It was senior year of high school and I was applying for colleges. This was one of the most stressful times of my life, because I kept thinking, what if I don’t get accepted anywhere? Then I am just going to be a loser! Cause you need to attend college in order to be successful… right?
Years ago I wish someone would've told me how untrue that statement is. Maybe I would of went to a trade school, maybe I would of just started working an entry level position, maybe I would of just worked a retail job and continued to network on the side… who knows. But I really wish I knew then that having a degree does not necessarily equate success.
I am 25 years of age going on 26. I graduated from San Jose State University in the Fall of 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Journalism and a minor in Radio-Television-Film. When I first graduated I was working at a radio station I had been interning for while in college. I was a co-host for one of the shows and I was a board operator. They paid me $10 an hour.
I asked my boss when their would be opportunities for advancement and he basically told me there wouldn’t be any for a while. At that moment I decided it was time to go. I started applying for office jobs, because I knew I wasn’t going back to retail and none of the radio stations and writing publications were responding to me.
I finally got hired at an office job. The ad on Craigslist advertised the job as “entry level.” I had no idea how much the pay would be, but I was just anxious to be working full time, because I knew I had to start paying back my student loans in six months (My loans were a total of $31,000). The entry level receptionist position started at $12 an hour. I was pretty bummed, seeing that I just got my freakin’ college degree, but I was like oh well. In three months I ended
up getting a $3 raise. I was super excited, but even then I felt I was worth way more than 15/hr.
I stayed at this job for a little over a year and I ended up leaving. Luckily I had obtained a part time job in promotions a few months prior. I worked part time for a radio station and I focused on writing and networking. However, I quickly realized that living in the Bay Area I needed to be working full time. I couldn’t be broke and struggling for long, so I got another full time job at the property management company I am currently employed. I started making $14 an hour and now (six months later) I am making $17 an hour.
I usually don’t put my business out there but THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I went to school for four and a half years and for what? To be working six, sometimes seven days a week and to still be broke and struggling? I get so frustrated thinking about my goals and how long it’s taking me to achieve them. I feel like when we are children/ teenagers, adults and educators sell us dreams. Go to college and you will get a great job! You will have money! You will be happy! But this is not the case for many. Most people I know are struggling just like I am and all of my friends with college degrees are employed, but most of them are working in a completely different fields than what they got their degree in because they have a degree but they have “no experience.” But how can anyone get experience if they can’t get hired for having no experience? LOL it’s honestly ridiculous and frustrating AF.
What is also interesting to me is how a lot of people go right into the workforce and just stay at the same company. They keep moving up in the company and end up making a lot, because they have seniority. So this is what happens. People with degrees get frustrated looking for a job in their field or do not take jobs in there field that pay close to nothing because they have bills to pay and a life to live, so they take whatever job will pay them well (ie. security jobs, airport jobs, corporate jobs, etc.) and just end up retiring from that job 30+ years later. People are forced to neglect their passions, so they can survive. This doesn’t even just apply to people with degrees, it applies to everyone. But at least the people that went right into the workforce don’t have to worry about paying loans back for a degree they didn’t even get to use due to their “lack of experience.”
I am not saying college is a waste of time, because I learned a lot and I have no regrets, but depending on what your goals are you may want to consider if college is really necessary. Like if you want to be a doctor, lawyer or teacher you definitely need school, but if you want to do anything related to media or the entertainment industry it’s sometimes more about who you know and the people you connect with. Now I have a whole degree and when I go to interviews the focus is more on how many followers I have and how many likes I get while I am sitting here struggling to pay back all the student loans I took out.
I am in no way trying to dissuade anyone from attending a two year or four year university, but I want to encourage people to do their research and really analyze if college is necessary for what their goals are. Also, if someone attends college I encourage them to take advantage of the resources available. Don’t just go to class and go home, join organizations, get close to your favorite teachers, linger around campus. Because honestly you never know who you might meet and that connection could be the path to your success more than you having a college degree. There are so many successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of school or didn’t attend college at all, so never feel like that is the only way. Figure out a plan, get a mentor and always follow your passion. Regardless of the path you take, just don’t be naive like a lot of us and assume that getting a degree will equal success.
Michaela P. Shelton is Managing Editor of CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Michaela at Darealmichaela1.com