Why a College Degree is Like the Declaration of Independence

How many of us have considered the freedom and independence that an education from Penn State affords us? A Penn State degree is like an alum’s Declaration of Independence. It symbolizes one’s victory after a battle to obtain freedom from the cultural, social, and economic restrictions inherent in the adult American experience.

The question is, do you need a degree to get any job in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter)? The answer: no. However, there are some jobs (careers) that do require a higher education, and those are the ones that most of us degree-seeking adults are pursuing.

declaration of independence
Photo by David Amsler via Flickr.

However, a degree means more than employment potential; it also says a lot about a person’s potential. An advanced academic degree says that the individual is not only committed to their own personal development, but the area of study they have chosen. Certainly, choosing a major is a major step in pursuing a career, a passion, a future!

Does a bachelor’s or master’s degree mean that you will get a job right away after graduation over other non-college graduates? Unfortunately, no. However, your degree from Penn State opens doors and opportunities for you, specifically the doors and opportunities you came to see opened: career, finances, personal achievement.

In this Forbes article, John Ebersole discusses some of the common “scuttlebutt” surrounding degrees and employment in America. Ebersole notes that, statistically, college graduates have a lower unemployment rate, and substantially higher earning capabilities with an average starting salary of $45,000 for an individual with a bachelor’s degree.

Many people in our nation struggle with unemployment, financial problems, and a general discontentment with life (an overwhelming desire to do/have/be more), most of which they feel is out of their control. Life, for many, is not something they live, but rather something that happens to them. College students, like the United States in 1776, take a stand, however difficult and tumultuous it may be for many of us, against the travesties of being dictated to and overwhelmed by the circumstances of our lives. We make a conscious decision to pursue more, to not just survive, but thrive!

However much you find yourself struggling in college, fighting battle after battle, getting beat up with course work, scavenging for financial aid, triaging your personal, professional, and academic responsibilities, you must press on until you get your hands on that diploma, that declaration of your sovereign, individual independence. Your degree is your reward for envisioning a better tomorrow, pursuing equality and justice for yourself and those your success will benefit, and it is the proof that your dreams can and will come true!

Just remember, 1776 was only the birth of our nation, only the dawning hours of our new day. It took more hard work, drive, and faith to get us to where we are today! Degree in hand, you will enter into a world with greater and better opportunities; however, you have no automatic claim to them. You must begin to consider now the path that you will blaze in your new future. How will you make the best of, the most out of, this degree you have sacrificed and worked hard to earn? We have all come to Penn State for our own diverse reasons, but there is one thing we all have in common — this is a turning point in our lives!