January 12, 2016

The Worth of a Master's Degree

Every time I've graduated from an academic institution - I have this nightmare.-

 I imagine a huge auction being held. I stand there. My degree is held up. The auctioneer holds up a high school diploma starting the bid, employers in the crowd shout numbers attaching the worth of that degree to what they think should be offered

$10,000! $10, 500!

The next time I had this dream was when I got my bachelor's degree

$15,000! $18,000?

Again, when I got my Masters degree

18,500? 20,000?

I'm guessing the figures offered in my dream have had tax-deducted, and have been adjusted for inflation since they were so damn low.

But that's not the worst part of the dream. It's what's behind me.  My student loans. A glaring number in red pushing me to stand out, to work harder, to obtain the highest bid.

I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. But mostly, it's helplessness. A sense of dread that I cannot escape. Unable to move forward, unable to go back. I'm stuck.

And then, I wake up. The auction is over. I realize that it was just a dream.

I think,  Don't be silly, there isn't a worth attached to degrees

Or is there?

Shouldn't the worth of the degree in the market place be equivalent to the cost of it?

There is a parallel relationship between the auction numbers, and the loan numbers. They both go up as I progress in degree collection. However, the loan grows larger-  unable to keep up with auction offerings. Herein lies my problem

So I ask myself again and again-

Is the worth of the degree measured by what we achieve because of it, or the actual cost ?

Doesn't seem like either right now. I am not employed now, but when I was,  I certainly wasn't being paid what the cost of degree was. The world of employment doesn't work that way. In a way, I understand why it can't. They say that more people now obtain a bachelors degree than have ever before. There are just too many people out there vying for the same positions.

Coolio got it right in Gangstas paradise...

 Too much television watching has got me chasing dreams {that were possibly unattainable.} Now, I feel like an educated fool with money on my mind.

I am disillusioned. Perhaps.

I may be in the minority here, but I still believe in the power of education. For yourself. The knowledge you obtain can never be taken from you. Well, unless you got a lobotomy. But I think that's rare these days. This is why I continue to go back. I feel I am investing in myself. I am more confident in decision making, rational thinking, and writing because of what I have learned. 

Does going to school and obtaining a degree entitle us to more money, prestige, or social position? Certainly not. Although it may feel like it, it does not.

Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't feel proud but just don't expect magical things to happen as soon as you graduate, or hope that compensation will come close to what you had in mind.

Is it a cold, bleak world out there? Yes and No

Yes, because it will seem hard at first. Initially, I completed 200 job applications in a month to only get 3 replies back. I kid you not. 200 applications in which I entered my education, work history, interests, etc. I felt upset that no one wanted to employ me... until I realized I was going about it the wrong way. I wasn't applying to jobs suited to my interests.

No, because in going through these applications, I really figured out what might be a good fit. I started getting better by applying to jobs I wanted to, and thought I would genuinely like. I wasn't just throwing a line out there, hoping something, anything would bite.

Is my master's degree worth a million dollars? Sure... but only to me. Right now. Maybe no one else is seeing what I am seeing.

This may be the case or it may be that I haven't gotten into the right position to get me there. I need an employer to take a chance on me even If I don't have the most extensive of experience. I can develop those skills if offered a chance! {PS, Call me}