A recent story by the Associated Press reported that 1 in 2 new college graduates is jobless or underemployed. As a senior preparing to graduate this month, it’s an understatement to say this is concerning. Did I just waste four years and an exorbitant amount of money for nothing?
The article seems to say yes, and it only got worse when I read that while the science and health fields are flourishing, the arts and humanities are struggling. As a communication arts major, those odds aren’t in my favor either. The story cited a report that said only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree to fill the position. Most openings were in professions like retail sales, fast food and truck driving.
Congratulations to me, I now own an approximately $150,000 diploma that will get me a job somewhere I could’ve worked without one.
But fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I don’t feel as cynical about the situation as others might. For one thing, I don’t doubt that I’ll eventually find a job that I love. Secondly, I would argue that my college education was worth it even if it doesn’t get me the career it “should” right away.
I can hear the collective sigh of parents and those older than me who are thinking that I’m being unrealistic. “Wait until the bills start piling up and you won’t feel the same,” they might say. Maybe that’s true, and maybe I’m being naïve, but I’ve learned more life lessons during my four years on a college campus than I probably would have anywhere else.
I was fortunate enough to play soccer for four years at my college and to lead my team as a captain during my senior season. If I told that to my pre-college self, I would have laughed. I almost didn’t try out for the team because I didn’t think I’d be good enough. Luckily I showed up that first day of preseason because four years of college soccer taught me never to be afraid to try something that scares me, to stay positive even in tough times and to invest more in the team than in myself.
Another invaluable experience was studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, for a semester. I was comfortable on my campus and had no reason to leave, but I’m glad I did because I consider those months some of the best of my life. I made great friends, many of whom I’ve visited around the U.S. since returning and several of whom I’ll be visiting in London this summer. For the first time in my life I was completely on my own, and I learned a lot about who I was.
Being challenged academically at college also stretched me to become a disciplined, hard worker. Interactions in the classroom, lessons learned at my internship and countless hours working on the school newspaper solidified my passion for journalism and why I want to be a reporter.
The job search is underway and I’ve have had a few interviews that, if nothing else, were good learning experiences. You could say I’m the poster child for the AP story¬–fresh out of college and unemployed. Even so, I’m not worried. These experiences are just a few of many that made college worth it to me, even if I don’t find a job right away. Call me naïve, but in the end, I’d take these lessons, memories and friends over any paycheck.
Campus Voices is an occasional column submitted by area college students.