The Value of Higher Education in Today’s World — or Lack Thereof

Graduating college is no longer a guaranteed pass to the job of your dreams, let alone any job at all.  It used to be a simple formula – graduate, get a job, boom, bing, done. And then you stay at that job for the next 182 years, give or take, slowly working your way up the good ole corporate ladder. It’s solid, secure AND you get a pension one day. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of young adults don’t even know what a pension is.

By the time our parents or grandparents were 21, they had four kids, had been married for six years and had to walk eight miles one way to get milk and 10 the other direction to get eggs. Or something like that. Now we have choices and freedom and you can literally do anything and everything.

You’ve got to fight like a gladiator to get what you want out of life, and beating out all the other hungry job hunters is no easy feat. As much as things have changed positively for us twentysomethings (because we do love our freedoms and the idea of choosing), that brings on equal amounts of burdens and challenges that no other generations have had to deal with before.

Let’s just all say it out loud – college isn’t cutting it anymore.

I firmly believe that college taught me a handful of facts and knowledge, but it mostly taught me how to bullshit my way through exams, essays and grades. I also learned about multi-tasking, but conversely, that working hard at the last minute can make up for weeks of procrastinating. As long as you try in any way, you will pretty much pass college. Granted, some classes were challenging and did require work, but the majority of that work was done the night before – most of the entire night before. I pulled more late nights than early ones and at least a handful of up-all-night overnighters and was able to cram in everything, unload it on the test, and then have it wash right out of my brain like it never existed in the first place.

A degree is just not enough anymore. Everyone is job hungry, there are masses of us and just a handful of dream jobs to go around. We all thought college would take care of our future, but instead, forced many of us to become bartenders, bank tellers or grad students. Oh, and the debt. Let us not forget about the debt.

Maybe that’s why everyone thinks our generation is “entitled” and selfish. We have so many opportunities but have to really work to get any of them. Generations before us graduated college and all got jobs right away. It was a natural and expected progression. And expectations weren’t expectations in 1987 – it was a foolproof standard process that only let people down if they truly shit the bed. So, yes, we did expect that a college degree would just do it for us, purely based on evidence from our parents. But that’s not the way the world works anymore. College is commonplace now and won’t guarantee that your future will be taken care of.

But don’t get me wrong – I’m not discrediting the problems generations prior have faced, because that was all incredibly serious and tough and many of us Millennials wouldn’t be able to handle it. Our problems are just different.

So, how do you find a job that actually goes with the degree you earned or maybe one you actually like? Get adult-life experience, find your passion for learning and when you find a perfect opportunity, fight like hell for it. Actually try. Try hard, and remember that every detail matters.

The years right after graduation are the ones that count the most, it seems. College graduation is kind of like rebirth if you think about it. Those few years right out of the womb are said to be the most valuable – you absorb everything like a sponge. College grads are the same way – they are brought into a completely different world, learn new things every day in adult life, are probably always hungry because they are poor and they also tend to cry a lot. Or maybe that was just me.

It seems more and more common that those who are most successful out of college likely worked jobs, participated in organizations and took internships throughout their 4+ years. I learned more in my three internships than all 123 hours of classes combined. I really just don’t think my mind was mature enough to handle all the education being thrown at it. I didn’t know what I really wanted out of life and had no clue what I was doing. But the real-world life experience and networking done through all of my activities was invaluable.

And now that I’m out of school, I want to go back – and not just for the parties and lack of true responsibility. I actually want to learn as much as possible, but I would NOT go back to school for another degree. Degrees seem like expensive pieces of paper that pump up your resume. I want enough on my resume to get me to the interview, and from there I want to knock it out of the park with my ACTUAL knowledge.

So, cheers! Here’s to constantly shoving new information into your brain in order to win at life.

SEE ALSO: “How I Hire: 6 Ways I Find and Hire Hardworking Millennials”

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2 thoughts on “The Value of Higher Education in Today’s World — or Lack Thereof

  1. Agreed! As my post-undergrad years have been spent Bartending, traveling, and generally goofing off, I completely concur that it is now time to continue educating myself!! This post is a good job of capturing the fears we are all facing.. Thanks!!

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