Your College Degree Isn’t Worth What You Think It Is

I was one of the lucky ones when I graduated college. I had “real-world” experience in the form of 5 summer internships and a 4-year part-time job as an editor on the student newspaper.

You’re probably thinking “Wow. What an overachiever.” But really, I wasn’t. I was just another college kid looking for any (ANY!) way to get ahead of everyone else. At the encouragement of colleagues and professors, I put more effort into getting articles published, gaining experience, than I did in acing my exams. I wanted to be a writer and would do whatever it took to make that dream come true, even if it meant failing and then re-taking a class or two…or three.

In a study released earlier this year, AfterCollege reported that “14 percent of this year’s college seniors have steady, career-type jobs lined up for their lives after graduation. Thus, 86 percent of America’s college grads — about five out of every six — have zilch in the way of career prospects for their post-campus lives.”

That figure is down 6% from 2013.

After finally graduating with a C- average and more than a lifetime’s worth of stress-induced anxiety, I can tell you that in the end my grades and coursework didn’t matter. What people wanted to see was what I had done with my time in college, beyond coursework.

My degree was essentially a way to check the box beside “Must have 4-year degree or equivalent experience.” And let’s not kid ourselves, no matter how insignificant your degree might seem, if you don’t have those 4-years under your belt, you’re not going to get a call back interview.

It took me 3 months to find a job after college. Now, in my day-to-day workflow, I’d say the only “training” I use from my studies are the typing lessons I took in middle school. (Thanks, Mrs. Benson! You rock!)

What the University and High School guidance counselors had marketed as ‘THE GATEWAY’ to financial and personal security, was now nothing more than a piece of paper (that is, if you could afford a copy of your diploma) and a basic way of saying “I can comprehend [insert subject here.]”

My advice – apply for as many internships as possible, attend all most of your classes and earn your degree. In the end, you’ll be better off and your family will be happier.

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