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US: Fundamental problems - Education/Employment

Justin Carreno writes: "Graduation time is upon us, and millions of students are being ejected into society to fend for themselves and fight in life as they never have before...for a job, a living, for money. They are leaving the comfortable, fake world of academia, and will experience something that many have never been exposed to. Their fun roommate is now their fierce competitor whether they know it or not. Others will remain in the safe cocoon of academia and struggle to become tenured professors, but the majority will have to face the reality of employers wanting to know "how much money can you make for me?"

In the past, your diploma might as well have a job stapled to the back of it. Not so today, especially because of the poor job market, exacerbated by the war. Everyone has a Bachelor's degree, forcing educated, intelligent individuals to take less than desirable jobs or get advanced degrees that still don't necessarily mean a job. In Albuquerque I met a girl who graduated one of the top in her class from Yale. She was a teacher in the Albuquerque public schools system. This wasn't the job she thought she was going to have, but she found the job market to be too competitive and gave up looking for something she would like better. An elite school won't necessarily get you to where you want to be. Universities are becoming more and more homogenous.

This is what graduating students are facing. Today a student has to look at reality. If someone pursues a history or theater degree, he must expect to be unemployed for a while. A former sociology professor of mine once said that a college degree is first for socialization into mainstream society, then employment, lastly education. A colleague of mine at the Wyoming Geological Survey has had a difficult time finding employment, although he has college degree. He also happens to be a Swiss/US dual citizen. He's considered federal jobs, but refuses to renounce his Swiss citizenship because it will reduce job opportunities for him. Why should an educated, intelligent, motivated individual be forced from menial job to menial job, without social welfare, without health care, without insurance. Why? If the person doesn't have a job that pays medical insurance, then it probably doesn't pay enough for the individual to pay for it himself. This is a fundamental problem in the US. I know an oceanography Ph.D. who was a construction worker for two years before he got a decent job. The system is wrong".

RH: This is indeed a major global problem. The idea that everyone should have a college degree means that there will be a surplus of would-be executives, and no one willing to do the menial jobs which keep a society running. The humblest job deserves respect. There is something to be said for the Soviet system. There was a list of jobs, The best student got to choose first, and so on down the line. A job was guaranteed. Whether our job fairs are better is a moot point.

Ronald Hilton - 5/17/03