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Gretta Cox-Gorton

Student,

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Do you feel your higher education (college, university, grad school, etc.) was worth it?

As a senior in high school, the question I am more frequently asked (the nearer graduation gets) "what are your plans for the future?", followed by cautionary tales of do's and don't's that consistently slash any illusion of comfort but instead instill anxiety. I want to go to university in the worst way, but having to answer this question calls for much self-examination. How can I know it won't be a waste? How much of the end product is brought about by chance? The financial burden and pressure for an economic choice in major is enough to cripple any young person. Do you regret your mode of education? If so, why?

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    Jan 22 2012: I feel as if my undergrad and grad degrees were the best money I ever spent.

    Why? University is a rubber stamp. It basically tells future employers that you can show up (more or less) for four to six years, warm a chair, and keep a desk from flying off into space. It also says that you can navigate bureaucratic systems (ever had to deal with a major university?), you have access to capital (student loans or personal funds), and someone somewhere thought that you were sane/presentable enough to accept into their institution of higher learning.
    Does it say that you are qualified or can do the job better than someone else? No.

    In today's world of high unemployment, education is often used as sorting 'rough justice' for most open job positions. Does that person really need a Master's degree to be an admin assistant? No. But it saves the recruiter time and energy to make it a requirement. It means out of the 400 candidates, they only have to review 75.

    My first job out of grad school could have been done with a 2 year degree. My next job could have been done with a Bachelors degree. But both employers expected someone with a Master's degree. My grad degree has allowed me to get my foot in the door for jobs that would have remained closed otherwise and given me full access to social circles that would have remained closed. People no longer ask where you went to school. But where you went to GRAD school.

    I finished my Masters at 22, paid off all loans at 30, and never looked back. I enjoyed the educational process and it has given me a life that would have remained elusive if I didn't have the education.

    If you look at the US unemployment rate, for people with advanced degrees it stands at about 4.5%. Be smart about what you study, go to a school that you can afford, don't take out excessive loans and you'll reap the benefits.
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    Jan 22 2012: Aside from potential rewards in more interesting and stimulating employment over your lifetime, college gives you an opportunity to study with and surrounded by the ideas and thinking processes of specialists with different life experiences, expertise, and perspectives, all brought together at one institution. Choosing your courses and professors is like having a vast menu of dishes to sample, each with a chef who specializes in that and similar dishes.You enter the restaurant and find yourself surrunded by other adventurers, tasters with whom to compare notes.But you are not just tasting the finished dishes. Over your years in college, you are also allowed frequently if not daily into the kitchen to see how the dishes are made and to try your hand at making such dishes.On graduation you know what many things taste like, can predict what similar dishes taste like, and know how to cook and also to figure out how to cook an impressive variety of things you might not even have known existed had you not gone to college.
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    Jan 22 2012: I think it depends on what you want to do in life.

    One example: If you enjoy teaching kids and you are good with them, you could tutor after school and make a living that way, without any kind of degree.

    However, if you want to work full time as a teacher in a public school, then you are going to have to get certified, that requires a college degree in education.

    There are many ways to get a college degree now-a-days, you can do it slowly on-line, while you try working at different jobs and see what you really enjoy doing.

    I started to work full time after high school to get a car. Then one year later I started taking one class per semester in college. Eventually I increased my courses and reduced my working hours.

    I found college a total waste of time. But I had no choice, I needed a college degree to work in my field. And it wasn't until I worked in my field that I started to really learn what my profession was all about.

    Hope I've helped you a little. This is a very personal choice. Talk it over with your parents, they know you best. Never underestimate their input, knowledge, and love for you. :)
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    Jan 22 2012: You don't live in England so my experience won't necessarily be the same as yours, but in the experience of myself and all of those around me It was an absolute waste of time from a financial/economic perspective, but remember that America *MAY* still employ some form of logic and reason when it comes to employing people for work. (Which is no longer the case here anymore)
    Over here it seems qualifications are either worthless or a hinderance to finding work, mainly as Academic positions are non existent, mid-high level jobs ask for requirements that no one can get unless they already have them and low-level work only like to hire those who are the most likely to stay in the position permanently, which isn't someone who's intelligent, ambitious or has attended higher education.

    For reasons already stated I can't give advice, but I would recommend that you first see if the type of work you would like after university is actually available or take a qualification that may improve your chances of finding available work.