Hurricane Sandy is supposed to be hitting us. It’s windy (about 25 mph) and raining lightly. So far, nothing really serious here in Palmyra. This is a huge change when less than a week ago it was 80F here.
I was watching an ad on TV for a college. They were offering courses in areas that Kiplinger reported as the “worst” degrees for your future. (i.e. Graphic Design, Photography, Fine Arts, etc.) They made it very clear that financial aid is available.
You’re probably thinking why a professional photographer is so against degrees in fine arts, photography, and so forth. It’s two fold. Part 1, your degree should help you if you cannot make it on your own. You should be able to fall back on it, rely in it, and use it to help you get employed. Part 2, your talents are talents. Either you have it, or you don’t. I’ve known people who for years have thought they could become a great photographer and they still take crappy photos.
But, I digress…
Colleges offering “junk” degrees and financial aid are creating a huge problem on all levels. First, they lure naive kids into school and saddle them with debt. As to grants, they saddle all of us with debts through our taxes. As to the loans, if they don’t pay them back, again, we the consumers are saddled with the residual effects. Second, they create a false sense of entitlement – you earned the degree you deserve the job. Third, they devalue the meaning of a college degree. There was a time when a college degree really meant something. Nowadays, the college you graduate from is more important than the letters after your name.
There’s another aspect of the recent trend that “everyone deserves an education”. With that, comes the implied, “everyone deserves a free education”.
Whatever happened to working your way through college?
Yes, I borrowed some money for college. I also received a couple of grants, but most of my money came from me and my wife working, and when kids came along, it was mostly me. I worked as an offset press operator. I put in as many hours as I could, and had a boss who was understanding if I was standing at the counter with my calculus book and taking peeks at it between jobs. Towards the end, I got a job tutoring on campus, and then a job at the computer center. Then, after college, it took me 10 years to pay back my student loans in full.
Several years later, I was in a position of hiring and firing. It was around the time that degree-deflation was starting. I couldn’t believe some of the so-called college graduates I interviewed for jobs. I saw straight A students with bachelor’s degrees who couldn’t write a decent cover letter for their resume. But, what was worse, they came in to the interview dressed like they were going to their buddy’s house to play video games.
I interviewed one so-called college graduate with long, unkempt hair, wearing blue jeans, a sports shirt and Converse tennis shoes. The message sent was that his school did not teach him respect for his future employer, and that he views this interview process as a joke. But then, perhaps he wants to keep living with mom and sleeping on her couch.
Education isn’t a right. It’s something you earn. The old adage that you get what you pay for applies. If you don’t pay your dues in school, you won’t get a good return on your investment. That is why so many kids are attracted to what sounds like the “easy” degrees. Well, if the degree is easy, the pay is lousy, and the jobs are few.
So, if you really want to be a professional photographer, or graphic artist, or game designer… get a degree in something that makes you mentally sweat – something like bio-engineering, accounting, etc. You can still be a game designer, but you’ll be the best darn game designer they ever saw because you know how to work and learn.