Why I Spent 8 Years on a 4-Year Degree

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As I near the end of my college career, I find myself in a unique situation. In a world where hiring professionals demand both experience and a degree in hand, it’s seemingly impossible to get by after graduation. Is an internship enough anymore? The system is greatly flawed. Those who leave high school and go straight into the college system are denied the opportunity for real work experience aside from flipping burgers or doing retail work.

The way I see it is this:

  1. You live on campus, rack up debt, gain no work experience but have a degree you hope will be enough.
  2. You do both by working in between classes that don’t really cooperate with a working individual, which forces you to do either school part time a majority of the time anyways (which most financial aid won’t cover), or work part time (which barely covers a car payment costs or other bills).
  3. Hope that there’s a decent enough school close enough to home and work in order afford all of the above while settling on a degree you don’t actually want.

So, what’s a student to do? Although it seems impossible to have a life away from school and work when you’re in your twenties anymore, there are opportunities to take advantage of. As long as you’re passionate and dedicated, you will have all you need to graduate.

Although you may get little to no money, volunteering for a company geared toward your degree interest still counts as experience and shows a lot about a person’s work ethic. What looks better than someone who works for free? Or seek administrative work at any kind of office environment. No matter what your career may bring, administrative work is useful anywhere and typically pays well.

Another tip is to never discredit your past experience. Unfortunately, there are quite a few things job-seekers don’t realize they can put on their resumes. If you are writing a book as a side hobby, that’s experience. If you made an art portfolio in high school, that’s experience. If you consistently shot your family portraits, that’s experience. Don’t discredit yourself.

Need a little more dough? Use your skills to build an online store. Online commerce is ever-growing and user-friendly. And, guess what? Sites like Etsy, eBay, Threadless and others have made it super easy make money.┬áNot only can you make a few extra bucks, but running your own business counts as – you guessed it – more experience to put on a resume.

Most importantly, however, is to never give up. I spent 8 years on my degree because I wanted to work, I wanted to gain great experience, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to do it my way. No matter how endless or fruitless it may seem, getting that simple piece of paper will be one of the greatest feelings.

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