Student debt is out of control. There is over $1 trillion in student loan debt in the United states and as tuition increases, this will only rise.
What makes this debt even less desirable is that many graduates aren’t getting good paying jobs, if they are employed at all. One big reason for this is that students are receiving degrees in majors that have little to no tangible skills to offer.
I was one of these liberal arts majors.
Things did not go well for me at first. I lived with my parents doing nothing but some part-time freelance writing and working a retail job for over a year and half. I then went back to grad school to get a degree in a slightly less worthless subject.
Fortunately, things have worked out well. I had a concrete plan of how to get a good job after my Master’s degree and it worked like a charm. (You can read about this in Grades & Girls)
I know there are a lot of people out there who are in a similar position as I was. I want to share some thoughts on how to make the best of a bad situation when you find yourself under- or unemployed.
For the average twenty-something with no prospects and no real skills, there are only a handful of options. Below are the four most realistic and pragmatic options that I suggest your pursue:
Get Another Degree (In a *Real* Subject)
A bad decision would be to get a Master’s degree in your undergraduate major if it offers no real value (E.g. don’t get a master’s in English if that was your undergraduate degree–or just don’t get a Master’s in English period).
I’ve known people that went back to get a Master’s degree in accounting. Or a Bachelor’s in computer programming. These are smart moves.
The big issue here is time and money. Do you want to spend tens of thousands more on another degree? And do you want to give another two years of your life to school?
That’s a big question to think about.
Get a Sales or Blue-Collar Job
Sales is the fastest path to making money for someone without a degree (or a worthless one). Making six figures in a few years would not be unheard of. These sales jobs can be anything from selling phones, to cars, to insurance.
(Check out How to Sell by Will Freemen).
There are also plenty of jobs in the trades and construction. These blue-collar jobs are often looked down upon, so East coast liberals would rather work in a coffee shop making $9 an hour than $25 doing hard labor.
Fuck Prestige. Get Money.
Start a Business (Or Join one)
Always had a business idea you wanted to launch? Well now is the time.
Starting your own business is the one true way to wealth. The problem is that starting a business isn’t easy. It requires hard work, skills, not to mention start-up capital. However, if you’re young why not take a chance at a startup or your own business idea that you think has the potential to make it big?
Teach English Abroad
This is perhaps the easiest choice, and the most appealing one. Who wouldn’t want to travel abroad to Europe or Asia to teach English? You will likely need to be certified to get a decent job, but there are plenty of sites that can get you accredited.
I don’t think there is much long-term potential in teaching English though. However, it will tide you over for a few years. You can save money and ideally learn the local language and leverage that into a job in the future.
Why Not More than One?
The smartest move would be to combine more than one of these. For example, you could get a job doing construction and then take classes at night to become a CPA.
You could travel abroad to teach English and on weekends work on your business idea.
Choosing just one path will make failure more likely as you’re putting all your eggs into one basket.
Get Rid of Your Old Ways!
One reason liberal arts majors aren’t wiling to choose one of the above options is because they have HUGE egos. Their degree means sooo much to them, and they can’t admit it was worthless. So instead of learning a trade or selling cars, they’ll make lattes for measly wages saying that something will eventually turn up.
Another reason many liberal arts majors fail to succeed in life is because they are flat out lazy. I know I was years ago. They put a half-ass effort into one thing, and then bitch and moan when it fails.
If you want to be successful you’re going to have to grind. This means staying busy and working as much as you can. After getting a worthless liberal arts degree, you have no other choice if you want to bounce back and have a successful future.