It’s Harder Than You Think Telling Dreams From One Another

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This past weekend I went back to State College for a few days, just to relive the glory days with a few friends. Boy was that worth it. It was hands down the best weekend I’ve had all summer. So I guess you can say I was pretty happy when I came to CT Sunday night. In fact, I had every intention to get home today from work and write a post to tell you all how things are finally starting to get better for me here. Then today happened…

I haven’t been on here much over the past couple of weeks because work has finally kept me a little busier than when I started. Things weren’t actually too bad. I would have my deeds at work, then come home and relax. But as I started to get busier and busier, I began noticing how much more bored I got. I think the bad thing about it is that before I had a reason to be bored, because I didn’t have anything to do but stare at a computer screen; but now I just find myself bored of the work that I’m actually given to do. It’s sad really, and I don’t know why; but everything just seems so uninteresting now. Part of me thinks that it is because I had such a shitty first couple of weeks, that it’s just left such a bad taste in my mouth with this internship and I’m beyond the ability to find comfort in anything anymore. Who knows; but one thing that I’m absolutely sure about is that I can’t wait for this summer to be over. It’s the longest summer of my life, and I’m slowly counting down the days.

So today started out with a lack of coffee due to my stomach being really sensitive to aches the past couple of days. I have a really horrible stomach, and this happens every so often. It’s pretty much when my stomach feels like saying, “Oh, you wanted to have a good day today? LAWL JOKES!” Anyways, I’m at work at 6:30 am with no coffee, and cranky as hell. To make a long story short, the rest of my day was pretty much a plethora of really awkward, sad, and confusing situations that just made me dislike being there even more. The orange I ate for lunch ended up squirting in both of my eyes, and I spilled water on my crotch that made me look like I pissed my pants in front of all my coworkers…twice. It seems like most things that happen to me are generally my own stupid fault, but that is one of the unfortunate burdens of being me, I suppose. It’s at that point where things no longer amaze me, and quite often I find myself saying, “Why am I not surprised…”

In addition to that, ever since I got back from State College Sunday night, I’ve been having these weird dreams, without going into too much unnecessary information. Dreams that seem to tell me that I’m meant to do something. That ka has planned this out for me, and that I should act. But I can’t seem to bring myself to do so. Honestly, I think I’m just being stupid; but eventually I’ll have to figure things out.

To make matters worse, I’ve been dealing with some roommate issues lately as well. Today during my nap I had a dream that he moved out of our apartment and left me paying the full rent by myself; essentially screwing me over. It has got me thinking if I put trust in the wrong person. With my life, I wouldn’t even be surprised, hah.

So on that note, I leave you with this:

The Hallowed Halls of Ivy and the American Crisis

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During my down time at work today, I stumbled across a CNN article about a surge in the student loan rates. According to the article, on July 1st interest rates on student subsidized loans are set to double to 6.8%. If you want, you can read more about it here: http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/28/pf/college/student-loan-rates/

This article got me thinking about the education ideology in the United States and how it’s affecting the American future. The question that started this train of thought: Is it worth attending an Ivy League school? I believe that much of the education you receive as an undergraduate can be found at the same level at schools that are not necessarily Ivy League. Going off my own experiences, I remember being told in my Chemistry recitations by tutors and professors how the Chemistry curriculum is comparable – if not more challenging – than that of schools such as Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. Although those may not be the top tier of the Ivy, they are still nonetheless Ivy status and you’ll be paying far more for an education in those schools than at Penn State. Although I think Penn State has excellent academics, there are definitely many other non-Ivy schools with the level, if not higher, of education as Penn State.

So if you’re paying that much more for an Ivy league education, are you really getting anything more than those not in Ivy? Is it actually worth it? I believe to some extent, yes; but this depends on the situation you are in. First is the name recognition. Of course everyone would LOVE to put an Ivy League school on their resume, because everyone knows the Ivy’s. One thing you are guaranteeing by attending an Ivy League school is absolutely receiving a good education; and I’m sure employers know that, so they’re are probably willing to take a chance on someone who was taught at an Ivy rather that someone who was taught at some unknown university…but still, that’s only to some extent. Call me hypocritical or not, but if I had the money (and motivation) to attend an Ivy League school I would be there in a heart beat. In the long run, name recognition is something that can only help you, not hurt you; but at the same time it still doesn’t mean that the level of education you receive is necessarily superior to that of another non-Ivy university.

