No, I Would Not Like Fries With That.
So I’m guessing that you’ve either: A) Seen a meme somewhere elaborating university graduates’ struggle in finding relevant employment through the comedy of a meme, like this one, or B) Heard someone talking about the outdated notion of tertiary education online or in-person.
Either way, I find both of these very misleading and, to be frank, a bit offensive.
There’s a lot of noise out there, especially online, regarding what millenials and Generation-Zers should be doing if they want to achieve their goals of self-fulfillment, sense of purpose, emotional integrity, backpacking-around-the-whole-world-and-instagramming-the-shitouttait (because, appartently, that’s what’s suddenly important). As a millenial, I can’t say that I don’t see why that would be appealing.
Yeah, Ok. I get it.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to have an amazing job, with an incredible sense of self-worth, travel the world with friends and loved ones, and share the journey on social media until those who aren’t joining the trip block us out of envy?
Oh! Quick question! How THE HELL do you do that? Like, seriously. How?
The way I see it, the answer to this question has wrongfully been tied with this meme:
Before I get a bunch of reactions that can be directly linked to cognitive dissonance, I’ll try to tred lightly and elaborate my thoughts without pissing you off too much.
College/uni — whatever you call it — isn’t for everyone. Obviously. It doesn’t make sense for everyone as a strategic life-move, many can’t afford it (In that respect: boooooooo, capitalism!), and there are countless professions that don’t require tertiary education. You can be a brilliant master of your craft without officially requiring the relevant knowledge certification for doing so.
However, *insert slow chair spin here*, this does not mean that you can do anything and everything without tertiary education.
Let me repeat that.
You can not do everything without tertiary education. It’s just the way things are.
There are many reasons for this. In many cases, technical skills are acquired slowly, over time, and take up a big chunk of your life before you actually know enough stuff in order connect the dots and come up with new stuff! (Yes, I’m looking at you, doctors, researchers, and scientists)
But even if this isn’t the case, even if you’re just someone like me who went to university because you were curious and wanted to learn more about something that seemed really cool and interesting at the time, it doesn’t mean you’re doing the wrong thing. Well, it could, but 9/10 times I’d say you’re on the right track. The reason?
Tertiary education is an amazing journey, through which you actually become really good at understanding something, and become better at understanding stuff, in general (I hope that makes sense). As a friend of mine recently said,
“You learn how to learn.”
And by obtaining a degree, you’re basically signalling to the market that you are capable of handling your shit. Yup. That’s pretty much it.
I’d view it as a stamp that I’m knowledgeable about something and am capable of meeting deadlines, using online tools, leveraging a bunch of skills I learnt along the way, bla bla bla.
But there’s one final aspect that doesn’t get the credit it should. The main thing you display when you are a graduate is attitude.
If you’ve done it right, studying should have provided you with the confidence to know that you can tackle any problem that comes your way. Heck, you became an expert on a subject you used to know nothing about! That’s why you’re certified (aka BSc, MSc, Ph.D. etc).
So, fellow graduates. No, you didn’t make the wrong decision by going to college when others are sharing their travel-around-the-world-omagadhowcantheyaffordit-extravaganza. You’re exploring options, building a skillset, and obtaining a sweet attitude while doing it.
Well, if you’re doing it right, that is.
My main point here and what I want to get across is that each person’s journey is different and unique. We all know on some level what we want to be doing. Yup, even you — it’s called intuition. But the problem is that in many cases we don’t really listen to it, as we get caught up in the noise of people who have succeeded and try to replicate their actions (by the way, this could work both ways; You could be heading to college when you reaaaaally shouldn’t be).
Personally, I almost didn’t graduate from my undergraduate studies. Yup, I almost gave up. Things didn’t really make sense at the time, and I was young and impressionable (Cool, I’m actually old enough now to use that excuse!). But I’m glad that I powered through! I’m glad that I was given solemn and selfless advice from people who love me, and in the end everything turned out for the best.
Things can only make sense in hindsight.
And yeah, they make a lot of sense now! BUT BUT BUT, as I mentioned three seconds ago, advice received should be carefully considered and pondered on. Peoples’ motives can be malevolent, and you’d be surprised how much advice is given on this premise.
And just to return to the previous point, if you would stop for one second and actually think about why university graduates are struggling to find relevant jobs, you would see that the entire structure of the world’s economy and job market is shifting.
There’s loads of evidence that automation is expanding at an exponential rate (Welcome to the age of AI, Cognitive Computing, and robots!), and the pros of the world have come out and laid out their opinions (just like this and this). Of course this means that many jobs are becoming redundant and will continue to do so, but so many other jobs will be created. It’s a cycle, just as it was when the industrial revolution kickstarted and altered the structure of the economy.
So, no, I would not like fries with that. Do your homework before insulting me, and stop fucking belittling my education by saying that it makes me only qualified enough for a minimum-wage unskilled job, you self-righteous, condescending, insecure f#$!.
With love, always.