How much is a degree worth?

By Janice Kopaunik

Four years ago, I started college with high hopes. I was sold the dream of a brighter world where future potential employers fought over the promising college graduates, offering high salaries, flexible work environments and important responsibilities.

I paid my penance. My days were filled with demanding classes and extra curricular activities, and my nights were filled with long projects and study sessions. Every year, every pointless assignment, every late night of my Top-Ramen, basement-apartment life was bringing me closer to a decent living environment. I dreamt of a future filled with reliable cars, furnished apartments and well-rounded meals.

The four years have passed, and graduation is near. But today, instead of the life I dreamt of, I find my future strongly resembles my past-full of hard work and substandard living.

In this less-than-friendly economic environment, I am beginning to realize the promises of a hot job market were just a bag of hot air. The post-graduation world is less than was promised. Instead of opportunity, the economic situation is giving us fewer jobs, lower pay and greater competition, with recent college graduates feeling the brunt of the economic pressure.

The deflating economy is proving to have little room for us. We are left helpless against the skyrocketing unemployment rates, growing consumer prices and plummeting wages as we fight our way into the working world.

Many well-qualified people are jobless.

Just two years ago, the economy was at the peak of growth, and anyone could get a decent paying job. Now the well runs dry, and we are at the bottom of the hiring pack. How is the recent college graduate supposed to compete against more experienced candidates?The only option is to take a job for far less than you are worth, a job that looks higher on four years of company involvement than a four-year degree. Your friends who decided not to go to college will probably make more money than you.

Even if you can get the demeaning job, don’t say goodbye to the college lifestyle yet. The all-time high in rising consumer costs continue to keep a cozy lifestyle out of reach. Everything is too expensive-gas, food and housing. You might have a job, but you will still ride the bus, thrive off of Ramen and live in your mom’s basement. Life doesn’t seem like it is going to change too much for students.

The failing economy proves that the hopes of a decent post-graduation life were in vain and are not going to become a reality in the near future. The good and bad news is that this recession might last four years. There is a light at the end of the long tunnel. With anything, time will improve situations. Now there is nothing to do but wait.

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