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Is college a waste of time (and money)?

I live in Chicago and I have an Associate’s Degree in Fashion and I’m working on getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion and Retail Management. I’ve always wanted to work in retail. Right now I would like to find part time a position as a sales associate. It’s always taken forever for me to find any type of job and I always ended up working in fast food or overnight inventory or something. Even with those jobs it took me like 9 months to 1 year to find a job. I’ve applied at too many places to count and just can’t get into the retail business. I’m starting to think I should quit school because I think it’s a waste of time and money to go to school for something that it’s impossible to even get an entry level position in. If I can’t get a job as a sales associate, I definately will never get hired as a manager. I’m thinking that the time I’ve spent in school so far has probably been a waste. Any suggestions? Could it be the job market in Chicago?

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If you believe that college is a waste of time and money, you are insane. Spending your time working in fast food is a waste of time. If you can afford to stay in college, by all means finish it out. Go as far as you can. Because believe it or not, the further you go in pursuing a higher education, the more opportunities will arise. It sounds like you need to do some more area research on things like good job markets and research more types of employment in the fasion industry.

If you are passionate about the subject, stick with it. Follow your heart and do what you feel you should do. Quitting school would crush any hopes or dreams you have of being a part of the fashion industry. As competitive as the fasion world is, if you put hard work into school and pursuing a career, the happier you will be in the end. Many people do not look very far into their future and see hard work and perserverance as a means to making their lives better. But just think about everyone who has worked their butt off for something they wanted.

As a beginner in the industry, I would say brain storm the idea of an internship or doing some volunteering. Anything that gets you involved with people and your communitygives you the chance to make connections, if not a great resume. A large part of finding a job is through the people you know. Without many connections, you can’t really go far just on your own. Get out there and meet new people! Start a forum on any type of website dedicated to fashion and pursuing a career in it. Who knows, that could become popular and get you noticed. Just a few examples that have been proven to get people places.

Think about what kinds of things you could accomplish by moving further in your education. You will not only gain a broad variety of job opportunity, but also an intellectual insight that only college can bring.

As corny as it sounds, just keep looking toward the light at the end of the tunnel and don’t let anything get in the way of accomplishing your dreams.


Well the facts are that while getting a higher education is good, look at reality. Look at it like this: there are hundreds of thousands of colleges just in the U.S. alone. Every year over 1 MILLION people graduate from these colleges with their degrees, yet the sad fact that only about 10% ever wind up doing what they worked for to get their degree. There are just too many people and not enough jobs to support the growth of the 20 something employee. To answer the other part of your question, are you trying to get high in the company when you apply? If you plan on working retail, then you should expect to run a register or stock shelves before you get into any type of management reguardless of the degree you have. Also what types of places are you looking at working at? are they the Top of the line stores? If so then they are probably looking for “perfect” sales people. Where I live at all the “high” fashion stores always have the petite barbie wanna-bes for sales associates who wear the size 0 clothes and talk with that annoying “california” speech.

discombobulated girl
It could be the job market in Chicago. But with everyone being educated nowadays, getting into retail (as with all other jobs) is getting harder and harder. But certainly the last thing you want to do is get a career which you hate. My advice is stick to retail, maybe try getting a job where you work for free (if someone else can support you) where you can show your dedication and interest and potential, instead of letting your qualifications and papers speak for you. You can work and study at the same time. Its like killing two birds with one stone- you get the experience and the knowledge. It depends on how low you want to stoop to get the job you want, and you might be competing with people with higher degrees than yours. And to answer your question – college is not a waste of time or money. It gives a great foundation for building your career on.

Joe D
no, college is not a waste of time or money. There are plenty of statistics which prove that a college graduate will make approximately $1million more over a lifetime than someone without a degree. Oddly enough, the actual degree you have often doesn’t matter unless you are going into a specialty field such as Law, Medicine, Architecture, etc. Often the most important thing is that you have a degree. Once you have one, start looking for jobs that require a degree and see what fields open up to you. Apply for a management training program.

I hadn’t heard that the job market in Chicago was particularly difficult recently, so my guess is that there is something about the way you are applying for jobs which is getting in your way. The degree should help you, but it sounds to me like what you really need is guidance on how to go about applying for jobs. Is there a career center at your school? They should be able to look over your resume, let you do practice interviews, and give you feedback on how you come across. Don’t give up on yourself; you just need some direction, and if you don’t have school, what do you have? You just need to use all the assets available to you at your school.

Cheese and Rice
No, it’s not a waste. The problem is that retail is something anybody without a college education can do. If you want to make more money than a college dropout, you can get into a corporate job or something that actually requires you to be able to think.

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