Sister Fierce is an elementary school teacher. She teaches a classroom full of third graders. It sounds like a nightmare to me, but she loves it. She flourishes in it. She is not so fierce in the classroom it would seem. She chose her career path early on and never once changed her mind. Teaching in Oregon is kind of a high stress career, the education system is not the kindest to their employees, employees who are only training up the future of America. That never made much sense to me, I think teaching should be one of the highest paying fields. The individuals who are helping to boost brain cells should be rewarded more than those who are destroying them, say like football players.
I almost became a teacher as well. After college graduation I was accepted and all ready to jump into the Master’s program. I was going to prepare myself to teach middle and high school students. Then I opted out, because graduate school is too expensive and my debt ratio was already too high. I might go back to school in the future, the opportunity is literally in my backyard (my apartment sits at the bottom of one of the college’s hills). If I could be guaranteed a job close by I would do it in a heartbeat, but in a small town in Oregon the turnover in teaching positions is pretty slow.
It is rough that my generation was one of the first to get hit with that tsunami of low-employment rates. Go to college, they say. Get a degree, they say. No one will hire if you don’t hold some type of Bachelor’s, they claimed. So we all jumped into college the Fall proceeding graduation. Some of us lucked out with scholarships, others qualified for financial aide, but most of us fell in that all too common area where we didn’t qualify for any financial assistance. Either our parents made too much or we lost out on those scholarships. Left with no choice but to take out student loans, at 18 years old we began our journey into the debt that would hang over us for the rest of our lives. There are those few that have their parents fork out the money, not sure when it became acceptable or expected of parents to pay for their children’s college education. I always saw it as I was 18, an adult, and made the decision to continue my education, therefore also accepting any and all financial responsibility that was tied to that decision. The country saw it that way, so why shouldn’t I? If only you were able to claim that independence in the paperwork.
Then my generation graduated and stepped out into a world where there were no jobs. Nothing was available. I had friends with Engineering degrees that got jobs as construction workers, Political Science majors that began assembling toy viewfinders, Business majors turned into baristas, and English majors that are now bank tellers. Places like McDonads, Wal Mart, and the Liquor Store are what we are looking at as career opportunities. I count my blessings that I was able to find my way into a job at the newspaper. It was certainly a miracle. The realization that I might be a barista for a good chunk of my future had sunk in after graduation and I had gone into a panic mode. I am barely scraping by now I can only imagine where I would be if I was still working at the coffee shop.
Sadly that is the reality we live in for now. A jobless society. Our Universities are churning out thousands and thousands of educated, yet indebted, students each year that have no where to go to make the money, to pay back the money they borrowed to make money. What a messed up system we have going on!
I cannot stress enough to high school graduates to not go to college if you are uninterested, if you are not ready, or you do not know what you would like to study. Take it from this very poor college graduate, if your heart is not into it then you won’t succeed at it, and you will go into debt for nothing.
On the flip side I feel like college is more than just a place to gain an education, it sculpts and shapes you into a more driven, accomplished, and self-aware individual. You are continually pushed past your limits, and have a bar that is set way beyond your own expectations of what you can achieve. There is no holding of your hand through tough times, or awards given for anyone who just participated, and certainly no room for mistakes. College is not for the faint of heart. You are questioned and challenged daily on what you believe, on where you stand, and how you perceive things. Even if you have the right answers you will still be questioned as to how you arrived at them. It strips your world down and then requires you to build it back up, over and over again.
You are definitely more polished once you have been through college. Buffed up and shiny and ready to be an integral part of society. Just take a look at everyone’s graduation photos, our faces scream, “I can’t wait!” But our eyes say, “Oh no… now what?”
I loved school personally, sure I got burnt out at times, mostly during my fifth year when the light at the end was so near, but I really liked it for the most part. It helped that I was studying something I thoroughly enjoyed. And no, being an English major does not just consist of reading books. I wish that was all there was to it. History, psychology, languages, art, politics, and so much more is involved in that degree. It’s like the melting pot of majors. I did fairly well because I was interested in all of it, may not have been as good at the languages however. I am in love with the written word and what it has brought to our world. It is one of the most powerful tools we have, and yet it is so easily overlooked or taken for granted. I can, and probably will, post more about that another time however.
With all of that said I fear that going back to school and gaining a Master’s may end up not being as useful as I would hope. I thankfully am not at a point yet where I have to make some type of rash decision. If I did though I would most definitely be back in a classroom. Call me a nerd, call me a geek, I don’t care, but I love to learn.
Whatever happens I’m trusting that God’s plan for me will make itself obvious. Obvious and hopefully allow me to make enough money to actually cover all my bills this year. That is my New Year’s Resolution right there folks – to survive.