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College students, debt and degrees

While eating lunch at my favorite BBQ restaurant, I could not help but overhear the rather loud conversation between two female students at UNLV. The loudest one was bemoaning having to tell her parents that her degree was of little use in trying to get an interview for a job.

Even worse, she was trying to get into a master’s program so she could keep borrowing money instead of having to find a job and start repaying her current student loan debt.

Her dinner partner starting barking out how, after four years of work and student loans, “some [expletive] owes me a [expletive] job!”

After 31 years in higher education, I have to admit that this is nothing I haven’t heard before. Whether the student was trying to transfer out of a dead-end degree program or a freshman inquiring about a particular degree program, the question was always, “Will this degree guarantee me a job how much will I make?” I would respond that while some degrees are “hotter” than others, no degree guarantees you a job.

Your degree determines only which level position you may apply for.

I would also point out that as your level of education increases, so does the level of competition for that position.

It is your appearance, personality, involvement in outside activities and potential for growth within the firm that determines who gets hired.

You also have to be able to “do something” of benefit to that firm.

Don’t be conned by reading that “graduates of our program are analytical thinkers and problem solvers who think outside of the box and are highly sought after by dynamic firms.” Jobs and top salaries go to individuals who are motivated, hard working and realize that success in the workplace is not based on working eight hours a day, five days a week.

Whether it was during my academic career, practicing with a large firm or running my own firm, an eight-hour day, five days a week was only a fleeting wish.

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