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Being a journalism major is wonderful because professors, ignorant students, friends, family members, people you meet on the bus, people you meet at dinner parties, people you meet walking home from Pearl Street at 2 a.m. and even fellow journalists are constantly telling you that your degree is useless.
I’m used to hearing “You’re wasting your parent’s money, you poor, delusional child. Why don’t you study a field that isn’t dying a slow and painful death?” So I know when to argue back and when to bite my tongue and wait until I get home to angrily blog about the situation.
But there’s a trending topic going around the water cooler that college in general is a waste of money, and to this I have to ask: Would the suits standing around that water cooler really hire me without a degree?
Listen, I’m a first generation college student. I know that you can be successful without a university degree. In fact, half of college graduates aren’t even using their degree in their place of employment, so why bother? An equally inspiring statistic from a 2011 U.S. government current population survey states that 56.3 percent of all college graduates under 25 are either out of work or underemployed, so why take on accumulating years of student loans and accruing interest on something that’s not even going to reward you with a job?
Well, according to an analysis by Burning Glass, a company that studies online job ads, a college degree is necessary for even the lowest level of jobs these days. Jobs such as human resource managers, security managers, school administrators and property managers appear on the list of occupations with the largest percentage increase in requiring a college degree.
While the roles in most of these positions remain, essentially, the same as they always have, the hiring process is different. A college degree, while not necessary to complete the tasks necessary to do the work, differentiates candidates much like a high GPA and well-written essay differentiate high school students seeking universities in the first place. Ah, the circle of a life in which we are required to jump through endless hoops to stay afloat.
What I’m gathering from this information is that those privileged enough to have secure, well-paying careers are so kindly trying to figure out what others are doing wrong. Anyone mildly cognizant can deduce that college tuition is sucking students and their families into a black hole, so some genius in a corner office had a lightbulb moment one day and said, “Wait a second. What if those who would be financially burdened by college just…didn’t go!”
It’s a deduction so brilliant that I would like to personally thank this genius in the corner office for figuring out that college is a complete waste of my time and money. While I’m there, I might as well bring my resume and portfolio because I sure would like to work for someone so forward-thinking.
Wait, though. A closer look at the job requirement tells me that I need a college degree to even apply. So…you’re telling me I shouldn’t go to college because it’s worthless, but nobody in my field will hire me unless I go to college.
I understand that going to college is not for everyone. I know that I am overwhelmingly lucky to have the opportunity to attend a university. What frustrates me is the hypocrisy. Do not belittle the years I have worked toward obtaining an occupational therapy degree by casting them off as a poor decision and then proceed to make that “poor decision” the standard for which I can be considered a job applicant.
Instead, I implore the working world to own up to their demands. I’m not asking for a miraculous yet warranted decline in tuition—equivalent to asking for the pot of gold at the end of rainbow. I’m not even asking for an altering of requirements that would allow applicants without a college degree to apply for jobs they were once able to.
I’m simply asking for the corporate world to say, “Yup. We fully understand that college is vastly overpriced. We’re going to make you go anyway whether the job you’re applying for truly requires it or not, solely because we can. Your degree is not worthless. It is leverage.”
I hope I’ll get my wish.
Contact CU Independent Opinions Editor Lizzie Hernandez at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.