Reason for College
I find myself questioning the reason for college often. I will be the first to admit I am biased. My time in college was not one of the movie scenes. For me, college was depression and struggle and getting lost in thousands upon thousands of kids while coming to terms with the facts that I wasn’t as talented as I had thought and that this degree might not be what I actually wanted. For me, it was 300 person lecture halls with TAs because the professors were not paid to teach but to do research. It was credits that didn’t transfer and professors that I couldn’t understand. It was commuting to school and not being able to find parking and stressing about money so much I contemplated if the rumors about being hit by the campus bus and having your tuition paid were true. So yes, I am very biased. I hated college.
No Job Came With the Degree
Now I look back on it from two years out. My loans are still as big as they ever were. No job fell into my lap out of college, no companies were banging down my door to hire me with my hard-earned and super expensive BS in computer information systems. I looked for jobs. 500+ resumes sent out and 18 months after that pretty piece of paper was printed with my name and I was working at the high school I had attended, making a teacher’s salary.
See businesses want experience. You have to have experience to land a job in corporate America, something you can prove you know how to do or have done. College does not count. Those 4 years of notes and tests and projects working with crappy partners don’t equate to anything on a resume. Maybe we should start telling kids to skip college and go straight for internships. Gain the experience first hand from whatever company they are interested in and skip the 4 years of meaningless textbook knowledge that comes with the price tag of their firstborn child.
…And a Degree
But there is a problem there too. Most businesses will not even look at your resume if you do not have a college degree listed. They expect you to have finished your degree and gotten experience before you dare to apply at their door and ask for the chance to prove that you know how to do the job that they are looking for someone to do.
So my question is why? Why do I have to have both a college degree and experience to be given the chance to interview for your job? If my college degree is so important then the fact that I managed to complete the 4 years to get it is enough to tell you that I have the ability to follow through, to juggle many projects and get them done, to be taught, and have a basic understanding of whatever subject matter the job is in. If my college degree is not enough to tell you all this and I need experience, then why tell kids they have to get a college degree? What purpose does the degree serve? If it is the experience I have actually doing the job that is going to determine if I am qualified, would you hire me even if I did not have the degree? If not and the degree would be the deal-breaker, then what is the point of the experience? What is the experience telling you about me if it is not enough to hire me?
Why do I have to have both a college degree and experience to be given the chance to interview for your job?
In my case, my $100k computer information systems degree was not enough to get hired. Now I am asking myself why I spent the money. Why bother? Couldn’t I have gotten a job as IT at a company and worked my way up in the same four years without the debt to then apply with the experience that businesses claim to crave? Would my outcome have been any different? I won’t ever know. Even now that I have a half decent job in tech (that I only got over 2.5 years and 900+ resumes later) I would trade my degree for a refund if I got the chance. I know others who claim college was the best time of their life and it set them up for success. But these are good questions to ask as college tuition rises more and more and salaries stagnate. Is a college degree worth it when so many businesses aren’t valuing it, if you can’t sweeten the deal by having something extra to offer?
Will your child going to college be the difference in them landing that job? Will it be worth the price tag?