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Old 09-30-2009, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
1,278 posts, read 687,878 times
Reputation: 885

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I'm only 24, and I feel that I ruined my life. But not because I killed anybody, took too many drugs, or performed any other criminal act. No, I feel I've ruined my life because I tried to better myself by going to college.

In college, I went from computer science major (dropped that because of what I heard about these jobs being offshored), to economics major (dropped that because it would have taken an extra semester at a cost of about $10,000), and finally, to political science major. Because of working a full time job, transferring schools, not having money to attend summer semesters, it took me 5 years to complete my bachelor's degree. While doing so, I amassed a debt in the $40k range.

While I was in school, I did some research as to how I could work my degree. Many legitimate job/salary websites (Payscale.com, Salary.com, CNN, MSNBC, etc.) showed the types of jobs and salaries one could expect to see after graduation with my degree and work experience. The salaries ranged from $38k/yr to $43k/yr; not bad to start out on. Well, I can say that those certainly weren't the job offers I received. The job I have now initially offered me $29k per year. I took it, because I had bills to pay.

The sentiments on Internet forums such as this one have led me to my greatest fear. I fear that I will be stuck with low paying jobs that offer no career growth or advancement opportunities for the rest of my life. In addition, I fear that I will never be able to start a family, purchase a house, or simply live a financially stable life. There seems to be a widespread belief that white collar jobs are diminishing and that my degree is nothing more than the "new high school diploma". Well, I don't recall a high school diploma ever costing an individual $60k, but I digress.

Trust me, I don't have an issue with confidence. I do a very good job at what I do. I have a lot of essential skills that I see lacking in even some of the upper level management people. Having taken business and advanced math classes in college and working with computers since I was 10, I have a strong background in all of these areas. I've been working office jobs since I was 17 years old. Yet, it seems that a lot of people now days frown upon college graduates. The mentoring I received in the past seems worthless. I used to hear that many people worked in fields other than what they studied in college and were successful. Are these happy days over? Have I dug myself into a hole that I'll never get out of? Is it worth going on?

Bottom line...I don't want to spend the rest of my life working only to pay off my student loans. That's not a life worth living.

Last edited by mcb1025; 09-30-2009 at 11:29 AM..
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:15 AM
 
4,249 posts, read 297,835 times
Reputation: 2066
No, you will get out of the rut. It may take time but you can do it. Just take your time, pay off your debts as fast as you can ; put something extra besides the miminimum payment every week and you can do it.

Short story ; we moved here over 20 years ago with nothing ; when i say nothing I mean 2 suitcases. Fast forward it to now ; we own a business free & clear, ; ok, its a small business but we paid off all the loans we had on it, bought 4 houses ; sold none(some have mortgages). Put my dh thru college($40,000) paid that off and now I am going to college. Forgot to say my pride and joy ; 2 children. You can do it.

Dont give up ; be ready to do anything in your job that will help move ahead. Grab any and every opportunity that you can.

Just wanted to give you some support.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:48 AM
 
10,141 posts, read 14,904,073 times
Reputation: 6121
You'd likely be in worse shape without a degree. The economy will get better at some point, and you will move up the job ladder. Not all good jobs need a degree, but most office jobs do, and your future career (or careers) don't necessarily have to be at all related to your degree.

I don't think that most people look down on college graduates, by the way.

Things look bad now, but at least you have a job (even if it's not ideal). Don't give up, do well at your current job, maybe seek outside opportunities that will help you to network and develop new skills, and just take it one day at a time. Things will probably look a lot brighter in a couple of years.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Derby, KS
3,832 posts, read 8,028,770 times
Reputation: 1563
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcb1025 View Post


I'm only 24, and I feel that I ruined my life. But not because I killed anybody, took too many drugs, or performed any other criminal act. No, I feel I've ruined my life because I tried to better myself by going to college.

In college, I went from computer science major (dropped that because of what I heard about these jobs being offshored), to economics major (dropped that because it would have taken an extra semester at a cost of about $10,000), and finally, to political science major. Because of working a full time job, transferring schools, not having money to attend summer semesters, it took me 5 years to complete my bachelor's degree. While doing so, I amassed a debt in the $40k range.

While I was in school, I did some research as to how I could work my degree. Many legitimate job/salary websites (Payscale.com, Salary.com, CNN, MSNBC, etc.) showed the types of jobs and salaries one could expect to see after graduation with my degree. The salaries ranged from $38k/yr to $43k/yr; not bad to start out on. Well, I can say that those certainly weren't the job offers I received. The job I have now initially offered me $29k per year. I took it, because I had bills to pay.

The sentiments on Internet forums such as this one have led me to my greatest fear. I fear that I will be stuck with low paying jobs that offer no career growth or advancement opportunities for the rest of my life. In addition, I fear that I will never be able to start a family, purchase a house, or simply live a financially stable life. There seems to be a widespread belief that white collar jobs are diminishing and that my degree is nothing more than the "new high school diploma". Well, I don't recall a high school diploma ever costing an individual $60k, but I digress.

