Value of your degree in today’s world

Posted on Thu 03 Nov 2011 @ 10.30pm UTC

Here is a thread on Reddit that really, really shows what the man (or woman) in the street has found out about the real-life value of a university degree:

Value of a college degree | Reddit | 03 Nov 2011

The thread is longish, but worth the read.

A selection of the most apposite (to the point) comments (below).

getting youth involved

Image by via Flickr

On what happens after graduating from your expensive degree:

“Kind of funny since this post I feel applies directly to my life:

  • Graduated in May 2011
  • Earned 2 degrees, one in biology and one in Spanish
  • I am bilingual (English, Spanish)
  • I am currently employed at McDonald’s

“Life is just one big ray of effing sunshine isn’t it”

On our warped perception of having a college/university education:

“What pisses me off is this idea that just because you go to college, you won’t have to worry about employment & finances, that you CAN live the American dream. Sure you can, but there are caveats.”

On the existence of alternatives that are not told to you:

“I’m still, to this day bitter [that] no one even mentioned the idea of going to a trade school. I’d be so much better off right now if I had gone to a trade school. Likely own at least one home, zero debt. Would be nice. I’m just now getting on my feet, working a great job that pays well that I enjoy, but that ~5 years of food service was hell.”

On the myth that you’re too good for certain things:

“EXACTLY. I recall teachers implying that we were too good to go to trade school, too good to go to community college. Many of us believed it. I stupidly attended a private university for my BSW & then grad school for my MSW. I am lucky to be making 30k-35k a year.

“My cousin never really learned to read [and] managed to graduate high school. He now makes over 100k a year welding. I enjoyed my college years. I’m glad I have an education but seriously, FML.”

On the ultimate effect of carrying an education debt load:

“Exactly. I would like to start a family one day, own a home or even a vehicle. However all these things are on hold until I have more financial stability. Many of them will be on hold for quite a while.”

On the artificial stigma of a non-university qualification induced by academic wankery:

“This is something that has always interested me about Americans. It always seems to be commonly assumed that you must go to college. In Australia, university (roughly similar to college) is only for people who actually need it. From the school I went to I would roughly estimate about 45% went on to attend university, 45% entered apprenticeships/trade schools and about 10% are doing nothing/working full time.

“There was absolutely no stigma attached to these choices. Being a tradesperson (builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, landscape gardeners, etc…) is not seen as a consequence of not being good enough to go to university. To me, it makes absolutely no sense for somebody that wants to work in these professions, to waste time at university/college. Is this true or do American movies and TV overplay the societal pressure to go to college?”

group pic

Image by via Flickr

On the rising trend of needing work experience for every job, no matter how menial:

“Entry-level job: 5 years’ experience required. lolwut?

“This is no joke. I lost my job in finance in 2008 and saw this on every job posting I looked at. I would show up to job interviews for the most menial position and see guys looking like they could be a VP sitting in the lobby waiting for their turn to interview.”

On the realities of internships:

“This. Don’t get me wrong, half the internships out there are more interested in using newcomers as slave labor than they are in finding new potentials, but it’s pretty much a requirement in some fields now.”

On what has to be done if you’re lacking in ‘proven work experience’:

“When I was first entering the job market (about 7.5 years ago) I struggled to find anyone who would even look at me without 2 years’ minimum experience too. In the end I volunteered to help out over the summer holidays for an intern’s wage ($100 a week). They weren’t looking, but recognised I was cheap help during a busy time (Christmas in NZ). By the end of the summer I had a full-time job.

“My [fiancée] had the exact same experience last year. She ‘volunteered’ for 9 months on interns rates ($200pw this time). We were lucky enough that my salary was enough to cover the living costs of the two of us. She eventually got a full-time job about 4 months ago. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but you never know.

“I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes if no one is opening any doors for you, the best cause of action is to cut a hole in the wall and make a new door.”

Go on. Be brave. Read the other comments there. Read stuff that you don’t want to know.

(hat tip to via Facebook)

* * *


While I was compiling this article, a couple of people picked up on the Reddit thread and commented — perversely not on the thread itself, but on an external thread elsewhere. Three of their comments will suffice:

“I appreciate these people are having a tough time and because of that they are being judgmental about the real worth of a college education. There is no question in my mind that a college degree is the best possible avenue to getting a well paying job. The fact that people such as myself, having gone through the whole education system, HAS obtained a teaching job is really proof that without a college education in this day and age you’re not likely to find any worthwhile job out there.”

(An apparent pedagogist)

“I think many of the comments reflect a failure to perceive correctly that, just because the job market is undergoing fundamental economic realignment, they are blaming their qualifications for being less than useful in the real world.”

(Some sort of academic in economics or sociology)

“They do not appreciate that the term JOBLESS does not necessarily mean that these people are out of a job owing to the fact that some of the people who commented said that they volunteered as interns on intern rates of pay are indicative of the fact that they are not really jobless in the actual sense of the word.”

(An apparent linguist)

(That’s enough secondary comments. You’re fired for including them. — Editor)

Can you actually believe those running comments?

© Learn English or Starve, 2011. Images powered by Zemanta/WordPress.

Posted in: Colour Section