Saturday, September 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday’s letters: Some tips to avoid crushing student debt and to get a job

A diploma, big debt, and then what? | Column, Aug. 25

Life tips for indebted student

The columnist seems like a good kid, but why on earth would you incur more debt to get a graduate degree that won’t make you any more employable? He writes, "There have to be more entry-level jobs that would allow me to use my education that do not require five years of experience." No sweetie, there don’t. College degrees don’t guarantee jobs.

I was in the same place 35 years ago. I graduated from college in Michigan in the ’80s when the economy was at its lowest, came to Florida with a business management degree thinking I would get an entry-level management job. It didn’t happen; 112 resumes and 34 interviews later I ended up managing a Pizza Hut. I worked double shifts, rented an apartment with three roommates I had never met before, and continued my job search while I was employed. Long story short, I ended up working not in the field of my choice but in a secure job with benefits and a good retirement. Sometimes just making a living is enough.

We baby boomer parents bombarded our kids with messages to "live your dream," "don’t settle" and "follow your heart." Is it any wonder they are now confused, disillusioned and even a bit angry? But blaming the system and wishing things were different isn’t going to change anything.

So put the graduate degree on hold for a while, get an unpaid internship but keep delivering those papers at night to pay your bills. Or begin to think way outside the box. The Sheriff’s Office is hiring and they start at almost $50,000 a year. Get your foot in the door, and you’ll discover areas, including community outreach, and public information, where you may be able to use your degree. You’ll be getting life experience. And maybe you will come to see things differently in a few years.

Katie Swanson, Apollo Beach

A diploma, big debt, and
then what? | Column, Aug. 25

Older, but in the same boat

I knew it was simply a matter of time before the writer of this column would be presented with a perfect solution to his predicament: Seems all he needs to do is start from scratch. The thing is, there was a time not so long ago that putting in the work to earn a college degree (of any kind) showed something to employers. I am in his situation myself, the biggest difference being I’m more than twice his age. And I was lucky enough to work for a company that helped with my education, so I am not saddled with debt, which is a good thing since I am now working one of those jobs at less than $13 an hour. My previous two long-term employers no longer exist, and despite my experience and degree I spent most of a year in manual-labor temp jobs and working full time to find something permanent. The writer’s problem is not his course of study, but an economy that works only for the people at the top, who all too often have no interest in investing in the people who drive their businesses.

Jim Holliman, St. Petersburg

Education is lifelong

I could not help but notice the number of times (five) that the writer correctly identified the true problem: lack of experience. The advice I have to offer may not help the writer; he will have some difficult years and choices ahead. We used to call that paying your dues. This is for those who come after the writer: Slow down and build your network and experience along the way. Seek internships, volunteer, meet people, write about your experience (beyond social media posts), get invited to social events with people in your industry, join professional organizations, meet people. Most jobs are found the old-school way, through someone you know.

Gain job skills early and use them along the way. If you have the means to self-finance a four-year degree right out of high school, great. You’ll still have to suffer those years of entry-level pay, but at least you can do so without the debt. Otherwise, try to pay as you go. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time to get your education. If all you can afford to do is take a few classes at a time, what’s the problem? It just means that you’ll be able to give those subjects your full attention, and if you are able to continue working while you go to school, you can graduate with the full package: a degree and years of experience!

Mark Twain once said, "Never let your schooling interfere with your education." Education is not a race to an end, it’s a lifelong mission. It is meant to be a time for us to match our academic acumen with the real world and gain what will eventually define us as individuals: our unique experience.

David Dusseault, St. Petersburg

Here’s what we did

My husband and I are the parents of three daughters, two of whom are millennials and close to the columnist’s age, and one who has just begun college at Florida State. So, I should be a good candidate to offer him the empathy he is seeking. However, a few things stuck out to me in his story.

One: Did he seek an internship, either paid or unpaid, while in college? Both of our older daughters and many of their friends took internships during college to gain this experience.

Two: Did he seek employment in his field or a related field during college? Many entry level part-time jobs can offer both a paycheck to help pay for your college costs, and valuable experience in your future field.

Three: Why go back to grad school when already burdened by substantial student loan debt? Some career fields almost guarantee a good "return on investment," and an advanced degree is necessary. However, that is not necessary in journalism, and the additional debt he is taking on for an advanced degree may not be justified by the anticipated future salary.

I applaud the columnist for working and beginning to pay back his student loans. But he may want to re-evaluate some of his choices. Graduate school makes sense for some but not for all, and it shouldn’t be used as a crutch for delaying real employment and paying off student loans. Most companies desire and hire those with actual work experience in their field along with a four-year degree, and entry level positions are out there. Keep looking, keep interviewing and be willing to start at the bottom. I wish him success in his endeavors. Hard work does have a way of paying off.

Terry Holden, Lithia


Saturday’s letters: We need stats that reflect our lives

We’re measuring the economy all wrong | Column, Sept. 18We need stats that reflect our livesMajor news outlets have uniformly declared the U.S. economy to be sizzling, on fire. This column was correct in wanting us to take a second, hard l...
Published: 09/21/18

Monday’s letters: Dr. Robert Judson made great contributions to Pasco-Hernando State College

A pioneer in Pasco-Hernando education | Sept. 19Robert Judson pushed education forwardI had the pleasure of working with the late Dr. Robert Judson, the former president of what is now known as Pasco-Hernando State College, for many years. During...
Published: 09/21/18

Sunday’s letters: Inequality hurts democracy

We’re measuring the economy all wrong | Column, Sept. 18Democracy needs equalityEconomic inequality and the concentration of wealth have achieved levels beyond the comprehension of most American wage earners today. Income inequality has ri...
Published: 09/21/18

Friday’s letters: Florida’s workers aren’t reaping benefits of a booming economy

Scott didn’t put them to work | Sept. 16Florida workers not reaping the benefitsFlorida has just surpassed a GDP of $1 trillion. However, workers in Florida are not reaping the rewards. A new report released by anti-poverty organization Ox...
Published: 09/21/18

Thursday’s letters: For the sake of all involved, don’t rush the Kavanaugh vote

Delay Senate vote on Kavanaugh | Editorial, Sept. 18Don’t rush something that will last a lifetimeThe Senate Judiciary Committee finds itself in a sticky wicket. The committee should take a slow measured course of action. Trying to rush th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18

Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

Red Tide on march | Sept. 18How home rule can help fight Red TideAt the end of 2005, as Red Tide ravaged the beaches and intracoastal waterways of Southwest Florida, volunteers from the Suncoast Sierra Club formed a coastal task force to begin de...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Monday’s letters: Are we paying for the wrong kind of military today?

$1 trillion here and there | Letter, Sept. 16Are we buying the right defense?I am weary of politicians of all persuasions handing our military a blank check — in particular the conservatives who rail against budget deficits and want to cut discre...
Published: 09/14/18

Sunday’s letters: Many laws increase our liberty

‘General welfare’ includeshealth | Letter, Sept.15Someone will pay for itMany politicians are making Medicare for All the cornerstone of their campaign. Many think tanks even say the government will save money, but they neglect to say how.Medicar...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18