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Myths and Facts About a College Education

Updated on December 13, 2010

College and universities, their experience, do wonders to one's self esteem for those entering them the first time. They provide direction to lost souls, hope for a better future, and enlightenment about human relationships. One's own value soars for about the first week on campus as there is this feeling that, "you made it to higher education". You are proud, you've come along way baby!

Living the collegiate dream on campus or in a frat house yields some of the best friends and enemies for the rest of your life long after it has past. The parties, feeling invincible and adult-like. no mom or dad telling you what to do or when to do it, man, you are your own person!

As the years grind by, the thrill and rush of those heady days when you first arrived vanish into thin air. Mere memories now, they seem silly, naive. In your junior year, you make the most critical decision of life: your major, what career field you focus on the last two years. God, you hope you make the right one, so you think deep inside. I mean, you have one shot.

Graduation comes, then goes. The hoopla and accolades of that moment forever are with you but depending on how real life events occur, may not mean much as they once did. Forty years ago or maybe just a few years ago, you could hear your parents tell you: "a college education is a ticket on the train". Exactly where are we going? You hope for an engaging career based on your major, well paid, in an area close to where you are from. You have heard college grads are superior people because they will be selected first due to education, even if it is not exactly in your selected major and you are guaranteed higher wages in the long run called life.

Years ago, having a BA or BS degree was like the King Mida's touch-everything you touched turned to gold. Jobs were offered to you because you had a college education in something. It really meant alot to many Federal agencies, people looked up to you. Today, the standards have been raised because nearly everyone has a BA or BS, so now, many want a MA or MS or Ph.d. It is no longer the Golden Fleece.

How many grads do you know that are working in jobs they could have got with only either limited experience or high school? I know a UCLA grad, his parents flipped the $55K bill, he is a A student now with a BS degree. He works for a clothing store for $13 hr. His fellow employee has no college, but worked there for over a year, he earns $17 hr. The UCLA grad is trying to get a Federal job earning $17 hr. I know another graduate with a BS degree in engineering working at Starbucks. Of course, some graduates do end up in the gold dust depending on their major and to a very large degree, lady luck- being there at the right time and the right place. I also know a 35 yr old, barely got out of HS with a 2.5 GPA, earning 65K a year for PGE, and another one who works for Costco as a mid-level manager, earning the same. They have college grads applying all the time. Grads would kill for their jobs.

All grads face the same conundrum of having the education yet no experience. Employers seldom want to waste time training. Experience will trump over education much of the time, depending on the job and field. Look at tons of new lawyers that pass the Bar. The illusion is that they all suddenly have gigs making 100K a year, or, they are trying to start their own practice. The fact is, there are just as many underemployed or unemployed newbie lawyers as there are grads. Only those lawyers at the top of their class from a high end law school will be offered jobs from established firms. The rest will have to scramble for income and jobs like everyone else.

College has been always a real gamble. There are so many variables that could make the education a success or failure. A student simply must pick a good major and complete the courses then hope for the best. Hope that you will end up in a job that you studied for. Hope that the "experience" word employers look for is negated by your grades and personality.


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