I, like the majority of my friends have a college degree from a pretty good school. Most of my friends even have secondary degrees which I too plan on one day getting. I'm just as well rounded, if not more than most. I am a military veteran, was a student leader in college, and was even a member of a month long human rights delegation in Rwanda. Finding a great job after college was supposed to be a breeze. But here's something else that almost all of my friends have in common: we are Black, Educated, and BROKE! Yes, the majority of us are employed, but in this economy it's harder than ever for recent college graduates to get a foot in the door with these high paying companies. It used to be simple. Go to college, get a great internship, and at the end of your internship, the company realized how awesome you are and offered you a nice paid position. Unfortunately in today's economy so many companies are barely staying afloat and free work is really their only option. So where does that leave those of us with the unfortunate circumstance of being a recent college graduate? Well, most of us are working in jobs where we're barely able to pay rent, bills, and dear ol' Aunt Sallie Mae. CNN recently ran a story aptly titled, "My degree isn't worth the debt!" and quite frankly, I agree. A college classmate of mine and I always refer to our degrees as, "The most expensive piece of paper we've ever bought," because that's all it's been to us thus far. Will I admit that having a college degree helped get my foot in the door at my current and previous employers? Absolutely! But I'll also admit that I've only worked for small non profits with salaries that barely cover the monthly cost of that degree. And quite frankly, I have not done anything in my professional career that I don't think I could have done without this private college education. Leaving the non profit world and going corporate isn't quite so easy these days either. With so many people competing for so few jobs, unless you have at least 5 years of experience in that new field, don't even bother applying. And that's for an entry level salary barely above what I make now. Between the recently laid off, who may have 10 years plus experience, and other recent graduates, it's pretty competitive out there. I'm not saying we should start telling our youth not to go to college, but as a former youth worker I was and continue to be extremely honest with the young people in my life. College is a major financial undertaking and whether you graduate or not, Sallie Mae and the Department of Education are going to want their money six months after you leave that campus. And although I know that my college education was in investment in my future, I am definitely not living the adult life I imagined. Frivolous shopping, last minute travel, and regular happy hours are for now, things of the past. Rather than living like Carrie Bradshaw, I am living like a recent college graduate with massive debt. I am (impatiently) counting down the days until I make that December loan payment so I can throw these bad boys back into deferment...and go back to school. I know it's crazy but I still haven't abandoned the idea of getting my Master's Degree and in turn getting an awesome job doing what I love and finally making enough money to not have to worry. Until then, I will continue to be Black, Educated, Broke....and FABULOUS!!
Check out Default: the Student Loan Documentary if you still need some light shed on this growing situation: