Thursday, June 23, 2005

Loans and Groans

I don't use the Master's Degree I earned a few years back from USC. In fact, I've never really even considered a job where the Master's Degree in Communication Management would prove useful. Once, I went for an interview at a production company that owned a lot of comic book properties, and I think maybe the degree would have been useful had I got the job, but I'm pretty sure they hired someone more adorable than me to run their office.

And I can't blame them. I'd rather come in to work every day and look at some beautiful, statuesque Los Angeles co-ed than a paunchy, sweaty bearded guy, regardless of his educational background. (Well, unless he went to Bartending School - then he might be worth keeping around).

In fact, the Master's Degree as a concept seems like half a scam at this point. My program only lasted about 2 years, which I wouldn't say it quite enough time to "master" any given subject, particularly one as massive in scope as "Communication" and the management thereof. But "vague familiarity" doesn't sound as good as "Master," and USC has to get students to enroll, after all. So, VFD (Vague Familiarity Degree) gives way to MA or MS.

And even once you have a Master's, and we all assume you've mastered whatever subject you studied, there aren't a lot of opportunities out there open to you in the work force. Most jobs don't require an MA or MS, and quite often, the time a student spent studying was time other people spent actually working their way up in a given profession.

My own life is a perfect case study of this syndrome. I worked my way through the MA program at a post-production company, although several other students simply attended classes without working. When I graduated, I was surprised to discover that most potential employers didn't want to hire me - they were put off by the fact that I hadn't been actively interning at other companies over the past few months, and they were afraid that I was over-educated for entry-level positions.

So you see, the MA really worked against me. I have about $40,000 in student loans...What if I had spent that money to live for a year while working some high-level but non-paying internship? (Now, bear in mind, I personally don't want some high-level internship...Laser Blazer is just fine for me for now...I'm using my situation only as a case study in why Master's Degrees are a total rip). Instead of that useless degree at the end of two years, I might have spent some time climbing the ladder. At the very least, maybe I'd have some kind of paid position waiting for me on the other side.

Which would be useful, because the company that provided my loans, Sallie Mae, apparently thinks it's the Cosa Nostra. Every few months, I start getting harrassing phone calls. At first, there is no answer from the calls (which arrive from an Unknown I always think it's my parents...) Then, a message comes on telling me to call Sallie Mae. Then, when I do, it's more computers I have to talk to, and more language I don't understand.

What is a "forebearance" as opposed to a "deferrment." What is "economic strain," really? When you accept that I am under "economic strain," what's the point of continuing to call and harrass me for money? Isn't that like telling someone he has third-stage syphillis and then asking in the same breath how he'd like to plan for retirement?

So all I had to do was fill out a form and send it back to continue delaying payment. I'm sure this will stop working eventually, but it's still working now. I'm not too worried, though...I bet I can still blog from debtor's prison. Might make things more interesting around here, trading in my whiny movie reviews and Worst Person Alive nominations for tales of soap bar beatings.

Do they have soap bar beatings in debtor's prison? To debtor's go to the normal pentientiary with all the rapists and murderers and recreational drug users? Or do they get their own special prison where it's just tax cheats and guys who defaulted on $40,000 in student loans because they were working in video stores? Cause, if things continue the way they are now, I'll be spending some time there.

And can I just ask...what's the deal with calling your vile, money-grubbing loan agency "Sallie Mae"? It makes it sound like you're borrowing money from some sweet old Southern lady who's not going to pressure you to give it back.

"My stars, I sure would like to help y'all out with y'alls education...Here, take this. It may not be much, but it's all that I have."

"Aw, shucks, thank you kindly, Sallie Mae."

"Don't mention it, dearie. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

But it's not like that at all. These guys are like fucking Vito Corleone over here. I call up to renew my forebearance, and they tell me that, one day, a Sallie Mae Representative will call me and ask me for a favor and will give me further instructions. They don't have a helpful website, but they do have a bagman.


Lons' Dad said...

Is the bagman a little old lady?

Lons' Dad said...

Is the bagman a little old lady?