Four long years ago, I wrote a post called “What Are You Going To Do With That?” I had just finished my second year of university, and knew I still had a long road ahead (I did some of my degree part-time).
If you don’t feel like reading that post, let me sum it up. I was frustrated with people constantly asking me what I was going to do with my degree (a bachelor of arts) for two reasons.
The first reason being: I had no idea what I was going to do when I graduated, and the second reason being: I felt the question was condescending because people implied (or outright said) that “everyone” has a BA and they are “useless” nowadays.
Well four years later and here I am still writing on this blog and finally graduated from university (something I, at times, honestly thought would never happen).
Four years ago my response to that question was “Uh, I don’t know, something with writing?” I was not confident in my writing ability and never thought I would actually have a job remotely related to my dream.
Except, I did…and I do. And I actually landed my current writing/graphic design job before I even graduated. Funny how things work out, right?
For a long time, I wondered if getting my degree was even worth it. I have student debt because of my five and a half years in university and for a long time I was convinced I wouldn’t get a “real” job unless I also got a Master’s Degree. I am so glad I didn’t give up.
But if you are like I was four years ago and are wondering if your degree is worth it, remember that there are ways to MAKE it worth it, even if you do get a “generic BA.” Because the truth is, there are a lot of people with a BA out there – but that doesn’t mean yours is useless.
What I learned from almost six years of university
A.K.A. How to make your degree “less useless”
1. Get to know your profs – seriously
I cannot stress this enough. I also cannot stress enough the fact that I heard this advice before going to university and IGNORED it for the first three years of my degree.
However, when I realized my professional writing classes had about 30 people and the exact same profs for almost all of my classes, I knew it was time to change. (In contrast, I never once had the same sociology professor, and my ‘small’ soc classes were 150 people).
So I got to know two of my writing profs and it really paid off. If I wasn’t for the time I spent asking my professors for advice, learning from their experiences, and going out of my way to build those relationships, I would have never published my book and possibly wouldn’t have my job – one of my professors even offered to be a reference for me!
2. Work Hard
Yes, “D’s Get Degrees” and all that good stuff, but guess what – sometimes, prospective employers will ask for your transcripts! That happened to me during one of my job interviews last year.
You think your degree is useless now? What about when it’s full of terrible grades? I was not a straight-A student by any means, but I worked my butt off to get my grades where they were and am proud of my hard work.
3. Major in what you love – but think about your options
I love sociology. I find it fascinating and relevant and everything I learned in my sociology classes (well, at least the main points…) have stuck with me through all these years and changed the way I saw and see the world.
However, I do not and did not plan on ever becoming a sociologist, social worker, or anything else related to that field. I did, however, want to “do something with writing,” so I paired my “interest major” as I call it with my “practical major” (which I also loved, just to be clear).
There are practical majors and minors and programs you can take in college or university without sacrificing what you love.
So, there you have it. I want to say that I NEVER EVER think that getting a degree is useless. Knowledge is great and university is never a waste in my eyes.
Still, I am not dumb. student debt is a real issue and not finding a ‘career’ job after university is also majorly stressful for many people. I’m very thankful that I was lucky enough to get use out of my “useless” degree, and I know a lot of people haven’t had that experience – and won’t have that experience even if they do the things above (things are pretty bad right now, I totally get it).
However, I hope these tips and suggestions like this become more and more common so students don’t feel stuck with a useless degree and instead are proud of the accomplishments they’ve made.