Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Benefits of a College Diploma

So recently I've noticed the benefits of having a college diploma. They are rather significant actually. I would have never expected this when I was younger. College may seem hard, but in the end you finish because you are lazy.

Let me paint a picture of the group I work with when I'm on field assignment at Sevier Lake. There are a whole bunch of field hands. One is an older master mechanic, another mechanic in his 30's, an airboat driver/generic helper and four people from an aquatic diving center that are contracted to be here that range from 30 to 70 years old. Then there is a neurotic barge driver from Louisiana, a driller, the driller's helper and myself. With the exception of the air boat driver and a couple of the aquatic laborers, each one of them has considerably more experience and knowledge with their respective chosen career than I do. Each one of them is older than I am. There are occasionally others out here. Other geologists who sample the water, a technician who helps me sample the mud, the project manager visits occasionally.

I'm 26, I look like I'm 21, I have 8 months of experience which makes me relatively new, I have no idea how to run a drill rig, a barge or an airboat. Yet what makes me special is that I have a piece of paper that says "You went to school for 4 years longer than everyone else here." That paper means people trust your judgment more than they would otherwise. If you ask me, that's pretty damn cool. If you ask them, that's pretty damn annoying. However, they had every opportunity to go to college that I had. Most of them do have vocational training of some sort. Yet training isn't the same as taking random useless classes that you'll never need along with a handful of classes that you will use daily and keeping at that for four years. In the end that means my trusted judgment allows me to make decisions on when we have situations that must be taken care of before we can continue or when we have to stop altogether.

Another benefit? The pay. I'm not really one to flaunt what I make. In my office I would bet that I'm one of the lower paid people, but they're all college graduates too and most of them have more experience than me. However with the field crew I've been working with, I've overheard conversations between people working out here about money. Despite having significantly more experience, none of them make what I do (well the other geologists and project manager probably do, if not more, but they also have degrees). In fact some of them don't even make half of what I make despite working longer hours. I almost always get there last and go home first.

The final benefit, the work. My job, in the field, isn't too difficult. I grab samples and take smaller representative samples of the bulk sample for analysis. After that I write down geologic observations based on the scope of the project and take photographs. I communicate with my supervisor on occasion what I did the last few days and make sure everyone stays on task. Now could anyone do this? Probably not, but anyone with a geology degree from a good university certainly could. The point is that for me, it's easy. Everyone else spends most of the day lifting heavy stuff, moving heavy stuff, driving and operating heavy equipment and going down into the lake to fix, fetch or find things. I don't have to do any of that stuff and if I did I would likely have quit months ago as I am not capable, nor do I have any desire do those things. Occasionally I will help lift stuff that need to be moved, so I don't look lazy and because I really do like to help, but that's not my function out here. My function is to take samples, notes and photos.

Like I said earlier, going to college may seem like hard work, but in the end you graduate college because you're lazy and you want to fully take advantage of opportunities to exemplify your laziness. You probably don't feel lazy while you are staying the night in the geology building because you fell asleep working on a project or when you are sneaking out of your bed, at 3am, while you have a beautiful woman asleep in it, because you have an assignment that you have to finish before the next morning but that doesn't mean you aren't.

In the end you get a diploma. Then you get to be the one who doesn't have to struggle to find jobs, or work 2+ jobs just to pay your bills. You get to sit back and take notes and samples while everyone else does the more monotonous (and harder, in my opinion) work. You get to make the decisions on when you shut down work because of protocol. You don't get those benefits because you are more experienced and have more knowledge. No, you get them because you cheated, you took a shortcut and sat through 4-6 years of classes. Best choice ever.

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