Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Recently I saw a news show broadcasting a panel discussion. The panel featured a variety of ages, but seemed to heavily feature twenty-somethings. What really caught my attention was when a young man mentioned that he was upset with the government for allowing universities to encourage and permit students to graduate with useless degrees that left them with a whole lot of debt and without a job. The other panelists quickly affirmed the young man’s statement.
I don’t really know what to think. My first thought was to be automatically frustrated with the young man. Hadn’t he ever heard of a thing called personal responsibility? No one forced him to choose his major - he made the decision and he should have to accept the consequences that often accompany a more liberal arts degree.
On the other hand, I can see where he is coming from. I attended a wonderful liberal arts college and studied psychology. One of the benefits of a liberal arts college is that you have an opportunity to study a variety of subjects at a more in-dept level, regardless of what your degree might be. Consequently, I had the chance to take some interesting Religion classes, study French, and hone my writing skills with some higher level English classes. The downside to a liberal arts education is that you arguably "waste" a lot of time studying things that will have no relevance to your future career...and you might even end up majoring in one of them.
For example, take my psych degree. Had I not pursued law school, I’m not really sure what I would have done with a psychology degree. Almost all of my fellow psych majors have gone onto get their masters degree or phd. Of those that didn’t, I know one friend who managed to find a psychology related job - all of the others are unemployed or working in a non-related field. The same is true for many others I know who received liberal arts degrees in English, History, Spanish, Art History, etc. Brandon once said that when he decided he didn’t want to be a History professor (during his senior year of college), he did the only other thing a History major could logically do - go to law school.
But isn’t it still a question of personal responsibility? We chose our majors and the paths they took us on.
I’m going to put it out there....I think career services can be deceiving and purely unhelpful. I have ultimately been fortunate to find work through extensive networking and internships, but I have many college friends and acquaintances who spent years seemingly wandering. I’ve often caught myself thinking....what did they expect? A job to just land in their lap after graduation?
Sadly, I think the answer is frequently "yes." Today’s society and the modern education system seems to operate on a reward system and a sense of entitlement. They preach the message that if you work hard, make it through high school/college/graduate school, things will fall together for you. You’ll make good money, buy your dream home, start a family, etc. That is not reality. Sadly, working hard and getting an education isn’t always enough.
Instead, I would argue that you have to be smart - smart in your choices, smart in your timeline, and smart in your networking and relationships. The stressed economy of the last several years and the increase in graduate degrees has made pursing a career a different ballgame. Maybe in the past you used to be able to graduate with a college degree in English and fairly easily find a job simply because you held a college degree, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
So what’s the answer?
Play the game. Career services, professors, mentors, and other career counselors told me (a college student during some of our roughest economic years) that I should just wait it out....go to law school because for sure the economy would be better by the time I got out and jobs would be flowing like milk and honey - hah! But seriously, graduate degrees are becoming more the norm, even in professions like education and nursing. If you are pursuing a college degree, plan for this additional time and perhaps think of alternatives for your undergraduate years to save time and money (i.e. choose a major early on, save money by going to a community college for a few years, earn college credits early through AP classes or other alternatives, shadow someone in a career you think you might be interested in pursuing before you waste time and money on a degree you won’t use).
Take an alternative route. You don’t have to go to college to be successful. While I loved my college years and learned a ton from them, I also realize that pursuing a traditional undergraduate degree is not always possible, or the best idea, for everyone. Consider trade school or apprenticeships. Don’t necessarily listen to what modern society is telling you you have to do!
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas A. Edison
Monday, November 25, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
- 1 John 4:7-16, 19: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them...We love because he first loved us."
- Genesis 2:18-24: "The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.' Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wile animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleep, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
For the last 4 months I have been anxiously waiting to hear the results of my July Bar exam. For those of you who aren’t familiar the Bar exam is a 2-day test one can take after graduation to become licensed as an attorney in a certain state. A license allows you to practice law in court and give legal advice.
When the news was released on Friday that the results had been sent (Michigan is one of the last states to release their results) I went into a state of ridiculous nevousness. I’ve been fairly calm the last several months, but when reality hit that the results were out I started to break down. Thankfully Brandon and I had been invited to spend the weekend at some friend’s cottage - the perfect distraction.
But yesterday the results arrived. Brandon was working from my parent’s house for the day and I had him check the mail for me. I had seen numerous individuals on facebook share that they had passed - individuals I knew had ranked lower than me in law school and who didn’t have jobs. Needless to say, I got a little cocky.
However, I didn’t pass.
For a good 3 hours the news was crushing. I thought I had prepared myself for this - but instead I felt embarassment and shame.
When I got home from work I was immediately surrounded by the love of the man about to become my husband. He reminded me that I tried my hardest, that I studied relentlessly, and that he was proud of me. He reminded me that an ability to pass the Bar doesn’t define me. He reminded me that I am loved.
But most importantly - he reminded me that God is in control.
First, practicing law has never been my plan for the future. I have always wanted to get involved with the non-profit world and law school was a step in that direction (something that does not require a law license but utilizes the skills I have developed in law school) Additionally, Brandon and my plan has always been for me to stay home as soon as we are blessed with children - and being a wife and mother has always been my true dream. As we’ve moved towards the decision to homeschool someday as well, I am thankful for the education that law school has provided me, but recognize that my real future plans will be at home.
Second, in the last few months I have found myself tempted with working for a law firm for a few years. Why? The money. I’m embarassed to say this, but the truth is that I could make substantially more working for a law firm....and it’s tempting! A few years at a firm could mean that we could be debt free quicker. On the other hand, Brandon is looking at joining a firm right now, and the reality is that having both of us working for a firm would likely be miserable. But most importantly, I was letting myself be driven by money, rather than God’s will and direction. Brandon wisely pointed out last night that perhaps this is God’s way of getting me back on track.
Does it still sting? Sure! I worked really hard and would have loved to see that hard work pay off and it is embarassing to tell people I failed. But time will heal the sting.
In the meantime I have so many more things to be grateful for - including a thoughtful dad who showed up at work a couple of hours ago with 3 roses - 1 each from him, my mom, and Brandon representing their love and support for me.
"Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail your nor abandon you."
I don’t know where the Lord is directing me next, but whatever may come I welcome it with an open heart and thanks for his guidance.