Friday, October 28, 2011

A Response to the Republican Nominee's Take on Student Loan Debt

So there's this game called telephone. Herman Cain says, "Student Aid should be decided by the States, not by the Federal Government." Then Bachmann and Gingrinch agree by saying, "Student Aid is Ponzi Scheme."

...

Wait, wha? Ponzi Scheme (nice flash pan word usage there). Look the economy sucks, and for those who took out $200,000 dollars for a B.A. in Womyn Studies with a minor in Art History (A Feminist Traveling Art Show could be profitable) should be on the agreed upon (both sides in Congress) income based repayment plan (10% of earnings for the next 20 years to have the debt discharged, previously 15% of earnings for the next 25 years to have the debt discharged) or the person would be paying close to (if the debt is consolidated) roughly around $3,000 a month for the next ten years. Furthermore, Federal Student Loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy (only in "Iron Lung" cases can Student Loans be discharged).

Do all students have $200,000 dollars in loans...no? The average amount of student debt is around $25,000, which is doable...(Engineers, Nursing, Computer Science -- who can find work in their field after graduation [really 3-5 years of job experience for most postings, no entry level until a person interns for free for two years...). And when Student Loans were discharged (1990's where there was a 20% default rate) only 1% of those who took out student loans declared Bankruptcy).

So now if the Federal Student Loan program is disbanded (program disbanded, not the loans), students would have to rely on either a] State Student Loans (American Dream Act -- I would like the idea if there were more Grants and Scholarship opportunities rather than strapping for illegal immigrants for a huge amount of debt) or b] Private Loans *shudder* (Really, miss one payment = default...or rather, these loans are cannot be consolidated with Federal Loans).

Look the Federal Loan program is not perfect (personally, I would tear down the Department of Eduction IF the money saved from the destruction of department goes back into education TO LOWER TUITION, THE HIRING OF MORE TENURE TRACK FACULTY AND more importantly THE RESTRUCTURING OF HIGHER EDUCATION [no, not a better football field, no, not to pay administrators or hire more adjuncts, no more push for "the life of the mind" without having a community to support and pay for those minds].

Also, by saying the government is running a Ponzi scheme (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Student Loans), but then bailing out themselves and the banks who run these schemes -- essentially these nominees (those who served as Governors and Congressmen) are being very transparent...We've run this scheme, were a part of it, and, well, we might tear down the system (look up private loans) or we might continue to endorse these schemes since it's profitable,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Self-employed Retail MFA: Becoming a Freelance Writer, Day 1

I haven't given up on the Amazon thing yet! I'm just looking at all the avenues and possibilities, and I do have some skill...writing...I guess.

So I've signed up with E-lance. I'm looking through all the proposals now and...really...

Really.

Really

Well, the good news is that the odds of me landing a $20 per assignment job is 10-1. The bad news is that the other freelancer's I'm competing with have a combined amount of experience of over two hundred years.

Now, I need something to work on first...something simple...something entry level, but sweet jesus. Has it gotten so bad that I have little or no chance on an entry level freelance gig when someone who has 35 years of experience is willing to do the job for $10.00?

I really need to finish, "What Color is my Parachute?"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Self-employed Retail MFA: Becoming a Seller on Amazon, Day 1

WTF am I doing? No seriously!

It's been a while since I updated, but I've been applying to places that does not involve retail...a month later...

I signed up to be a seller on Amazon. I have kept a lot of books from my college days and I would like to sell them...or rather sell them so people can actually would read books like The Princeton Review GRE single subject Literature in English or The Official Chrono Cross Strategy Guide.

After 30 minutes I want to delete my sellers account. I seriously don't know what I'm doing and now Amazon has a hold of my card information...on a side note Old White Wolf books are a lot of money now...but I'm guessing no one will buy the books...

Life was so much easier when I did this for a company three years ago. All I had to do was put in the information in a little box and post it. I didn't have to worry about shipping or the cost of labor...or if anything sold.

I haven't even put up a listing yet...on a side note I'm doing this: "Careers With An English Degree: How Reading Books Can Paralyze You After Grad School".