Trust me, I don't have an issue with confidence. I do a very good job at what I do. I have a lot of essential skills that I see lacking in even some of the upper level management people. Having taken business and advanced math classes in college and working with computers since I was 10, I have a strong background in all of these areas. I've been working office jobs since I was 17 years old. Yet, it seems that a lot of people now days frown upon college graduates. The mentoring I received in the past seems worthless. I used to hear that many people worked in fields other than what they studied in college and were successful. Are these happy days over? Have I dug myself into a hole that I'll never get out of? Is it worth going on?

Bottom line...I don't want to spend the rest of my life working only to pay off my student loans. That's not a life worth living.
Well...in a nutshell: "That's Life!"

But let me touch on what I've bolded.

Political Science Degree = $29k/yr: Well it's good that you attempted to do some research to figure out what sort of salary to expect. But what those sites told you was optimistic. I'm an engineer. If you look up starting engineering salaries they may range anywhere from $45k to $85k depending on number of factors...such as location...so you might think that if one was an engineer he could expect to start out at something like $65k a year just based on averages. Nevermind that there are some lowely engineering jobs out there that actually can start out in the high $30k's. But over the year's you will get merrit raises and promotions and you may even change jobs a few times before you settle in. Most of the time when people change jobs they get a bump in pay (sometimes not but most of the time yes). So don't dwell on the fact that you are only making $29k/yr today...just look to the future. And possibly seek out another job that may offer tuition reimbursement for furthering education.

Family: You sure don't need money to have a family. People do it all the time. Athough having money helps with this it's sure not the most important thing. But I'll tell you what is: Health Insurance. Get a job that offers a good health plan...you'll find that will help lots with starting a family. And besides that you're 24 years old....what's your hurry?

House: Who says you really need a house? I mean really. A house just means more debt for you. Stay in an apt and try to pay down that loan for a while. Maybe you'll meet a wealthy mate and they can help you out with it. Start saving for that down payment.

Debt: In the grand scheme of things a $40k student loan debt isn't the worst it could be....you would have that in addition to a $200k mortgage and $80k in credit card debt....and on your way to bankruptcy. Right now you are probably closer to living within your means than half of the families in the US.

College Degree in 2009= HS Diploma of 50 years ago: This is kind of a misnomer. Back in the day people said that if you graduated HS you were garanteed a job. In recent years they replaced "HS" with "College" in the previous sentence. Either way I think it's bogus. You are not garanteed anything in this life...especially not employment.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Alaska
5,154 posts, read 9,519,015 times
Reputation: 3505
First off, be thankful you were able to get a job. There are many college graduates who are still looking for that first offer. You have to realize that the economic conditions are worse than the periods those statistics were developed. I'm guessing we'll see a reduction in pay scales in the future.

Consider this job a stepping stone to better one down the road. As you gain work experience, you'll be a more marketable individual. Just work at it for a couple of years and try to excel in your position. It likely won't be your only job. I've worked for several companies, with the longest one being just over 10 years. So other opportunities will come along in the future for you.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
1,278 posts, read 687,878 times
Reputation: 885
I'd like to thank you all for the encouraging messages. You would be surprised and probably dismayed at some of the responses I've gotten from other people online. I've been condemned by some who hold the mentality that it was my fault to go to college and pick this degree and pay what I did for it, as if I somehow could predict what job opportunities I would have after I graduated. Sometimes these comments and criticisms get the best of me and I begin to feel depressed. My parents could not help pay for my education, so I've been left to fend for myself. I just hope that I didn't ruin my life by trying to better it.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:27 PM
 
2,122 posts, read 5,446,076 times
Reputation: 1834
I would stop fearing the future, and start living your life, the one you have today. Do well at your job - be the best you can be at it while also keeping an eye on any other occupational opportunities which present themselves. Pay off your educational debt as you have to and do not amass credit card or mortgage or automobile debt - just live within your means when you're not at work and try to have some fun. Life is what you make of it, not what you see other people doing or buying.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Fuquay Varina
1,749 posts, read 2,930,568 times
Reputation: 2320
I was in the navy for a few years. not long enough to retire, but long enough to learn a few things.

My last year in the navy my W-2 stated I made 22k. (there are a few untaxed items I was paid for but not a lot of it)

I got out of the navy and my first job I was paid 20.00 per hour. Now almost 10 years later I am making double that. No college at all.

My point is, while you are starting out now making little, in a few years you will get a new job making more, and then continue on and eventually you will be making enough to have your life, the way you want, and be able to afford things. it doesn't happen overnight, you haven't ruined anything. you have taken the first steps to a long journey!! Good luck and hang in there!
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:35 PM
 
8,424 posts, read 24,425,211 times
Reputation: 5916
Well you can consolidate those loans to get a lower rate. 40K is really low on the debt side of things. Just make a 5 year plan to pay off what you have. You can do very easily. You may not live the lifestyle you want strait out of school, but your entry pay is going to be higher than people who do not have a degree. They will have to work wherever for a couple years to catch up to your pay rate usually.

After you are at your position for a 6 months to a year you should be getting a raise if you:
- ask for it
- work for it
- pick a good company that has the capital to keep you

They will always try to low-ball you starting any jobs. (school or not)

I think the only grad people frown on are the diva know it alls that think its going to just start out peaches and cream. You have to earn a few stripes in the working world first too. Just give it time and research the company you work for now. Look at other companies as well.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:42 PM
 
31,385 posts, read 18,539,137 times
Reputation: 14469
No one's life is ruined when they are only 24.
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