The Myth

OK.  I’m just going to get uppity and political for five minutes, and then I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

I recently read this article in the New York Times (which I of course read all the time, and not Regretsy or Failblog…), and a few things came to mind.

I have never, and will never, understand our society’s view on secondary education.  I always hear people saying, “A BA is the new new high school diploma,” “You can’t get anywhere without a college degree,” “You have some queso on your upper lip”–this last one is not really related to anything else, but it’s still important.  While it’s true that furthering your education is sometimes a great idea, it’s most certainly not for everyone.  The high school students of this nation are being lied to.  They are told that going to a really good school and getting a degree in Sociology or Mesopotamian Rope Ladder Construction is going to open doors for them.  This is patently untrue. Unemployment among recent grads in this country is as high as fifty percent.  Kids go straight from high school into college where they waffle around different majors for four or five years, finally graduating with a degree that’s barely worth the paper it’s printed on.  And all to add one more chump to the unemployment lines.  Thousands of dollars for useless degrees for nonexistent careers.  The decline of the trade school is probably one of the biggest calamities to occur in the American education system.  Instead of helping kids develop useful skills that would help them get jobs, we instead funnel them into institutions that are only interested in their money.

Now I’m going to get a little controversial, so buckle up and grab your rotten tomatoes.  This article pissed me off.  I wasn’t really pissed off at the banks or the credit card companies; I was pissed off at the idiot kids and their idiot parents who thought it was a good idea to borrow money in the first place.  I was not a privileged girl during undergrad.  My family was broke and so was I, but I was determined to go to college, because I, too, had been fed the dream that if I could just go to college, I could secure a great job right after I graduate.  So I researched.  I figured out every possible way I could get money for college.  I saved.  Finally, I was able to get enough money in grants from the government, enough scholarships, and enough jobs so that I was able to get through my relatively inexpensive college without any debt.  My grandmother always told me, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  I don’t believe in spending money that isn’t yours; I am totally against credit cards and extremely against borrowing any money from a bank.  I, apparently, am in the minority.  Almost everyone around me at my current university and my last were swimming in debt.  $20,000, $50,000, $100,000–debt that kept getting bigger every year as they decided to explore a degree in Civil War Lit or that they needed to continue their education in grad school because Harvard offers an excellent MA in Applied Ceramics.  It doesn’t make sense.  First of all, the product offered isn’t worth the price.  Secondly, if you’re fiscally irresponsible, taking out loans at every turn and destroying every shred of financial credibility, who in the world would want to hire you?  Don’t they check on that sort of thing these days?

If this is not you, maybe reconsider taking out that loan. …Sometimes I do this when I’m alone, but it’s with quarters. Different effect. More pain.

The bottom line is that not everyone needs to or should go to college.  If you have a concrete idea of what you want to do with your life, save up, find the money, and work your ass off.  You’ll be a better person for it.  If you don’t, wait a few years or don’t go.  It’s not shameful to avoid paying thousands of dollars to have some pompous windbag to talk at you for two hours a day, three days a week–six years later, I should know.

Crazy cat lady is an MBA.  Think about it.

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