I'm reading too much of the rules and regulations than posting anything. I'm an "entrepreneur" now...I think...(if you're just selling your stuff, does that make you an entrepreneur?)

I keep asking myself if this is the right path. I don't know what I'm doing...this feeling reminds me of my first day in grad school.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary" - A Response

So the original article is here How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary.

So the most useless (or useful) skill that I have attained at graduate school is my ability to research.  Yes, I know most think creative writers just like to write and have "relations" with multiple "authors" (Was Hemingway as good for you as it was good for me?).

And since I have been researching, I would like to introduce some other articles that contrast the original article (useless skill number 3 I think).

So to sum up the article, Brain Burnsed quotes another report (oh how convoluted can we get by  referencing and referencing) The College Payoff.  Burnsed then goes on to show how "much" more money a PhD student makes rather than a high school graduate  (3.65 million vs 1.35 million over a lifetime).  Burnsed also puts up more statistical data showing that education is worth it.

However, when I clicked onto The College Payoff website, I saw this after scrolling down...probably for a half a second:

"In a surprising number of cases, people with less educational attainment earn more than those with more education.  This graphic represents just how much earnings overlap there is, relative to the median lifetime earnings of workers with a Bachelor's degree ($2,868,000)" (bold and emphasis mine).

(Ah, mishmash MLA, how my professors would be angry with me), Anyway, how is it surprising that people with less educational attainment earn more?  There have been a couple of theories...well I'll correlate some theories.

1) An Assumption of How Much a Person Would Make After Graduation 

-- I am in debt (I discussed this last time), but not so much that an entry level job won't help me pay it off  according to How Much Debt is Too Much Debt:

"From strictly an investment standpoint, a college education, even with $20,000 in student loans is a sound investment. The median earnings of a college graduate in the United States is approximately $50,000 per year,"

$50,000 a year huh.  Let's get some facts straight -- a high school teacher averages around $43,000 a year (Payscale Research) but ah, we are missing some variables.  Let's take the variable of an overabundance of qualified teachers. And to further impact the situation let's read this article right here Teaching no Longer a Stable Profession. So you may get lucky and teach at a private school.  But not everyone can teach private school.

And let's not go into the debacle over Tenure Track Position on the collegiate level (even the community college level)...the author of selloutyoursoul.com compiled (wittingly or unwittingly) articles stating the improbability of attaining a tenure track here.  And once again, you might be lucky -- that 1 out of 600 (the odds are rising every year).

Although 50,000 dollars might be attainable if you're a engineer (whoops?) or a nurse (whoops?), but in humanities...not so much.



2)

People with less education probably have less debt

(or at least debt they can get rid of) -- So I'm double dipping from this article,  How Much Debt is Too Much Debt.

$20,000 dollars in debt might not seem much, but there are people who enter a humanities graduate programs with a lot more that $20,000 dollars in debt.  More like an average of $36,917 in debt (even if you are paid all the way through).

It might not seem like a lot...what is $16,000 dollars more in debt?  And besides a PhD will get a high paying job out of college, right.

The simple fact is this more debt = more of your earnings spent on debt rather than retirement or something else.  Debt accumulates through interest (and if you don't pay) through fines (and if you default) until you die.

So who are those PhD's making that money?

"The report did reveal some sobering news for women and minorities. Among minorities, all ethnic groups' career earnings were less than that of Caucasians, save for Asians with master's, doctoral, and professional degrees, who outpaced white workers with degrees of the same level. Latinos and African-Americans with master's degrees earn nearly the same in their lifetimes--roughly $2.50 million--as white workers who have bachelor's degrees" (How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary).

Wait, what?  Not to open up a race war or something, but...I'll let the data keep talking.

 "Carnevale, of Georgetown, suggests that women who want to earn more than their male counterparts will either have to attain more degrees or simply select a higher-paying industry, given the unbalanced playing field. "You can close the gap by getting more education, and that does seem to be the strategy, at least implicitly, that women are following," he says. "If you want to make more than lots of men, and you're a woman, then go into engineering""  (How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary).
 
