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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Rainy Days

Since moving to Portland just over a year and a half ago, I’ve discovered the wonder known as…the crock pot.  Throw all your ingredients in, set the dial, go about your day, and you come home to a meal and a deliciously scented house!

Now, I actually like rain – the sounds, the smell – and I always seem to get some quality self-reflection in when the sky is open. Even though it rained in New York and snowed in New York and got cold in New York, I was never a big fan of soups and stews.  That being said, I became attached to warmer, steamier dishes my first rainy winter on the ‘left coast’; the rain makes everything feel an entirely different kind of cold – not the dry snowy air of the Northeast, but a damp and biting cold that makes me want to curl up in a blanket all day.  Enter the crock pot.

Once again, Pinterest has provided me with endless ideas and opportunity for my own creativity in the crock pot meal realm. Currently top on my list of winter favorites, Ropa Vieja.  My mom made this dish when I was little, and when I stumbled across the crockpot recipe for it a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make it.  Since that fateful day I’ve cooked the dish twice, with a few alterations, depending on what I had in my fridge and what sounded good to me.  Both times, I left out the capers because (and I’m not really sure why) they creep me out when I see them in a jar.  I also left out the bay leaf because I hate having to fish it out when everything is done cooking.  Other than that, I left the recipe the same and both times it came out wonderfully.  The second time I changed up the color of the peppers the recipe called for based on what I had on hand – because, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to run to the store.  For me the key to the recipe is the meat; buy a good cut – seriously.  I spent a few minutes talking with the butcher at my local store and he explained some of the differences in chuck and recommended a cut – and let me tell you, the meat fell apart perfectly (and just as he described) as it cooked!

Pair it with some nice crusty bread and a wine and you’re set for a rainy night in.  My brother and my boyfriend both have tried my version and love it as much as I do!

There are a million other recipes I want to try, although I’m a little limited in what I can make – no dairy for me, which means nothing with milk or cheese in it.  Unfortunately, I keep running into dishes loaded with cheese (I start drooling perusing the recipe to see if I can leave out my favorite – but forbidden – ingredient).  Despite this, I have managed to find a number of other recipes, including this Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin.

So that’s where you’ll find me for the rest of my second Pacific Northwest winter – perusing Pinterest and loading my crock pot full of ingredients!  Be sure to let me know if you have any crock pot favorites that you’re willing to share!

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words…and Perhaps A Whole Lot More

A few months ago I watched a short documentary on Vimeo called Instagram Is.

The film was created by Paul Tellefson and features a number of Instagrammers.  The documentary project all started in a class when Paul was asked to create a trailer for  a mock film; after creating the short trailer, Paul realized there was an entire story right in front of him.  He ended up creating Instagram Is as part of his capstone project at the University of Texas at Dallas.

A year and half ago, I graduated from a college where I had an amazing four years with an amazing group of friends, and shortly after I picked up my life and moved from upstate New York to Portland, Oregon.  Before stumbling across the video on Instagram, I liked Instagram because it allowed me to quickly document my daily life and post a picture for my friends and family to see three thousand miles away.  And it’s reciprocal, so I got to see everything my best friends were up to even though we were now sprinkled across the country and not living on campus within five minutes of each other; it was a great way to keep in touch and to a certain extent made me feel like we were still physically a part of each of my friends’ lives.  Then I watched Instagram Is, and became obsessed with Instagram – as a mobile app, as a community, as a window into other worlds, as a way to document and change perspective.

After watching Instagram Is, I still see it as a window into other worlds and method by which to document a life story, but also a lot more.  It’s a way to meet and connect with other people from different states, different countries, and different worlds.  Through conversation on user photographs, users created Instameets to meet up with members of the Instagram community in cities all over the world.  Users crafted a community and took a uniform, digital community and infused it with creativity and physicality.  I hadn’t realized the strength and realness embedded in Instagram; most digital communities seem cold and lacking genuine sentiment.  Since watching, I’ve got to admit, I’ve become obsessed – to a certain extent – with Instagram.  I love being able to create and share photos with not only my friends, but also people around the world; being able to explore other worlds and different perspectives on my own world through photographs.

Instagram – and my obsession for it – gives me a little more faith in social media and makes me want to dive into new platforms to see what’s going on! What social media platforms are you obsessed with? What platform inspires you to create, share, and explore?

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