Private Colleges Don’t Guarantee a Happily Ever After

I have no regrets about attending private colleges. I’ve graduated undergrad from Oglethorpe University as a theatre major. Later, I’ve gained my Master’s in Dramatic Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Sure, I’ve collected plenty of debt, but I can’t complain about the education and enjoyable experiences I’ve gained during my college years.

My original plan after college was to pursue acting and write scripts for major movie companies. I used to believe having a decent entry-level job after college would quickly pay most of my student debt.

Life took me down a different path.

Paying back my loans is no problem. I’m only upset I’ve been led to the “college is everything” illusion. There are plenty of people in this world who have made it well off in their careers without going to college. Try telling those stories to your college graduate family, and you’re sent to the guillotine.

(via GIPHY)

By the way, why do we keep telling younger generations college (exempting aspiring medical, law, and engineering students) is their only option when student debt is a significant issue in the US?

Student Debt Relief has reported student debt has reached $1.6 trillion, with $105.5 million borrowed each year. Who’s comfortable with this factor (besides the fellows getting the money)?

When I was a high school senior, I was obsessed with applying to private colleges. I was checking out Brown, NYU, even Yale even though I had no real plans going there.

I thought going to a private college meant better job opportunities for graduates. Nope, private colleges don’t guarantee a happily ever after.

Whether you graduated from a public college or a private one, you still need a strategy to prosper after graduation. I didn’t have a good one. I stuck with the whole “a college degree is your ticket” routine. I’m not the only one.

Post-Graduates: “Now What?”

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Millennial Nicholas Rastenis talked to the Washington Post about his struggles after graduating from Yale. His degree was in Fine Arts.

Rastenis had high hopes working with a design firm but ended up working in a photo lab for $9 an hour. Plus, he’s been grinding working as a bike cab and waiting tables.

“I’m doing things I never thought I’d be doing,” He says. “I’m starting to question why I went to college.”

Rastenis had a temporary $50 an hour job with an advertising agency in Chicago. The company had to lay him off after they have lost a few advertising accounts.

Meanwhile, Anne Naggayi came to Cornell University from Uganda with a partial scholarship. She’s a single mother with three kids. Her husband passed away years ago from a heart attack.

You’d think a woman with two degrees in adult education and community development would be showered with job offers, right? Naggayi had to make ends meet, working with the elderly for $13 an hour.

The CNN Money article about Naggayi was posted in 2009. I hope by now, ten years later, she’s in a better position.

The last upsetting story is from an anonymous poster in Gawker. The college graduate has a Bachelor’s in social work and a Master’s in public education. Here’s a snippet of their story titled Worst Decision of My Life:

“So here I am. Eight years of experience, a Master’s degree, and an Ivy League school. You think I could at least get an entry-level position. You think I’d at least be able to make the same amount before I got my Master’s. But instead I’ve been unemployed for a year and a half.

I’m working part-time at an internship that pays minimum wage. I’ve applied to over two hundred positions. Sometimes I feel like the best thing that I could do is jump in front of a car and have all my organs donated. Maybe then, I would be useful.”

It’s sad people have to come to this level of thinking.


Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Instead of depending on a college degree to make all your career dreams come true, the best we can do is self-educate ourselves.

Need to learn a new skill in copywriting or photoshop? There are always libraries. I’m serious!

You don’t realize how many people don’t use them (I work in one). Some provide GALE courses and Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning) as free digital resources. Don’t forget about Youtube (not the cat videos) and Udemy.

Continue to land new opportunities to gain more experience in your desired field. Don’t settle for a full-time job with little relevancy to what you really want to do your entire career life.

You might have to sacrifice your weekends and your Friday nights to go where you want to be. A side-hustle (or two) may be the case.

For example, if you want to be a full-time writer, you can find plenty of gigs at Flex Jobs, Freelance Writing, and Freelance Writing Gigs. It doesn’t hurt to pitch your work to small businesses, magazines, and online blogs. The more work, the better.

One thing I wish schools covered is passive income. We’re trained to work for money but not learn how to make money work for us.

Thanks to my extensive reading appetite, I am aware of a few passive income methods: affiliate marketing, real estate investing, and stock dividends. I’m sure they can help with monthly bills and student loans faster than slaving away your soul in a passionless 9–5.


Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

If you’re going to a private college (or college in general), don’t expect it to help you land your first job after graduation. Just no, don’t.

The only person who controls the outcome of your career life is you, not the glossy diploma.

Don’t be afraid to go beyond what’s required. Be more than prepared to do more homework than all your college professors have ever given you back in school.

Keep building yourself. You’re responsible for keeping your dreams alive.

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