I know a few people back in middle/high school who are currently attending Ivy League schools; people who weren’t (and probably still aren’t) much different than me. Does it mean that when they graduate with an undergraduate degree, they will instantly be multi-millionaires? Is it not possible for me to be at the same level, or even higher, financially and socially than they are in the future with my Penn State degree? I think it is. Let’s consider this: A friend of mine, who is also majoring in engineering (regardless of discipline) attends an Ivy League, while I attend Penn State. When we both graduate in four years with our undergraduate degree, will both of our jobs not be entry level positions? Because he was Ivy League, does he get to jump several promotions from an entry level when he first starts out? Are there specific engineering jobs that only require an Ivy League degree? I don’t think so. So it’s fair to say that if I play my cards right I can end up somewhere similar, or better, than my Ivy League friend.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “WELL LET’S ALL ATTEND COMMUNITY COLLEGE INSTEAD!”, because now you’re getting into the quality of education. I’m saying that one can be successful without an Ivy League degree, and to the same standard; but you still need to choose your education wisely. Attending a school that doesn’t offer a very good education in your field, and lacks in recruitment opportunities is probably not going to get you very far. So my advice: Do your homework, because there are plenty of good schools out there that can take you far in life.

All that aside, I still believe that Ivy League schools have their advantage; and that comes especially in education past the undergraduate degree. When it comes to graduate school, law school, med school, or anything else past your undergraduate degree, Ivy League schools are a good route to go. I think that once you continue with your education, the jobs that you’ll be landing with that graduate degree will be looking at what school you came from. For example, a Harvard Law student vs. a Temple Law student. I think there are two main reasons for this:

1. Because in graduate school your education is more specific, as compared to undergraduate which is more general; in my opinion.

2. Nowadays, undergraduate degrees are too common among the young population.

I’m not going to go on about 1. anymore, because to me 2. is a more interesting topic. It’s obvious that the amount of students continuing their education, and going to college after high school has increased substantially over the past decades. With so many degrees floating around out there, employers now are requiring college degrees more than they have in the past. Nowadays, it’s as if you can’t do much without a college education anymore. College tuition is on a rise year after year, because the demand for a college education keeps increasing. Now you have those who can’t afford a college education calling for subsidies from the federal government; and as the government complies, colleges and universities across the nation increase their tuition to fight the subsidized loans instead of setting competitive rates. Then the students go out with these loans; some of them succeed, others waste their time and money studying useless majors, and some don’t have the motivation to plan their future after college.

Don’t take this the wrong way; if it wasn’t for government loans it would have been extremely difficult (if possible at all) for me to attend Penn State even with the in-state tuition, so I am grateful that I had this opportunity. But where do we go from here? How do we create a program that still gives opportunities for individuals to succeed with higher education, while weeding out the ones that won’t? How do we bring back competitiveness in a college education? As time goes on, the value of an undergraduate college degree is diminishing. Sooner or later, it will be as common as a high school education. When that happens society will crumble. Everyone will be overqualified for the jobs such as cashiers, clerks, store managers. Demand for a college education will trickle down to these jobs that, in the past, needed only a high school education to obtain full time.

I’m a strong believer of capitalism; I believe this country was formed on its ideas. We need people to work the lesser jobs in the market that don’t require a college degree, because without them society will fail. But even if you weren’t born wealthy, my ideal capitalistic views say that you can be more successful than what society has in store for you with hard work and motivation. I realize that is easier said than done, but possible nonetheless. However, our country has been far from a pure capitalist nation for quite some time, and we just keep drifting further and further away as the government takes over control. So what’s next: Communism? Totalitarianism? Socialism? Who knows; but regardless of what economic system you follow, the truth of the matter is that they never last. Eventually, they all transform into something else; whether better or worse. It’s the inevitable path of society and economics. So if I were you, I would be scared for what the future has in store; because whatever it is – either good or bad – it’s going to hit the majority of us hard.

Back to college loans, I think that those attending a college or university (especially those receiving aid from the federal government) need to be smarter about the plans they make in college. Way too many students are going in as “undecided” majors and spending more than 4 years in a university. Although college is the right time for you to find yourself, you can’t just go in there without a plan hoping that one unfolds for you; because by the time it does, you will have wasted a good amount of time. Go in there with a plan (however small), because then at least you’ll have something to go off of.

