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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The Paper Chase
In June, my wife will graduate with a Master's Degree from Harvard. My brother receives his Ph.D from Harvard in the Fall. My youngest cousin, Leah, graduates this month from Boston College, and her sister just graduated from San Francisco Conservatory with a Master's Degree.
I have a Master's Degree in Music Composition.
My wife's is in Biology.
My brother's Ph.D is in Philosophy.
My cousin's degree is in Theater.
We are all broke.
Not just from paying these higher institutions of learning hundreds of thousands of dollars, but from being unemployed, or employed with not much pay. Where's the American Dream? Didn't we do it right? We went to school, got good grades, went to college and got graduate degrees. Why is my Dr. Brother watching "Lost" episodes, playing Nintendo, and reading comic books? He should do something more constructive like write a blog. :-) (Actually he spends all day and night finishing a 200 page dissertation, but I digress.)
Well, thus is the great American paper chase. This phrase refers to a 1973 movie "The Paper Chase" about Harvard Law School and the struggles one goes through simply for a piece of paper with a grade.
Why all of the fuss? Well, we have convinced ourselves that we need to be in school and buy as much education as possible just to be able to compete. But think about it. Every year there are more and more college students, but the same number of jobs. College isn't a leg up anymore, it's just Higher school. (Elementary, Middle, High, Higher)
I can only speak for my family. There was never an issue of choosing whether to go to college or not. I am third generation college educated, and for an African-American, that's an anomaly. All four of my grandparents found a way to get a college degree, and if you do the math historically, you can see that's some trick.
I hope that all of my family's degrees will add up to some special success that we would not have achieved without them. I would write more, but I have to go finish my applications for Doctoral degrees - class of 2012 (hopefully)!