So, in case you haven’t been keeping up with me, which is a perfectly normal way of living, I finally got a job. It’s actually pretty nice. I am a legal assistant at a local law firm that deals with product liability cases. In essence, if a product injures a person in any way, we make sure that the company that manufactured the product is held responsible. While this seems like merely a lucrative and easy way out, note that most of our clients are dead or dying.
Recently, I’ve been assembling product identification booklets that will allow clients to flip through the logos and products manufactured with asbestos and recognize the specific products or brand names they used. The thing about mesothelioma and diseases caused by products that contain asbestos, people don’t know they’ve been affected until 20-30 years after their exposure to the material. So, essentially, people are diagnosed by a doctor who tells them to get a lawyer. The lawyer goes through that person’s work history, medical history, etc. to find out where they may have come into contact with the material. It’s a research game. It’s pinning down the exact point in time, place, and product that all had to come together to create this disease.
It may sound like a long stretch, but assembling these books has made me realize that during what I like to call the “Asbestos Period” pretty much everything on planet earth had asbestos in it. Insulation (which existed in almost every household), cement, pipelines, motor vehicle parts, roofs, siding, tile, adhesives, even cigarettes. They all had asbestos in them. We lived in an asbestos world.
Anyway, that’s my day to day. I’m finishing up some graduate school applications. I’ve narrowed it down to Northwestern, U of Iowa, Emory, and U of Tennessee. I know I said I’d never go to UT, but I need to have some backup schools this year, because my strategy last year wasn’t very effective (obviously). I’ve been reading quite a few articles online recently, though, about why going to graduate school is pointless nowadays. Academia isn’t as renowned as it used to be. Certain political parties are completely against college educators, etc. The thing that really got me, was something I read that said, “The smart people are somewhere else.”
“If you think that going to graduate school will allow you to spend your days in a community of the enlightened, consider the axiom that it is unwise to borrow money that is difficult to repay. To go into debt for a graduate degree in the humanities is to go into debt for a credential that, at best, will qualify you for a job with a relatively low starting salary in an extremely competitive job market. Meanwhile, you will have removed yourself from the job market to pursue this degree, so don’t forget to add up the years that you will have incurred debt when you could have been earning money. But surely people in graduate school would be too smart to finance their educations with debt…
According to FinAid.org: ‘The median additional debt [the debt that graduate students pile onto the debt that they acquired as undergraduates] is $25,000 for a Master’s degree, $52,000 for a doctoral degree and $79,836 for a professional degree. A quarter of graduate and professional students borrow more than $42,898 for a Master’s degree, more than $75,712 for a doctoral degree and more than $118,500 for a professional degree.’ This is not intelligent behavior. The smart people are somewhere else.”
This is less than comforting. All in all, my life while settling down a little, is beginning to feel a little uncomfortable with the options that are currently presenting themselves. We’ll see how this pans out!