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!