The Struggles of the Educated::How Do We Get Ahead?


485939_504914949568698_1234484701_nLately, I’ve been pondering my decision to seek a higher education and obtain my bachelor’s degree. I’ve heard so many people say that it has replaced the high school diploma for job applications and it puts you in high demand. However, right after college I began seeking careers that would best utilize my degree. Bare in mind, while in college I participated in many different groups in organizations to obtain the experience in the editing field. I was told that this would count as experience on my resume and it would make me even more desirable among employers.

I can’t even count how many rejection letters I got back that explained to me how I needed more experience before they would consider me. I remember one rejection letter came back to me 15 minutes after submitting my application. That was a huge blow to the ego. And now, it’s been so many years since I had that writing experience that I may have to start at square one to find a career like that. And I don’t even know if I want a ‘career’… I think I just want a life and a paycheck.

Ok, well maybe I screwed myself over by not getting an internship, or by moving around, or by settling for the first job that came at me. In my defense, my student loan bills came at me at full force. Not to mention car payments, daily expenses, insurance, and eventually rent. Because of this, and because of rejection after rejection from employers, I was forced to move back home with my parents and work at McDonalds. I’m not going to sit around and let my bills go unpaid. That’s irresponsible…

And I was in constant search of independence. Why would a successful person be living with their parents?

I continued down this path, trying to find the right job. I was also on the hunt for the perfect car and in hot pursuit of the most luxurious home. I also began to be a ‘thing hoarder’… This is a horrible trait in which I had to buy anything and everything, and hang on to it. I went into stores and came out with all sorts of decorative items that I thought would look good in my new place once I moved out! Stuff is what showed people how successful you are, right?

Anyways, here I am three years after graduation. I’ve got a decent paying job, a college degree that I’m only using in my spare time, and roughly $20,000 worth of debt. I’m VERY thankful for the job that I have and wouldn’t give it up. I’m simply starting to question the decisions I made in my past leading up to my life at this point.

Did I really only go to college because I was told that was the way to be successful?

Honestly, I don’t believe a Bachelor degree or a college education is the true and only definition of success. I have a handful of friends and acquaintances that either forwent college or dropped out. According to what I was told in high school (back in 2006) they should have been the ones struggling to make ends meet. However, if you think about it, they don’t start out their adult working lives with an insurmountable amount of debt. That makes kick-starting adulthood a whole lot easier. Most of them have been established in their jobs long enough to be promoted, have started families, and bought homes. Kudos to them! And yet, here I am still trying to make sense of my life.

That silly little housing crisis in 2008 probably didn’t help matters either, but that was completely out of my control.

Right now, we’re living in an area where the cost of living is ridiculously high, but it’s about the only place where we can get higher-paying jobs. We are still hunting for cheaper living, but it’s not easy. And moving into any Section 8 apartments is a death wish here.

There are almost no luxuries in our home, and yet it feels like we’re still struggling to conquer debt.

  • We have Internet, but we do not have cable (FYI, Comcast is charging us $70/month for JUST THE INTERNET and I am still fighting with them to lower the cost)
  • We do not go out to eat more than twice a month
  • We do not go out to clubs/bars/etc
  • We do not get professional haircuts more than a few times a year
  • I do not get my nails professionally done
  • We rarely shop for anything other than groceries
  • We do not have expensive hobbies like skiing
  • We do not have a gym membership
  • We do no-contract phones to avoid ridiculus monthly costs
  • We coupon our brains out for groceries
  • We have shut off circuit breakers in our apartment to cut electricity costs
  • We have been a 1-car household for 5 1/2 months to try and make ends meet
  • We are selling stuff on Craigslist to earn extra money
  • We are picking up second jobs to keep up on the bills
  • We stopped using credit cards
  • We moved our bed into the living room and turned off/unplugged all electricity to the bedroom
  • We rarely turn the heat on in the winter, and if we do it’s for no more than a few hours

And all we want out of life?

  • To be debt free
  • Get married
  • Build our home
  • Start a homestead
  • Raise a family

I don’t anticipate much of a reaction to this post. I mostly expect people to come back at me with statements about my wrong decisions:

  • You should have gone to graduate school!! And go further into debt and spend the rest of my life playing catch-up?
  • You picked the wrong career path!! Maybe you’re right.
  • You should have taken your job hunt more serious!! All the phone calls and all the emails in the world couldn’t have made a difference. If an employer doesn’t want you, they don’t want you.
  • There are people without degrees suffering more than you!! I will not disagree with you.
  • Everybody goes through this!! Then why do we feel like such a minority?

Whatever. I think it’s pretty sad that there is a society where people work hard to make all the right decisions and still be kicked in the face.

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6 Comments

Filed under The Tales of a Weary Writer, Uncategorized

6 responses to “The Struggles of the Educated::How Do We Get Ahead?

  1. My dearest Alyssa,
    A college degree is more than a ticket to a “good” job. It’s going off to a new place, finding your way, opening you eyes, mind and heart to new ways of thinking and being, and working through all the struggles you meet and coming out at the other end, accomplishing something you may have once thought you could not. Those are ALL things that can help you on your path, wherever it may lead. You are still SO young! And yes, there are many different ways to accomplish things in life, but honor the choices you made. None of them were wrong. they were yours!

    You and many others are entering adulthood in a very challenging time, none of which is your fault. the economy is not in a good state. However, the economy of my generation growing up introduced us and our children to lifestyles of overabundance and materialism. Maybe reframing your experience would make it less of a struggle. Look at what you are learning. Look at your goals—– to be debt free!!! How refreshing in this day and age of charging everything on a credit card and living with high interest and debilitating credit.

    Getting married, building a home, raising a family– all wonderful goals that you will fulfill in your time. Maybe it won’t be the home you dreamed of, but whatever it is, it will be uniquely yours! When you compare the lifestyles of people in other countries, what we have is way over the top! My sister who lives in Norway lives in a two bedroom apartment they have to buy at a very high cost. They could not afford to buy a car so all their traveling is by bus, tram, and train. They have one child. Her husband works for the gov’t, a very good paying job, and she works part time, so it isn’t that they have no money. Everything just costs so much. ANd they are in their late 40’s and early 50’s!

    I am so proud of what you have accomplished. I know that you will continue working hard to realize your goals. I just wish for you that you can enjoy the ride more, even though it isn’t easy!

    I have to smile looking at your list of things you do without! All the things we did without so I could stay home with my kids! It was worth it! You are ahead of us on getting rid of credit cards. We didn’t do that until after having our kids. wish we had done it sooner!

    Know that you are loved and admired just for who you are and for all you have accomplished and will continue to do. Enjoy the journey my dear! It’s the only one you get!!!!!

    Love and respect,
    Marcia

  2. Melissa Johnson

    I’m with Marcia on this! Even though your degree has yet to land you a job in your career of choice, going to Bemidji got you out of your hometown and gave you the chance to meet your future husband. I think you’re spot on in your cost-benefit analysis; a lot of people would not (or still have not) seen much benefit to a four year degree. You, however, blossomed within those four years and developed into a wonderfully creative and independent young person, and I’m not sure if that would have happened in the same way if you had stayed close to home. Despite not having a dedicated career in editing (at the moment!) and graduating with plenty of debt (which you’re paying down!), I hope you realize how far you have come as a person within these last 7 years and don’t regret a minute of it!

  3. So… there is more to life than the rat race! If you only believe in the rat race, you will be disillusioned. Even the best in the rat is still only a …. guess what.

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