School! School! School!

There is nothing quite like a harrowing week of midterms to get me questioning the value of my degree. Why am I here? What’s the point of all this work?

Thinking about how my education might be all for naught is horrific. As such, I ventured once more to Tweedie Hall, seeking answers to these questions. The Sociology Society was hosting another career fair, where students could learn how to turn their degrees into something meaningful, or even profitable.

At the centre of the room stood a table covered in multicoloured pamphlets about various graduate programs. As I looked them over, I saw that even the promotional material seemed to convey that the point of an education in the social sciences or humanities is hard to parse out.

“To most Canadians, sociologists are invisible,” one booklet published by the University of British Columbia read. “Every year thousands of young people graduate with sociology degrees…So, what does happen to sociology graduates?”

The Sociology Society organized the fair around the issue of students not knowing what to do with a degree in the social sciences. “Finding this kind of stuff out can be overwhelming,” said Caroline Kovesi, the principal coordinator of the event. “The career fair is important because students are looking for it, it’s something they ask [the Sociology Society] for.”

As Kovesi explained, non-vocational degrees do not provide you with a clear path to employment. I remembered how my mother wanted me to become a plumber, and I was finally seeing the good sense in that.

I was learning, however, that many students are as scared as I am. Laura Gilks, a recruiter for the University of New Brunswick’s graduate programs, told me that even first-year students are coming to her worried about getting into graduate school.

“They don’t want to waste their time doing an undergrad only to find out that they don’t meet the requirements,” she said. “It’s a recent thing. I’d say graduate studies are the new degree.” We shared a nervous laugh.

Every student I spoke to stressed the importance of being career-minded from the start. In a group of three students I approached, one said, “It’s never too early to start looking. You need those good GPAs.”

Another in this group, however, was worried that she felt too secure in her job prospects. “I’m not as afraid as I should be,” she said. “I’m too comfortable.”

Having not considered how afraid of not being afraid enough I should be, I began to feel rather ill. I headed over to the refreshments table.

I found a student there, Teressa Carrière, who had come for the free food. In between bites of an Aramark cookie, she told me, “I’m a capitalist pig, and I would like to have a career that makes money.” Carriere was skeptical, however, of the possibility of this.

“I don’t think a lot of masters programs will help me do that,” she said. “I was thinking of going into law. That’s supposed to be one of the most economically viable decisions, but I don’t know if that’s true anymore.”

I’m not sure if I learned anything at the career fair. I’m not sure if everybody being as scared as I am should make me feel better or worse.

Regardless, I think I might go to graduate school. It might give me some time to mull it all over. At the very least, it will give me another year or two before I have to start paying back student loans.

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