Friday, February 12, 2016

Graduate Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of Disappointment

Nobody goes through years of college torture—exams, assignments, all-nighters—just so they could burn what they have arduously earned. 
But tough shits we encounter in life just might change our minds.

Back in 2013, when I was in Bali with my brother, we happened to meet an "interesting" taxi driver who worked for some obscure taxi company. He was a driver whom I'd gladly call a thug, what with his fake tattoo sleeves, sketchy business practice, and verbal intimidation at us.

This driver liked to talk, and thanks to his extroverted personality, it was revealed in the midst of his babbling that this alarming, repulsive driver actually held a bachelor's degree.

What a pleasant surprise.

As a fellow degree-holder, I feel in essence we’re not that different after all. The striking difference between us—apart from his occupation as a driver of some dubious taxi company—is that while I and million other graduates still have our certificates somewhere safe, he has literally burned his to ashes.

It all started with a shitty experience of job searching that our driver had to go through. Every time he was interviewed for a job, and close to getting it, the interviewer asked him for money as a condition if he wanted in.

Enraged by the situation, he decided to set his certificate on fire, turning it to dust once and for all.

Perhaps he concluded that it was utterly useless if in the end money was what mattered.

As his story continued on, he began disclosing his unorthodox parenting to us. Still carrying that bitterness from his job searching days, he taught his daughter (or son, I can't remember) to take part in corruptions—once she got accepted in her job.

"Getting caught and imprisonment should be the least of your concerns. The first thing you have to do is practice corruption. Take as much money as you can, because you need to take back the money that you gave them in order to get in," rephrased the man.

It is remarkable how damaging disappointment can be.

While his personal story is a peculiar and extreme case with a bit of questionable decisions thrown into the mix, it is undeniable that the reality of post-college life, especially in terms of employment opportunity, is harsh for some.

The truth is going to college might disappoint us. First, we're not guaranteed any decent jobs just because we're college graduates. And second, our degree actually doesn't mean much. When we compete for a job against our fellow degree-holders, that's exactly what each of us has: a degree. Basic. It is often experience, personality or attitude that becomes the determining factor whether someone gets the job or not. So ultimately that’s what matters.

Considering this, why do we gamble all our money and time on college... when those three important elements can be cultivated outside the walls of college?

Entrepreneurship, apprenticeship, and pursuing passion-based endeavors are among the example of activities that present an opportunity to develop those three elements. We could look at these options as an alternative to college when considering what to do next after high school.

However, if college is still the preferred path, we need to realize that our degree won’t mean much, that we will need more, and that the world does not owe us a living. If this condition is accepted and we still feel like choosing college, then go for it. Otherwise, there are alternatives that are just as promising.