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Having a college degree is not as helpful as it once was. In today’s economy, graduates are struggling to get jobs after they finish school, and many employers will only hire people who have degrees in the field they need. However, many jobs do not require a specific degree. For example, plumbing, truck driving, and electrician jobs do not require higher education. People are asking, is a college degree necessary or worth it in today’s job market? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Annual average unemployment rate, of civilian labor force 16 years and over, has risen from 4% to 8.9% in the past 11 years.
Some people think a college degree is not necessary and not as important as networking and experience in today’s job market. Huge successes like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Richard Branson are all successful people who either dropped out of high school or did not finish college. Although stories like theirs are not very abundant in our economy, there are other jobs that are unlikely to be outsourced that can be done without having a degree.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers, a forecaster of employers’ hiring plans and other employment issues, details what majors are in-demand, and how important a college degree is in this job market. Year after year, they inform the public that employers look to hire graduates in certain fields, such as business, engineering, and the computer sciences. While some industries hire by degree in order to have an educated employee, there are some skills that are not learned in the classroom.
The N-A-C-E research job outlook for 2012 says that there are other important qualities for students who make the GPA cutoff. Major is obviously important when hiring for specific skill sets, and employers are also highly influenced by a candidate’s leadership experience.”
Another important part of the no-degree side is opportunity cost. The Library of Economics and Liberty defines opportunity cost as “the value of the next-highest-valued alternative use of that resource.” If a student put money away in a mutual fund, the money could increase to more money than he or she would be making and spending while in school.
However, there is the pro-degree side. Some jobs require a certain degree in order to get a job in that industry. Majors with the lowest unemployment, according to “The college solution” blog, are medical technology technicians, nursing, and treatment therapy professions, which all require some type of degree specifically in those fields. Students who select more marketable college majors are going to increase their chances of landing a job.
It is important to note the difference between a liberal arts degree and a technical one. In an article from CNBC called “Is the Four-Year, Liberal-Arts Education Model Dead?” Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University, says we graduate more people from college than we have jobs for and that a college diploma doesn’t really cut it anymore as a sure path to success. He says, “Nowadays, you need a masters degree or an MBA.”
Another factor of the pro-degree debate would be student loan reform. According to the Obama administration, in a speech made in Colorado, students may be less worried about paying for their degree because of lower interest rates.
With the rise in tuition, student loan debt, and increasing unemployment rates for recent graduates, pursuing a college degree may not be worth it. However, the type of degree one attains and the field they enter can make the investment and years of studying worth their while. So many graduates are finding themselves in trouble after college, and some are doing just fine. It all depends on what one wants to do, and how they prepare themselves for it.