Debt is the one thing many students have in common; some of my friends have accumulated 20,000; 30,000; and up to 60,000 dollars-worth of debt. It is not uncommon to have racked up absurd amounts of debt to pay for school and living expenses while you are getting your formal education.
One of my former professors, a part-time faculty member at Western University, is a high-achiever in academia; she has a master’s degree from Harvard, and is a PhD candidate. She diligently warned her students against accumulating too much debt. Despite her competitive edge and her Ivy League education, she was and is unable to secure a full-time position as a faculty member. My former professor was a living example of how investing in a superior education doesn’t always have a good return.
But that’s not all. Most post-secondary students are in the same boat. Many of us have been brought-up to think that investing in a formal education will provide us with a great return on our money. We are confident that when we are finished school we will get a job; we believe that one day we will make enough money to pay off our student loans in a couple of years, live a comfortable life and retire. But this wide-spread conception of formal education has proven to be nothing more than a myth.
Post-secondary education is a prerequisite for many jobs: if you don’t have a degree then the job candidate who does is more likely to obtain a position, but the job market is flooded with university graduates and competition is high. It is a truly a no-win situation – there are more graduates than there are available jobs. What does this mean? It means that investing in education to gain a better position, earn more money and, as a result, more security is a far-fetched ideal that will only be attained by a minority of post-secondary graduates.
The solution? Avoid student debt entirely by pursuing trades, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship. Trades and apprenticeship programs are often paid-positions and are either fully or partially funded by the government. If apprenticeships or trades don’t tickle your fancy, then get creative. Try saving enough money to start your own business and start earning your own revenue.
Perhaps many of us have already accumulated massive debts, but throughout our search to get a job, it is important to keep these viable options in mind if we are not able to find employment in our fields.