Pursuit of knowledge should be continuous

If you’re anything like me, you read the paper in print and online and watch the news all day long. I have a friend who makes fun of me for watching Bay News 9 over and over again — it’s my background noise when I do homework.

Every so often, Bay News 9’s breaking news alert breaks my concentration. Every hour, a BBC alert pops up on my desktop. And just about every time, it’s something about the economy.

The subject is getting old.

Yes, I know the economy affects us all, but it’s the same tired subjects: how the economy is affecting car sales, gas has gone down, people are losing their jobs and the rest of the world is collapsing along with the country. But there is one thing that I find the TV media world has overlooked since the beginning of the job market decline — education.

The mass exodus of adults from the workplace to the classroom has received extensive coverage both online and in print.

To those of you who have returned, I welcome you back. To those who had never entered a college classroom and have decided to take on higher education, you’ve made a wise decision.

No, I’m not a student who went straight from high school to college and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I took two years off after high school and took on a full-time job. Then, even after starting college, I balanced a full-time 45-hour job while taking 12-15 credit hours. There is one thing I learned then that many of you are learning now: You need an education.

Yes, there are those select few who are able to make a lot of money without having to pursue higher education, but consider the statistics.

In 2007, the average weekly income for a person with a four-year post-secondary education was about $987, compared to $604 for a person with just a high school degree. In today’s world, $987 doesn’t go too far, but $604 is even less.

Ultimately, money talks.

I can’t think of a better feeling than the one you get when you’re sitting in a classroom and something you had been struggling to understand suddenly clicks. It makes you want to take on the world, doesn’t it? And by broadening your range of skills — going beyond the minimum that your major requires to be the best — you’ll be ready to, even in the face of a grim economic outlook.

So while you’re here, there’s just one thing I ask: Even when the economy starts to inch upward again and that dream employer calls you, make sure you finish what you started.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen many adults return to school after losing their jobs because of a lack of education — and, consequently, a narrower skill set — when the job market worsens but later forget their commitment to education when they find a decent-paying job.

College education shouldn’t be something to seek when there is no alternative — it should be your first option. Forget about how long it’ll take you and how many sleepless nights may lie ahead — all college students go through it.

Do you remember that feeling of excitement you got when you crossed the stage and received your high school diploma? I guarantee you’ll feel much more proud when you get your college degree, but what’s going to feel even better is when you sit down at the next interview after you’ve gotten it.

Cynthia Roldan is a senior majoring in mass communications.