Saturday, January 10, 2009

uncertain times

I just heard a story on NPR's All Things Considered about high school seniors who are struggling over whether to go to their (expensive) dream colleges or (less expensive) state schools. Here's a link.

click the box above to visit and listen

College determines so much of a person's life path, and as I listened to the seniors in the news story nervously describing their plans, I thought back to my own senior year of high school eight years ago. Throughout high school, from about 9th or 10th grade, I wanted to go to college in California. Berkeley was my dream school, but I would've settled for UCLA or USC or even UC Santa Barbara. I applied to those four. I was a good student in high school, taking several AP classes and doing extraordinarily well in English and language-related subjects (like French, Shakespeare, etc.), but I never excelled at math or science. I got a fairly high score on the SAT, and did even better on the ACT. (This is probably too much information, but for the sake of the story I'll reveal that I got a 29. Pretty good, but not really stellar.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was declined admission to all four universities and had no "safe choice" to fall back on. (The fact that I wasn't a resident of California may or may not have played a role in the decisions.) In the spring of my senior year, distraught, I managed to gain admission to San Francisco State University, but eventually decided that I didn't really want to go there. It certainly wasn't Berkeley. By that point I was completely discouraged. One of my desires was to get very far away from Ohio. But I also wanted to go to a good, highly-ranked university.

Finally, that summer, I settled on the University of Cincinnati, which was about 10 miles from my childhood stomping ground. UC is a good school, and I moved to an apartment near campus to avoid living with my parents or in a dorm my first year. (I live pretty close to that apartment now.) I got a fairly good education there. But the whole process of deciding where to go to college, and then applying, was so dreadful. Looking back, and listening to the voices of these kids - who are becoming adults in the midst of such a phenomenal economic crisis - I can definitely feel their pain.

The job market is so dismal right now, especially in creative fields like the media, it's easy to get kind of down. I graduated seven months ago and mostly gave up looking for work in my field after five. It's very discouraging, too, as I've mentioned previously, to read news like this article from the New York Times last month: Younger Job Seekers Have it Worse (Lead: "IN the first year of the recession, older Americans gained jobs at an impressive rate. But younger ones lost them. The recession provides a double whammy for the job prospects of those trying to establish themselves. There are fewer jobs to go around, and older Americans who can do so are either delaying retirement or seeking to return to the work force." Scary charts here.)

More on this topic is to come.


EdipisReks said...

that was an interesting NPR segment. i ended up going to my safety school, due to financial constraints. i sometimes wonder what would have happened if i had gone to Eastman.