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Sunday, September 26, 2021

And beyond

As this quarter sets upon the horizon, many of my fellow columnists will be cranking out goodbye columns, trying to get their final say in edgewise about their opinions on drugs, sex, politics or what have you.

I, unfortunately, do not have this option, as I already wrote my goodbye column last quarter, foolishly thinking that it was going to be my last as a columnist. A lot of you are probably thinking that last quarter should have been my last as a columnist. I can’t say that I disagree.

But that’s neither here nor there, and I’ve managed to stumble, blunder and grope my way through another quarter’s worth of columns, only to find myself at the precipice once again. This time, the curtain will definitely fall, as I will be graduating next week.

So I’ve been racking my mind about what I should write about in the sparse amount of print that I have left in my possession. Since I’m graduating soon, and I figure that most reading this will also one day be bound for what lies beyond the academic world, I may as well focus this column on the future.

One big issue that many of us will be facing in the post-college years will be student loan debt. In a recent article by The New York Times, a study was conducted by the New York Federal Reserve bank that found that student debt had nearly tripled since 2004 and is approaching the $1 trillion mark.

That’s pretty disheartening news to hear, especially since our economy is finally beginning to pull itself out of the recession. How will this generation of 20-somethings be able to shoulder such a tremendous debt burden? How will we afford to buy homes, start businesses and save for the future?

It’s definitely a scary thing for me, especially since I don’t really have any tangible prospects upon graduation. I’m searching for jobs and I’m considering getting my master’s. The grad school route would just lead to more debt, but I won’t be as competitive to employers without obtaining a higher degree. You need to go above and beyond to demonstrate your worth.

In economics, this is called signaling. It’s a method in which one party tries to give information to another party to try to alter the outcome of a situation. It’s like going to a fight with a loaded gun and showing it to your opponent to try to scare them off.

In the case of getting a master’s degree, you’re showing the employer that you have a certain skill set that comes with the addition of extra money and time spent at a university. You may know that you’re a hard-working, clever, resourceful person, but your employer will not know that upon your initial interview. Sure, listing those traits on your resume may help, but it won’t nail the point home, seeing as how anyone can just lie and write down positive, glowing attributes about themselves.

I’m not saying that getting a master’s is necessary for everyone, but it’s certainly an appealing option, especially for those that are unsure of what exactly they want to do out of undergrad and would feel more comfortable in an academic environment. I mean, after all, learning is pretty much all we’ve been doing for the last 20 or so years of our lives. On the other hand, that’s all the same reason to want to stop the academic pursuit as well.

Graduating is a little bit of a scary thing. For now, I don’t know what’s on the horizon for me. All’s I know is that I’ll be flying home and will have to get my wisdom teeth pulled out and attend jury duty. Then, I’ll probably start working and studying for the CPA test. My only hope for all of you out there is that your post-graduation plans are more exciting than mine.

Alright, that’s a wrap. This will be the last time I’ll be published in print until I decide to write my autobiography after becoming an accomplished astronaut cowboy accountant.

It was most definitely a pleasure and I thank you all for even taking a glance at any one of my columns.

ANDREW POH is pretty glad to be graduating, but in the unlikely case that you’ll miss him, he can still be reached at apoh@ucdavis.edu.

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