Economy Disappoints Returning Students Seeking Higher-Paying Jobs

Today’s bad economy and increasingly high unemployment rate has driven many adults to go back to school in order to further their education in hopes of claiming that higher paying job and better job security.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are learning the hard way that just going to college and getting your degree isn’t cutting it anymore. With today’s economy, having a college degree doesn’t guarantee a high paying job…or any job for that matter.

According to NBC News, many adults are frustrated and disappointed because of their increased student loan debt and lack of prospective jobs.

It is still true that it pays to get a college education for the most part. The average weekly earnings for a college graduate is around $1,053, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the average weekly earnings for someone with just a high school diploma is around $638.

Alson, the unemployment rate for college graduates is sitting at 4.1% which is less than half the unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma alone.

Lewis Lemons III is one of the frustrated people who quit their good paying jobs in order to go back to school. Now, Lemons has racked up around $80,000 in school loans and is making less than he was making before he left his old job to go back to school.

In 2006, Lemons quit a $20-an-hour job in order to go back to school. Now in 2012, Lemons has his undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, and is close to getting his MBA. He has also just landed a contract job making $18-an-hour. This on top of racking up the $80,000 in student loans has left Lemons very frustrated.

Lemons, 32, was working for a big health care company when he decided that he wanted to go back to school for psychology. Although the job was steady, he didn’t see a future in it.

“I figured, I don’t want to be making $20 (an hour) for the rest of my life,” he said. “But look where I am now.”

After receiving his psychology degree from UC Riverside in 2009, Lemons landed a job doing social work. Even though he was making less money than before he went back to school, he loved the job. Unfortunately, in 2011 … he lost that job.

Since losing his social work job, Lemons has held temporary jobs and is working on finishing his MBA. His constant change in employment has put a great deal of strain on his finances. Lemons has had to file for bankruptcy and was forced to leave his apartment in July to avoid eviction.

Lemons and his two boys have been staying either with his mom and sister or at a hotel until he can get back on his feet financially.

Lemons even got to the point to where he had to accept food stamps.

“It’s embarrassing to say, but I went from being a social worker to being on the program,” says Lemons.

Lemons does not blame anyone for his decision to go back to school, but he does find it hard to accept that he may never own a home or be able to help his kids pay for college because of the burden of his own $80,000 in student loan debt.

Unless Lemons is able to find a six figure job, he said, “I’ll never have the American dream that I signed up for.”

Government estimates show that Americans’ total student loan debt burden now tops $1 trillion, more than Americans’ credit card debt.

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