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How to Avoid Having to Sell Your Diploma on eBay


We live in a very strange world, in which going to college can feel like more of a gamble than hitting the blackjack table at Vegas. How can you really be sure that all your hard-earned – and more to the point, hard-borrowed – dollars are going to an investment that will pay off? More on that in a minute, but first: meet Stephanie Ritter, a college graduate whose underemployment situation got so dire, she decided to put her diploma up on eBay, at a price tag of $50,000, to defray the cost of her loans.


(Photo Credit: Stephanie Ritter/eBay)

“I thought this piece of paper has so much worth to so many people, but for a theater major, it couldn’t mean less,” the Florida State University grad told BuzzFeed. “I’m doing the exact same things and probably getting paid the exact same amount as people that dropped out halfway through freshman year, except I’m still $40,000 in debt and they’re, well, not.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Ritter is offering more than just a piece of paper: she’s offering her entire college experience. According to her eBay listing, that encompasses a tour of FSU, “including everywhere you would have gone/eaten/partied,” six months’ access to all of her photo albums on Facebook, a show at FSU School of Theatre, a driving tour of the spots where she got speeding tickets between classes, and a trip to her favorite Publixes “including sweet tea at each location!!” For architecture enthusiasts, she even offers to “show you the best view of the capitol building (where it looks most like a penis).”

Suggested uses for her diploma, per her ad:

  • Write on your resume that you have it!
  • Pose proudly next to it for a Facebook picture!
  • Hang it on the wall in your office!
  • As a very large coaster!
  • As set dressing for a movie about someone that went to a State School!
  • If your name is also Stephanie Ritter and you have $50,000 laying around for a really solid joke!

OK, Hilarious, But I’d Rather Make Money By, You Know, Getting a Good Job

Understandable. Underemployment is no one’s idea of a good time. And while there’s no guarantees in college choice or in life, there are a few things you can do to up your chances of being able to make enough money to pay off your loans.

Some of it comes down to doing your homework, long before any gets assigned by an actual professor. Ritter tells BuzzFeed that she doesn’t regret going to college, but that she would do a few things differently, including looking for a program in a city where she could earn more money while attending school, and finding a more LGBT-friendly college. (Her ad lists classes she took to get her degree, including “Sexuality and Representation in Modern Theatre: created especially for me when I was deemed too gay for regular theatre history!”)

Does This Mean I Have to Major in STEM?

No, it does not. In fact, if you hate science and math with a fiery passion, forcing yourself to become an engineer won’t make anyone happy or successful – not you, not your future co-workers, not even your parents.

The best bet for prospective students is to research schools and programs ahead of time, with an eye toward earning potential and cost. PayScale’s College Salary Report ranks two- and four-year schools and graduate schools, as well as hundreds of majors, according to graduates’ earning potential.

Another consideration to keep in mind: meaning. The College Salary Report lists percent high meaning next to each major, so that you can tell if a given field of study is likely to feed your soul, as well as your bank balance.

The bottom line is that, even if you know for sure what you want to be when you grow up, some schools and programs will give you a better – and more cost-effective – head start that others. Tools like PayScale’s help you figure out the right place for you.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you choose an “impractical” major and go on to great things? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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