September 28, 2016

What Should We Tell Our Children? – How a college education has lost value in the current economy

I walk through the halls of the school I work at and, year after year, I hear parents speaking the same words: “You have to do good in school so you can get into college.”

The irony of the matter is that most of these parents have not attended college themselves, but based on popular opinion, they believe their children will be better off monetarily by attending college. The truth is that college degrees are not nearly as “valuable” as they became in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

In fact, unless your child requires a degree for his/her proposed profession, a college degree becomes solely a piece of paper. The debt that modern college graduates have incurred is worsened by the fact that there are no jobs(especially jobs over 20K) and college tuition rates are at their highest ever. The result is a large amount of debt that becomes an automatic handicap when starting a life.

From my personal experience, I have found that my major has nothing to do with not finding decent employment, but rather my “lack” of experience denies me employment. Even low-paying jobs like those in retail and entry-level secretarial jobs require two-plus years experience with no substantial education requirements. In other words, I would have been better off not going to college and instead venturing out into the workforce like most of my high school peers.

While I was in my final year of college, I was more than excited to become a contributing member of society. Little did I know that 2009 was the beginning of the worst economic depression since the 1920s. Luckily, I found a job to “hold me over” until I found what everyone refers to as a “real” job.

After two and half years of continuous searching, I have submitted to the notion that multiple low-paying jobs and a newborn sense of entrepreneurship seem to be the only way to move forward.

These new creeds were born from the realization that the hard working, yearning to learn, ready-to-take-on-any-challenge American dream has vanished into dust. Employers are greedy, want more tax breaks, and do not want to work. Everyone wants a “milk” job and, more recently, these jobs have become obsolete — making the job market overly competitive. Therefore, unless you are overqualified for any position to which you are applying, you have no chance.

Plain and simple: America has witnessed the death of employers looking at a prospect employee, seeing potential, and taking a chance on an American kid hoping to help change the world.

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Born and raised in Texas, Andie Scharer still considers herself to be a proud resident who claims no allegiance to the stereotype of the typical Texan. Most people find this very surprising considering Andie grew up in a small town 40 miles from Houston. Her parents are school teachers, so the value of an education was ingrained in her at a very early age. Andie was a successful student throughout grade school, never missing one day in 13 years and participating in many extracurricular activities in sports as well as academics.

When college came around, her dream was to attend the University of Michigan and she was accepted. However, Andie also received a large scholarship, which stipulated that she attend a university in the state of Texas. At this point, she had no choice.  So, she attended the only Texas college she applied for — the University of Texas at Austin.

She knew nothing of the rivalries, the history, or the academics of UT. However, once she arrived and every minute thereafter until she graduated, was the most enlightening time of her life thus far. Andie learned how to bounce back from a failing GPA after a rowing injury put her on bed rest during her freshman year, she navigated the streets of Florence, Italy for her entire junior year, and she found herself through a diverse universe of experiences.

Currently, Andie is out in the workforce, struggling to stay afloat, but gaining strength and still discovering ways to stay happy and feel alive!