By: Katie J.M. Baker
The way we live now: it takes a B.A. to find a job as a file clerk, according to the New York Times, which declared today that the college degree is the new high school diploma
Of course, most of us don't have to read the paper of record to know that because we're living it, either through firsthand experience or friends and family who've looked for a job in the past few years
. But this piece has some poignant depressing quotes from employees at Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh, a 45-person Atlanta-based law firm where everyone — the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants, file clerks, and in-house courier who basically just runs around transporting documents — went to a four-year college.
"College graduates are just more career-oriented," said Adam Slipakoff, the firm's managing partner. "Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures. They're not just looking for a paycheck."
(Um, those are directly conflicting statements, right?)
College grads are also just so much more fun (ostensibly when they're not bitching about trivial matters like student debt):
Besides the promotional pipelines it creates, setting a floor of college attainment also creates more office camaraderie, said Mr. Slipakoff, who handles most of the firm's hiring and is especially partial to his fellow University of Florida graduates. There is a lot of trash-talking of each other's college football teams, for example. And this year the office's Christmas tree ornaments were a colorful menagerie of college mascots - Gators, Blue Devils, Yellow Jackets, Wolves, Eagles, Tigers, Panthers - in which just about every staffer's school was represented.
"You know, if we had someone here with just a G.E.D. or something, I can see how they might feel slighted by the social atmosphere here," he says. "There really is something sort of cohesive or binding about the fact that all of us went to college."
Ah, so that's why the unemployment rate for workers with no more than a high school diploma is more than twice that for workers with a bachelor's degree (8.1 percent versus 3.7 percent)
; not so much because more jobs these days require more advance skills, but because "those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable"
and fall through the cracks. "When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,"
said one headhunter.
But hey, at least Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh promotes from within! But to what?
"I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now," said Megan Parker, who earns $37,000 as the firm's receptionist. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management, and spent months waiting on "bridezillas" at a couture boutique, among other stores, while churning out office-job applications.
"I will probably never see the end of that bill, but I'm not really thinking about it right now," she said. "You know, this is a really great place to work."