As I sit in the office of the temporary staffing agency taking tests on Microsoft Word and typing accuracy, I can’t help but wonder: is this what my $30,000 a year college education has bought me? After almost four years of work experience, I have suddenly found myself living with my parents and vying with hundreds of other applicants for an $11 an hour clerical job answering phones.
Don’t get me wrong; I know I’m lucky to not have anyone to support or a house whose mortgage outweighs its value. I’m even lucky to have parents that will let me stay with them while I find another full-time job. All the same, I’m not exactly thrilled with my current life situation.
In the words of Tony award-winning Avenue Q lyricist Jeff Marks,
4 years of college
And plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree.I have not one, but two Bachelor’s degrees that are collecting dust in my basement. I understand and support a college education for all those who want it; I have spent the last 3 years of my life teaching middle school students that a college education is the sole route to a bright future. If they wanted to be hairdressers or auto mechanics, I still encouraged them to spend the time and money to get a degree in entrepreneurship so they could own their own shops. Now I wonder: did I mislead them? While white collar jobs are declining in this economy, many blue collar jobs are holding steady or even increasing. So, is college really worth the investment? John Stossel and the investigative reporters at ABC’s 20/20 think it may not be. Watch the YouTube version of the segment here:
Of course, there is another side. My bachelor’s and post-college experience have given me the opportunity to accept a two month temporary job that will pay $35 an hour, which would certainly not have been available to me without my degree. But come May, I will most likely be back at the temp agency, answering phones and managing databases until the economy improves.
Jillian Evans is unemployed, but not friendless.