Slogging Away Why?

“Look at all of us getting blindly ripped off,” I said, waiving my hand over a sea of undergrads who were swiftly trekking to classes. “Suckers.” Since the last time I attended this university, the number of students has risen significantly. Schools across the nation have seen an increase in students and the nation itself has seen a notable increase in new universities that all promise the same thing: attain this degree of higher learning and your quality of life will undoubtedly improve. I have two degrees and I’m back taking prerequisite classes for yet another degree with this dream in mind.


Documentaries such as America’s Crappy Schools or whatever it was called, claim that there are plenty of high-end jobs in the US that are filled by geniuses from other countries because Americans lack the education required for these careers. These careers include mechanical engineers, surgeons, and college professors. So flashback to me standing on campus peering out at the masses. We are all buying in: if only we go back to school, take out some loans, we will get those jobs and make the money. But we won’t make the cut. School and departmental funding is incrementally decreasing, federal loan aid is constantly in jeopardy, and all of us flooding the system decreases the individual odds of even getting into school. For instance, I applied to 6 grad schools across the nation. In one of my many letters of denial, an administrator delineated the data of the average scores for this year’s admitted applicants for me via a chart:



GRE %iles







My GPA was 3.7 and my GRE was 65th,44th,48th respectively. My first semester back in 3 years, I took 15 credit hours, which is five classes, and earned 4 As and a single B. There were 403 applicants for 35 available positions. This boils down to an overflow of applicants and the university’s policy to take the top 35 who earn the straightest of As and score well on a $160 standardized test. The admissions committee does not get the chance to analyze any other student credentials because of this cut-off. There is an obvious disconnect between academia and the career market. The schools must somehow rank students as numbers based on standardized tests. These test scores and ability to succeed in the job market are two different things. Tests: memorizing, studying, and submergence in white American culture. Job market: integrity, consistency, reliability, and determination are keys to success. The skills imparted on us in college do not mirror the skills required by employers. Several professionals told me that what they learned in school they hardly use in practice. Job proficiency begins to appear after 5 years of work in the field, not from abstract theories presented to us in school.

Americans need to earn that education to keep our US jobs. Yeah, right. The institutions are overwhelmed by applicants and their small programs cannot accommodate the demand. Yet, these institutions are willing to take our cash, no questions asked. My undergraduate prerequisite classes cost me the exact same as graduate degree classes. Per UNM policy, because I already have an undergraduate degree from them, any additional classes I take are billed as graduate classes: (about $1,000 more a semester) even undergraduate classes. I will not be awarded another degree, even though the classes I’m taking essentially add up to another major (27 department credit hours so far).

When I pointed out my fellow university companions as suckers, I smugly felt I was not a sucker as well. “I’m going into speech-language pathology, I’m guaranteed a job.” That is if I get into a school. I’m currently on the UNM grad program waiting list. I’m going to keep taking classes to inch my GPA up. I’m going to retake the GRE to earn a higher score. I’ll apply to the 6 schools again next year. I realize that this education is just a step in the journey toward gainful employment. I won’t give up, but I certainly am disheartened as I’m churned by the higher education machine.


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