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