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Thinking-Man-Statue

After months of silence, I’ve gotten several e-mails in the past 24 hours. I’m not sure what triggered this, but I figured I would post one of them along with my response.

“Regardless of your misgivings about college, you are still smarter than probably 99% of Americans out there. 92% of employable Americans have jobs. So while the issue of you wasting your time with college may be a subjective issue that I have no right to comment on, let’s just look at the facts. Even in this shitty economy, you can get a job because you are smarter, and thus vastly more employable, than most others.. And that was something that college did for you.”

And my reply:
“Hi there. In response to your comments: my complaint is not that college is a waste of time per se. My problem is that many degrees are impractical, and provide no useful or practical job skills, meaning that it’s quite possible to finish college and wind up unemployed or be forced to find work that has absolutely nothing to do with your degree. This is an especially painful experience if you attend a private school which costs an arm and a leg and is highly competitive. In addition, my academic and professional advisors were basically useless in providing advice on attaining practical skills, or in giving any perspective on what to expect after graduation.

Had I gone to a state school, I could well have ended up in the same boat professionally, but it wouldn’t have cost $200K and the workload would have been easier, meaning I would’ve graduated feeling a lot less stressed and burned out than I was. I also wouldn’t have spent so much time in high school preparing for the experience, which means I could have spent that time instead figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, developing better social skills, dating more actively, etc. Instead, I spent my adolescent years studying… which theoretically could be justified as means to an end, but in this case, the end was crap – bankruptcy, joblessness, living in my mother’s basement.

I have found a job again; in fact, I’m with a decent company now. However, I was forced to go back to school and get a second degree before I found work again (and I owe it all to my local community college). And the degree I pursued was entirely the result of my own research, and not thanks to anyone at Duke. And for what it’s worth, having a college degree is not particularly representative of intelligence, and whatever intelligence I have is certainly NOT the result of going to college.

My chief complaint at this point is that, given what I believe my potential is, I wasted many years of my life accomplishing nothing, while building up a lot of stress and anxiety and missing out on a lot of good experiences that other more “average” people I know have had. I can’t get those years back, but at least I can try to help others from making the same mistakes I did. That was the reason I started this blog.”

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unemployed

For graduates of top-ranked universities, the experience of admitting that you’re unemployed or otherwise unsuccessful can be mortifying. “Oooh, he went to Yale and he still can’t find a job. What a loser.”

Actually, it’s becoming more common all the time.   Below is just a small sampling of what I’m talking about:

Unemployed Yale Graduate Juggles Startup With Fatherhood

Unemployed Banker And MIT Graduate Peddles On The Street For Job

Here’s a personal rant from a Harvard Law graduate:
Unemployed law student will work for $160k plus benefits

You know things are bad when you’re forced to turn to reality TV to find work:
What to Watch on Thursday: Unemployed Duke grad tries “The Apprentice”

Here’s a blog run by an unemployed Columbia grad. This blog includes stories from many other graduates in the same boat:
Ivy Leagued and Unemployed

Another blog, this one from an unemployed Harvard grad – although this one appears to be neglected.
Roller-Coaster Ride of an Unemployed Harvard Graduate

A blog entry from another unemployed Columbia grad (complete with a comment from yours truly):
Confessions of an Unemployed Ivy-League Graduate

Job-search advice from an unemployed Yale graduate:
From Ivy League to Unemployed: How College Grads Should Approach the Job Hunt

Ivy League Law School Graduate Begs for Work on Craigslist

The about page of a dual-Ivy unemployed lawyer:
The Jobless Lawyer

Someone asks advice for an Ivy League MBA who can’t find work:
Expectations of the unemployed

Here’s one unemployed Ivy Leaguer who seems to have turned things around, at least for the short term:
Unemployed Harvard man auctions debut novel on baseball for $650,000

I have no sympathy for this next person, but it still goes to show that a Harvard degree doesn’t guarantee success:
I’m a Harvard grad who can’t hold a fast-food job

An unemployed Dartmouth grad shares her story:
Want Fries With That Frustration?

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