After four years of college at a pretty well-known school – Penn State University – you would think that it’d be possible to get a “good” job and make a “decent” living. I’d like to inform all journalism majors, yes, ALL, that believing that theory is entirely incorrect. Let me explain.
Without adding the mounting interest my student loans acquire each day to the principal I invested, I spent $50,000 on my collegiate education; this is a figure that has not even seen the most mild dent since I began paying it off at $350/month at the onset of 2008. To even say I’ve chipped the surface would be an exaggeration. And although I did what was “highly recommended” by consolidating my loans, the interest that builds up each month is nearly half of what I pay. Perhaps less, but for the sake of my argument, I’m going with half because it is, unfortunately, at least $125 per month.
Back to my initial thought… I have two jobs – yes, two, because I cannot survive on one place of employment despite 40-hour weeks. Instead, I throw on an apron and serve tables on the weekends to earn myself the $200 additional dollars I need each month to pay my bills and to put a few bucks of spending cash in my otherwise empty pockets. A typical week for me runs between 55 and 60 hours of work with one solitary day off from either job.
For as long as I could remember – and in nearly every movie about “kids going off to college” that I have ever viewed – higher education was touted as the means toward a better paying/more rewarding job, and thus, future. By putting my time and effort toward a Bachelor’s degree, I would open doors otherwise closed and be able to make a substantial step in the best direction for my continued success.
And since graduating in May 2007, I have learned one thing: When choosing journalism as your career path, the ideas previously held about a collegiate education are nothing more than BULLSHIT.
Yes, it’s true, bullshit. Did I go into this occupation because I wanted to strike it rich in the newspaper industry? No. But you would think, perhaps even assume, that a person with two Bachelor’s degrees – that’s correct, I have two, in both journalism and English – could make enough money to support oneself. Rather, an individual who barely made it through his collegiate courses can throw a ball 200 yards and make seven figures, while students like myself, graduating with a 3.5+ GPA, need to work six or seven days per week “in the real world” following college just to pay rent.
I’ve had this argument in the past with several people about the unfairness of today’s society in that those without a college degree often earn more than those with one, or two in my case. And I am not trying to demean anyone who went into a field that did not require a four-year education. What I am saying, however, is that a job – such as one as a newspaper reporter – that requires an individual to have a degree should, at the very least, be able to pay that employee enough money to allow him or her to pay for that required education. To spend $50,000 and not even earn enough to watch that principal diminish sometimes makes actually enjoying my job a little less important.
And for me, for someone whose only goal in life was “to write” and have others read what I had to say … for me to begin thinking that I’m actually sacrificing my happiness in the end by wearing myself out with every six-day week, every 60-hour work week, that passes because I want to do what I enjoy, that makes me question everything.
I went into journalism because of a love for the written word, because it was something I thoroughly took pleasure in doing. But having to work a second job to make ends meet causes a constant barrage of emotions, primarily grief, that overwhelmingly push aside the love I have for this career.
I have never been one to believe that money buys happiness, but what I’m gradually learning is that having an empty wallet can surely make someone pretty damn miserable.
1 Comment so far
Leave a comment