The Lie We Were Sold About College
Growing up I was told getting a college degree would guarantee you a high paying job. And I’m here to tell you that is false.
“You have to get an education! If you want to make it in this world and advance in your career you have to have an education!”
Cool! So, I got my education. Still waiting for that high paying job, what… 17 years later?
“Well, what’s your degree in?”
I earned a double Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and Theater from UC Santa Barbara.
“Oh well, yeah, THAT’S not going to get you anywhere.”
No, you told me that if I got an education that I would get a high paying job.
“We meant an education in something monetarily viable.”
Nope, not what you said. You said, “Get an education.” In fact, I was told that merely having a four-year degree of ANY kind would land me a great job because it would show that I followed a course of study and was dedicated to accomplishing a goal. I am educated out the wazoo. So where’s my high paying job?
Employers have been super impressed with my education. So impressed they didn’t want to bother me with a job.
Interviewer at office job: “Double BA in Philosophy and Theater? Won’t you get bored here?”
Me: “Oh Christ, yes. Out of my mind. But Niki got bills to pay, so… pretty sure I can answer your phones and file your paperwork.”
They didn’t want to burden my brilliant mind with such mundane drudgery.
My illustrious education has kept me out of more jobs than it has ever helped me get.
College degree = overqualified.
Companies either don’t want to pay what someone with a degree deserves, or they decide that you’re not going to stick around because you’re just biding your time until you find you high paying dream… philosophy job?
This is the problem with telling people they should just go get a job at McDonald's. They won’t hire me because I’m overqualified. It’s not that people with advanced degrees are too good to work menial jobs, it’s that no one will hire us.
Retail might. I did end up right back at Barnes & Noble when I graduated, making that sweet, sweet minimum wage that earning my degree told me would be a thing of the past.
“Well Niki, what did you expect when you decided to major in something ridiculous like Philosophy?”
That I would, I dunno, enjoy myself and learn something I was passionate about. Weird, I know. I didn’t realize that the actual purpose of going to college was not to “get an education” but to major in a subject that’s monetarily viable.
Like anything else, I guess it’s not worth it if you can’t monetize it, right?
Forget your interests or passions or abilities, get your business degree and become a CEO, or become a doctor or a lawyer, everything else is stupid and a waste of time and money. Gotcha.
And here I just foolishly wanted to learn.
I didn’t want to go to college. Not because I didn’t love school and learning, but because I wanted to be an actor, and that doesn’t require a degree. I live an hour and a half north of LA. Go to LA and do the acting thing I’d already been doing since junior high.
Nope! You need an education because you need a backup plan when you fail as an actor.
Vote of confidence received.
The only reason I went to college was because it was free. All these kids bribing their way into college when all they had to do was have their Dad get disabled in Vietnam! I don’t know why more kids aren’t doing that.
“Sorry about that whole Agent Orange thing that made you legally blind and passed on a rare eye disease to your entertainer daughter. Here’s some free college for her!”
Chapter 35 Benefits from the VA paid my tuition to UCSB and provided me with a monthly stipend of $750. College was the best job I ever had. I never would have been able to afford to go otherwise. I’m not $50,000 in debt for a Philosophy and Theater degree, thank God.
Though, I’d love to get my Ph.D. so people would have to call me Dr. Marinis as I’m handing them their latte.
A college degree is not worth going into debt for unless your chosen career field requires one.
Even then, it’s iffy.
I have a friend who’s an architect with no degree. An ex is a pharmacy tech with no formal education. Another friend is a forensic pathologist without ever having studied the subject in a school environment. He took his 15 years of on the job experience and applied for a better job in a different county and they told him he needed a degree.
Screw your years of experience, we only really care about this piece of paper. Makes total sense, right?
That’s what these celebrity/rich parents who bribed their kids way into college understand: that piece of paper is all that matters. I’ve seen the comments asking why they didn’t spend that money on a tutor for their kids instead, and those people don’t get it. The point was never to earn anything, only to possess the prize.
Earned it, bought it, what difference does it make to an employer? None, if they’re willing to overlook decades of experience for a piece of paper.
And really, what these parents are doing is living out their unfulfilled dreams in their kids. They didn’t go to college and they regret it. Though it doesn’t seem like that hurt their ability to become a highly paid actress and a millionaire clothing designer.
Or the rap star who desperately wanted her daughter to go to college because SHE quit and regrets it. But going to college is where she met her rap partner and that changed her life and she wants her daughter to have those opportunities, too!
What these rich and famous parents are forgetting is that their children were born into the money and privilege that they themselves had to earn. They were born into opportunity. They don’t need to go to college to make connections, they can use the contacts in your iPhone. Not going to college didn’t prevent these rich parents from becoming successful.
Is it that they don’t have any confidence in their children? Think they’re too stupid or untalented to earn it on their own? You might feel like you’re helping your kid by handing them everything and think that once they have it all they’ll suddenly start working for things on their own, and you would be hysterically wrong.
Nope, you’ve raised people who will continue to expect everything handed to them while harboring this empty pit of self-worth that tells them they’re not good enough to do anything on their own. Good job!
Don’t have any confidence in the longevity or your daughter’s chosen career field of social media influencer or rap star? Guess what? Not your problem! They’re adults, and if they’re good at what they do they will parlay those jobs into other opportunities… just like you did.
And if they’re honestly too dumb then you can just buy them a figurehead job that will afford them the ability to maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.
If going to college is only about ultimately getting a job then why do these parents care? Their kids either already have jobs or will be handed one because of who they are.
You can’t force someone to earn something when they know you’ll just give it to them. You can’t force a kid to go to college and learn any more than you can force an addict to go to rehab and get sober.
You don’t have to go to college to get an education.
The internet was still young and dumb when I graduated in 2002. There are infinite online resources now, classes, and entire schools where you can learn to your heart's content without paying hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can move to a college town, hang out on campus, go to football games, rage at house parties, have terrible roommates, and enjoy all the social aspects of college life without ever paying a dime in tuition. Do that instead.
Want to do something that requires a degree? Go into debt. Totally worth it.
Otherwise, take an online class, a community college or vocational class, audition for a play, join a band, start an Etsy shop, join a site that will pay you to write, create your thing and forge your own way. It’s easier now more than ever.
Oh, that? That’s just my Gen-X bitterness. It’s our life source. Forget it’s there. Everyone else has.
Thank you for reading! Please enjoy my other questionable life choices.