My time and experience at Texas Tech University was the most enlightening and eye opening period of my life as I learned to think deeper and for myself. I was fortunate enough to have a stellar retail job I loved throughout my college career so that once I graduated (although I didn’t land one local job offer as a teacher) I was able to walk straight into a full time management position in retail. That was more than I could sadly say for a good number of my classmates that walked the stage with me, who still continue to struggle finding work in their field six years later. 8.5% of college graduates are unemployed, and they make up 40% of the unemployment line. This number does not account for the astronomical amount that wait tables and stock shelves until they hit their big break in their specialized degree.
Another fortunate aspect was that my college was funded by the Texas Tomorrow Fund leaving me with absolutely no debt while many of my peers are still burdened with the average $33,000 in student loan debt that only continues to accumulate with interest.
Enrollment is down 10% at the University level as high school graduates are taking more time to themselves, or taking jobs right out of the gate. Perhaps a part of their hesitations are watching the classes that have come before them end up on the unemployment line harboring a insurmountable amount of debt. Perhaps they are discovering there are routes in life outside of college.
I remember once writing an article for the Jr. High School newspaper on the birth of The Beatles. My social studies teacher came in with great delight thanking me for such a great article, and how she wanted me to continue a series on other great people who went on to achieve great things without attending college; I thought she was crazy. What was the likelihood any of my classmates in such a small town would achieve stardom? How was any normal person supposed to achieve greatness without a higher education? It had only been shoved down my throat since before I could spell my own name.
The indoctrination of the necessity of a University level education didn’t really hit me until I recently became a part of a non-profit start up that aims to help women achieve their GED’s. “But then what?” I asked my friend.
“Then they have a GED.”
“But what will they do with that GED? What’s their next step?”
“Oh”, my friend sat for a moment in silence.
“How about we help them on a career path? Let them know there are options outside of an astronomically expensive degree.”…Maybe it’s time as a country to educate students on their options outside of the university.