As for me, I’ve racked my a good amount in college loan debt; but I can tell you right now that I plan on having that all paid off before I’m 30. I lived off of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a broke college student for 4 years; I figured I could handle a few more.

Let the Games Begin

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I guess if you were to ask me what I am doing here, I really wouldn’t be able to answer you. The most likely answer is because I’m bored…or I have no life, or my life is so wonderful I just need to write about it, or because Ka deemed it meant to be (for you Dark Tower lovers out there).

But actually, it’s because all I do now is lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling. Sad, it seems; but not really so. You see, sometimes I lie here and think about things that I haven’t thought about it a while; or imagine things that have yet to pass. Either way, it acts like an escape from my day to day activities (or lack of…), and helps me keep my sanity since I’m stuck in this God forsaken state of Connecticut for the next three months.

Connecticut is where this all begins. Flashback to a couple of months ago and I would have never imagined being where I am now. I was a Penn State student until I graduated a couple of weeks ago. Despite what I am now, Fall semester I was nothing short of a mediocre (at least in my eyes) student with no future ahead of me. Taking 19.5 credits, working 20+ hours a week and having to deal with my excruciating senior thesis research really didn’t allow me to have enough time to think about my future. Towards the end of the semester, when my work load finally started to lighten up, I noticed that I was graduating in four months with no clear plans for the future. My life was spiraling further and further down into the abyss of unemployment, and I was having trouble staying afloat.

I suppose you can call 2013 “My Year,” although it’s not quite over yet. The day after New Years I was passed out in my bed around 11am, hungover from the night before, when I received a call from a supervisor at a company I had interviewed with back in September. Have you ever seen a kangaroo jump? Me neither, but I’m assuming I looked something like that when I leaped out of my bed in excitement. Considering that I had interviewed with this company four months ago and had not received any word from them, I had already given up hope weeks ago. The phone call was pretty much an informal interview for a summer internship in their company.

Yes, you heard right; internship. Why? By the end of the Spring 2012 semester, I had decided to go to graduate school right after my undergraduate degree. As if I didn’t have enough headaches the past four years as an undergraduate student. I probably made this decision on all the wrong reasons, but the two most important were:

  1. Although I was tired of being a broke college student, staying up all night doing homework, living in a shithole of house with 14 other guys, and averaging 4 hours of sleep per night; I think there was a part of me, deep down, that wasn’t quite ready to leave college just yet.
  2. Since I had never had an internship in my field within industry, I felt as if I was not qualified enough to find a full time job in the current market. Graduate school would at least allow me an extra year to figure out what to do with my life.

Thus, during the Fall 2012 Career Fair, I told every employer that I was looking for a summer internship because I was to attend graduate school in Fall 2013. Little did they know that I had not even submitted my application for graduate school at the time. Looking back, it wasn’t very smart of me to assume that everything would work out on its own; but nonetheless, it did. A few weeks after the phone call I spoke of earlier, I received my official acceptance into graduate school. I can’t say it was as exciting as when I received my offer packet from Penn State four years ago, accepting me in as a College of Engineering student; but for the first time in my 22 years of existence, I felt my life had purpose and things were finally going my way. They only got better after that, because a few weeks later I received notification that I was offered a summer internship at the company that I had interviewed with back in September.

My life was back on track, and I was going to operate that train all the way up the northeast corridor. For a while things were looking great! Then graduation came about, which marked the start of my downward spiral yet again. Saying goodbye to all my friends for the last time, especially my best bud who has been with me through a lot, was one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to do. After five days of emotions and alcohol during senior week, I finally left State College for the last time as an undergraduate student. I went home for two days to say goodbye to my parents; then I loaded up my Bimmer with all my belongings and took that lonely four hour drive from Philly to Connecticut to move into my apartment here by myself. I have a roommate, but he doesn’t move in for another two weeks; so here I am, all alone in this depressing apartment that’s been converted from an old factory God knows how long ago.

Let’s get back to the question, “Why am I here?” I guess this is really for my own amusement; since I’m the only one that will really enjoy my endless rants about how much I hate this state, pop music, spongebob quotes, the nerdy science stuff that accompanies being an engineer, and my plans for world domination. I’m not sure in which direction this blog is going to go, but I figured it’s time for me to start chronicling the shenanigans that is my life…since the only other thing I have to do is stare at that damn ceiling.