Tag Archives: education reform

I Stumble, I Get Back Up

22 Jul

There are two things that you must believe when conducting a job search. 1) That you are as brilliant and capable as you profess on your applications and 2) that ultimately, your job hunt will end—your stasis carries with it an expiration date.  These are your steadfast truths, and they keep you from spiraling into insanity. However, at one point they will waver, and if you lose belief in one, your conviction in the other will fail as well.

This week, I declared myself a failure. Granted, perhaps I should take heart in the fact that it took me 25 weeks to get to this point, as opposed to six or 17; maybe I lasted longer than the average post-grad unemployed bear.  For the first time, I had the thought, “But what if I can’t get a job?  What if I don’t?”  My What-If Gremlin has always plagued me with questions like, “What if I don’t get this job?” but never “What if I turn out to be a total loser who doesn’t live up to everyone’s expectations?”

Then the What-Ifs really started to flow.  “What if I don’t get hired because I am under-qualified?  What if, after all this time and all this effort, I still don’t know how to apply to jobs?” Now I was walking down Self-Doubt Drive, and unless I made a turn at Get Your Shit Together Blvd., I was heading toward Self-Hate Street and Pity Party Parkway.

Once you’ve given up, it’s difficult to motivate yourself again.  You’re tired of the whole process: writing cover letters, tweaking resumes, networking, cold calling, online applications, the whole caboodle.  All your efforts result in nothing; you are piece of paper withering one someone’s desk, or an email spamming up a manager’s inbox.  A broken dishwasher gets treated with more urgency than you.  Well let’s be real, who likes the raisin hands that comes from handwashing dishes?  Maybe that’s a bad example.

What has helped me regain a lot of my steam is my ever-increasing desire to pursue the field of education reform. I want to do good.  I want to help so badly! My two literacy students, both of whom are 25, have told me such terrible things about their educational experiences.  Janella had a teacher who told her that her special education diploma was worthless.  Olivia had a teacher tell a vocational class that none of them had any chance of becoming doctors or lawyers, so they’d better pay attention and learn these skills if they wanted any success in life.  If that isn’t enough to get anyone pissed, they’re both high school graduates, but since they were Florida ESE students (Exceptional Student Education), their diplomas were actually worthless (mean bitch was right).  They can’t complete their goals and further their education without a GED, which means that much of their high school experience was a waste.  (That’s disregarding my suspicion that they were placed in ESE simply because they exhibited trouble reading, and not because they’re legitimately disabled.) All together now: WTF?

Thinking about my students, and the education system at large, is what inspires me to keep on keepin’ on.  I can’t just be a bystander when so many children are entering and exiting a system that is in shambles, even if I am having moments of self-doubt.  Whether I believe in myself or not, my resume indicates that I have the capacity to do things besides whine and complain. Yes, I do live in fear that it will take a long time for me to get a job in this field, so long that we could be calling Sarah Palin “Ms. President” instead of “Douchenozzle Supreme.”  (Be cool God, don’t let this happen, and we won’t invent anymore sandwiches that use meat as bread.)  But no matter how long it takes, it’ll take even longer for Janella and Olivia to become a nurse and a teacher, and the wait will ultimately be worth it if it means I can help affect significant change.

The moral is this: find your passion.  Let that be your truth, your principle, and don’t let go of it.  This crazy roller coaster to employment will get vomitously bumpy, and you will cry and question all that you knew about yourself.  Confidence can be shattered like glass, but passion is the hot sexy sports car that will drive you to the best places in life.

Colleges Should be More Career Focused: Yay or Nay?

28 Jun

Anthony P. Carnevale, Director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, has stepped forward and begun criticizing our nation’s colleges.  He maintains that colleges need to dramatically change the way they educate students–curriculums should be aligned with specific careers.

The colleges that most students attend “need to streamline their programs, so they emphasize employability,” said Carnevale.

The key psychological change that is needed, he said, is to move away from “the old model, where you go to college and then go out and find a job” to one in which the college years are explicitly “preparing for an occupation.”

Carnevale proposes these changes in light of a new study which finds that by 2018, there will 22 million new jobs for employees with college degrees, but there will be a shortage of 3-4.7 million workers who lack have some postsecondary degree or certificate.  To ensure the economic needs of the future are met, more money needs to be spent on higher education to ensure accessibility, and a stronger focus should be placed on careers to those entering college.

[Carnevale] said he wants high school students not only to realize the importance of going to college, but also to plan for a career at the time they make their college choices. “It matters a great deal that they go to college and get a credential, but what matters the most now is the occupation that they will pursue,” he said.

So, what do y’all think?  Would you have benefited from an educational system that forces you to choose a career as soon as you enter?  I would only feel boxed-in by these changes–I didn’t declare my major until the second to last day of my sophomore semester, and it was mostly because I was debating between 3-4 other possibilities.  As for careers, I have no clue what I want to do with my life!  My career ambitions have been as follows: doctor, lawyer, teacher, consultant, lawyer again, ANYTHING AT ALL, and now finally, anything in educational reform (which is a big anything).  How can people be made to decide the next however many decades of their life as a stupid 18 year old, when as a slightly less stupid 23 year old, this is a feat that flies way over my head?

Granted, these reforms would be directed at people for whom higher education may not be a reality, so perhaps my concerns are irrelevant.  But I can’t help but think that if money is being spent to send people to college, they should enjoy the freedom of choice and exploration, and not be funneled into rigidity from day one.