A Waste of Education?

“Isn’t it a pity to work as a/an _____ (in ______ industry) with such a high educational background?” said the aunts/uncles/ family friends of a typical Asian youth.

My response is: education is never really a waste because it helps individuals to develop their critical thinking skills and formalize their “intuitive” ideas so that they can explain, in easily understandable terms, to others.  These are skills that can be used throughout anybody’s life no matter if he decides to become a private sector employee, a public sector employee, an entrepreneur, or…an unemployed.  It does not even matter much if he is high or low on the workplace hierarchy (or got no job at all).  Critical thinking skills that one obtained, especially at a post-secondary level, is supposed to help the individual to mitigate challenges more easily and see opportunities more clearly throughout his life.

However, there is something that makes education seems “wasteful” and that’s the “Pay-Your-Dues” culture.  With the current, capitalistic but very oppressing (aka “race to the bottom”) economy, education is no longer the guaranteed golden ticket to a good pay and stable lifestyle.  Instead, it is the minimum bar to reach in order to work long hours of unpaid internship or shitty minimum pay.  Apparently, one has to pay his dues for at least about five years (after many years of schooling to top it off with an insane amount of student loan) in order to get anywhere…like a decent rental home.  Sometimes, I have to admit that it’s okay that young people get to experience some period of poverty and to know what’s the bottom like, because they would then know how to cherish opportunities and those around them.  In general, it could help to build their perspective on life positively down the road.  However, too much of the “Pay-Your-Dues” culture nowadays seems to spell out the lack of moral and ethical behaviours in people.  For example, some employers would always think that they could always find someone else to do the dirty work at shit price if one of their employees decide to stand up for his or herself.  Knowing how to play the capitalist game is great, but having the determination to continue to live as an upright person is always better.

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