The newest trend in higher education seems to be that students and graduates are blaming professors, their alma maters, and the universe for their inability to find jobs in the Great Recession. They state that someone should have told them that their degrees were not going to guarantee them anything, and that someone should limit the number of people who can go to college because the job market is cluttered.
One blogger cries: What does it say about the state of our nation and the effectiveness of our educational system when a first generation college student with dual degrees from the best universities in America believes the only option left for her is to take out yet another private loan to get her PhD because she is unable to find a job – any job – even as a barista at the local Starbucks?
Well, I still believe in educating yourself to better yourself. However, that doesn’t mean that I advocate not doing your homework. You have got to spend time researching your industry. I hope the above blogger realizes that the job market for PhDs is worse, and has been for a longtime, than the market for lawyers. At some point you have to take charge of your education and make smart choices.
It may not make sense for a first generation college student to take out massive loans to fund their education. While it is the dream of many to attend elite institutions, you may have to earn your degree at a less expensive one. If that’s not the option you want then while still in high school you need to be stellar and earn scholarships. Tons of schools are reaching out to first generation college students now, so there is money out there. Those of you who have already graduated with your undergraduate degree may have to seriously reconsider pursuing an unfunded graduate degree. Colleges operate like businesses, which means they aren’t in the business of handing out free education. Nor do they come with a money back guarantee. So before you gamble on earning a professional degree DO YOUR RESEARCH. Try to talk to people in the field, talk to professors, talk to past alums, spend some time in the library, do a google/bing search. There is plenty of information out there now.
Also, watch out for diploma mills, and schools that promise the moon and charge you the sky to deliver. As discussed by this article, people who are going for trade school certificates are starting to be fleeced, and often they don’t even have a final credible credential to show for it. One rule of thumb I tell prospective students is that if the school is trying too hard to get you to sign up quick, fast, and in a hurry then the hairs on the back of your neck should stand up.
Finally, there are plenty of people out of work right now. The Great Recession has claimed professional and trade jobs alike. It is semi-arrogant to believe that a few college loans and a newly minted piece of paper in hand will make you immune to what is happening globally. Those of us who are working have had to take paycuts, accept furlough days, have dealt with the disappearance of our retirement contributions, live with roommates, etc. Everyone is trying to make it work, and no one wants to hear about your “fancy” degree and why it entitles you to anything but the ability to look for a job like everyone else.
I’m not saying it isn’t difficult. I’m not saying that things aren’t frustrating for those of you who do have thousands of dollars in debt and cannot find work. However, I am saying that you may have to accept a job in a field you don’t love and doing something that you merely tolerate just until it gets better for all of us.