My Turn Examples

My Turn Examples - My Turn: The Lessons I Didn't Learn in...

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My Turn : The Lessons I Didn't Learn in College Caitlin Petre Newsweek , November 13, 2006 issue To think there was once a time when I thought nailing the interview was the hardest part of getting a job. I recently applied to be a cocktail waitress at an upscale bowling alley in Manhattan. After a brief interview, the manager congratulated me, saying I'd be a great fit. It was only a momentary victory. She produced a sheaf of papers, and my stomach turned flips. I knew what was coming—the dreaded W-4. I'd filled them out before, for various summer jobs, but I'd always been exempted from taxes because I was a full-time student. Now that I had graduated from college, this was the first W-4 I had to complete fully. The manager watched as I hesitated. "Are you having trouble?" she asked as I squinted at the tiny print. "Oh, no, I'm fine." I stared at the form, trying to figure out how many allowances to claim—or what an allowance was, for that matter. I didn't want to admit that I was stumped, so finally I just took a guess. Later I asked my friends to shed some light on the matter, but none of them knew any more than I did. Instead, they advised me to do what they did: make it up and hope for the best. So much for being a well- educated college graduate. Having taken seminars on government, I could hold forth on the relationship between taxation and the federal deficit but was clueless about filling out a basic tax form. I'd graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in May, and had decided against going straight to graduate school. But while countless newspapers claimed that the job market for graduates was the best it had been in years, I had no idea how to take advantage of it. I couldn't imagine myself in an entry-level administrative position staring at a spreadsheet for eight hours a day—partly because it sounded dull, but also because in college I had never learned how to use spreadsheet programs. Cocktail waitressing seemed like a good way to make ends meet. My friends and I are graduates of Wesleyan, Barnard, Stanford and Yale. We've earned 3.9 GPAs and won academic awards. Yet none of us knows what a Roth IRA is or can master a basic tax form. And heaven help us when April comes and we have to file tax returns. My friends and I are incredibly lucky to have gotten the educations we have. But there's a discrepancy between what we learn in school and what we need to know for work, and there must be some way for universities to bridge this gap. They might, for example, offer classes in personal finance as part of the economics department. How about a class on renting an apartment? Granted, it might be hard to lure students to such mundane offerings, but the students who don't go will wish they had. College students are graduating with greater debt than ever before, yet we haven't learned how to manage
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This note was uploaded on 06/07/2011 for the course ENGL 1001 taught by Professor Proedehl during the Spring '09 term at Marquette.

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My Turn Examples - My Turn: The Lessons I Didn't Learn in...

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