It’s about time I addressed the problem of the education industry in this country. I’m sure you’ve never heard it described that way, education as an industry. I haven’t. I have heard that college is a business but I have never heard those two words put together. It’s about time it is addressed though. I can’t take it anymore.
The reality is that income is disproportionately distributed in this country. The better schools are often in the more affluent neighborhoods. So if you have a certain group of people getting the better schools, more scholarships, the degrees, and then you have these jobs that a person WITHOUT a particular degree could do, requiring college degrees…who will get the better jobs that pay more? And how DARE some of these jobs require degrees and pay you close to minimum wage? Isn’t this policy ensuring that people who have had to work their way up through the ranks of certain fields, gaining a lot of experience but never going back to school, isn’t this ensuring that they will be locked out of the better paying jobs, therefore ENSURING THAT INCOME WILL CONTINUE TO BE DISPROPORTIONATELY DISTRIBUTED?
First policy I want to bring up, if I had my way:
It is unlawful to require a degree for a job candidate who demonstrates experience in a field related to the job. I don’t know if this is worded right, but if two people who have the same amount of experience apply for a job and one has a degree in an unrelated field, I don’t think that a person who does not have the degree should be thrown out of the job pool just because they didn’t obtain a degree. Other factors like volunteer experience, life experience, and self-study should be taken into account.
My second gripe is: If I owe a school money, I can’t get my transcripts from that school unless I pay off my balance, so I can’t transfer to another school that has my choice of study, staff, location, or a more affordable tuition. If I can’t get a decent paying job because I didn’t finish my degree, then I won’t qualify for a personal loan because of lack of income. Student loans only go back so many years. Even education awards from programs like AmeriCorps won’t cover balances over a certain number of years.
The 2nd solution: I think it should be REQUIRED BY LAW for the school to RELEASE THE TRANSCRIPTS if a student expresses interest in attending another institution or for any reason, and the institution must work out a feasible payment plan based on various factors so that they can MOVE ON WITH THEIR LIFE. Why should I keep paying for a mistake I made when I was 16 or 17 years old? I made the decision to attend a $30,000 a year cockamamie school and my parents did all they could to pay it all. $1100/month for housing. I scoff at it now, it makes me sick, because at 16, I DIDN’T KNOW THE VALUE OF A DOLLAR. (Blame my parents and I’ll curse you to to hell.) The point is, colleges constantly engage in false advertising like most business who inflate the quality and price tag of their services. Now I’m indebted to this institution and there is NO WAY that they will release my transcripts except by me paying out of pocket. It’s ridiculous and it needs to change now. It would work out in the institution’s best interest as well because they’d be getting paid rather than getting nothing and having a lot of bad energy directed at them in the form of resentment. I’m just sayin’.
See the conversation below to see how I responded to an actual prospective employer (names have been omitted)…
On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 6:13 AM, Helese wrote:
My name is Helese, and I feel that I am a perfect candidate for your position. As a past and current resident of Brooklyn, I am deeply invested in the community. I have utilized the community resources here to create a show that educates and entertains called Helese TALKS! I have a strong relationship with YAA where I gained experience doing outreach, working with high school interns, and planning events and curriculum for children of various ages. I enjoy building relationships with parents and connecting young minds with big ideas to their world around them. Thank you for reviewing my resume.
My apologies; in my last email I failed to submit a salary requirement: from $24,000-$26,000/year.
On Aug 13, 2012 3:45 PM, he wrote:
Thank you for your application. One of the job requirements is a bachelor’s degree and it is unclear to me based on your resume if you have on or not. Could you clarify this please?
On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM, Helese wrote:
No, I do not, but my last job required one, they hired me despite not having one, and they kept me on for two years and counting. Also I just got hired by a child care facility where an associate’s degree is required, but honestly they pay close to minimum wage which is why I am still looking. I find having a degree has nothing to do with actual capabilities.
If you have any more questions please let me know.
On Aug 13, 2012 5:09 PM, he wrote:
Thank for your response and your interest in the position.
This is how I want to respond:
Does that mean you will still consider me the position, or not? If not, then I would like to use this dialogue with you as inspiration for my next piece in the Black Star News and my blog, Helese TALKS! I want to address the degree requirements for certain jobs as a form of income discrimination. College is a business and not everyone can afford to go or complete their studies. Employers often have told me that having a degree can never trump experience. It is absolute nonsense to require a degree for the position you are trying to fill, when if you didn’t think I had the experience to do the job you would not have replied. Regardless if these rules are yours or are coming from someone higher up, it must be addressed. You want someone who will work with youth and encourage them to go to college. Why not give someone like me who couldn’t finish because of financial reasons a chance to give someone what I didn’t have? Ironically, I find the people who are awake enough to know that anything that college teaches in the classroom can be learned by self-study, are the ones who benefit from college the most because they are the most resourceful and most likely to use opportunities that come as a result of being a student who can gain college credit. I am one of those resourceful people. I am using even this conversation as a resource and I’m going to use it to put my voice out there via various channels and hopefully this type of thing will become illegal after a while. Do you want to put an average person in the midst of these geniuses who don’t even know their own worth? Someone who will accept no for an answer and lay down without a fight? That is not how change in this society is made! Or, do you want to have someone who defied all the odds and knows who she is regardless of a piece of paper, has the experience and passion to enlighten youth…will you pass a gem like me up because I didn’t have the finances to finish college? And still don’t. The time will come when I will get the degree, but now is not that time. I don’t know if you can afford to wait that long though. Of course, with all due respect, it’s your call.
What do you all think? Is this a wise decision? I can’t be quiet any longer…