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Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked at your tuition bill and shaken your head. Raise your hand if you’re tired of seeing loans in the place of grants and scholarships. Ever hear that college graduates can’t find work? Raise your hand for that too, and keep it raised if at one point in your college career you’ve questioned if all the rising debt and hair-losing stress was worth it (be honest now). I don’t know about you, but my arm is getting tired.

Since entering college, the majority of us have heard one thing: negativity. The facts are out there and it seems like CNN, MSNBC, and even FOX News takes some time away from its usual “going on a lynching party” criticisms to remind us of them. According to CBS, about 2 million college graduates are unemployed. The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicts a 22 percent decrease in graduate hiring. And according to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, student loan debt has increased by 40 percent. All these statistics sound too familiar right?

As college students, we are constantly bombarded with predictions for our futures. Unfortunately, most of them are negative, and with the state of the economy over the last three years, the comments haven’t lightened up. Sure, we’ll typically hear the “college graduates earn $1 million more in their lifetime than those without a degree” and “having a degree gives you an advantage in the corporate world” certitudes, but for every one of those encouragements, three discouragements tag along.

“Hearing all the people who have graduated, like older cousins and relatives, who have gotten a degree and still don’t have a job in their field sometimes makes me feel like this is a waste of time,” nursing junior Ebony Bennett said. “It kind of makes me think what I am going to school for if there are no guarantees that I will have a job.”

Society tells us, most often, in order to become successful we must obtain a degree (most of us do not naturally have the mind of Bill Gates). Yet, as we pursue our degrees, it then points out how, due to the bad economy, our chances of getting a job after graduation are decreasing. Add on the thousands of dollars of debt we will most likely accumulate, the stress of schoolwork, internships and funding our education and you start to rethink your decisions. Is a degree worth it, or is it really just a piece of paper?

The truth is your degree will be just a piece of paper; what matters is what you do with it. If you redirect your attention to your abilities and talents, you can become successful no matter what society predicts.

Your life is in your hands, not in soaring unemployment rates, not in student loans and not in the economy. As long as you possess the drive and determination necessary, you can achieve your dreams.

Block out the negativity you will inevitably continue to hear and know that if you desire to be successful, you will be. The negative facts only have the power to determine your future if you let them.

Reach Shala at

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