Was College Even Worth It?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should be highly educated. Yet after graduating magna cum laude, I’m still unemployed 14 months after graduation. Meanwhile, I’m scraping together what I can from freelancing to keep up with ridiculously high student loan payments. Really they wouldn’t be bad at all if I had a job. But… where’s the job?

As it turns out, I’m not alone. The New York Times did a piece today about someone who graduated in 2008 and is still unemployed. But that lucky s-o-b was actually offered a $40,000/year job and turned it down because it wasn’t enough money. I would do almost anything to be making $40,000/year right now. At least it would cover the loans and allow me to start putting some money away so I can have my own life someday.

All through college, my dad and others told me not to worry about taking out student loans, after all, they end up being small payments that are easily taken care of once you graduate and get a job. “Your brother said his student loans were easy,” said my dad, a few years ago when I was still in college. My brother graduated in 2002 and got a job right away for ADP with the help of a relative who worked there. (Fast-forward to 2010 and ADP is one of the millions of companies cutting jobs. Luckily my brother switched companies at some point along the way.)

I enjoyed every minute of my history classes, art history projects, educational trips to Europe, and late-night trips to get ice cream with the girls. College was a blast. But why did I bother to get A’s when, obviously, nobody cares? Nobody cares that I can write 30 page papers based on original research. Nobody cares that I can speak Italian and Spanish. Nobody cares that I learn extremely quickly and enjoy every minute of it. Nobody cares because nobody has any money to hire me.

I know this sounds very depressing, and really I apologize if I made any of you depressed. I just want to make a point. Something has to be done. People my age have a lot of energy and potential, and they just want someone to give them a chance so they can start building a life of their own. Unfortunately, we’re stuck competing against 30,40, and 50-somethings who were laid-off mid-career. And employers will ALWAYS pick the ones with more experience.

I’ve considered going to grad school, like some of my other friends, hoping that an advanced degree may give me a leg up getting the positions I want. The problem is I’m scared to death that when I get out of grad school, I’ll have the same problem, only 100 times worse: even MORE debt and still no job, at which point I will be forced to take a minimum wage job in retail in order to make the payements.

(Now I’m wondering why I spent so much time studying. I could have taken a break and gotten B’s and C’s, since nobody in “the real world” cares that I did well in school.)

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