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The True Cost of College

I came across this old article from Businessweek about student loan debt, and started to think through a few things as a result. According to the article, the average college grad is 33 before their net earnings catch up to counterparts who never went to college. And get this: this data is for public university grads –– meaning the age is older for those of us “lucky” enough to go to private institutions.

Without going off on too much of a rant, this is all the more reason to understand what you want to do with your life while you’re still in college. If the statistics hold true, the average student changes their major nearly three times before they graduate college. In some cases, this results in more time than the standard 4 years at school…which means more money being spent staying IN school. Which basically means you’re likely be nearly 40 by the time you pay off all your debt. And this doesn’t even include graduate schools for professions like law or medicine (speaking of which, over 50% of general medical practitioners say they wouldn’t be doctors if they had to do it all over again).

Consider this: Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, dropped out of Washington State College after only two years. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, never finished at the University of Texas. Barry Diller, CEO of IAC Interactive, dropped out of UCLA after only 3 weeks. And the list goes on and on with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft), and Steve Jobs (Apple).

…It strikes me that a lot of people who drop out of college early and go on to have wildly successful careers seem to be the ones that knew what they wanted to do and just went after it. So aside from saving a bunch of money, they saved a bunch of time and were able to hone in on what they were interested in much earlier than most of us.

Maybe all those dropouts were onto something…

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Looking for a part-time job? Create one.

Here’s a funny (although not intended to be) article on part-time jobs one can do to make ends meet in this economy. I guess I found the slide show to be funny because it “assumes” people can just go out and become a fashion designer. Yes…a fashion designer. Isaac Mizrahi, watch your back.

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Be sharp, not desperate for a job

Part of what we do at Hobnob is help students identify internship positions that are the best fits for them. As a result, we’re exposed to the challenges and frustrations that students deal with through our campus chapters.

And you know what? I’ve noticed something.

With the state of the economy not exactly rosy at the moment, it’s sending students into a flurry of activity…which is not exactly good in this case. Why? The flurry of activity is students applying to every internship opportunity that seems remotely viable, irrespective of their qualifications, interests, or talents.

Now, I can’t exactly blame the students –– after all, the prospect of landing a job are extremely hard in this environment. But this is precisely why I’d argue for the case that students, more than ever, must figure out ways to become “sharp.”

Sharp is understanding your strengths and how to leverage them. Sharp is knowing your weaknesses, and finding ways to minimize them without pretending they don’t exist. Sharp is articulating what makes you different than anyone else. Sharp is the opposite of being well-rounded. At the end of the day, being sharp means knowing what you are looking for and seeking opportunities that align best with what you bring to the table.

If you’re a student trying to find an opportunity, I have just two words for you: Be Sharp. You’ll gain better traction with the focus that comes from knowing what you want. It’s not to say you don’t have to apply to a lot of positions –– I’m not disputing the fact that this environment is challenging and you might have to be more patient than ever in this job market. What I AM saying is that you will have a greater chance of being noticed through the noise if you find a way of differentiating yourself. And that usually means figuring out what makes you unique…and what makes you different.

In this climate where there is an “abundance” of talent looking to get plugged into careers, it’s easier to be remembered for being unique in a sea of sameness.

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Hello!

This officially marks my first post on the WordPress platform! 😮 What will I be writing about here? Aside from continuing some thoughts from my previous blog, I’ll be writing about one main theme:

How to find your dream career.

Within this blog I hope to share my own perspective as a former recruiter/HR consultant and current start-up co-founder, share insights from other professionals who have found their callings, and share useful tools or resources that I come across in my work with Hobnob. There might also be the occasional business rambling as well. 😉

Let the madness begin.

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