↪ Eight Reasons College Tuition is the Next Bubble to Burst
More evidence that the college tuition bubble burst is looming on the horizon.
One observation that I find particularly aggravating:
6) Schools are spending on luxurious amenities to lure in more students
Flush with student loan money and wanting to attract even more, colleges are increasingly spending on luxury dorms, gyms, swimming pools and other amenities.
What’s the deal with the fancy student centers and other over-the-top expenditures? Schools seem to engage in never-ending building initiatives that consume millions of your tuition dollars. But I really doubt the quality of the education they provide is enhanced one bit by an on-campus Starbucks.
But, let’s face it, competing for students isn’t always about offering the best education possible.
Sometimes when I get an idea in my head I tend to overlook the realities of the situation I am imagining. I do not recommend this approach. Case in point: for years, I had a “vision” of what it would be like to be a lawyer that turned out to be completely wrong. This vision was heavily influenced by the fictions I observed on TV, leading to a completely skewed conception of reality. But even aside from pop culture’s manipulation of my impressionable mind, my perceptions of the day-to-day realities I would face in my career were dominated by big-picture abstractions that ignored the mundane, everyday details of the job. And we all know the devil is in the details.
Let’s glimpse into my 20-year-old mind for a moment. I am in college, without any real working experience in my life aside from a few summers of part-time retail work and short-term internships. I have no idea what it’s like to work a nine-to-five (or more) desk job, or any kind of job for that matter, for an extended period of time. I know how to be a student. I get this idea in my head that I should be a lawyer. I’m a good writer, I can articulate my points well, and I have an interest in political and historic issues. Essential skills for a lawyer, right? Put my talents to use “making a difference” and “defending justice.” Or something like that. Everyone thinks it’s a good idea. I commit to this path with only a vague notion of what lawyers actually do on a daily basis.
What exactly did I think I would be doing as a lawyer? Reading, researching and writing, mostly. That’s actually what I did end up doing most days as a lawyer. So where had I erred in my predictions?
↪ Dark Lords of Student Loan Debt
There’s nothing like a bit of doom to get you going on a Monday. In this article, Vox Day blasts the student loan system for playing upon the ambitions of millions of young people and turning them into slaves.
The dark secret of the college-loan system is that it is not designed to help students pay for college and generate a reasonable interest-profit for the loan provider that will be paid off within a short period of time after the student begins working and receives a degree-enhanced salary. It is specifically designed to keep the graduate on a treadmill of debt that will ideally never be repaid.
High-school students must learn that no degree, not even one from a top Ivy League university, is worth the gamble of being caught up in this infernal system. And parents must learn that they must deny their children the dubious honor of being sacrificed to the illegitimate gods of educational debt, no matter how desperately their children might plead for the privilege, like innocent Aztec maidens bedazzled by the sun.
Be sure to check out The Student Loans Scheme referenced within.
Sometimes, a career can actually diminish one’s mental capacity. It happened to me. Before I became a lawyer, I was a fairly creative person. I immersed myself in activities that required a good deal of concentration, patience and free thought. I read deep philosophical books, I knitted an intricate stuffed elephant toy for my niece, I baked bread by hand, and I even experimented with watercolors despite my lack of natural artistic talent. And then, I started my job and my after-work and weekend activities took on a decidedly more mindless quality. I just didn’t have it in me to think very hard after thinking so hard all week long, and my creativity levels and desire for self-improvement plummeted.
Part of becoming careared is feeling worn down and defeated by a job. This is exactly how I felt. Not only did my job affect my attitude and thoughts during the time I was at work, but it also dampened my spirits and left me mentally spent when I was away from the office. While I was once ambitious with my free time, I found myself spending more and more time watching movies and engaging in mindless activities that wouldn’t be too taxing on my fried brain. I began to perceive many of my former interests as chores, requiring too much creativity and concentration.
↪ Law School Deception, From the Perspective of an Insider
Steven J. Harper, a professor at Northwestern University Law School and retired partner at Kirkland & Ellis, follows up on the recent New York Times article criticizing law school transparency with assurances that the Times’ accusations are well-founded. Calling for greater candor on the part of law schools as to the realities of substantial debt and a lackluster legal job market, Harper provides an insight that will sound familiar to many jaded professionals, but one that is far too seldom offered to the masses of idealistic, aspiring lawyers:
Some students enter law school expecting to become Atticus Finch or the lead attorneys on Law & Order. Others pursue large firm equity partnerships as a way to riches. Few realize that career dissatisfaction plagues most of the so-called winners who land what they once thought were the big firm jobs of their dreams.
A legal degree can lead to many different careers. The urgency of loan repayment schedules creates a practical reality that pushes most students in big law’s direction. If past is prologue, the vast majority of them will not be happy there. They should know the truth—the whole truth—before they make their first law school tuition payments.
For people who enter law school to secure a job at a law firm, those three years are really just an extended interviewing process. At least the first two years are, as many people enter their third year with a job offer in hand. And law schools waste no time: the search for a job begins practically the moment one enters their first year. From then on, it’s a nonstop parade of career fairs, campus visits, cocktail parties and fancy meals.
Of these events, the wining and dining ones are particularly illuminating. You can learn a lot about the Big Law Firm life by observing people sipping glasses of fine wine and munching on expensive crudités.
↪ Is Law School a Losing Game?
This article makes me sick to my stomach. Finally, a major news publication exposes the scam behind the law school propaganda. Regardless of whether you go to a top tier or bottom tier law school, the mumbo jumbo they feed you about your bright future fighting for justice is the same. And the reality you face even if you are lucky enough to get a job is dramatically different than the fiction you are taught to believe as a student. I’m so glad the Times at least indirectly acknowledged what law school graduates really face after earning their degree: a life of drudgery approaching slavery just to pay down three years of overpriced education.
