Remember in Willy Wonka (or was it Charlie?) and the Chocolate Factory, how the impoverished child spent his only money on a chocolate bar, hoping to get the golden ticket, which would allow him to receive his ultimate dream? And he did it, right? He got the golden ticket and it turned out to be everything he’d hoped for. Well, that’s how we looked at college. A diploma would be just like the golden ticket, guaranteeing us a seat on the train to our dreamville. A job with a salary to raise a family on. A modest, three-bedroom house. Two cars from this millennium (okay, our cars are from 2001, but close enough.) Nothing ostentatious. Not a mansion and an Escalade.
As it turns out, a diploma can double our income. But that’s not saying much when your last job title was “janitor” and you made nine dollars an hour. Now, after paying fifty thousand dollars (which, comparatively speaking, is apparently reasonable!) for a bachelor’s degree in psychology, we will be lucky to find a job that pays forty thousand a year! That used to seem like so much. It used to seem like the promised land or something. But now that we’re here, I know that it doesn’t buy what we wanted. It buys a two bedroom apartment, an eight thousand dollar car, and a sizable student loan payment. And please don’t think I’m not thankful. I am very blessed indeed. My family is healthy, overfed, and has a suitable place to live. We’ve got cars that run, and we’re in better conditions than most of the world. It’s not that we need more. It’s that I feel like we were sold a bill of goods when it comes to college. We’re making more right now with an undegreed job at the John Deere factory than we would at many of the “professional” jobs available that require a bachelor’s degree. I’ve been doing some research, and even a master’s degree may not yield us any better results.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker in America earns $33,840 a year. How do you raise a family on that? I mean, I guess I just have this picturesque ideal in my head of families across america living in houses like this:
And that’s significantly downscaled from the images I see on television of the homes of families portrayed as average:
But I’m starting to think $34,000 looks more like this:
Am I the only one who feels like a college education was a major rip-off? I guess this “American Dream” is going to take a lot more than a degree to accomplish.