Dec 082010
Authors: Shane Rohleder

USA Today’s Paul Davidson reported this week that the poor economy has finally broken the “bachelor’s-degree-fortress,” and the jobless rate among the well-educated is rising.

According to Davidson’s report, the jobless rate among those with at least a bachelor’s degree rose to 5.1 percent, which is the highest it’s been since 1970. Government figures show that 2.4 million people last month who held a bachelor’s or a more advanced degree were unemployed. Davidson also pointed out that the well-educated have typically been insulated from major economic strife, unlike the construction and manufacturing industries. But now the tables seem to be turning.

This caught my eye as a senior here at CSU who will be graduating in May. I began to ponder what the economic situation will be like a mere five months from now and soon realized it will again get worse before it gets better.

With this in mind I began to consider my options. Here is what I came up with: Build a raft out of bubble wrap, five gallon barrels and pine wood collected from random fences around Fort Collins, and float down the Mississippi while learning to play the banjo.

I could move to Southern California and dwell with the beach bums, learn to surf and contemplate life. Or I could become a trucker, which would be the most cost effective option being that I would actually get paid to do this, and all I would have to buy is a year’s supply of wife-beaters and chewing tobacco.

I suppose I could be responsible and look for an internship somewhere (or better yet a job), but that seems so uncreative. Let’s really examine the situation here. Bear with me because this is going to be painful to hear.

Say I do get a job in a field that I love. Let’s say I get hired on as a reporter with some creative freedom at a magazine resembling Esquire or Time but on a local scale. This I could do.

It actually sounds fun, and at the same time it’s a good move for “Future Shane” (which to me has always been a bit of an abstraction, much like my shadow. “Future Shane” is always nagging “Present Shane” to act with his best interests in mind.

Consequently, “Present Shane” suffers. I don’t like “Future Shane.” And, if you want to get picky, “Future Shane” is actually the one writing this parenthetical anecdote. He’s terrifying.)

So now I’m doing OK. I’ve landed a decent job, I get paid a decent amount, and every six months I can go to the dentist’s office for a cleaning and get most of it paid for by my dental plan. Hooray for me!

Perhaps I’ll meet a girl, and, well, you know the rest: houses, cars, babies, chronic weight gain, male pattern balding, HDTV’s, family dinners, holiday trips, more cars, riding lawn mowers, gardens, grandkids and ultimately death. Yep, it happens to everybody. Let’s not be too optimistic: I am going to die.

There is another path that’s a bit less predictable. Let’s say I go with the hand-crafted raft idea, which seems to be on my mind more and more these days.

It may look something like this: rafting, writing, singing, river pirates invading said raft, epic battle between good and evil (which is which, who knows), narrowly escaping death, writing, book deal on rafting story, billionaire, male pattern balding, (then, maybe) girl, house in Lebanon (I hear its nice there), kids (rich and spoiled), rotten kids, rotten grandkids, riding lawn mowers, family lawsuits, gardens, perhaps a reconciliation with one child and death.

Let’s not be too optimistic: this too ends in death.

There certainly are many paths, and there is no correct path. One seems easier and quieter; the other a bit livelier and louder. Neither is wrong.

The job market does look miserable, and perhaps many of us won’t be able to follow the path our parents have worked so hard to carve out for us. Seems to me a perfect excuse to get creative with your life. Get creative with your talents, relationships, options and dreams.
Personally, I will not resign to living within the confines of a map. I’m feeling more like a pirate.

Shane Rohleder is a senior communication studies major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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