education.  However, looking at academia from the other end of the tunnel, I really wish the costs associated with a degree were more affordable.  Why should a degree create (in many cases) financial burden?

I’d love to hear what others think about education and the other things that you value!

Also, if you want to hire me, get in touch!

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And the job search continues…

Let me preface this post by saying I don’t mean this to be a sob story – because I’m incredibly grateful what I do have – but, long story short, I’ve been on the hunt for a new job.  With my recently acquired Master’s degree under my belt I really want to segway into a job more in line with what I’m interested in, and let me tell you, it’s not easy.  I’ve been scouring job postings for entry-level jobs in marketing, public relations, and communications and nearly every entry-level job requires ‘3 to 5 years’ of experience.

 Hold up.

This doesn’t make sense to me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that in today’s job market individuals are expected to have completed internships to gain some real world experience – and I’ve done some of those myself.  My issue is that, realistically, it’s not easy to work as an intern (often unpaid) for three years when I have rent, bills, and student loans to pay.  My other issue: I work hard. I don’t like not knowing how to do something and I’ll admit, I’m competitive and I don’t like being second best, so for me, even though I might lack experience, I know that I could take on most of these jobs and grasp them pretty quickly.  I don’t want anything handed to me, but I do want a company to take a chance on me (I’m not stupid, I know that the chances of some fairy-godmother company sweeping me up are pretty slim – but a girl can dream).

So all in all, I feel forced into a corner – a corner where I’m applying for retail and somewhat secretarial customer service jobs because I don’t ‘qualify’ for entry-level jobs in the fields I want to work in.  Frustrating to say the least, but such is life, so all I can do is keep pushing and trying to get experience all on my own.  And if anyone wants to see my resume…no seriously, if want to see it, please ask.

No one ever said success was easy, right?

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