A 58-second clip from a TikToker working at a cigar shop saying, “College is a scam,” has added to the discussion around the value of higher education and the realities of the service industry.
With over 20,000 views, the user, known as @sadsomadso, candidly shares her perspective, stating, “College is a scam, and the service industry is forever.”
In her video, the TikToker delves into her current occupation, mentioning, “I currently work as a lead hostess at a cigar lounge in Virginia,” and expressing genuine fondness for her role. As she says, “Um, I love my job.”
She, however, contrasts her positive experience at the lounge with previous jobs she held that required more extensive qualifications: “And I get paid more hourly to sit here, check people into the lounge, and talk about cigars, sell cigars. Then I did as a counselor at a psychiatric hospital and as a neurofeedback technician,” she declares, with the latter two roles demanding bachelor’s degrees.
Her experiences open up a broader debate about the financial implications of pursuing higher education and the return on investment many hope to achieve with a degree. Is the promise of better job prospects, higher salaries, and more specialized roles after obtaining a college degree always fulfilled? Or are there alternatives and detours that offer just as much, if not more, satisfaction and financial stability?
A firm answer is hard to find if one peruses through the comments.
I love my field, love psychology and human services, but service industry forever <3♬ original sound – Madso
“Same lol,” concurred a commenter. “It’s sad bc I went to school to help others, but I need to support myself, and social services pay dirt wages.”
“No hate—more power to you,” said one man. “It’s the “looking cute” (which you do, for the record) you’re getting paid for. Take the bag.”
“It also helps that my bosses pay above minimum wage and care about their people!” the cigar store worker replied.
One commenter didn’t necessarily agree that service work was better from her vantage point: “With a BA and certification (5000 hours), I made $35/hr doing DUI therapy. With my MA, I make ~$92/hr in private practice. Denver McDonald’s is ~$20/hr.”
Another also didn’t agree with the notion, writing, “That’s the reality of healthcare care system or anything related. Low rates and lot of work, but that doesn’t [mean] college is a scam.”
A commenter said she perhaps was to blame for her predicament: No disrespect, but if you went to college with the end goal of trying to make money, you should [have] picked a different major.”
She answered a similar question, “No. At 17, I did not realize that positions in mental health care were this poorly paid and [the] amount of debt to school would be so unsustainable.”
This debate (even her idea that “college is a scam”) is not new. Still, with the rise of social media platforms like TikTok, more individuals are sharing their personal experiences, casting doubt on the traditional route, and challenging the norms. As the user herself is navigating these crossroads—on the verge of completing her master’s and contemplating her next steps—her story resonates with many grappling with similar dilemmas.
The Daily Dot reached out to @sadsomadso via TikTok comment.