by Robert Martin
As university students in a time of economic instability, we are constantly faced with the harsh reality that jobs are often hard to come by upon graduation. Stories of graduates from top schools, highly educated but jobless for their first and second years out of college have been all too common in our recent news media. This raises the question of whether it is better to seek a job directly out of college, or to go on and pursue a graduate degree in hopes that upon completion, the job market will be more welcoming.
There are numerous benefits to pursuing a career directly out of college. Internships are a common segue into the workforce. As students are able to gain practical experience in an environment outside of school, they discover the areas of interest within a given field and will often pursue their career choice as a result. Finding a job with a steady income allows graduates to pay off any student loans that they may have taken while in school, and therefore sets them on a path to greater financial security in the future. Most companies offer greater benefits to long-term employees. Therefore, it behooves a student to find a company with which to establish their career.
Entering the workforce directly out of college is not without its detractors however. In highly specialized fields such as science, medicine, or law, it is imperative that one pursues continued education in graduate programs or schools in order to reach the top of their income potential. Though it is possible to obtain positions of lesser capacity in science or law, it is arguable that for those who are willing to go the extra mile, the benefits of a greater degree of education outweigh the cost of time invested into the schooling itself. Corporate jobs are much the same. When hiring new executives, a candidate with an MBA will go much farther than a candidate who only possesses a Bachelor of Business degree. Not to mention the privilege given to graduates of elite schools such as Harvard, Oxford, or Yale.
Pursing a career in higher education requires a higher education. For those desiring to teach at the collegiate and post-graduate levels, it is futile to think that they will be able to achieve success without first investing the time and energy required to earn degrees of such status. Bottom line, you have to know it to go it.
Over-qualification? Is there such a thing? Is it possible for someone to be so educated and well versed in his or her craft that they run the risk of not being able to find work? In recent years a shift has occurred in the job sector. As news of corporate bailouts and budgetary crisis have steadily become the new norm in corporate America, we are seeing that more and more companies are willing to sacrifice qualification if it provides relief to their already overextended bottom line. Think about it; a person who has spent the time and money to earn a graduate degree expects greater returns on that investment than a lesser-qualified counterpart. These returns come in the form of well-bolstered salaries, health benefits, paid vacations; all the perks afforded to a person of their academic standing.
However an employer seeking to cut expenditures would often rather take a person who is less qualified on paper and give them practical experience without having to bump up their pay grade. Simply put, those with greater degrees of education are just too expensive for some companies to hire. They are simply unwilling to put forth the money it takes to cover the letters after a name.
At this point, it is important to identify what one desires in a career. Certainly many, if not all, would say that they would desire to be successful in their work. If given the choice between poverty and plenty, I defy anyone who would willingly choose abject poverty. However, before proceeding blithely into a career, or wasting away in silence; burning the midnight oil to light the pages of a thesis, it is crucial that we evaluate our goals and dreams.
The definition of success is one that is personally defined. Certainly those with bigger houses, bigger cars, and bigger bank accounts are naturally considered more successful than those who lack such luxuries. Yet on the other hand, do those material accessories accurately define true success? I would argue that a person who is less educated and lower salaried, but truly enjoys their work, is much more successful than someone who has numerous degrees and enough money to pay off the national debt, but hates his job with a passion.
In our economically based world, monetary gain too often skews the reality of genuine satisfaction. Instead of looking at which degrees will offer more pay, I submit that we should ask ourselves; which degree will allow me to follow my passion and make a difference in my world?