Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is Higher Education Really Worth It?

Recent college graduates are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. After graduation, potential employers are passing up these recent grads because they lack relevant work experience. Having a Masters degree at 24 is a major accomplishment to everyone except employers, unless you have 3+ years of experience also. In my case, I didn’t have any “real” work experience. I had worked for about 8 months at a research firm and a year at my schools center for social science research, both calling people and administering questionnaires. That wasn’t enough or the right kinds of research experience to even get a job at the research firm I had worked the 8 months. I went from interview to interview hearing that I didn’t have enough experience OR for jobs outside of research I had too much education and the company was afraid I wouldn’t stay long.

Unless recent college grads found someway to get the experience needed with out amassing huge amounts of student loan debt, even the jobs they get don’t really amount to much. Student loan payments make me wish I never went to grad school, I can’t even afford to pay them. The job I have is extremely boring and not even close to what I would love to be doing with myself but the pay is decent. The pay is the only reason I am still here. I can’t afford to work in a field that makes me happy, I mean after all I have to pay for the education I can’t even use.

With college costs raising more and more college graduates are finding themselves in the same situation. Is the education really worth it? How is the experience gained? In my case, I probably could have done more to prepare myself in college but I didn’t have anyone giving me advice on what I should do. My only concerns were playing basketball, working my work study job, and keeping up with my always full load of classes. There wasn’t much time for anything else. Whenever I talk to anyone who is about to graduate or deciding to go to grad school I always try to encourage them to make sure they are studying exactly what they want and to take all the opportunities available to them to get as much experience towards their future career as possible. Maybe I was just hard headed growing up but I really don’t remember hearing anyone giving me such wise words.

So I guess my words of wisdom are:

Try to get as much experience in the field you want to work in BEFORE you graduate OR have a really great back up plan.

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