Why A College Degree Isn’t Worth It
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Today I was enjoying a morning cup of Joe when, for no reason, I remembered something hilarious my dad said several years ago.
I had just brought a new boyfriend home to meet my parents for the first time, and this guy was really trying to win them over.
He was bragging about how he was in college to get a business degree, and how after that he was going for a management degree. There was probably another degree in there that he mentioned, I don’t remember.
What I do remember is my father’s response:
The more degrees I get, the hotter I get.
I nearly pissed myself laughing. Both at the time it happened, and this morning when I thought about it again. It also got me thinking about the institution of higher education these days and how much of a joke it is.
It wasn’t always this way, but since the economy crashed and middle class started cutting back on spending, it seems like an enormous conspiracy started taking place.
Tell people they won’t succeed in life unless they pay ridiculous amounts of money on education. That’ll show em! We gotta keep em on the hook somehow!
College Degrees Are Not Worth It
Yup, I said it.
To all of you high school aged kids out there feeling the pressure of parents and guidance counselors breathing down your neck, I want to let you in on a little secret.
A college degree is no guarantee that you will succeed in life. At best, it’s a name on a resume that might get your foot in the door.
At worst, it’s a way for corporations to profit off of young adults in the form of huge bills and never-ending interest.
The fact is, we are having a University crisis. We are telling kids these days that they need a college education or they will be complete failures in life. We say, sure you have to take out loans, but when you have a great job you can just pay them back no problem!
But there is a problem because odds are, most grads won’t get a great job immediately after graduating. They’re probably going to have to work some really shitty jobs after graduation and eat nothing but Ramen Noodles for years before ever making a dent in what they owe.
My First College Experience
I was once in your shoes.
In high school, I felt enormous pressure to go to college. As much as I fought against it, my parents told me I had no choice. So naturally, I did what any 18-year-old kid that hated her parents would do, I picked the college on the opposite side of the country and said: “that’s the one!”
My parents were none too pleased about it, but since they were the ones forcing me to go, they had to support my decision.
Like every other teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had no clue what it was I should major in, and since I had fun in my high school A.V. Club, I decided to give filmmaking a whirl.
This was a bad idea for an unmotivated chubby kid with no direction.
I flew to San Francisco with stars in my eyes, only to be greeted with the harsh reality that I had made an enormous mistake.
I Did Not Belong
I distinctly remember walking into my first class on day one and the instructor saying:
No one will get an “A” in this class. If I give you an “A” that means you are already a highly skilled professional working in the industry.
Less than .01% of you will get a “B”
Expect to get a “C” if you study for 4-6 hours a day, complete extra credit assignments every weekend, and volunteer in my photography clinic for at least 15 hours a month.
Anything under a “C” fails.
Well shit, I thought, that was just ONE class. I had 6 more just like it. There weren’t even that many hours in a day for what they expected of us.
Being told from the very beginning that you’re going to fail is not a very good feeling.
I flew back home 3 weeks later with my tail between my legs. I started working as a receptionist and began getting some life experience under my belt.
My Second College Experience
By the time I reached my 20’s, I had started picking up evening and weekend shifts in restaurants and kind of started to like it. I loved the flow of a busy shift, and the crazy coworkers couldn’t be beaten!
Every day someone had a new extreme story about their insane lives, and I knew I had found my people. I wanted to transition my work into full-time pastry work, but everywhere I looked said I needed a degree if I wanted to move up.
I felt trapped. For the first time in years, I actually felt motivated by something, but it was unattainable because I didn’t have a formal education.
After doing tons of research on loans and employment opportunities not just in the U.S., but also around the globe, I dove headfirst into a four-year degree program at a very prestigious culinary school for restaurant management.
Being Poor Sucks
I was paying out of pocket, so I worked myself to death during those 4 years. I not only worked full time as a pastry assistant, but I also worked at Home Depot just to make ends meet.
And when that didn’t work, I donated plasma to survive.
A funny thing happened in 2008 as I was about to graduate.
The economy completely fucking collapsed.
When I researched job opportunities and pay scales in my chosen field before going to school, the future was bright!
The year I graduated, however, the job market was desolate. Sure, I was able to secure a job in my chosen field, but most of my classmates did not. The only thing that set me apart from everyone else was the fact that I was older and had previous work experience.
So now, all those jobs that required a formal degree were gone. In their place were ads that said “culinary degree not required” “no degree preferred”
You see, it’s so much easier, not to mention cheaper, to just train someone in a position. College grads understandably have an expectation of being paid a higher starting salary right off the bat. They intend to work their way up the ladder still, but they also expect their diplomas to count for something in terms of higher wages.
I graduated 50K in debt, making 3 bucks less an hour than I had been as a receptionist.
It Isn’t Just Culinary School
Now before you say “But Sparky, culinary school has always been a bad idea!”
I assure you, 15 years ago, it was not. Chefs were respected and decently paid. Restaurant managers were paid even better and had a great chance of living a decent life.
If you still don’t believe me and think it was just my chosen profession that did me wrong, I’ll tell you a story about my best friend.
This guy went to college for EIGHT YEARS. He actually chose filmmaking and stuck with it. When he graduated, he had a tough time finding a job, but eventually, he landed a gig with a great company.
On day 1, he sat down at his computer and had no idea how to work the software.
There are so many different programs out there, but that particular one he had no experience with. He had to fake it in front of his boss for a while before he actually learned how to use it.
To this day he says his college education gave him nothing. The skills he uses for his current job are entirely the ones he picked up on those first few weeks being terrified while trying to learn that software. Most of his colleagues were self-taught or worked their way up the ladder to get the job.
He makes less than 50k a year.
He is over 100k in debt.
Skip College And Get Work Experience
Our cases are not unique. With things changing so rapidly with the workforce and skills needed to excel, it’s better to just work your way up in your chosen profession.
It just doesn’t make sense to go into a huge amount of debt only to start at the bottom. At least if you are working your way up, you’re gaining valuable work experience and life skills. I can tell you absolutely that college gives you none of that.
College is a joke.
If you absolutely NEED to have some kind of schooling, then get a technical degree. Something that will give you a certificate in a couple of months. Or better yet, get an apprenticeship.
Anything is better than being set up to fail. And yes, I mean it when I say, agreeing to enormous loans when you are practically a kid means you are being set up to fail.
Unless you’re going into some sort of medical profession, there is just no need for college degrees.
Everything I’ve ever achieved has been acquired through hard work and not taking “no” for an answer. If you find a job that doesn’t seem like it will make you miserable, just march yourself in and tell them why you are the person for the job regardless of your degree status.
Make a case for why they should hire you based on your merit, not some piece of paper that says you’re in enormous debt.