The Internet is awesome. I think we can all pretty much agree on that.
If you’re old enough to remember life before the Internet, you can probably also remember all the predictions about how it was supposed to unleash us from corporate slavery — or at least let us telecommute a lot. And while that’s happened to a lesser degree — lots of people work from home, including me — the freeways still seem to be choked with people going to work every day, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
To that end, Stefanie would like to join the ranks of us work-at-home people in order to chip away at some of her tuition.
Dear Judge Josh,
Like the majority of your subscribers and readers, I am a poverty-stricken college student struggling to pay a hefty $44,000 college bill. I will be attending Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts as a transfer student to pursue a career in Broadcast Journalism. I know that Emerson has the best connections to the industry (outside of L.A.) which is why I am willing to deal with the expensive price tag and uncertain residency.
Well, if you’re still on the fence and open to other places, let me disagree with that assessment of Emerson. There are outstanding journalism schools out there with cheaper price tags that have even better broadcast connections than Emerson does. I’m going to assume, for the sake of this discussion, that by “connections” you mean that it’s easy to get a job once you graduate from there.
I have an M.A. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the only school in the country where the school owns and the students run the network affiliate station (KOMU, NBC). Indiana, North Carolina, Illinois and even Missouri’s arch-rival and ticket-scalping kingpins University of Kansas have excellent journalism programs — and they’re all public (read, cheaper than Emerson). Top-flight private journalism schools like Columbia and Northwestern also match Emerson in employable graduates, although they’re private also and won’t save you much dough.
Emerson requires transfer students who have graduated from high school in 2008 and 2009 to live on campus for their first year. However, there is no guaranteed housing even after you submit your $500 enrollment deposit and housing interest form.
That’s disgusting, and nothing but a money grab, as are all university policies which require you to live on campus at any time. Make no mistake about this — in the name of “optimizing your university experience” or whatever such bullshit line they use to justify the policy, they’re purely strong-arming more money out of you.
Universities should be able to make you perform to a certain standard in the classroom; forcing you to accept their decree about where you lay your head at night and put on your clothes in the morning is nauseating.
I am basically between a rock and a hard place. I live in Chicago and will not fly out to Boston until August 29th. I have to wait until mid-summer to find out if I have a home on-campus, which after speaking with an admissions counselor, is “highly unlikely.” So I must resort to finding and trying to afford an apartment.
Well, I’m sure you can find a way to make that work if necessary. You should be able to find a roommate(s) in similar circumstances and team up to make life affordable in an apartment. Whether you’ll actually be able to stand living with one another is a different question entirely, of course.
I currently work as a pool attendant in the afternoons five days out of the week. I am determined to find another position for the morning shift, which I usually have no trouble finding, but it seems as if everyone has fallen in dark times (it always scares me to see college students with Bachelor’s degrees reduced to working for $10 an hour.)
It should, and with that being said, let me again encourage you to re-think your choice, but this time based on your profession. You’re aware that broadcast journalists make some of the lowest salaries of all college-educated people, correct? Let’s put it this way: High school teachers make a lot more money than broadcast journalists. A LOT. And they get summers off.
This is how it usually works for new grads in broadcast journalism: you graduate and go to a low-paying market. Even the highest-ranking undergrads aren’t going to crack a job in the top 100 markets. If you’re LUCKY you’ll make $20,000 per year, and the lower the market you go to, you could very well make less.
Now, to repeat an oft-repeated theme around here: If you love the work, then the fact that it’s low-paying isn’t a deal-killer, I know. BUT, low-paying work and the giant student loan payments that come from them are not sustainable with a job that pays as badly as broadcast journalism. An Emerson education could easily stick you with loan payments of $700-$800 per month when all’s said and done. With a $20,000 job, you’ll be taking home around $1,500 per month TOTAL. Time to get a bartending job!
Yes, it’s true that you can move up the ranks in journalism just like you can elsewhere. But it’s a crowded profession, and if you want to make the big money at TV stations and still be on-camera, you need to be an anchor. And unless you’ve got an anchor at your station who’s on his deathbed, you have to get really, really lucky to get one of those jobs.
And even if you do get an anchor job, honestly, we’re still not talking about walk-away money. If you’ve been a news anchor for 5 years, at most markets in the U.S. you might be making $50k, $60 tops. In top-25 markets, it’s a different story. But remember, every one of your broadcasting brethren is gunning for those jobs, too.
That being said, I keep coming across all those “easy and fast money” jobs. Are these “work from home” ads a legitimate source of income or just another irritating scam? I personally have not met anyone who can say that they work from home, if that is any indication.
Desperate times call for desperate measures,
Well, it’s true that some people do work from home and make decent money. I’m one of those people, but I own a business that I’ve built for 10 years and I’m the boss and I can decide whether I work at home or in the office. Most people aren’t in that same situation.
There aren’t any EASY work-at-home jobs. If there were, everyone would do them.
Most successful people doing work-at-home jobs have usually started a viable business that many others do at an office. This is where you have the most opportunity. If you really want to try and work from home, join up with freelancer services like Guru.com and Elance.com. Those sites match workers (you) with buyers (someone who wants to hire you), and you bid on jobs you think you can do. You do them, and then you get paid.
Now, unless you have a really rare skill that’s in high demand — you’re probably not going to make tons of money this way. It’s OK for occasional gigs, depending on your talents, but I don’t know anyone who makes a full-time living off freelance work from these sites. Furthermore, it takes a lot of time to put together coherent bids on enough projects that would make you the money you need. And that’s assuming you win them all, which you won’t (there’s tons of competition).
Anything promising riches is usually bullshit or illegal.
Anything promising extremely high incomes with Google is usually bullshit, and even when it’s not bullshit, it requires either expertise or startup cash (usually both) that most people just don’t have.
It’s rarely easy to get rich, so don’t let ads fool you into thinking it is.
And don’t go to Emerson. Just my two cents. 🙂