Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What does a degree really mean?

When we go to college we expect to serve a four year sentence, hopefully learn something in that time; but the ultimate goal is to receive a diploma. This diploma is a symbol that supposedly represents an accomplishment, a transition into a better life where you can climb to new career heights. But in this economic downfall of the modern era, the symbol of a diploma, does not represent much to a lot of graduating seniors such as me. I do not project it helping my 30 year old life and as of now I only see it adding to my overwhelming debt. Student loans, years seemingly wasted in classrooms only to wait in bread lines seems rather bleak. The symbol of the diploma has become rather cynical these days. YES we all should go to college and ideally get masters degrees afterward, but realistically speaking, and fiscally speaking, it sometimes becomes more of a burden then it's worth. In my fathers time, a diploma for him as a black man meant breaking down barriers and achieving something that nobody before him in his family had before; which was sitting in a classroom full of white people and graduating with them. He was suppose to be apart of the working class, (STEREOTYPE) of black people who work all day then come home to watch "Good Times" and dance in their section eight home and liquor filled living rooms. However, my product of a single mother, project raised father didn't follow the stereotypical path assumed for him; no he went to Wilberforce University then Boston University and recently, he hosted the President of the United States at a church he is the pastor of. He grew up a stereotype but became much more than anyone expected, married with college bound children in the suburbs. I want to make him proud and someday I will, but college for me has created a wealth of debt for my family.
I would love to be a scholar, a Ph.D. talking head on MSNBC discussing offshore drilling and gay marriage, however, rising tuition costs and increasing student loan debt makes that dream impossible. What does it mean to have a title in front of your name? What does it mean to have certificates and degrees framed on your office wall? Does it make you more of a contributor to society? Does it get you V.I.P. seating in heaven?
For my sweet aging my mother, a diploma represents for her also aging son, finally becoming something and making her proud. For the aging son, it represents oncoming years of debt, the stress of having to pay back thousands of dollars of student loans.
I am graduating in May, yes I am happy about it, but I wonder, what does it really mean to be a college graduate?


Stephen Krewson "What's the point of college?" http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/node/57743

Janet Stemwedel "What's the point of a college education?" http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2006/10/whats_the_point_of_a_college_e.php

Laura Petrecca, USA TODAY "Toughest test comes after graduation: getting a job" http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2010-05-19-jobs19_CV_N.htm


  1. Yaayyyy, I love this. You are in my brain. I've been having anxiety because I'm not sure if graduating too soon is a smart move for me but then again, neither is the opposite. I'm trying to get an internship with NPR to piggy back on my education at UDC. I already feel like I'm going to be last choice over a job because of some lacking educational areas in my life and then, I have student loans to pay back but who says that when i graduate I will have a job to cover these debts. A B.A is like a HS diploma these days. You can't even get a job at MC Donald's without a HS diploma now. I don't think that a degree means too much of anything. Your career is based on who you know or how well you network and keep what you've accomplished from that!There are so many successful professionals that's made it out of their smelly basements without a degree. Right now, I'm thinking that applying for a permanent position in the federal government maybe be a smart move for any graduate to make!

    -CHECK OUT MY BLOG (OWT-SPOKYN-www.jocitup.blog.com)

  2. yes Jocelyn most of us in the DC area are destined for government jobs. At least they are plentiful and provide stability. I am almost 30 and I just have to be realistic at this point. And clearly this 8 years I've been in school has not been beneficial considering the fact that I'm probably not going to be doing what I went to school for. I have dabbled in it but working as a reporter was not paying any of my bills much less my lunch.

  3. Well done. An honest indictment of a system we find ourselves mired in. Your weblog posting could be used as a model for other students to see how a well-researched idea together with a personal narrative can make a very compelling (if uncomfortable) case. You incorporated the ideas of stereotypes in a thought-provoking way, and kept your readers attention on your main idea.
    Great work.

  4. "more of a burden then it's worth." Really? What is a degree worth if you do not understand the difference between then and than?