This gets to what might be the ultimate ugly truth about law school: plenty of those who borrow, study and glad-hand their way into the gated community of Big Law are miserable soon after they move in. The billable-hour business model pins them to their desks and devours their free time.
Hence the cliché: law school is a pie-eating contest where the first prize is more pie.
There’s a lot more I have to say about this article, but first I must gather my thoughts and wait for the nausea to pass.
↪ Anger Works
According to Marcia Reynolds, anger can be a powerful tool for initiating positive change in your life. She notes:
The skill is to shift the focus of your anger away from external circumstances to instead focus on what you strongly desire to change within yourself.
Identify the anger, and realize that only you have the power to change your circumstances.
Does your job instill a latent bitterness in you, causing you to be on edge in everyday situations? Mine did. I would overreact to trivial inconveniences, using them as an opportunity to release the anger that had accumulated in me from years of practicing law. It was unhealthy. It degraded the quality of my life. And it needed to stop.
So many people either ignore their anger or are too trapped in their work to escape it. However, it is so true that finding the source of your anger and using it as momentum to finding your way out of a bad situation can bring about a positive change in your life.
Reynolds’ last point is key, and it is one strategy I am still working on fully embracing:
Therefore, once you commit to your transformation journey, you should shift your focus away from what is missing in your life (evoking anger) to what you want to passionately and positively create (inspiring passion). Determine what you want to end and then make the shift from a negative to a positive expression of want you deeply desire to create.
Adamantly wanting something to end is a good way to kickstart the transformation process. Yet once you are off and running, you need a positive obsession to sustain your efforts.
After years of being angry, you really need to train yourself to change your outlook from negative to positive. I’ve always subscribed to the saying “change your attitude or change your situation.” It goes beyond that though. To undo the carearing, changing your situation also must be accompanied by a dramatic change in attitude.
↪ Sometimes You Need A Good Cry
This post on the Careerist, considering when it may be appropriate to shed a few tears at the office, dug up a few old memories of my own on-the-job sob sessions.
I can’t say I really agree with the Careerist’s opinion that crying can be effective in driving home a point. I don’t think that’s the point of crying at all. But for those of us who have not yet developed that hard outer shell, let’s face it: sometimes you just need to let it out. Close your door, and let the floodgates open. It helps.
For me, it wasn’t a particularly frequent occurrence. Most of the time, I would be reduced to tears only when I was blindsided by someone or something that caught me completely off guard. A malicious comment from a partner. Working my butt off and then being told I suck. A surprise assignment that required me to cancel a special event with my husband. I would feel defeated, and it only intensified my feelings of being trapped. Though it wasn’t necessarily a productive use of energy, crying provided a release, albeit artificial, from my predicament. I’d close the door, allow my tear ducts to drain, wait for the redness in my eyes to subside, and then continue with my day.
I’ve heard of people who had it way worse than me. A colleague of mine once told me that a friend of hers who worked in one of the most prestigious New York BigLaw firms would cry in the bathroom at work every single day. Now surely that’s a sign that you need to do something about your situation. It’s not just a cathartic cry to help you cope with the occasional bad day.
Crying at work does have its place. Not to make a point, or to make others feel sorry for you, but as a bit of silent suffering to take the edge off. When it becomes chronic, however, that’s when you know it’s more than just a release: it’s a cry for help.
You know the feeling. You are enjoying a relaxing weekend. Although it took a bit to wind down from the work week, by Sunday your mind is decompressed and you are in full-out weekend mode. This state of bliss lasts for approximately three full hours, until late Sunday afternoon when you are inevitably reminded that you must enter the rat race again in approximately twelve hours. Enter the Sunday dread.
During my years as a lawyer, I became intimately acquainted with the Sunday dread. I hated the work week. I lived for the short time I had at home each night after work, and —- more significantly —- the weekends.
The countdown would begin on Monday morning. Like running in a marathon, the thought of the distance that separated me from Friday afternoon seemed daunting and insurmountable. How would I make it? Did I have it in me? I resorted to tactics that would allow me to mentally break down the week into smaller, easier palatable increments: I just need to make it until lunch and there will be relief; okay, one day down, four more to go; Wednesday, we’re halfway there. Slowly, the hours would pass, a day or two, then Thursday would come around and the finish finally appeared to be in sight. I would collect every bit of strength I had in me to push through to the end, breathe a big sigh of relief, and congratulate myself on completing the journey.
The next two days were a reward for my perseverance. A mix of recreation and necessary household activities, those two days would fly by at lightning speed, a pace unknown to me during the work week. Sometimes the lingering effects of work called for a brief detox to rehabilitate myself from the week. Saturday mornings were often spent flushing out negative thoughts and massaging out annoying kinks.
↪ Dutch Businesses Embrace Part-Time Work
This Times article describes the popularity of flexible working arrangements among Dutch workers and how it has become a “powerful tool to attract and retain talent — male and female — in a competitive Dutch labor market.” While it suggests the trend has the potential to catch on elsewhere, it seems unlikely to gather real momentum in the United States. To gain widespread traction here (on more than just an individual company basis), businesses and workers would have to truly buy in to the mindset that part-time work is an equally valid lifestyle choice as full-time work and would essentially need to abandon many of the deeply-entrenched values of the competitive workplace. As attractive as this “new world of work” concept sounds, I find it hard to believe it would be acceptable to pass off a court date to a colleague as described in the article without earning a few scoffs in the process. You may be able to fend off the title of “Dutch princess” in the Netherlands, but the breaks are harder to come by when competition among both males and females is fierce and career ambition often trumps carving out quality family time.