More School?


People talk about getting out of college like they’re being released from prison.

Yes, I think learning should continue throughout life, but a degree demanding four or more years of school, and thousands of dollars is not always a good choice. Education is not one size fits all.

If someone is going to give me a physical examination and call himself a doctor, he better have a degree (posted on the wall.) But if you are going to pound the keys in data entry, or receptionist work, then I don’t even care if you finished high school. Now don’t suppose I’m degrading the administrative assistant, or exulting the physician; but these occupations do not require an equal amount of formal schooling.

The answer to figuring out whether or not to further your education is not as simple as giving a pat answer to the query “what do you want to do with your life?” As if people have that figured out.

Yet, many millennials (including myself) have reached for that lauded degree. Whether or not they finish it is another discussion.

What about learning on your own? There are home-made YouTube millionaires for a reason. In fact, drudge up some history, and we can find a long list of esteemed people who did not follow traditional schooling for one reason or another.

So what’s the problem? Just learn, and don’t get the degree. Employers are the problem. I have studied and practiced writing for over ten years, and what am I doing? Data entry, and trying to finish my damn degree so I can land a few freelancing gigs without so much hassle. Sure there are ways I can do that without the degree, but boy would I like some help from that piece of paper (or more likely computer file.)

When will people wise up and see the evidence that college is no better than trade schools, self-teaching, and apprentices? Stop hounding millennials about getting a degree. Fewer and fewer are listening anyway.

Is There a Problem?

I have a job. My coworkers from an older generations complain about the measly pay (13 dollars an hour), but for me this is real money. I’m not an oddball among my peers for thinking this. In fact, I am close to the average pay in my state among my contemporaries.

Then again, people my age are still considered relatively young, and not so bright. I am a Millennial after all. But I believe the broad social definitions that my generation is lazy and lack intelligence is a bit off.

The average Millennial grew up hand in hand with blossoming technology. I remember my awe when watching a DVD for the first time and not needing to rewind it after. Television itself however, did not astound me. I played with the digital advances like a child with toys (although sometimes it intimidated me.)

At 18, finding myself in utter financial dependency, I pounded the pavement to find my first job.  I wanted to leave my mom’s house, and soon. Thinking of my future, I also enrolled in community college, figuring I could get the basics at a lower cost. I even qualified for a grant! Seven years later I am now living with my dad, giddy about a job that pays decent, and considering whether or not I have time and finances to knock out a couple college courses next year.

My experience is too typical. The other common story being the young adult getting scarce sleep, little money, much debt – possibly pushing through the ominous Bachelors degree – and happy to be independent of their parents. If I and my peers are to blame, then we ought to be punished justly. If not. . .  well, what then?

Most Millennials I know are working themselves into constant fatigue, and getting nowhere. Post-recession, a crashed housing market, and changing laws for health care have changed the economic rules. Not everyone is handling this socioeconomic obstacle course well, but Generation Y must move forward.

Through this series of posts, I will take a look at what Millennials have to work with. There are ways for this generation to get un-stuck, and acquire some decent finances, perhaps even a place to live and a way to buy healthy food. But I don’t know all the answers. So, first on my to-do list is dispelling some nasty rumors spreading around media sources which are blaming Millennials for the state of the United States. I’m not going to point the finger at older generations, either.

The real truth is that many Americans struggle financially on a regular basis. We can shame each other, or find a place to express frustration and propose answers.