One enterprising young New York college graduate has found the best way to beat the recession unemployment blues. Trina Thomson, 27, is suing her alma mater -- Monroe College in New York City -- for her entire tuition because the campus career centre hasn't helped her find a full-time job. Her suit is worth $72,000: $70,000 in tuition and $2000 for "stress over finding a job."
Now, the suit will probably be thrown out due to its absurdity. What's really disconcerting is how Thomson's suit reflects an attitude held by many university students: that post-secondary education is merely a stepping stone to a career, as opposed to a period of learning. People view university not as a place where it's honourable to hit the books to learn about the world, but a place where "Cs get degrees" and class is less important than living like Bluto from Animal House.
This de-valuation of education is seen in Thomson's foolish quest to sue her school: She feels she should be entitled to a job simply because she has a degree, not because of any outstanding merit on her part. In an August 3 CNN.com report, Thomson is attributed as believing that her 2.7 (out of 4.0) GPA and a "solid attendance record" should have employers clamouring to give her a job.
The most damning quote, from the CNN.com report, is when Thomson was asked whether she would advise other students to sue their school. She said, "It doesn't make any sense: They went to school for four years, and then they come out working at McDonald's and Payless. That's not what they planned."
Many graduates feel they should be entitled to a job just because they graduated. But we live in an era where receiving a great job right out of school is not necessarily the case, especially right now, during one of the worst job markets ever.
This post-grad entitlement is easy to understand in an historical context. Generations of young men and women were told that once they finished university they would be much more employable. Hence the common belief that going to school during a recession is a good investment. This can be attributed to the baby boomer mentality of post-World War Two America -- get a degree, get a job. For the boomers it was easily the case that a post-grad could get a job right out of university.
With the economy in the tank and degree inflation in the job market, post-grads are now feeling wrongly that their "investment" may be worth as much as a Bernie Madoff-sponsored hedge fund because they can't find jobs. But they are forgetting an important value of university -- education for its own sake and becoming cognizant of the world around us. But, in this new era of "school is only as good as the job I can get out of it," awareness is useless because it's not a job skill, so they say.
Thomson is a fool, but her opinion represents a sizable portion of students. School hasn't been about getting an education, it's just an annoying four-to-five-year period that you need before entering the job market. It's sad and makes the entire undergrad cohort seem increasingly uninterested in the actual educational aspect of post-secondary education.