Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Whose to Blame?

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?

Option 1

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).

Option 2:

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


  1. Thank you for a well thought out post, Julianne. I would add that one should not attend College simply because it is the next step. I see this all the time in young people today. Parents are shelling out $50,000 for a top college education because that's what you do after you graduate high school. The young people go only to please their folks and it's a lose lose situation all around. And one last thing you failed to mention is make sure whatever you do is God's will. If it is the details will work themselves out and fall into place when you do your part of diligence and hard work. Love to you and the mister-to-be.

  2. As a college sophomore I loved reading this post!! It has always been my dream to work in radio, which is why I'm a communications major. But I've had to do a few things to help make that dream more of a possible reality once I'm done with school.
    #1 was transferring schools. I truly loved my former school, especially the fact that it was a Christian college. But by the second semester of my sophomore year I realized that it wasn't the right school for communications, and I would really struggle with getting an internship, good experience, and then a job after college. So I pursued transferring, and God blessed me with allowing me to get into my current school with a good scholarship (and all my credits transferred!).
    #2 is to pursue internships! Even though my former school was too far in the country for me to commute to a regular radio station, I was very involved with the college radio station. At my new school which is in the city, I got right on trying to find an internship for next semester. I have been blessed with an amazing one, and I found out today that my request for credit went through so I will also be getting college credit for it! And it's a great resume builder. A huge blessing all around! (Here is the link to the blog post about it: http://missalk1994.blogspot.com/2013/11/my-dream-is-coming-true.html )

    One last perk about my career of choice is that it doesn't involve education above a Bachelors' degree! So hopefully I can just dive right into a job after school. Another thing to is that I know that enjoy retail, so if I wasn't able to find work in radio right after school, I know that I would be content doing retail work for awhile. :-)

    xoxo A

  3. Excellent post, my friend! Currently I am loving every bit of college/career advice from godly Christians :)

    Of course there are more practical aspects to be considered by my general philosophy is this: if it's God's will, and you follow His every leading, everything will work out in the end. So don't sweat it. Maybe you won't land where you expected or get there how you thought you would, but He has your back. Maybe you won't attend the school you wanted but, if you're truly following His direction, than the school you do attend or the major you choose or the job you land will be exactly where He wants you to be.