Side Note:

Side Note:
For those who haven't figured it out, or haven't been here: The titles of most of the blogs here are song lyrics. If you google them, it should take you to the song and the song is good to listen to before, during, or after reading to help set the tone of the blog. I find music to be very cohesive with reading and writing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

She Told Him That She Believes In Livin' Bigger Than She's Living Now...

The dollar. It is quite the motivator of the lives of each and everyone one of us in everything we do each day.
Whether we see it that way or not, it's the truth. Our lives are motivated by the necessities we have, and those necessities are only attained through monetary means. Being born is free, but from that moment on, everything we do, even dying, costs us money. (And technically, being born is only free to the person being born. It's still costing other people money!)
I say all this because I am unemployed now. I wasn't, but with my divorce and relocation, unfortunately my job had to be given up. During the last year, I attained my training for my Medical Administrative Assisting certification as well as a certification as a Medical Coding and Billing Specialist. Tacked in with those two certifications comes training towards certification in the use of Microsoft Office, which seems silly to most people since probably the majority of Americans with computers use Microsoft Office, but the certification in use of the program can make you more desirable to an employer.
Humorously enough, however, I've found that some of the people in the positions working the jobs I'm trained for are not trained in what they're working as! At the clinic I previously went to, one of the women I spoke with said she had graduated high school and simply applied for the job and gotten it. Then at the clinic I most recently visited, the woman working as a medical assistant had no front-medical-office training, but was instead a laboratory technician whom had been asked to fill in with some of the administrative work and trained on the job.
My question then is this:  Are college degrees really as necessary as they seem? Can you work a job and still live life without one?
I won't use examples of the famous, multimillion dollar executives or inventors of various companies who came up with a brilliant idea and excelled, nor will I use actors, actresses or musicians. Let's look at real life people.
I know of a couple who, when both were working, lived well withing their means and still had very nice things. The wife worked the same job since she was sixteen, rose in the ranks and was making nearly twelve dollars an hour with absolutely no college degree and actually, no formal management training. Her husband had no college (has since attended but not yet completed) and worked his way up through the ranks of the military. Even now with her no longer working and him being sole financial supported, they're still fine AND they have a child now. Rock on, guys.
For a non-military example, since so many civilians seem to be under the impression that military members are paid well (FYI: Gross Income on our taxes for 2010 was around 17000,) I will use another couple. With the income of one adult working for a cable and internet service provider and the other as a stay-at-home mom to their teenage child, a family lives in a three bedroom home, renting to own it, live on approximately .3 acres of land, has a work vehicle as well as a family vehicle, have been able to afford home improvements (cosmetic and otherwise) and still afford all of their personal needs and have money to go and have dinners, lunches or slip the teenage girl spending money for movies, the mall or the skating rink.
I understand that not everyone is this blessed, the economic outlook is bleak and unemployment is at an all-time high. However, my question is, is going to college necessary to aide in finding a career? And if college is something you have always wanted to complete, then is a traditional four-year school the only option? Can the training you desire be achieved through a vocational school (averaging degree completion in two years versus four) or perhaps even a certification program (which can take anywhere from six months to a year) or must it be the four year route? For certain degrees, a four year school is non-negotiable. If your goal is to be a teacher, expect to put in the time, effort and money to attend a university for four years. If your goal, however, is to be an RN or LPN, then there are other methods to achieving that goal in a faster way.
For me to be a medical assistant, there were 2 and 4 year degree options. I had previously attended a traditional private university and completed all of my core classes (the humanities, English, Science, Math and History) and was working on the classes of my major at the time. However, when my soon-to-be ex-husband and I were working on getting our own place and getting married, the idea of dropping out was presented, I did so, and was out of school for two years. When I decided to go back, I wanted to just get my degree, and when researching, decided that an accelerated program from an accredited university seemed the best option for me. (Please note the word" accredited." Jose's College of Kokomo calls and offers you a degree, politely take their information, then give it to your nearest Better Business Bureau!)
I use all of the same books as a student in a four year college, I studied, I had professors, I had quizzes, tests, and exams! It was just like college, but faster. I worked at my own pace, I got help when I needed it, and I'm very well versed in my material. My schooling cost a total of $2650.00. That's nearly 80% less than the average loan debts of a college graduate right now. Additionally, my schooling held no out of pocket costs, whereas in addition to student loan debts, the average college student's credit card debts have been even higher than usual at over $3000.00.
Meanwhile, those grads with nearly $30,000.00 in debt are still part of the increasing unemployment rate. The rate of unemployment for college graduates has risen percentage-wise in equivalence to that of those without a degree, so in this case right now, I don't see the advantage.
I want to be clear that I, in no way, am telling people they should or should not go to college, but what I am saying is that not going to college isn't something to be ashamed of. It just isn't for everyone. And debt up to your eyeballs isn't something that sounds appealing to me, so I took the road I felt was best for me. I am happy with my choice. I am happy to be debt-free and done with a certification that is practical for me and that didn't require me to take a class doing trigonometry when it would be irrelevant to my job.
Besides, I like Wal-Mart, and uppity college grads who think they're too good to work there aren't who I want helping me find the Sour Punch Straws at 2AM anyway.


  1. Awesome and well written

  2. I'm rather upset that we went to school for the same thing but my debt is 8500 :| ! Argh ! l0l

  3. I know who your exaaaaamples were. ;)

    Very well written, and I agree. People need to weigh the pros and cons and pick the best route for themselves, whether it's a traditional school, a trade/technical school, the armed forces, or working their way up in a company.
    A 4 year college is shoved down our throats for so long, but it's not the only option, and definitely not the best for everyone. No one should feel ashamed for choosing a different path. As long as you're doing something, and can make it, I say go for it.
    Sitting in your mom's basement, however, not an option, ha.

  4. I'm going the 4 year route (or possibly up to six, as I'm aiming for a dual major), but instead if going straight to a University I'm taking my core classes at a community college then transferring g to a university after I get my AS.

    I saw no reason to pay the much higher tuition for what's basically the same classes, and since I'm taking student loans now, and using my GI Bill at USF or whichever, I'll end up with much lower debt overall.

  5. I really need to stop posting from my phone. Grr typos. Grrrr.

  6. An Australian perspective:

    I spent 6 years at uni doing my bachelor degree and then my graduate diploma. The boyfriend went straight from high school into the work force. We both earn roughly AU$50k pa. I have a debt to the government for my school fees, which is paid back gradually through our taxation system now that I'm earning enough to afford to pay it back. He has no debt. I work in a secure industry. His workplace just went through another round of redundancies and cutbacks. I have the qualifications and experience to find a better paying job than my current entry-level position. His workplace experience is with the same company for the last 7 years, and while his job has varied over time, there is no shortage of other people looking for work in the same field.

    It's harder for me now. I don't have a car, I'm sharing a flat with 2 other people, I have debt and no savings. But in the future, I strongly suspect that my ability to save money and progress in my career will be much higher. I'm not planning my end game about where I want to be when I'm 30 years old. I'm looking at where I want to be when I'm 40, 50 or 60. I'm looking at the options that make me more likely to get a rental agreement on my own. I'm looking at options that make me a more secure bet for a home loan one day.

    Ultimately, I'm much more employable because I have the piece of paper that says "this girl puts in the time and does the hard work to make shit happen".

    Now I'm not saying that this is applicable in a United States setting. You have higher interest rates on your student loans, and your student loans are done through profit-driven private companies. Ours are low interest rate loans through the government who make sure we're earning enough to afford to pay them back before they start asking for the money. In Australia it really is about how much work you're willing to do to get to where you want to be.


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