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Bullish Life: What To Do When College Didn’t Seem To Help Your Future Much

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Jennifer Dziura writes career and life advice weekly on TheGloss. Here is an archive, and here is an archive of Bullish columns from our sister site TheGrindstone.

Oh look, interest rates on student loans just doubled. July 4th approaches, and my patriotism is substantially dampened by this slap in the face to young Americans.

Let me tell you about a fairy-tale time: the late 1990′s, also known as the dot-com bubble. College students with what sometimes seemed like any kind of tech experience at all were being recruited to drop out of college and take six-figure jobs. I heard of someone getting six figures straight out of high school after learning to code in his childhood bedroom. Even web content writers with no tech skills at all were being recruited and making big bucks!

Here is a 1999 article from Inc. magazine about a startup called JustBalls.com. It sold balls. You know, soccer balls, baseballs, golf balls. Just … balls. No bats. No mitts! JUST BALLS. By 2001, the company had received $13 million in venture funds to pursue (that is, get their balls into) the “affinity and premium ball market.”

I’m saying that if JustBalls was taken for brilliance, it’s not hard to see how a hip young person could teach himself some kind of tech skills in his dorm room, head to Silicon Valley, and get a cool job that also included equity in the company.

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  • kj

    I know this is not the right forum for complaining – but it’s so frikkin’ HARD to cultivate real skills when you are being worked to the bone. And the only job you can get is an hour’s commute away. And your boss’s evil 19-year-old daughter is your direct supervisor plays with your schedule (and therefore income) like you are her disposable pathetic plaything.

    Thank you for this article, though – I get so annoyed watching Hollywood movies where the protagonist goes off to college and *BAM* they win at life. Kill me now. I mean, fighting bullishly on!

    • Jennifer Dziura

      Ugh, I hear that. Positive social pressure is the only answer! Ladies’ working brunch? Take a class with a friend and get boozy afterwards?

  • Geliaebrina

    And then I’m again really happy to be Norwegian. Education is free and everyone gets a cheep loan from the state which is interest free as long as you study and if you pass your exams on time 40 % becomes a scholarship.

  • Sigrid

    ugh I’m hyperventilating now.