It’s Not What You Think

Note:  Everything I say is based on my own college/graduate school experience.  To help others from making my mistakes.

Youth just don’t know.  They are listening to adults.  Adults who still think a college education is the end-all-be-all.  It’s not true anymore.

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For first generation students, you’ll go to college thinking: this is it.  After college I can be a self-sufficient adult, and I can start my own family.  I’ll have a career by time I am 23, so I’ll have children by time I’m 25.  It’s later than my own parents, but it’s okay because I’ll still be 45 when my own child goes to college. blah. blah. blah.  Graduating college is the biggest accomplishment first generation students will EVER think to strive toward.  At least.. that is how it was for me.

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I didn’t know anything.  My mom didn’t know anything.  My grandparents, my aunts and uncles, all the people I looked up to in my family didn’t know anything.  Teachers and guidance counselors never talk about anything except getting into college.  No one ever talks about what happens after the acceptance.. what happens in college.. what happens when you graduate.. students are so uninformed, it’s not even funny.  The best thing you can ever be is informed..

Many, many, many students are going to college now.  So many.  Just think about it.  Wikipedia (a source you aren’t allowed to use in ANYTHING, but it’s extremely useful) says there were 21 MILLION students in college in the US as of 2012.. There are probably at least 1 million more.. and that is only in the US.  If all these people are getting degrees, what is the point?

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That IS the point, isn’t it?  In order to get into a good college, it’s stressed for students to have good GPAs and to participate in clubs and to join Honor Societies and to volunteer and to diversify and to blah blah blah.  I’m in awe of the youth who do all of this AND have to deal with bullsh** in their personal lives.  YOU are amazing individuals.

It doesn’t end when you get in though.  You’re told that if you want a good job you have to keep doing all those things.  Except, there are more distractions when you are away from home for the first time.. and so many students suffer because they’ve made the wrong decisions regarding these exploits.  It’s more difficult to keep that GPA and participate in those clubs or to volunteer.. but, you can’t get that job without ALL these things.

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In fact, you have to do more than what you’re told.  You need INTERNSHIPS and WORK EXPERIENCE.  A college education isn’t enough anymore.  So many companies are looking for people who have 3+ years of experience.  Even if they are willing to hire a new graduate, they are looking for qualities that come from experience.  That means, you need to find out what these skills are and earn them in your 4 years of college.

It’s a lot.  I know… but you are competing with 21 MILLION students.. and many of those students are adults going back to get their education after the 3+ years of experience.  I don’t know about you, but I NEVER get picked for dodge ball when I’m a player and I ALWAYS choose the person who knows what they are doing when I’m the captain.

When you don’t have these extra tidbits under your belt, you’ll have a hard time finding a job.  That’s when you’ll contemplate graduate school.  You’re thinking: I went to college like I was supposed to.. I did everything I was told.. and it still wasn’t enough.. I’m still working this shi**y retail job serving these shi**y people.. I can’t do this the rest of my life.. What can I do?

And you think graduate school is the place to be.

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But it’s not.

In fact, it’s worse than getting a Bachelor’s degree.  I list reasons you shouldn’t go in another post.  You need more.  All the extracurricular activities (volunteer work, honor societies, internships, good GPA) that made you look good before still stand.. but now you need to submit/publish papers, present at conferences, teach classes, participate in research groups.. In other words, gaining your professional experience while earning your degree.. all the while pretending you know what you are saying and doing..  all the while feeling as though you are an imposter..

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People without a higher education stress that higher education is the way to go because they see everyone around them getting raises and promotions.  It’s not true.  What you need to succeed is BOTH.  You need professional experience in your field of interest.  You need a degree to show those mother-effers that you are worthy.  You don’t need just one middle finger, you need both middle fingers straight up as a statement that you did more than everything right.  You went above and beyond.

Please share advice in the comments for the youth deciding upon undergraduate school or graduate school.

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