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5 Things Nobody Tells you About Graduating from College

5 Things Nobody Tells you About Graduating from College

So you’re entering your final year in college and prepping to graduate. Now get a job, ya deadbeat! If you think reality TV is crazy, wait until you see reality. A career, home, family—you’re looking down the barrel of a lot of long-term commitments. You’ll hear a lot of motivational speeches during your graduation ceremony about how you should follow your dreams because the future of our world depends on you. I’m not here to fill your head with gum drop dreams of you becoming the next leader of the free world. I’m here to give it to you straight. Here are five things nobody tells you about graduating from college that you seriously need to understand…

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    1. Grades Don’t Matter

    You put your nose to the grindstone and got straight As throughout your schooling. That’ll get your foot in a couple of doors, but in six months, your grades will mean absolutely nothing. You’re not in school anymore. Nobody cares how many points you score in practice. When you go pro, you’re only as good as your last project. If you ruin a data import that pushes the company behind and costs millions of dollars, the 24-hour on-call IT and accounting managers who have to fix your problem aren’t interested in your ability to guess the right answer on true/false quizzes. Don’t rest on your laurels.

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    To counter this trapping, keep working harder. Don’t expect to get hired for an executive-level position straight out of college. You’re likely going to have to start at the bottom somewhere. Odds are you’ll be working for someone with a lesser degree than your own; don’t let it get to you. Keep working harder. People grade you in the real world by giving you their money. Keep doing your homework and reaching for those high grades, and you’ll eventually see a payout.

    2. You’re All, “A Loan…”

    Haha, you got ripped off, dude. First off, I hope you noticed the majority of your textbooks weren’t available on Kindle. When Reddit founder Aaron Swartz noticed educational information isn’t publicly available and attempted to correct the situation by downloading and releasing educational databases, he was prosecuted to the fullest extent of outdated digital laws. That’s a sign of a huge racket refusing to change. To make matters worse, you’re stuck with a $100 History of Ancient Rome textbook you’ll never crack open again because a new edition has been released with new information about something that happened 3000 years ago that’s relevant enough to necessitate the release of a new edition. If that’s not bad enough, you took out loans to pay for all of this insanity.

    Stafford and Sallie Mae are a disease transferred to your social security number when you were getting nailed by your school. The debt from financial aid never goes away, and it’s immune to bankruptcy. If you let it go untreated, your pay will be garnished to automatically pay for it (which may or may not leave you with enough left over to continue living your lifestyle). The only thing you can do is treat it with monthly payments.

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      3. You Should’ve Dropped Out

      I never got a degree myself. It’s not that I didn’t have enough credits or intelligence; I just never wanted to give credit for all of my future accomplishments to some university. The idea of being haunted for the rest of my life by letters from the alumni association asking for money was too much for me to handle. Despite dropping out, I’ve had a pretty good run thus far. At Bank of America, I was working alongside people with degrees. I even managed quite a few of those people. Since I left the bank, I worked to build a career as a writer, and my career was accomplished enough that nobody ever asked whether or not I have a degree.

      Anecdotes aside, plenty of people are successful without a college degree. You may not be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, but you still have a lot more options without graduating than you do by graduating. Even if you don’t drop out completely forever, drop out for at least a year. It will only set you back a year up front, and you’ll more than make up for that in the long run with the experience and wisdom you gain by traveling, pursuing a dream career in the arts, and just living life. Once you’re ready to graduate, come back and get that albatross of a degree to hang around your neck. No harm, no foul.

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      4. Employment Isn’t Guaranteed

      Once you graduate, you’ll be placed in a position you like that’s related to your degree, and everything will work out. If you think that last sentence was true in any way, you’re wrong…but you’re not alone. A lot of us thought life worked that way at one point or another – I know people in their 50s and 60s who still feel entitled. It’s not your fault; people throughout the education system were feeding us the Kool-Aid, and we trust them because they’re educators. It turns out you can’t trust anyone in life.

      The National Association of Colleges and Employers estimates over 1.7 million people will earn a bachelor’s degree in 2013. You may have heard the term “one in a million” used to reference you in a good way, but when you’re one of the 1.7 million people clamoring for the same jobs, the odds are against you. You may have to accept a job you don’t like or feel is beneath you. Make sure you only do this if it’s related to your actual dream job. There’s no shame in a call center or manual labor position, but those “transition jobs” you take while waiting for your dream career can quickly drain your time. The next thing you know, you’re a career McManager. Be prepared, and be willing to look outside of your box. Learn more about how to effectively search for jobs with this Lifehack.

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        5. Don’t Forget Anything You Learned

        When you start your new job, someone will tell you to, “forget everything you hear.” What they’re trying to tell you is that your book learning isn’t going to help you in the real job. This is true to a point, but somewhat of a misnomer.

        It’s true that you’ll learn a lot of proprietary information in your job that you couldn’t possibly have learned in school. There are also classes (Computer, Accounting, etc.) you took once, twice, or even every year that you’ll never use. Just because you took an accounting class doesn’t mean any company in their right mind would allow you to touch their accounting data if you’re not an actual accountant. The thing is, what you learned in school is important, and you should be mindful of discrepancies.

        If you were working at Enron, Worldcom, Countrywide, etc. during the collapse of these companies, there’s a good chance you were unaware you were even doing anything illegal. Even if you were aware, you likely didn’t do anything to stop it. This is because you forgot what you learned in school. Ethics matter, and you’re not always going to learn them in the real world. All the basic foundational skills and facts you learned in school are extremely important; never forget that… no matter what anyone tells you.

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        The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

        The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

        It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

        Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

        “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

        In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

        New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

        There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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        So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

        What is the productivity paradox?

        There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

        In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

        He wrote in his conclusion:

        “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

        Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

        How do we measure productivity anyway?

        And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

        In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

        But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

        In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

        But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

        Possible causes of the productivity paradox

        Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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        • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
        • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
        • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
        • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

        There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

        According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

        Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

        The paradox and the recession

        The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

        “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

        This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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        According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

        Looking forward

        A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

        “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

        Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

        “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

        On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

        Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

        Reference

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