Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Education and Wealth
I remember this poster from when I was young because it was in one of my Junior High Classrooms. I thought it was the best poster ever because I was brought up in a family where education was extremely important, and I truly believed that I would be able to have that beachfront house and the cars. All I had to do was go to school, get good grades, and earn my degree.
Now I look around and realize that a higher education doesn't necessarily get you anywhere in life. You have to choose the right career, and then in many cases, you have to have shady morals on top. Look at our economy and what has been happening in the financial sector. Look at the mortgage crisis. I personally know people who made big money (BIG MONEY) via bad loans, hedge funds, etc. Some of them are still making money hand over fist. Some of them are crying that they aren't getting their bonuses, but considering the economy and their hand in the crisis, I think they should be happy they still have jobs.
I don't know what I am going to encourage my children to do. I got my degree in Biology because that's what I loved. And then I realized that the career option that allowed me to do what I loved with that degree went hand in hand with something I hated - scrounging for grant money. So I scrapped that, and then wandered through my "career", eventually landing in sales. The sales I do now is not even all that lucrative, even though it's the most money I have ever made. But it's very reminiscent of scrounging for grant money.
So where did I go wrong? Would I have been happier if I had gone with the flow of my Bio classmates and just gone to Medical School? I would certainly be making a hell of a lot more money. Or maybe even nursing school (which is still in the back of my mind - just trying to figure out how to make it work financially). Would I be happier? Or, more importantly, would I be just as unhappy?
At this point in my life, I don't even want the huge beachfront house with 5 $100K plus cars. I just want a house, a family and some free time. I can't afford a house, and I can't even afford the medical procedures that we probably need to start our family. I can't even afford adoption. I don't want to spend 70% of my waking hours on work in some way or another. But I really feel that all of this is so much to ask, especially since I am in a better financial situation than many Americans. If it's daunting for me, how must all these other people feel?
I still don't know what I am going to tell my kids. Hopefully, our Nation will be in a better position before I have to make that decision.