“I have a masters degree and I am still poor.” This was a message put out by one of my contacts on LinkedIn. She said that she had thought that going out and getting a degree would mean that she could avoid being poor in the future but now with student loans and no real prospects she is poorer than ever.
I felt sorry for her because I know how frustrated she must be after putting in all that work, effort and money and having nothing but debt to show for it. I replied to her saying that if she had a masters degree then she must be smart and that she should put that intelligence to finding a way to get rich. I reminded her that it need not be anything to do with what she obtained her degree in, the degree just proves that she can achieve whatever she sets out to achieve.
I thought about it for a while afterwards and I realised that this is not an uncommon thing. Quite a few of my friends have sons and daughters who got good degrees at university but never managed to find the dream job that they had expected to get. One of my friends has 3 sons and all of them went to University and none of them is working in a particularly well paid job. They are still trying to pay off the loans and second mortgage they took out to pay for all of this “useless” education.
I then started to get a bit angry about it and thought that our kids are being sold a pup. They are being sold a dream that never becomes a reality. They are led to believe that if they work hard at school and get good grades they will be accepted at a good university where they will get a good degree and then the world is their oyster. How false this promise is turning out to be.
In reality, there are just as few good jobs around today as there always were except more and more kids are going to university. It is almost the normal thing to do now once you complete your high school education. When I was at school it was only the exceptionally clever or the ones with rich parents who went to University, the rest of us had to go to college or straight to work and learn on the job. I wonder now what was actually wrong with that system? We never had to deal with the disappointment and the feeling of being let down because the system wasn’t working.
It seems that the only people getting rich out of this system is the Universities that propagate this dream. You don’t even need that decent a set of results these days to find a University that will accept you, what does that tell you?
I think it is time that we woke up as parents, and students, and started to have a look around for alternative things to do once you leave high school. There are actually lots of things that you could consider. In the UK we have modern apprenticeships where you learn a trade while you are working on the job and being paid, you also get a qualification to prove your competence. You can do online courses in anything from accountancy to zoology these days and distance learning with lots of specialist colleges. These are often much cheaper ways of getting similar certificates and awards. The “degree” tag is over-rated these days as every Tom Dick and Harry has one and employers are becoming increasingly aware of this.
Why not be a little more imaginative. If you want to become the next Alan Sugar then why not adopt his mentality and attitude? Did he have a degree? No. He just got on with making his dream a reality. He started small, learned all he could, made some good investments and hey presto he is now on the telly and everything. There is nothing he did that someone else couldn’t do. Perhaps instead of putting the 5+ years and all that brain power into a degree that will not get you anywhere, you could spend 5 years learning a trade and then start something of your own when you know enough and can prove it to a partner or bank manager.
To be honest, there is so much help out there today that anyone should be able to live the life they truly want to lead. I am not saying that it is easy or it will come straight away, but with enough determination and effort then anything is possible, including being rich.
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