Like many people, I recently read Talia Jane’s “An Open Letter to My CEO” and immediately found myself feeling quite rankled, so rankled that I decided to write this post.
Yes, a fair living wage is indeed an important topic that warrants lots of public discussion, but ugh, her tone, that sense of entitlement — I just couldn’t get over it. Then, I read Stefanie William’s rebuttal, “An Open Letter to Millennial’s like Talia…” (much of which I agree with), and I found myself feeling even more annoyed.
Having once been a young 20-something with an English degree looking to find a job in media, I was surprised by how unsympathetic I felt for both women as they described the challenges of starting their careers whilst trying to make ends meet.
Here’s my problem with both those ladies’ posts. Both of their narratives are built on the premise that a college degree entitles you to a leg-up in life. Yes, the fact that you are getting paid minimum wage after investing tens of thousands of dollars in your college education is rough, especially when you’ll be paying off that debt for years to come. But, here’s the deal. College is a choice. It’s an investment. It’s by no means a guarantee that you’ll be set for life.
Here’s what I’d like to say to those pursuing a college degree or recently graduating from college:
A college degree doesn’t entitle you to anything more than an alumni email account and a piece of paper signifying you completed the degree program.
Do not expect a cushy office job or a sweet salary just because you have a college degree.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong advocate of higher education. I believe that college is an invaluable opportunity to explore a breadth of knowledge, develop your skills and passions, and connect with a diverse community of people who can help shape your purpose in life.
Just know that a college degree alone is not what’s going to get you places. It’s about the knowledge you gain, the skills you build, the relationships you cultivate, and the opportunities that you pursue that will get you to where you want to go.
I don’t want to take away from anyone’s sense of hardship. If you say the struggle is real, then it’s real. Part of learning to be an adult, though, is figuring out the options in front of you and being accountable for the choices that you make.