How quaint.   Women, come close and take this advice, go into engineering where you'll make as much as men (There are no shortage of Engineers).

I've been trying to figure out how The College Payoff compiled their data.  They have full results posted on the website then I read this on their report "individual’s potential earnings."


So no tracking down people to see how they are doing with their degree like this guy or this guy.  Nope, let's do the basic math of "jobs that require x degree = money graduate would make.  You multiple the money a graduate would make to the equivalent of a lifetime and there you go."

Look there are people that are lucky and make it everyday.  And maybe I'm just a bitter MFA who hasn't found a job yet (even in retail) and falls back on fear-mongering in order to make myself feel better and has no actual proof to back up his claims.

One of the useless (useful) things I learned as a grad student -- research. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Retail Life after an MFA !

Have I just lost the ability to quote something from the internet?  I spent a total of eleven years on post secondary education and I'm debating in my mind if I should do those handy dandy...parenthesis...that's what they are.  Well then, let's just go:

"I'm fucked."

How simple a few words describe my situation when I spent a long time learning and writing words in a way to infuse complexities with each syllable (oh poet jargon).  Those words are from the blog http://www.selloutyoursoul.com/ which chronicles James, the authors, life after he decided not to pursue a PhD degree in Humanities -- his time doing landscaping, his inability to find any other real world job since deciphering the Cantos is not a viable job skill, his luck in finding a job and his happiness.

I am so far away from happiness, but at least I'm not treading the lines of Desolation Row (oh "allusion", yet another useless job skill, but great party skill).

It's not like people are leaving me in the dust.  Mentors tried to warn me.  A friend tried to vouch for me for an adjunct position at a college two hours away, another friend tried to hire me as a creative writing instructor for school kids at the beginning of summer.  All admirable work.  All work that I should do. But me, being the idiot that I am, didn't take those jobs.  The first because of lack of reliable transportation, the latter because I wanted to focus on my collection.  My collection is done and unpublished, and I have no job. So what have I been doing:

Not sleeping.
Stressing out.
Applying to places...probably horribly.

My initial response in dealing with stress is to smoke.  Unfortunately for me I quit smoking...not really quit, I just don't have the money anymore.  So instead I try to read -- but every time I look at a book two thoughts run through my mind:  1) Reading this book will get you closer into being published and maybe a better life 2) Books like these has gotten you in this situation -- one of stress and sickness -- you will never get published.

(Having an experience even *before* reading a book -- my my Ezra would be so proud -- if I was reading his collected.)

So in order to get some sleep, and not stress out as much, I'm doing what one blog suggested that his readers do -- start their own blog.

So what will this blog be about? A Retail Life After the MFA.

My work experience is a bit different than some MFA graduates (well at least James story).  No, I was never a teaching associate (which have become more and more competitive to get), and no I didn't write a research paper (alas who would want to read a compare and contrast essay about how "The Sublime" and "Satori" are basically the same literary movements that happened two worlds away).  I did write a poetry manuscript...which has a .0001% possibility of even being a semi-finalist in a poetry contest.  And now, I'm  reality just hit me and kept me awake.  I keep thinking to myself what do I have to offer a potential employer.

I have 4 years of retail experience -- 2 of them being an assistant manager.
2 years of event coordination experience.
1 year of administrative assisting experience.
1 and a half years of tutoring experience.

Yet that doesn't mean I will get a retail job...well we'll see.

This blog is not a complaint about going back to retail (well not really -- complaining really gets you nowhere like sleepless nights).  Nor is it a complaint about my own MFA degree (which I mostly don't regret -- spiritually and intellectually enriched -- financially malnourished).  Rather, well, I'd like to find other MA, MFA, PhD people out of academia and working retail to get by.

I'll write my stories (if I find a retail job), and I'll read yours.  Let's cry together when some parent or mentor tells you you wasted your life.  Let's get angry when you see customer after customer and/or (more likely) friend after friend have a better life than you.  And, most importantly, let's not feel like we are not alone in our struggle.  Haha, the ending to this is so hokey that at least 99 out of 100 of MFA fiction writers would tell me to cut it.